A Modern – Yet Very Old Tale

    How did I ever get to this point?”  She wondered as she stood there shivering, trying to inconspicuously pull up the strap of her shift, which had fallen off her left shoulder.  she shivered, scantily clad, not having been given the opportunity to put on a robe or cover herself with something of substance.  Never before had she been more aware of her life situation. Her gaze was downward, she didn’t need to lift her eyes to see the accusing and angry eyes blazing over her. The men surrounded her, poised to throw the stones they held in their hands.  Their aim directed at their target, which in this case was her.

It would be over soon.  She prayed that when the first stone was thrown, that it would hit her directly in the temple and knock her out, or quickly kill her.  She knew that she deserved what was coming, and received their judgment as justified.  She dare not lift up her eyes, for fear accusation would show in her own eyes for those who she knew had secretly partaken with other women for the same reason she stood before them now.  It was not her place to accuse, her own sins were boldly before her.  

Although she wouldn’t look up, she did allow herself  a quick glance sideways at the man she had been found with. He stood way off to the distance clearly begging his wife for forgiveness, promising her anything to come back into her good graces.  She knew this because he was actually groveling at his wife’s feet, his wife’s arms crossed against her chest, listening to his ridiculous pleas and promises with disdain.  Would his wife forgive him? Probably.  It was hard to believe that this was the same man who had sworn she was his “one true love” the “only one who ever understood him, believed in him or had accepted him for who he truly was.”  Yet was he there standing beside her?  Was he there defending her? Was he even willing to be stoned alongside her? NO. Fool she was for ever having believed him. Loved him. Now here she stood, her life on the line.  It was taking forever for this circle of men to kill her, couldn’t they just do it and be done with it?! Not one of them could hold as much disdain for her as she did for herself.  Would that she could throw the first stone at her own head.

“How did I get to this point?”  She wondered.  “How did I allow myself to participate in something I knew was wrong?”  As she stood there, waiting for the first stone to be thrown, she thought about her life. Ironically, the one thing she had sworn she would never do. She had done.  Her father had left her mother for another woman, and she had seen from first hand experience as a child the unhappiness that action had wrought.  She had sworn she would not become like him.  She had hated him with a white hot searing hate, yet, here she stood. She had gone against all that she had known was right – how? Why and when?  She had been a good faithful girl all her life.  Never in her wildest dreams had she ever imagined that here she would stand.  Ostracized, forsaken, guilty, alone and about to be stoned.  Still she waited.  It was taking forever.  There was a man, dressed in white addressing the men holding the stones.  He had their undivided attention, which for the moment was off of her.  She could run.  She wouldn’t get very far, she knew – but she could run.  But she didn’t.  She didn’t because she knew she deserved what was coming to her.

Why had she done it? The relentless question in her head tortured her worse than any stone throw could. WHY?  And then the answer came to her.  Really, it was nothing but a flimsy excuse. But it was the truth.  She had wanted to disappear, to go away.  She had wanted to forget,to lose herself… She hadn’t been able to deal with the issues occurring in her life, life had not turning out the way she had expected it to and it made no sense to her,  1+1 was supposed to = 2.   But it hadn’t.  So she disappeared into a life she believed was real. She had gotten lost in a lifestyle she had been convinced was real life.  Somewhere along the line the lines of reality and fantasy had become blurred and with it the ability to see things as they truly were. Any time reality would knock upon her door, she had become angry with it. She had denied it! “We shared a tent! We shared a love! We shared a life! He was mine! I was his!” No, she wouldn’t go back.  It hadn’t helped that her co-sinner had agreed and shared and encouraged her with selfish lies, love filled promises he had never truly intended to keep. She wouldn’t look at him again.  The truth had hit her squarely in the head, he had never truly been hers in the first place and she had sinned against God, she knew the consequences. It wouldn’t matter now, she’d be dead shortly.

“Oh why was it taking so long?!” She bit her lip in frustration, wanting to scream. “DO IT! THROW IT! I SINNED! I AM GUILTY.  YOUR JUDGMENT IS JUST!”  Yet she stood still, knowing it wasn’t her place to do anything than stand there allowing goose bumps to form on her body.  How could she be so cold when her heart was racing so fast?

“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  Now what do you say?”

Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

She had heard of this Jesus.  This man robed in white.  What was he writing? She strained her eyes to see, but she couldn’t tell.  

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw the stone at her.”  Again Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time.  The older ones first, until only Jesus was left.

She couldn’t believe it, they were throwing their stones – down on the ground, not at her.  Her jaw dropped in surprise.  Though still she stood.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one sir,” she responded softly.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.  “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

(*Italic bold print taken from John 8:3-11)

I wish the Bible said more as to what happened to that woman.  How she moved forward with her life.  My hope is that when confronted with her lifestyle and when her eyes opened to show her how her life had been, that she chose to follow Jesus.  He was probably the first man to ever show her love. Yes, my hope is that she ran back to her tent, dressed quickly, grabbed a shawl and followed Jesus for the remaining days of His ministry (or her life).  She was a prodigal, as is anyone who chooses to go down a sinful pathway.  Perhaps she encountered others who had fallen as she had and was able to grow into a strong woman of God and extend the right hand of fellowship to young women and keep them from falling in the way she had.  Perhaps she found her own self worth because of the love, forgiveness and grace shown to her by Jesus.  More than likely her biggest accuser was her own self (which is often the case with ex-prodigals, no matter the sin).  But Jesus encouraged her to go forward, clearly we will not know the ending of her story until we are on the other side – but there is one thing that is clear.  Our God is a God of second chances.  Our God is a God of grace, and forgiveness and love and mercy.  The Bible tells us:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

No matter what your sin has been (or is) Jesus died for you. His words are the same today as they were yesterday, “Go now, and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11).  It doesn’t matter WHAT that sin is – listen to Him.  Heed Him, the life He has for you is so much better than any life you could choose for yourself.  You just have to believe it.  As an ex-prodigal, myself I can tell you that the hardest part is the aftermath, the forgiving yourself and the moving forward.  As I wrote in a prior post, any ex-prodigal is in good company, for the Bible is filled with them:

Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer

Rahab was a prostitute 
David had an affair and was a murderer 
Elijah was suicidal 
Isaiah preached naked 
Jonah ran from God 
Naomi was a widow 
Job went bankrupt 
Peter denied Christ 
The Disciples fell asleep while praying 
Martha worried about everything 
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once 

Zaccheus was too small 
Paul was too religious 
Timothy had an ulcer..

AND Lazarus was dead!
(*Taken from rapturenotes.com)

What are (or were) YOU?  God’s grace, forgiveness, mercy and love can take the worst of us and allow us to use our “mess” for a message and use it for His glory, now that is what I call – a Happy Ending… Or maybe, better yet – A new beginning? You decide…

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Deception

“Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Deceive!” ~ Sir Walter Scott

Even if he did say so himself, the web was magnificent, translucent and large. The design beautifully created, although unless you were of his species you would not be able to appreciate its intricate design, the time it had taken and extreme care that had gone into its making. Now to sit and wait, it would only be a matter of time…

She was beautifully stupid. It didn’t occur to her that she should stop and think before proceeding. Like a mermaid’s siren, she was seduced by it and had to follow where it led.  Where was it coming from? Who was singing it? The song was lovely; it filled her with wonder and curiosity which over ruled common sense. It was magical and fascinating and beautiful all at the same time. She was mesmerized; willingly she followed it like a sleep walker only awake.

