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Elder Chat - TNT and the Gospel

It was the April of 2012, and I was a homicide detective for the police department. The SWAT team had just finished searching for a homicide suspect in the home with no luck, and my partner and I entered the house to search for evidence. I was in the master bedroom where the suspect was believed to have resided. I walked in and heard a noise and saw the bed move. Fearing the armed suspect was hiding under the bed and missed by SWAT, I drew my gun with my right hand while lifting the King mattress and box springs with my left hand. In that moment, I heard an audible "pop" from the back of my neck, my head immediately dropped to my chest in blinding pain, and a cat ran from under the bed to live another day.

The rapid heavy exertion through an improper lift had caused my disc between C6 and C7 in my spine to break through my spinal column and end up putting direct pressure on my spinal cord. I was done. Through the next three months I experienced a darkness in trauma and trials akin to Pastor Doug in 2003.

"But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His way and not turned aside." Job 23:10-11

I could barely move my chin from my chest and couldn't tolerate lying down without screaming from then on. Two separate MRIs were canceled after I tried lying down but shrieked in agony. I finally had to do a 45-minute MRI standing the entire time and not moving. Ethan was 7, Luke was 4 and I couldn't hold them, pick them up, or touch them really at all for three months. I was daily sustained on Flexeril, Cyclobenzaprine, Vicodin, Oxycodone, and Tylenol-3 to approximately 12 doses per day causing a drug high plummeting my pain but also my soul.

My wife would drive me to appointments through the week and the pain was so bad I was pass out only to be awakened by searing pain again over the next speed bump. I was scheduled to consult for possible surgery on July 19, 2012. Yet, by the start of July I was so drifted from reality and the anchor of my faith that on July 15, 2012, I cried and told my wife I had to die so the pain would stop.

Trials and Tribulations (TNT) threatened to blow me apart. That's when God showed up.

The then-Cornerstone Elders decided to come over not knowing I was in a very serious, dangerous, and dark place. Pastor Doug led prayers and they all anointed me with oil as I was in tears on the couch. They counseled with my wife and with my Bible now open I fell to Psalm 31:7-8.

"I will rejoice and be glad in Thy lovingkindness, because Thou hast seen my affliction; Thou hast known the troubles of my soul, and Thou hast not given me over into the hand of the enemy; Thou hast set my feet in a large place."

I wrote in my Bible under those verses, "07/15/2012: God is sustaining me through my disc injury." My surgery consult resulted in the surgeon immediately scheduling the surgery for seven days later. In the recovery room after plate-fusion surgery, the surgeon expressed his amazement I wasn't paralyzed as the disc had compressed my spinal cord to half its diameter without causing permanent injury. I told him God was sustaining me through my disc injury! Darkness is real and powerful, but it takes only a pinprick of Gospel light to pierce the darkness!

I was not ready when that trauma sent me spinning. I didn't cling to God, my family, my church, or my friends. I resolved to not have that happen again. The daily practice of reading and responding to what God showed me in His Word, discipling other men in the Truth, and chasing the strength of my marriage was the result that trained me for what was to come.

Fast forward to August 2022. We underwent a series of consecutively increasing unplanned expenditures over a 16-day period causing stress and concern in our home. On a Sunday I was working to figure out how to make ends meet. I didn't eat that day or the next out of stress and slept a total of three hours. God reminded me who He was on Day 3 and has quite significantly shepherded us since. I confessed to my Pastor that I was embarrassed I kept it all to myself, but that I was sure I would be a disappointment to all those in the church and at work if they knew how I couldn't seem to provide. I told him, "I'm an Elder for goodness sake! Who is ever going to trust me again?!?!?" He looked at me and reminded me that was EXACTLY why people needed to hear the story of how God gets glory when we just trust Him!

So that's the message I bring today. TNT tried to blow me up again and failed. This time my fogginess relying on myself and my ways only lasted three days and not three months. And I again have a richness in my faith I haven't experienced in a long time. My wife and I are living out the promise of the Bible; the promise of Psalm 40:1, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry."

"I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry."

Don't wait for the enemy to pack explosives around your heart and life to shred you when the TNT in your life becomes real. Become a bomb tech even now! God is waiting for you in the pages of His Living Word. He wants to hear your heart when you feel absolutely alone and in peril in prayer. He has sent you life preservers of Truth in His people all around you waiting to link arms and walk the path with you. Take these steps now so the Gospel power and light pierce the darkness, and the person of Jesus is what people see when everything else around you is blowing up!

We are here if you need us! Reach out to any Elder at any time if we can serve you in person or prayer.

Navigating the mines of the enemy together,

Jeff Daukas

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