The wheels of my Mack truck spun and spat mud as I tried to maneuver the rig out of the muck. It was useless. I was stuck, going nowhere, trapped in the backcountry of the Texas Panhandle. It would be a long and lonely night.
And it would be a night I would never forget. For there, in the cab of that semi, in the darkness, all alone, hiding from the world and my past, Jesus found me.
A few short years before this, I was a pastor and seminary professor. I taught Hebrew and Old Testament classes at a school in the Midwest. I was at the top of my game. I was living my dream.
And as I did, all my dreams came untrue.
They say pride goes before a fall. And it certainly does. But pride is never alone. Tagging along with it are co-evils. Evils like lies. And lust. And a pantheon of other false gods. Into this pantheon I had stepped. And when I did, I fell face-first into a life of rebellion. “Devils hung like vampires on my soul,” as Thomas Merton wrote.
After it all, my marriage was decimated. My job and career were over. And I became a runaway, a prodigal soul who became not a feeder of pigs but a driver of trucks. A broken, disgraced man who was convinced that God had become my mortal enemy.
And then that night happened. That night in the Texas oil and gas fields, stuck in the mud, alone with my thoughts, Jesus climbed into the cab of that truck with me. He arrived in a copy of the Psalms I carried with me. With nothing else to do, I opened that book of prayers.
I found there the language of the languishing. Here were raw and honest and bleeding prayers that gave voice to my innermost anger and bitterness and hopelessness. I began to pray them, one after another. And in those prayers I heard another voice. The voice of Jesus praying inside and alongside me.
That night Jesus showed me that the Psalms are, first and foremost, his prayers. He who became our sin prays the psalms of confession. He who is the Father’s delight prays the psalms of praise. He who is the suffering servant prays the psalms of lament. And we who are in him link our voice with his. His voice and our voices blend into a univocal prayer before the Father’s throne. And we are heard.
Jesus came to me in those ancient prayers with the voice that called me—not a loser, not a jerk, not a disgrace, not an adulterer—but a friend. A brother. A fellow child of the heavenly Father. I began to realize that night that, despite my mountain of sins, I am the beloved of Abba.
My journey toward healing was far from over. But it began in the cab of a Mack truck, when Jesus came to me in the Psalms. In those prayers he still speaks—to me, to you, to all of us—that he is our substitute, our redeemer, the one who will always hold us fast.
In his new book, Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul, Chad tells the story of his journey from sin, rebellion, and brokenness to the healing found in Christ alone.
Don't miss Chad on our talk show, Steve Brown, Etc.