“What is your pleasure?” Whispered a seductive voice in her ear, “tell me my love and I shall give you everything your heart desires.” She believed it. She delighted in it, not once did she ever question the source. “What have you always wanted and never had? Come away with me…” It enticed her. She went forward. She did not see a web, she saw a beautifully intricate pathway that glistened like diamonds and silver, it filled her with wonder, delight and pleasure at the very sight of it. The closer she walked towards it the more dim the problems and dilemmas and disappointments of her daily life dimmed. Like a moth attracted to light, she walked towards it. It filled her with desire, it filled her with pleasure, and it filled her with wonder. “Yes, that’s it. Come to me my darling, closer still and I will reach out my hand to you.”

Red flag warnings came up in her mind that made her stop and hesitate for just one moment but the temptation to find out what was ahead was stronger. She had to touch it, as she reached out to touch it her hand got caught on the web and the harder she tried to free herself the more caught she became. First it was her hand, and then it was her wrist, her forearm. The more she struggled for freedom the more stuck she became and it reeled her in like fish caught on a line until there she hung upon the web, full bodied. The stars that had blinded her fell like scales from her eyes and she realized how ugly a situation she had allowed herself in.

Out of the corner he stepped out into the light revealing himself in his true form, which was nothing how she had pictured him to be. He walked over to her and laughed a diabolical laugh, delighted that his scheme had succeeded.

“Welcome to my web of deception.” He said, tilting his head to the side. “Truly the connotation of you each being like dumb sheep is accurate. It never ceases to amaze me how gullible you are. It is almost too easy sometimes… What is it the spider said to the fly? ‘Come into my parlor?’ and she did.” He threw his head back and laughed.

She struggled to free herself, entangling herself further.

He studied her with interest, “A fighter, are you? Unfortunately for you, you walked into this situation of your own good and perfect will and now you are truly stuck… I’ve a few other traps I need to check upon, so sit tight.” He barked out a laugh and melted back into the darkness.

Oh how stupid she felt to have fallen for such a farce. The more she struggled the more the web held her tight. Why hadn’t she heeded the red flagged warnings? What to do? What to do?

The spirit of depression came over her as she felt deflated like an airless balloon.  All her sins and faults danced before her mind, taunting her, cajoling and mocking her. 

“Pray,” came a whisper.

She hesitated and looked in the direction he had disappeared, she was afraid to respond out loud for fear he would hear her and return. “I feel so stupid; I don’t know what to pray.” She thought. “I knew better yet I never saw this coming. How something that sounded so beautiful could be so deceptive.”

“And no wonder, for satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)

“Did you think he would come in a manner you would recognize? That would have been too easy… “Came the soft response.  “That is why it says:”

“Be as wise as serpents as an innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) 

“Perhaps I should just give up then… I can’t free myself.”

“No you cannot, but the good news is He came to set the captives free. Pray…”

Taking a deep hesitating and shaky breath, she prayed:

“Father, I come before you praising you and thanking you that when I am weak you are made strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) and that greater are You that is in me than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).  I’m afraid I’ve made a mess of things and can’t seem to find my way out.  You say in Your Word that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven. (Matthew 18:18)  I ask that you would loose me from these chains that hold me fast in the precious name of Your Son, my Savior Jesus Christ. Forgive me for my sins and wash me with His precious blood, please help me to put my feet back on the pathway I should be on. I thank you that I can call on You for guidance and for help.  I thank you for your mercy, your grace and your love which sustains me.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

As if sliced a part, the webs that held her released her, she was free.

“Now clothe yourself in your spiritual armor.”

“Lord, I put on the helmet of salvation and the breast plate of righteousness.  Around my waist I put the belt of truth and I shod my feet with the preparation of the gospel.  I pick up my shield of faith and grab my sword of the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

At that very moment, he returned.   “Nooooooooo!!!” He screamed when he saw she was free.  He charged at her, but she raised her shield in front of her and he came to an abrupt hault.

“Get behind me satan. I am a child of the Utmost High God.  I am covered with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I belong to him!”

As she boldly stood with her legs a part and her sword of the Spirit waving in one hand, shield of faith in the other he disappeared in front of her like a puff of smoke… “We will meet again…” he threatened as he vanished.

God had given her the strength to get through it, as the devil disappeared, so did her strength and she dropped her arms to her side, exhausted.

“Thank You Lord for  never leaving nor forsaking me, for giving me the strength I need at the moments I need it most.”  Tucking her sword in it’s shield by her waist, and picking up her shield.  She wiped off the webbing residue from her shoulders and turned around to step back on the pathway she should never have departed, humbled but wiser and stronger in Him. And forward she proceeded.

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called her heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

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The Pathway (Part II) – The Way Home

 
Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, lean not to your own understanding, in ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. (Proverbs 3:5)


Walking along the road of life enjoying the warm sunshine on my back, whistling a joyous tune and carrying my rule book in my left hand, not a worry in my head, I encountered a sign mid –course in my journey:

 “CAUTION: DO NOT CROSS, DETOUR TURN RIGHT.”

Scratching my head, I looked around.  No one else was on this way for me to converse; I did not see any difference between the land I was currently following and the land to the right.  Why could I not journey forward? What harm would be done?  There was nothing that raised concern within me; clearly the sign must have been put there in error.  Tentatively I touched my toe to the grassy green ground in front of me, just as I thought it was springy and stable, crouching down I sniffed and touched a tuft of grass, nothing odiferous, in fact it smelled the sweetest scent of  green sun touched grass.  I stretched my neck to look as far yonder as I could, a beautiful clear blue horizon, billowy clouds, tall green grass, in fact as I inspected the grass I noticed a little red and black spotted lady bug perched on the edge of a green blade studying me as I studied her. 

“Don’t do it!” She said shaking a tiny little lady bug finger at me, speaking in a small little voice that I had to lean over with to hear clearly.  “Listen to the sign.  This pathway may look enticing and wonderful with its deep blue sky and ample walk way, but don’t do it.  For it will deceive you, lie to you, make you promises  it will never keep, use you and lead you down a way you never should go it knows nothing but deception and is full of self with no consideration to the feelings and heart of the traveler who travels its length. It will take and take and take from you, suck your feelings dry until you have nothing left to give.  It does not know how to think of anyone but its own needs and its own self.  It is a pathway of deception. Don’t be fooled by its outward beauty.  If you saw it with the eyes of truth you would see it as it really is – empty, broken, dark with nothing to offer any traveler, for it can’t even make its own path straight. Follow the right way to go, the one written in that rule book you carry.” She motioned her little hand at my book.  “This one is nothing but a mirage of lies that does not know how to tell its traveler the truth.  It gives you a pipe dream and just when you have travelled deep within its path it will shatter you into a million tiny little pieces without thinking twice. Its only full of self, and never gives thought to anything else but the way it wants to go. The sign is there for a reason. Heed it beautiful traveler of light.”  She fluttered her wings at me and looked up at me with her little face.

