My attempt to take my own life failed. But looking back now, watching from a new vantage point as that strange fellow strolls into the surf, I am amazed at how calm he looks, how resolved. And as I read articles about suicide, and all the psychological commentary and second-hand observations from the experts, I can't help relating more to the ones who are hurting rather than my colleagues in the counseling profession. My heart resonates with their hurt. I understand, somehow, this most inexplicable of things. I wish I did not. But I do.

Sometimes, even now, I find myself lost again, with a sense of being far from Home. I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn to see someone menacing and strangely familiar, with an unshaven face full of fear. He will whisper my name. And there are days when I actually pause to listen, mesmerized, suddenly oblivious to the miracle of new life all around me, heavy-lidded and high on the fumes of his breath. I will subtly and unknowingly wander away with him, forgetting, seeking completion in the false gods of fear and shame.

And then. Then I will shudder at how empty they leave me. And I will thirst again for the only true wine, the Healer of my heart, Lover of my soul. Turning back to Him who waits, whose arms are always open. And His love once more humbles and shatters me, as I fall into His embrace. Again and again...one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time...I come home to a place called Hope.

There is no simple solution to the issues of depression, mental illness, or addiction; to pass along a cure on the shoulders of spiritual platitudes would be both simplistic and cruel. Telling someone in this condition to simply pull themselves together and get back to living is like you or I commanding Lazarus to come out of the tomb. For many, the forest has become too dense, the light gone, the way lost. Unless you have been bound to darkness, it is difficult to understand.

But Jesus does. And Jesus can.  He can call us out, and unwrap the burial clothes. "Come to Me," He says softly, "all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). And the rest He offers is the kind only those belonging to the fellowship of the brokenhearted can fully appreciate...those of us still one life-changing moment away with the sweet sound of His name poised on the tip of our tongues, caught on our breaths. We, all of us, even as we deny Him and curse Him and turn from Him cannot for long deny the very human truth that we so desperately need Him. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls."

And so my prayer for all the lost and hurting is this: Come Home. Turn and head back on the road to the Savior, the One who loves you. Because I have been where you are going, and I have tasted the cold emptiness of life lived alone. But Christ Jesus offers to all a warm fire, and a place to rest our weary heads.

Life. Love. Hope.

Amen.

Jim Robinson is a successful songwriter, musician, speaker, author, and recovery counselor. A graduate of Christ Center School of Counseling and Addiction Studies, Robinson is founder of ProdigalSong, a Christian ministry utilizing music, speaking, counseling and teaching to convey healing for the broken spirit. For information about his ministry or his book, also called Prodigal Song, visit www.ProdigalSong.com or contact Jim via e-mail: prodigalsong@juno.com.