The Story Behind The Poem:
This poem was born out of the last three years of my journey.
In 2016, I had passed the point of no return, reaching a point where my faith had stopped; completely unable to bridge the gap or find a way across the chasm of hopelessness, struggle, and frustration.
Yet, in my desperation I was never alone. Not for a second. The Lord met me in the midst of the darkest chasm, and regenerated me from the inside out!
I pray that these words encourage you that even in our most desperate and vulnerable moments, we have never left the heart, the hand, or the mind of God.
Something beautiful is coming!
The Stolen Years:
By Shane M. Oberlin
Eclipsed by darkest night, in the valley of the soul. Entrenched within a hollow shell, the antithesis of whole. Surrounded by a chasm, where all my hopes and dreams have faded into obsolescence, far beyond my reach. My grasp, my inner desperation; last gasp of breath before my longing heart is paralyzed by death; the bitter foe who seeks my soul, only there is nothing left. It has been removed blow by blow, ebb and flow, fast and slow, until I wake up and no longer know the face which condemns me in the mirror: my own.
The wounds of war have grown, the infection brutal and bitter. To be anxious, you must actually care about what is left to consider. Staring through these tainted eyes, which once beheld my dreams, now all they see are remnants pillaged by thieves. No longer do I care about who I please, I only seek a respite from the fee I pay, every single day, to the vipers of decay, as their venom burns away the fabric of my soul.
The Stolen Years, the un-cried tears have begun to take their toll. I am miles behind the path which was blazed by the pioneers of old. I am cold, bitter, and desperate, my strength is wearing thin. I cannot go much farther; my enemies pursue me like vultures, waiting to devour the weak one in the pack, the herd. How absurd to believe that I could survive their age-old strategy to bring defeat to these lonely, aching bones. I am alone. I stand, with little regard for dignity. I have no backup plan. The edge of the hopeless chasm beckons me to fall into its silent, deadly embrace.
The chase which was born shortly after the beginning, when humans sought to wrest godhood from the stars; bringing it to dwell in naked hearts. The twist of death took their breath, as it is not known for its discrimination.
Now, I stand at the edge of death, in the valley of the shadow. At this point, I am reckless, raging, mournful, hopeless. Desperate. I had reached the end of me. The disease of entropy combined with shame, enveloping the trails of my tears; giving new life to my fears.
In my desperation, I reached up, through the mire. Crying at the top of my lungs. I had no breath, no magic words, no song waiting to be sung. Brokenness. Nothing left. Hopeless. Utterly bereft. A cry of embarrassment, shame, and rage arose from the valley of my pain; reverberating from my very essence. The weakest cry of a babe. You see, I had lost the strength to even cry …
Then, before my very eyes, a Man appeared, with a wound in His side. Kindness emanating from His eyes, which burned with the ferocity of ten-thousand suns. I am undone, uncomfortable in my broken state; unsure of what is to come. I was unable to take another step toward Him. My body failed me. So, I reached out my hand and He met me there, when I could not even stand. Then, I saw His hands. Gaping wounds; bloody, bruised. I could see daylight through the holes.
He said to me, “I let them pierce My hands so they could not pierce your soul. I was beaten, and I was broken, so that you could be made whole. You are not exempt, inept, or too unkempt to reach out from the darkness, and place your hand in mine. It’s time for Me to carry you for a while, because you have carried Me to the nations, without hesitation or reservation; through devastation and need.”
He carried me in His loving arms. I could not even speak. I closed my eyes, to try and hide the broken tears I could not help but cry. A short time later, I opened my eyes, confronted by a great surprise. Moments ago, I was surrounded by the darkest chasm of emptiness and broken dreams. Now, as I look around, the chasm is nowhere to be found! I bound forward with a newfound strength into a lush, green, resplendent, bountiful oasis. The darkness is miles away.
I turn to the Man, who is just about to leave, and I ask “Where am I? I have forgotten how to function outside of the darkness, and there is no darkness here,” I said with a twinge of fear. He replied with a resounding whisper, which overwhelmed my heart and mind.
He said “The darkness has passed away. You are witnessing the dawn! The beautiful collision of your dreams with My ideas for you all along. The exchange of your shackles for a sword, to slice bondages, free captives, and conquer the hordes of hell. I AM redeeming The Stolen Years, every broken tear, every misplaced fear. Your enemies far and near will pay in blood. As it was written, it shall be done!”
He walked away, in power and grace. My eyes followed Him, in awe of what had just transpired, inspired, refueled, refreshed my very breath. I was stronger than before. Yet, I could not stay inside of this oasis forevermore. There are thousands like me, trapped within the ravages of war. If I do not assist them, what is the point of being whole?! I will not allow this wonderful oasis to become the basis of excuses for my own comfort.
Once broken, now I break entanglements and chains. Once wounded, now I heal the worst that warfare brings. Once carried in my weakness, now I carry the strength to fight. I was homeless, helpless, hopeless.
Now, I am ALIVE.