I Laughed in delight.  “Oh silly little ladybug, you act as if it were a wayward man.  It is but a beautiful, sweet, darling pathway!  Like none I’ve ever known.  What stories you tell!” Then I whispered to her, “Lady bug, lady bug fly away home…”  The lady bug looked at me a moment with a shake of her head and a shrug of her red and black dotted shoulders, “I tried to warn you, but you will do as you will.  You will come to regret it and my words will come back to you someday.”  She flew off into the sky.

I looked at the pathway to see if I could see what she saw and again was tempted by its enticing land.  I let my back pack fall to the ground so that I could tuck my rule book safely within the confines of the bag and decided that while I was at it, I would kick off my shoes and place them in my bag as well.  I wanted to feel the soft, springy cool grass against the soles of my feet as I went forward on my journey, my mind made up.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained. An exquisite day, birds singing, sun shining and all was right with the world.  “A caution sign.” I scoffed, “Absolutely ludicrous.” 

The scent of honeysuckle permeated the air and my heart delighted at the lovely little fragrant blossoms that clumped sporadically here and there. 

“Come walk my length,” the pathway beckoned.  “I promise you, I will show you beauty you have never encountered.  We will walk this journey together, you and I forever.   I will take you places where history has occurred and we will enjoy going back in time and learning of its people.  I will never leave you.  I will show you love, satisfaction and true contentment.  Palm to palm I will never deceive you or let you go.  I promise… Come beautiful traveler, we were meant to be together – travel my way, there is much to be seen and we will journey together.”  It beckoned to me like an invitation from a lover.  I was captivated, I believed it, I wanted it, there was no way I would go any other way, except the way this path beckoned.   I followed it a ways, stopping at one point to lie down on my back on the sweet fragrant green grass and breathe in the intoxicating scent.  Stretching out my arms luxuriously behind my head to feel the cool smooth grass against my palms and stare up at the clear blue sky and bask in the rays of the sun.   “This is absolute Heaven,” I sighed in delight. The best way ever! The greatest decision I have ever made! I should have torn that sign down, to think I would have missed this lovely little way because of it.  I wonder how many people have missed out on such a scenic site due to that horrid little misinforming sign?!”  I was of a mind to rise up, turn around and do that very thing, but decided against it.  “I am a knowledgeable, intelligent being.  Capable of making up my own mind and choosing what is right for me!” I mumbled to myself,  reluctantly rising up to leave and continue on my way, in doing so I passed by a small pond to filled with scenic flat brown lily pads.

“Are you now?” croaked a response, “Are you sure about that?”

I stopped mid-step and looked around to see where the remark had come from. “Who said that?”

“Me that’s who,” was the response. 

My eyes spanned the ground around me and finally located the source.

“So full of yourself, it’s a wonder you saw me at all,” He huffed blowing up his vocal sacs with air, causing his throat to balloon out.  I dispersed of my back pack, dropped down to the ground to see him better.  There upon a lily pad sat a dark green bullfrog looking at me with disdain in his black little eyes.  “Doesn’t it say something in the rule book about “pride before a fall?” He asked.

“What exactly does that mean?” I asked insulted, was this tiny little green creature judging me? 

“It means that perhaps you should consider the fact that there may be more to things than what meets your eye. Perhaps you don’t know as much as you think you do.  Maybe there was a reason beyond what you could see for that caution sign warning.”  He accentuated his remark by extending his tongue and capturing a fly who had mistakenly thought could fly by unnoticed.  “Point made and perfect timing.  Just as that fly thought he could sneak by me unawares, he was sadly mistaken, to his demolish and to my satisfaction.”

“I beg your pardon!” I said with great indignation.  “You are just a little green bullfrog, what could you possibly know that I don’t?!” I rose back up rocking on the back of my heels.

“Is that a fact?” He replied as he watched me rise.  “I wouldn’t be so sure of that if I was you, I would try to be a bit more open minded…” With that he extended his long green legs and did a flying leap off the lily pad with so high a jump that the water splashed me full in the face.

“What audacity!” I exclaimed wiping the pond water off my face with the edge of my sleeve. Picking up my back pack, I turned my back to the pond and stomped forward to resume my travels. “Wretched little frog!  I hope he gets eaten by a snake!”  Onward in my journey I went.

MY life, MY plans, MY schedule, MY way.  I had made a plan for my life and I was going forward, confident in that plan.  I had made the right decision and as I walked all of my senses delighted in the world around me.  Who knew where I should go better than I? Proud of myself and looking forward to my destination, I continued on.  If things felt this right, they certainly could not be wrong, or so I thought…

As time went on, my travels began to feel a bit too long, the pungent smell of honeysuckle which once had smelled so appealing, began to smell sickeningly sweet.  As the sun began to sink behind its horizon, mosquitoes appeared buzzing annoyingly around my head and nipping at my feet, try as I might, I could not get them to leave me alone.

“Oh you dratted bugs – why must I have been blessed with such sweet blood!” I complained as I tried to swat them as I continued on my way.   “I should be at my destination now.”  Wearily I looked around me.  The pack on my back felt heavy now and was beginning to chafe the area between my shoulder blades, taking it down; I took out my shoes and put them back on my bug bitten feet. I sat against a large boulder, raising my knees up to my chest and wrapping my arms around my legs.

“Regretting your choice of actions yet?” said a quiet voice.

“Oh no, not you again Mister Frog,” I groaned trying to adjust my eyes to the dusk locate the annoying little amphibian.

“I’ve been called quite a few things in my life, but frog is not one of them,” the voice chuckled.

If my sense of hearing was correct, it was coming from somewhere above me, finally I saw it and when I did, I wish I hadn’t.  I backed away from the boulder as quickly as I could.

“Oh come on now,” it exclaimed watching me with little red eyes as it twitched its whiskers. “I’ve no intention of spraying you, I’d say you’ve already made quite a stink of things, wouldn’t you agree?” The skunk twitched her tail as if to toy with me, and laughed in amusement as I cringed and closed my eyes. “Tell me something,” she continued, “why do you have a rule book in your bag if you chose not to follow it? Do you find comfort in just the carrying of it?”  She tilted her head to the left to look at me.  I could see her red eyes glowing in the dusk of the evening.  Once in my own travels I came across the belongings of a camper who had gone out upon a hike.  They had left upon their sleeping bag the same book of rules you too carry.  I was curious about it, so I meandered over to take a closer look. Opened the pages to a rule which said, in a section entitled Psalms Chapter 32 verse 8: “The Lord says, I will guide you along the best pathway of your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.”  I’m curious, or maybe just a bit nosey – but I have to ask, have you listen to His advice? Have you allowed Him to guide you or have you chosen to guide yourself?”  The skunk rested her chin upon her paws and waited for my response.

