August 11, 2017. Narrow Gate Lodge. Williamsport, TN.
Under the stars…under THESE stars, I feel complete. My place in this world is realized, just as the stars were placed in the sky. It’s as if the stars have personalities – some cluster together forming friendships that span the timeline of creation. Some are reserved – more secluded, yet brighter on their own. Some smile, some sing, and some dance to nature’s midnight song. Some sit in silent awareness of our Creator – serving as a peaceful reminder that He is with me. When I feel scared, I look up. In darkness, I look up. I have learned what it means to walk by faith, not by sight. My feet are secure on this path, and I am protected. I will fear no evil, and I take new steps with my eyes fixed upon Him.
Life is weird, especially today. When I say I live in total faith, I mean it. Eight days ago, I became homeless. There’s no alternate plan. There’s no secret bank account waiting for me. The material possessions I have are in my truck, and that’s it. No more closet full of clothes, no more TV, no more furniture, no more walking across the street to Starbucks, no more roof over my head, no more keys in my pocket. It’s just me, my dog, Ziva, some clothes, a few boxes, and the Holy Spirit who guides my every move.
On one hand, I’ve never felt so free. I’m finding comfort in the unknown, the endless beauty of creation is all around me, and my mind is free from the noise and clutter of my busy life in Charlotte. At the risk of sounding weird, I’m seeing signs of affirmation through animals each day. It started in Alabama when two dogs appeared in my path and wouldn’t leave my side. They showed up again the next day. Butterflies have been landing on my shoulders and resting – reminding me that I exist, and I can be trusted. An eagle landed next to me yesterday, and an armadillo was directly in my path on an afternoon hike – unstartled by my presence. My own dog, Ziva, has become noticeably more affectionate and peaceful. Today, a donkey walked up to me just to say hello. He didn’t ask for food or water – he just wanted to stand beside me. After petting him and experiencing the realness of the moment, I turned to walk away. Seconds later, I looked back, and three other donkeys had appeared. All peaceful – staring at me in a way that I can only describe as affirming. It’s as if all of creation is rejoicing in my walk with the Lord. Does this sound crazy to you? It does to me, too.
On the other hand, I am lonely. I am the star shining brightly, but alone. Sure, I know the other stars by name. I see them every day and every night. We talk, and many of them are my best friends. They know I’m sober, they answer to the same Creator, and they contribute to the masterpiece of life just as much as me. We each have our own place in this infinite universe, and mine is right here - in this moment, on this journey, with these thoughts. What I’m trying to say is, I wish another star would appear beside me. I’m hoping the clouds will pass and reveal a bright star who will hold my hand. So that as the planets move and the days pass, we remain fixed in our faith and passion – shining together and reflecting Christ in one another. Whether that’s the woman God has prepared for me, the business partner I so desperately want, a friend to journey with me, or all the above…I don’t know. It’s just hard to shine by myself all the time.
In truth, I know I’m not alone. Thousands are encouraging me, and millions of others walk this sober path. My identity is in Christ, and the Spirit guides my every step. I’m happy today, and I’m confident in who I am. At 29 years old, this is the first season of my life where I can comfortably say that.
Before, I thought it was being Zack that set me apart. That’s not it at all! What sets me apart is my identity in Christ. There’s only one God, and I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. Because of that, I am unique. Before time began, He set my place in the stars. He knew me long before I knew Him, and He guides my every step.
It’s all about perspective. If I think I’m lonely, I am lonely. But if I allow myself to appreciate the gift of life, the honor and opportunity to exist in creation, to serve a purpose in a sea of stars, and to be known by the very Creator of it all – I am not lonely. I am fulfilled.
My encouragement to you would be to press into the nature of God. Allow yourself to experience the fullness of His character. We are not called to shuffle our feet through life with our eyes on the ground. Nope. We’re called to sprint into the vast unknown with our eyes fixed above. Abide in His presence – acknowledge God in everything. For who can be alone in the presence of our Creator?
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” - Colossians 3:1-3