Recently, while I was waiting for my appointment in the lounge of a local business, I watched a large screen displaying the company’s products. Each one was given a “before/after” treatment, with first a rather glum experience, then a much better one after using the product. This is a basic staple of advertising which has proven remarkably successful.

When I was a young boy, my heart was usually thrilled with expectancy. My family lived in a rural setting and my favorite pastime was to roam through the hills exploring nature in all seasons. I loved everything about life, and I was blissfully unconcerned about all the evil that might have been lurking out in the world.

But by the time I became a teenager, those feelings were fading. Nature hadn’t changed, nor my love for it. But those early feelings of joy and excitement had been pushed aside by anxious thoughts.

I turned twenty on my uncle’s cattle ranch in central British Columbia. My uncle was away for the winter and left me with the house and a few animals to watch over. That may spark imaginations of adventure in the rugged western Canadian back country, and there was some of that. But in fact, it was a low point in my life, and I’d gone there hoping to find purpose and lasting peace of mind.

Being there provided time and opportunity to reflect on life, and I wrote my thoughts in a diary. The book is long gone, but I do remember the title and a few lines of a poem I worked on. “Taking Yourself Higher” expressed my growing awareness of the negative spiral that exists in this world and my need to rise up and away from it. But the poem was left unfinished, as I lacked any answer as to how to achieve that. I had not yet discovered the way.

This is the picture of my “before” experience. Thankfully, when I surrendered to the offer of the Shepherd’s extended hand, I was given grace to believe and was lifted up and out to safety.

Faith is and always will be the key to victory. Believing we’re not alone and have help is the first step. Studying and absorbing the promises in God’s Word is a practical aspect of possessing and increasing faith. When we’ve done what we can, God will do what we can’t.