“What I do, how I do, why I do, is no one else’s concern, only mine.  It is why it is referred to as a “personal” relationship. That sign was clearly there in error.  Someone should have taken it down a long time ago.  I only wish I had done it before I travelled forward.”

“Interesting…” commented the skunk.  “This is only my two cents worth and you can take it for what you will; but it seems to me that a relationship consists of more than just one.  Yet I have not heard you communicate to this Lord of yours in any way.  In fact, I have only heard you talk to yourself about how pleased you are with you, with the decisions you have made…  Look around yourself.  Have you gotten to where you wanted to go? Have you eaten? Are you cold?  To me you look disheveled, lost and irritated far different from the girl I saw set out this morning.  Whose rulebook are you following if not the one in your sack?”

Her words stirred up within me a great irritation and without thinking, I took off my right shoe and flung it at her, hitting her right upon her left hind quarters, which caused her to release the most pungent and smelly sprays which caused my eyes to sting and I began to choke at the stench.

“That was simply cruel, “she said turning around with a limp. “More than cruel, it was mean.  It was cruel and mean.”  She looked over her shoulder at me with a hurt expression on her black and white striped face as she limped off into the dark. “It seems to me, I once saw something else in that rule book you never read, about a person reaping what they sow… You’ll have to tell me how all this worked out for you if ever we meet again.” And she disappeared into the dark.

I was alone, alone with only one shoe.  Night had fallen and now I simply wanted to be done with this part of my journey. I could barely see two feet in front of me and I reeked of skunk.  This was not going according to my plan. This was not the way things were supposed to be, and there was no one here for me to talk to, what should I do? Not knowing, I decided I had no choice but to settle in for the night. Tomorrow I would find a place to bathe and continue on my journey, which surely must be soon coming to an end.

“Don’t listen to any of them, ” the pathway beseeched me. “We were meant to journey together. Keep going.  I will never leave you, we belong together.  You are my one true love, beloved traveler let me take you down a way you’ve never been. Look at my picturesque background, like what you see and tell me you do.  The beauty of may way is solely for you.”  I snuggled closer to the ground.  I loved this pathway like no other I had travelled, I was going to stay on it forever.  I was committed to its way.

Even as I thought that, a feeling of uneasiness crept over me and for the first time, I began to feel a niggling of doubt, doubt that what the pathway was saying was true.  What if they were right? What if I was being deceived?  What if the pathway was lying to me and taking me down a way I didn’t know? I tried to shake the thought off.  I loved this pathway and had forsaken all other ways to follow its trail.  Taking my remaining shoe off and putting my backpack against the ground I lay my head down upon it, like a pillow, the words of the ladybug, frog and the skunk replaying through my head.

“It will deceive you, lie to you, make you promises  it will never keep, use you and lead you down a way you never should go it knows nothing but deception and is full of self with no consideration to the feelings and heart of the traveler who travels its length. It will take and take and take from you, suck your feelings dry until you have nothing left to give.”
Does not your rule book say pride before a fall? Perhaps you should have more of an open mind, there may be more than what you see…”
“Why do you have it in your bag if you choose not to follow it?”

Was not life filled with making decisions? The way seemed straight and I didn’t want to go another. It was my choice and with that last thought inside my head, I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

My own stench woke me up. I’ve got to get cleaned off! I thought as I scrambled up and ran my fingers through my hair.  I’ve got to get clean! The smell of skunk had permeated my clothes and I knew that I would have to bathe clothes and all, so off I went searching for water.  

“Come, I shall show you where you can go,” the pathway said lovingly to me.  “I shall take you where you can get cleaned off and where we can be as one forever.”

I came to a high rise of land and as I reached the top, I could see a river below.  In my relief and excitement I hiked up my backpack and started to run, barefoot down towards the water, which turned out to be a HUGE mistake.  As I got closer to the shore, I encountered sand.  Not just any sand, quicksand.  Only I didn’t know it until I had reached it.  I started to sink.

“Oh this is not good! Not good at all!” I cried trying to get out.  But the more I struggled, the more I could feel my body sinking deeper. “Oh my! What should I do?!  Oh no!” I said trying to remain calm.  What a pickle I had gotten myself into. “Pathway, where have you taken me?” I cried out.

“This is not my fault but yours.” The pathway said sternly in a disciplinary tone of voice.  “People blame me ALL the time for things that are not my fault.  It is YOURS. You had no intention of ever staying on my pathway, did you? Did you wonder about paths that you had not ventured last night as  you slept? Did you listen to the creatures and their accusations around you?”

The more it accused and spoke, the deeper I began to sink.  “What are you saying?” I asked astonished, trying not to fight against the pull. “Happily I would have journeyed down your pathway all the remaining days of my life, for I have loved every moment of this journey.” At that same moment I noticed a troll walking over the side of a hill. 

“Help! Help! Help!”  I yelled trying to yell without thrashing around. The backpack which I had had no my back felt like a millstone around my neck. Oh that I had removed it from my body prior to running towards the water!

The troll stood far from the sand I had so stupidly and willingly walked into and looked at me and laughed.

“What have you here my darling pathway?” The toothless troll questioned. She was about 300 pounds, stringy greasy hair, a polyester dress hung loosely around her pudgy form. Then as she leaned closer, she noticed me and her expression changed to one of anger.

“Who is this that you have allowed to venture upon our land?” She bellowed to the pathway. (If I had had both feet planted firmly on the ground I would have felt the pathway quiver in fear.)

The pathway was afraid of this troll? What power did she exhort over it?

“No one dear, just a wayward traveler.” The pathway responded, voice shaking.

Oh so now instead of “beloved” I was a “wayward traveler?” The revelation shocked me as I fought to keep my head above the mire.  For the second time I thought about all the warning signs that had come my way.  Signs I had chosen to ignore.  

“I’d like to keep her if I may.” The pathway stated to the troll.

“Cover up her head and kill her.” The troll said, waiting for the quicksand to cover my head.

“Ahhhh but then she would be one with my land and with me forever,” the pathway said quickly.  ” You wouldn’t want that now, would you my trollness?” He said it seductively.

The troll tapped a big fat stubby finger to her chin.  “That simply won’t do at all… You cannot keep her – expel her from the mire right now and then follow your own path home for we shall discuss this further!” She stamped a fat little trolly leg, turned around and marched back the way she had come.

The pathway obeyed her and I felt a suction that carried me down at first, covered my head in its slimy, muddy waters and then I was lifted and propelled high into the air, falling on my backside so hard that my rule book, surprisingly undamaged by the mire fell out on the ground beside me.  I landed hard, covered in filth, smelling like skunk and nasty pond water.

My heart was shattered into a million little pieces and at this point, I could not focus upon anything but the pain.

“I’m sorry I deceived you,” The pathway said after a moment. “I wasted so much of your time. I am unworthy of your loyalty and your love.”

My heart hurt, it was hard to hear what the pathway was saying because the loudness of my pain reduced its words to a mere whisper.

“I should never have come this way.  I should have obeyed the sign and ventured the way it indicated. Had I known I would be in so much anguish I would never have turned down your way.” My eyes filled with tears, as my backside smarted, my heart hurt and I felt very alone and lost.  I no longer trusted my own discernment.  “You have hurt me more than I have ever experienced in my life. But the truth is, you poor pathway are the one to be pitied, for the truth is, you go in only one direction. I saw you and loved your way and would gladly have walked upon your path until the end of time.  I saw the beauty in you for who you were, while everyone else just saw a “way.” You are the one who will have to hope that people will ignore the sign and venture upon your pathway and discover the beauty I saw in you. It may take me some time, but I will recover and I will go on.  You will remain, stagnant and stuck and look what you have to contend with?  All the days of your life. I am shattered into a million little pieces, but my God will put me back together and I will rise more beautiful, more knowledgeable and wiser than I was before because I take responsibility for my actions.”   I picked up my rulebook, my back pack, wiped the slime as well as I could off my body.  “I renounce you and this pathway I have innocently, willingly, wrongly followed in a love which could never be returned.  Go away from me, for you paid my love back with deception – back to your old life, your old ways and your old habits.  I shall not journey with you anymore.”  I turned my back on the pathway I had loved to detour a different route.  Broken, but not defeated. Heavy hearted, yet at peace because I was finally going the right way.

“Lord, you say things for a reason.  Forgive us when we do not heed Your voice, but choose to listen to ourselves. The louder our own voices get, the softer becomes Yours because You are a Father who gives us free will.  We can be wayward children, yet still You love us.  Still you patiently await our return to Your way.  I ask that You meet me halfway, for my heart is shattered and I am having a hard time thinking straight and I doubt myself. Forgive me my sins, wash me with the blood of Jesus.  I repent.  I renounce anything that might hinder me from hearing Your voice and following Your direction for my life.  Cleanse me from the filthiness I have gained upon my journey.  My hurt is my own, I own it, I acknowledge it.  I ask that you would heal my heart and bind it back together. Forgive me for not guarding it better, for it is the well spring of life. I ask you this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ my Savior. Who died on the cross for forgiveness of my sins, rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father. Amen.”

As I stood in the middle of I-don’t-know-where, the sun came through the trees and landed upon my form.  It’s light stretched out to touch my sodden, dirty clothes and made them white as snow. My stench was gone. The grime was gone. I was clean.

I could no longer hear the pathway – it was in the past.  It’s voice was gone.  But I was not alone.  A new clearer voice filled my head.

“My precious daughter, how I rejoice upon your return, you see? I am meeting you halfway.  Though your sins were scarlet, I have made them white as snow.  Here I AM, I AM the one who heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.  Surely I will bind up yours and heal you, for I love you. You are mine. I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.  Lift up your head – child YOU are MINE. Come, lets go forward in my love, my grace and my mercy – I have work for you to do.”

And so another chapter in my life closes, do I still hurt? Yes.  I imagine it will take some time for that pain to wane.  For I loved that pathway and I pray that at sometime, it will become a pathway of light instead of one that hurts and crushes and destroys what was meant for only love.

At the beginning of the pathway stood a wanderer – observing the sign and scratching her head… 

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The Pathway Continued (Part III)

 
A gentle reminder – some of life’s most precious moments happen when you least expect it…

As previously referred to in another wrote (see post from March 2013 entitled “The Pathway)  – I was traveling down a beautiful  road, one that I thought I was destined to travel upon  all the days of my life only to have been chased off the road but the fattest, ugliest, sexless looking of trolls.  It was a private way and the disgusting troll had reminded me that the road belonged to her, pulled out her ownership papers, barked at me to be on my way off her property. Heartbroken – I had no other choice but to change route and cross over upon another path.  Looking behind me at my beloved road one last time, I realized that the road was subservient to its troll and would always be.  The pure natural and vibrant beauty of the road would remain unrecognized, unappreciated and neglected – its location taken for granted –all the days of its existence,  which was a shame for its beauty was such that had I been able to remain upon it, I would have danced and frolicked and appreciated its natural beauty all the days of my life.

My head downcast, and being such, I did not see the different kind of beauty in the new path I’d taken. Different from whence I had come. Golden sunshine peaked down in between tree leaves; birds sang joyfully, honeysuckle pungent and thick filled the pathway with a natural wild sense of beauty.  Yet, I missed it all for my gaze had gone to my feet – not in front of me, and my shoulders were slumped in defeat, I cared not where I roamed.  Like a leave flitting about in the wind, I went mindlessly forward, all that had been vibrant and full of color now in my present state of mind, had become black and grey. I couldn’t venture on the road I longed for, so I no longer cared, the beauty had dissipated in the world around me.

Walking with downcast eyes and a heavy heart I did not see the tall oak of a man until I bumped right into what apparently was a set of trunk sized knees, it  startled me (so lost was I in my own thoughts of sorrow).  Like a startled deer poised for flight I froze in the headlights of this unexpected intruder. (Although truth be known, I suppose I was the intruder, since I was the stranger upon the path).

“Whoa…,” Said a strong steady voice.  He stretched out a solid arm with large hands to keep me from toppling over.

I lifted my head up. This man was so tall I had to lean back and stretch my neck waaaaaaay up to see. Hazel eyes in a heart shaped face looked down at me with amusement.  A red beard handsomely mapped his lower rectangular jaw. He looked like a combination of a woodcutter and a leprechaun gone giant, but there was a gentleness that exuded about him that looking upon him, made me feel unafraid.

“Why are you so downcast?” He questioned, raising a large pointer finger to lift up my chin so we could be eye to eye.  “You should be looking ahead of you, not down.”

“I suppose I should,” I responded with a sigh, “yet I care not where I go.  I am journeying wherever it is my feet choose to lead me…”

“Such a lovely face should not be wearing such a solemn look.” He stated.  “Come, no doubt you are hungry and I am pleased to share my lunch with you along with some words of encouragement to make it all the more palpable.”

He led me along the pathway to a small flowing stream.  This gentle giant of a man sat cross legged on the ground and encouraged me to do the same.  Sighing, I obliged. He opened a lunchbox, which I had not noticed was beside him; broke off a piece of bread and a chunk of cheese and handed it to me.  I was about to decline except for the dead giveaway sound of rumble from my stomach, so I decided to partake of his generosity.

“Tell me your story,” He said encouragingly, leaning forward to listen attentively. His face so close to mine I could count freckles that danced upon his nose.  His red well groomed beard gave him an almost regal look, and the kindness in his eyes encouraged me to share my tale… About the unexpected beauty I had fallen upon, the temptation to proceed, which I gave into, the joy and love and completion I felt walking along what I had thought was my own little beautiful road… How I got chastised and commanded off by the horrible troll and found myself alone, discouraged and at a loss as to where to go. When I was finished, I rubbed my hands together to free them from the crumbs and looked up into the face of this gentle giant to see his reaction to my tale.  How astonished was I when I saw eyes filled with tears and compassion.

He was quiet for a moment, this giant of a man. When I gazed up at him I saw a range of emotions cross his face and it seemed as though he was trying to gather his thoughts.  Why should one feel so strongly for the journey of a stranger?

 He was quiet and I was uncertain whether I should stand and leave or sit and stay.  And then he spoke…

“In life you will encounter many various roads and pathways… I have found that the best ones are those that travel wide enough for two and go “both ways.”  Even those that are not easy on your feet teach you endurance and perseverance; and though you may not realize at it the time, strengthen you for the journey ahead.  The most important thing is not the beauty in the surroundings around you or the context of the road itself – but how you travelled it… Life is a journey down many roads.  Think on this – what did you learn from this last road you took?”

I listened to his words and thought long and hard before I answered.  “I learned of love and friendship. I learned that life is much better when shared.  I learned that there are many more meanings to “unequally yoked” than what I had been originally taught.”

“So you see,” said he. “Although you no longer journey down that road (and not at your own choosing) you have gathered a lot of insightful treasures along the way.  Hence, the roads that you travel end up coming together and forming a map called, “YOU.”  Think now, what else did you learn?”

I tapped a forefinger to my lower lip as I recalled my journey through the road that I loved.  “I learned more about myself.  Humbleness, compassion, mercy… I learned forgiveness and most importantly of all that each person’s journey is their own and not to be judged by the observer.”

“Well then,” he exclaimed, “It seems to me that was a road worth traveling no matter its end… You are a better, wiser person for it. Or so it would seem to me.” He rose from his sitting position and once again loomed high above me. He reached down to extend a hand to me to help me up.  I could not help but notice how small my hand was in his immense larger one.

“Who ARE you?” I couldn’t help but ask, curiosity taking over and then blushed with embarrassment at my straightforwardness, for surely it was not my business.

He grinned at me – such a boyish grin for a gentle giant and responded, “Just a traveler like yourself.” He gathered up the remainder of his lunch box, closed it shut and tucked it under his arm.

Looking around at my unfamiliar, yet beautiful surroundings – seeing the newness of the path for the first time, shyly I asked, “would you journey with me a while?”

He looked at my shy expression and laughed a deep laugh, his hazel eyes filled with amusement.  “It seems as if we already are – for you stand upon the same path as I.”

“Very well, “I said my own laughter ringing with that of his. “Lead the way…”  And, although he took up most of the pathway with his size and his girth – He did.


The moral of the story is to always try and find the beauty in whatever path life leads you. Abraham Lincoln once said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” The choice is ours, it may not be the pathway you imagined you would journey on – maybe it’s not the one you wanted or perhaps the choice has been taken out of your hands, not yours to make… It just might be better than anything you would have chosen for yourself…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” (Psalms 3:5)

 

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Humpty Dumpty Moments

Pride Before a Fall (Proverbs 16:18)

Humpty Dumpty moments… Have you had one? Come on, be honest with yourself… I know I have…

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

We have all heard the story of Humpty Dumpty, haven’t we? 
Ask yourself this – How close are you to falling off the edge of the wall of your own life? And are you even aware of the fact that you are sitting on the very edge?

In one shocking moment, you’re free falling…

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses,
All the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.
 

There you lay waaaaaaaay down on the ground looking up at the distance of how far you’ve fallen. You are absolutely incredulous.

“How did this happen? Why did this happen? What happened?”

Your thoughts are as shattered as your being.

“This can’t be happening to me… Things like this don’t happen to me, they happen to someone else. I must be dreaming. That’s it – this isn’t real. I’m dreaming…”

You lay there with no idea of how much time has passed, willing yourself to wake up from this dreadful dream so that you can just shake it off and laugh over it by sharing the “dream” with a friend. Yet the dream doesn’t go away and you don’t wake up. It’s not a dream, it’s real and you don’t know what to do.

Soon you can hear the rumbling of the ground, even from as far below as you are, the sound of hoofs hitting the pavement above. Before long the King’s men peer out at you from over the top of the wall.

“Help me!!!!” You cry out, relieved that help has finally arrived.

They look long and hard at you from waaaaaaay above.

“Help you?” The leader responds.

“Yes! Help me!” You cry out somewhat exasperated wanting to stamp your foot if only it wasn’t over there… Somewhere…

“Well if I help you – who will help ME?” The leader questions eyeballing the distance from the wall to the ground, “What if I fall because YOU fell?” He adds, backing up. And in following his lead the others back up as well.

“Well if you don’t help me, who will?” You cry out in despair.

“Clearly you brought this all on yourself.” One of the King’s men calls down. “This is your fault. You did it; you fell and now look at you.” He waves his hand in disgust at your scattered pieces. “What an absolute mess!”

“It serves you right!” Yells down another, “Why should I lower myself down to your level and risk my own life to help you out? No thank you! I have my own life to consider!”

“Maybe you were pushed!” Another King’s men suggests. “What did you do to make someone push you off that wall?”

“You must have done something to deserve this.” Calls down another, “If I were you, I would sit there and look back on my life and see what I did to find myself in such a predicament. You must be being punished for something you’ve done.”

Oh how the taunts and jabs continue, on and on they went looking down their pompous noses at your scattered pieces, not trying to help, not caring that you could hear every single word they said.

One by one the King’s men turned their horses around and go about their merry way. And although you can no longer see them from your lowly position of below the wall, you can imagine the slander, gossip and stories that will be told throughout the town of the state they found you in.

If not for the noisiness of your own thoughts, all would be quiet…

“Maybe it is my fault… Perhaps I was over confident in my life. Perhaps I became too cocky and prideful and maybe even judgmental and so sure of myself. Never in a million years did I ever think this is where I would be… No one can help me now, it’s hopeless, I don’t see a way out. I suppose I shall lie here and die.”

“You will not die. The number of your days shall be fulfilled.” (Exodus 23:26) “I can help you.”

“Great, I’m really losing it now.” You say out loud. “I’m losing my mind on top of everything else…”

“Are you ready to listen to me? Or will you drown me out as you’ve done in the past by covering my voice up with excuses or with the noisiness of your life? If you had listened to me up there on the wall, you would not be in the physically broken state you are in.”

“Go ahead! Taunt me as the King’s men have! Kick me when I’m down! There is nothing you can say that is any different from what I’ve already heard!” You cry out wishing you had arms to fling out in frustration but they are located way over there somewhere…

“How about, I love you? How about, though your sins are scarlet I shall make them white as snow.”(Isaiah 1:18)

The words are healing. They begin to soothe you, like a mother soothes a fussy child. You’re fully listening.

“I came so that you could have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10), yet you thought you knew better than I what that abundance in your life should be. So against my better judgment, I let you. I wanted you trust in me with all your heart and not to lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6), I wanted you to acknowledge me in all your ways. Yet you never made time for me. The more I tried to show my love for you, the more you allowed the noise of your life to drown me out. There have been many times in your life where I have had to sit back and watch you – fall. I’ve been waiting for you to call upon my name. Yet you didn’t. And the louder your life has gotten the quieter my voice has become.”

It’s true, you think. And so obvious, there is no denying it. “Okay.” You say. “What choice do I have?”

“You have always had a choice. You just haven’t chosen the wisest ones.”

“I’m listening…”

The Holy Spirit continues to speak words of love and healing and direction over you and as you lay there intently listening, receiving and nodding in agreement with the words He says, your pieces start to fly together from where they are strewn and hold fast until all of you is as you once were, whole. As God had originally created you to be, yet there is something that is now a part of you that wasn’t before…

His peace.
His wonderful, beautiful peace – that passes ALL worldly understanding and comes only from Him.

You rise up a new creation.

“Remember all I have said to you,” The Lord says. “The truth is Humpty, you were broken on the inside before you even fell off that wall. You just didn’t know it. Sometimes I have to allow situations in your life to happen, because it is the only way I can get your undivided attention; bring you to a point where you can truly see that the only answer is ME. For without Me, whether you admit it or not – you are broken. You are lost and there is NO ONE who can put you back together again. Not yourself, not anyone else – only ME. To try to find another way is useless. For I am the way, the truth and the life; No one comes to the Father, except by Me.” (John 14:6). It takes some people their whole life to realize the truth of My words – if at all.  There has always been a plan for your life and all you have ever needed to do – is acknowledge me and heed it.”

Psalms 18:33-36 fills your head as you walk back up to where you had fallen off that wall and peer down at the distance you had fallen.

“He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.”

And you rejoice and thank God for His forgiveness, His grace, His mercy, His patience and most of all His love and that the best, safest place to be – is in His presence in His good and perfect will. With that realization you also realize that life is a journey and during those times when you feel “broken” all you need to do is call on His name and He will restore you.

“I will restore to you the years that the Locust has eaten.” (Joel 2:25)

He calls you “His Beloved” because He loves you, and whether or not you are aware of it – you belong to Him.

 

 

 

More Words for Your Journey

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Are You in the Middle of a Jonah Moment?

What Does God Have to Do to “Capture” Your Undivided Attention?

 

I wonder what Jonah thought as he sat in the belly of that whale. I imagine him sitting with his back against a side of the belly wall resting his head in his hands wondering how he had gotten into this “fine kettle of fish.” Did he sit there berating himself for all his past mistakes that led up to where he was? I’m sure he must have felt hopeless as he sat there, incredulous that he was actually in the belly of a whale. No human answer to appease the situation.

 Although I have never found myself in the “belly of a whale” I have found myself in situations that no matter what angle I looked at it – seemed “hopeless” and like there was no way out.   Ironically, most of those “deep belly” situations are situations that we have allowed ourselves to walk straight into. I often wonder if God watches us like we watch a movie… Like the scenes in a movie where the person is about to face danger or make an unwise decision, do you think God watches us and says, “No! No! Don’t take that left! Don’t go in there!” But stupidly blind we do just that, and then we wonder how we got where we were in the first place…

 I’m quite sure that all Jonah could do while he sat in the belly of that whale, was pray. He couldn’t run from God anymore – there was no place to run! He was at a point where all he could do was reflect on what had gotten him there and pray that God would deliver him.   Can you imagine what it was like? No doubt it was wet, cold and dark and probably very lonely. I imagine he could feel the body of the whale moving as the creature moved throughout the depths of the sea. I’m sure Jonah was incredulous that he was still alive. I imagine the only thing he could do to keep his sanity was to pray – to talk to God. And God obviously wanted Jonah’s undivided attention to use one of the earth’s biggest creatures to capture him so that he would finally be still and listen!  What does it take for God to capture your attention?  What does He have to do to bring you to a point where the distractions and noise are at a minimum and you are finally willing to listen to what it is He has to say?  Sometimes we are surrounded with so much noise from our lives that we are missing what it is God has to say to us because we don’t know how to “be still and know He is God.”

 There have been times in my life when I have “run from God.” Either because I’m being wayward and like a spoiled disobedient child who “just wants her way” or because I have wandered off the pathway and gotten lost – like a dumb sheep. So lost that not unlike what it must have been like for Jonah – all I can do once I’ve gotten tired of going around in circles, is to sit down, get quiet and talk to God. The talking to Him is sometimes as difficult as the wandering. Sometimes I haven’t known where to start in the conversation…

 “Lord? It’s me… Ummm… I’m kind of lost… With my words and in my walk… I’m really glad you know my thoughts before I even think them because – I’m not sure I even understand them myself at this point… I need your help Father. I don’t know who else to turn to… Please help me. Please forgive me. Please guide me…”

 I believe God honors prayers that come from the heart. No matter the situation or how we got to that point. I believe that God allows us to be “dumb sheep” and go through a situation because it will humble us and make us even more aware that we need Him.   Perhaps He just wants to hear it from us.

 I have no doubt that even as Jonah sat contemplating his fate, not knowing what was going to happen, speaking most likely from his heart to God and finally ready to listen, that unbeknown to Jonah that whale was already on route towards land, where God would have Jonah vomited up upon the earth – with finally a clearer understanding of what God wanted, and the right mindset to go forth with the calling God had chosen him to do.

 God has a calling on each of our individual lives. We can either “go with the tide” or fight it every step of the way to still come back to the point where we realize that true satisfaction, peace and well being comes with obeying what God has given us to do with our lives. Even in writing those words, I see it so clearly – there is a plan for your life, as there was with Jonah’s and it is one that God has given you gifts to achieve.   He is a patient, loving Father who wants the best for you and being your Creator, knows what that “best” is. Isn’t it time you stopped running from God? It may not be the actual “belly of a whale” you find yourself currently in – but discouraged, depressed and with a lack of peace. Probably all of which Jonah felt himself (and more!). It only takes a conversation with your Heavenly Father to turn a situation around, just as God turned the whale around. Who knows? He could be turning your situation around even as you read these words. Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing and He loves you.More Words for Your Journey

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The Pathway (Part I)

I was walking down a path on an otherwise unremarkable day, when I came to a bend which led me to a fork in the road.  

I stopped. I hesitated. I contemplated.

Knowing fully well which pathway I should choose…

To my left  – a familiar, well-worn path, predictable, more of the same on which I had already tread, a ho-hum kind of travel, familiar and reliable yet unexciting and if more of the same – tedious.

To my right – a path that drew my attention by its intoxicating scent of blossoms.  Its pathway surrounded on both sides by  long rows of weeping willow trees with such thick branches they formed an arch as far as the eye could see; and oh how they swaying in the wind as if to entice me. 

 “Come, girl… Come down our way.”

I hesitated again.  Should I stay on familiar, unchanging ground or dare I step upon this beautiful path of unfamiliarity?

Tucked deep within the bows of one of the Weeping Willows, hung  small, wooden white painted  sign, whose letters had been painstakingly engraved with a wood burning tool; carefully created  with the precision and care which only a feminine hand would have taken the tedious time to do. It read, “Private Way.”

The sign was clearly meant to dissuade, yet caused within me the opposite effect.

“You have no business going down that other road. Don’t do it.” A quiet stern little voice whispered in my head. “Don’t do it. Stay on the pathway of familiarity. It is your safest bet.”

“What can the harm be?” I scoffed, stamping my foot.  “I deserve to walk down this pathway. How splendid it is and I can’t help but wonder where it leads? Perhaps it is even a short cut?  I’m sure it will be fine.  An adventure, what harm will be done?”

With that my decision was made.  I took a bold if not rebellious step onto the path. 

Sheer heaven

Each step lovelier than the next, my heart felt full.  My well-worn shoes did the pathway a dishonor. Leaving me no other choice…  Feeling somewhat naughty, glancing quickly around me, I knelt down and removed my dusty shoes and socks and lowered my bare toes down into the springy velvety softness of green grass which cupped around my feet lovingly.

“Ohhhh…” I sighed.  What harm would a moment of rest do? I lay back looking up a the blueness of the partially seen sky between high treetop limbs.  Allowing my palms to face down so my fingers could caress the softness of the dark earth beneath them.  How heady and captivating were the fragrant flowers lining the way;  turning only my head to admire the breathtaking view I wonder what lay beyond the horizon? Could there possibly be any sight more splendid than this? Rising back up, I felt light-footed and danced along the pathway, skipping in and out and around the long trunks of the trees giddy at the thought of more to come.

Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! My pathway! Made in love for ME, meant for ME! For my feet alone.  Mine to cherish! Mine to love. Mine to adore! Mine to walk!

So enchanted and self-involved was I that I did not see along one side, a woman’s straw hat flung and forgotten, off in the grass – or the initials of a couple, encircled in a heart engraved upon the trunks of one of the trees. 

On I went, following this oh so splendid path. The longer I trod upon it the more I wanted to continue.  Before long, the sun began to set, and I wrapped my arms around my chest beginning to feel cold. Cold and very much alone. Rubbing my arms, I hesitated for the first time. Looking far ahead, I could see way in the distance a stone cottage, with a warm yellow light shinning from its windows.  How lovely, I thought as it came closer and closer into view.

To my surprise a very robust, unattractive and heavy set woman flew out of the house. Indeed, if not for her voice, I would have thought she was a he.  

“What are you doing on our pathway? Did you not see the sign?”  She said furiously.  Eyeballing me with contempt her hands furled tight in fists. An angry tick twitching within her right cheek.

“You have defiled it! You had NO business continuing on property that is not yours.”  The more she looked at me, the angrier she got. “What business have you here?” 

I glanced behind me at the way I had come.  Thought about the day I had experienced, looked back at the pathway I had come to love, and realized, no answer I gave her would suffice.

“I have none,” I admitted honestly. “I just happened upon the way, and noticed this lovely, lovely path…without giving it much thought – I took it.”

She looked incredulous for a moment. Spittle forming on the outside corners of her lips. “Lovely way?”  She said. “Lovely way???”  She looked behind me at the path as though she was trying to see what I saw.  “This way has not been lovely in many a year! It has been a hard pathway.  A relentless pathway, and exhausting pathway.  I have had to beat weeds down. What once was lush and vibrant and full has become hard and unforgiving and unyielding.  I have tried to grow many a vegetable upon this soil – yet it has withered and died. It has become cold and hard and unyielding…Yet this pathway has been mine since I was 18. I know every grain of its soil.  For 38 years it has been mine. I know its every mood. It is MINE not yours and I will not allow you to come prancing down the way as if you owned it. You do not, no matter what you may think.” ”

Listening to her I stood astonished, my mouth gaping.  How could she not see what I saw?  The land she described was not that of which I stood upon.  It was lush and green and vibrant and seductive.   Calling my name like a lover – tempting me to become one with it over and over again.

She stood defiantly facing me. Braced for war. A fight I could not win. I had only known this pathway for a short while – she had known it for years.  I did not see what she saw – and I actually felt sorry for her because somewhere along the way, she lost the ability to see the beauty in the path.  Her perspective had changed. Her appreciation for it had grown cold. I did not see what she saw before her and yet she was right.  It was not my pathway.  It did not belong to me. It belonged to her.  There was nothing I could say.  I hated her at that moment. Hated her because she had everything I wanted and I wanted to stay there.  Make her be gone! It was my pathway! Created for ME in love. Mine to walk, mine to enjoy, mine to cherish, mine to love! – Yet it wasn’t.  The pathway belonged to her.  I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay!  Yet, it wasn’t mine.

Reaching into her pocket she pulled out a paper.  “You see?” She said shoving her big man size hand under my nose for me to see it.  “Proof! Proof that this is MY pathway. Not yours. So be gone!”

I had no words. For what could I say?  She smiled an ugly smile, turned around and headed back through the door of which she came. I heard the door slam behind her.

Reaching down to caress the mossy ground, I was at a loss for words.  It seemed like it should be mine. It felt like it should be mine.  Yet proof stood within the walls of that house that it was not. The sorrow I felt was immense. It filled my soul. Turning around I didn’t know which way to go. Should I go back the way I came? Yet I could not. Should I go forward? How? I only knew that I could not remain in front of that house for fear she would c

 

ome out again.  How could she not see the beauty I saw? The love I felt? It was all around me. How could I be without it?  Yet as long as she remained, she was proof that it was not mine.  This most beautiful and gifted pathway.  How could years be spent upon it not relishing in the lusciousness of it? When had her eyes dulled? Or perhaps she had never seen it for what it was. How very sad…

Sighing, I dusted off my hands and continued forward finally understanding the weeping willows lining the way.

 

 

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The Way Back Home…

*This is a post that I wrote June 29,2010 four days after I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. God does not cause illness, unfortunately it is part of the curse that our world fell under when Adam & Eve chose not to listen to God’s instructions and age from tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil as depicted in the book of Genesis 2:16-17 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Sunday, June 21st I held a moving sale with my family. Hardly did I know that day would be the end of a chapter in my life as I’ve known it for the last 43 years.  I came in the house, got ready to take a shower – and noticed a lump the size of a nickel on my left breast. It was just “there.” I ran down to show my husband and we called my mom.  My mom suggested that I be cautious and I make an appointment with my doctor for the next day – I did. Oh how quickly this whirl wind of events took place. Seeing my doctor she sent me for a mammogram (only the second one I’ve ever had) and an ultrasound. There it was – I needed to come in for something called a “core biopsy.” I came in the next day had the procedure.  Now I know no one is fond of needles – but especially needles put in places that they “normally” would NOT go.  However I went visualizing the Lord holding my hand.  The song “Jesus Take the Wheel” going through my head. They told me it would be a 3-5 day wait for the results.  THREE TO FIVE DAYS.  It felt like eternity.  I started thinking of my life for over the past two years… And I realized that no matter what – I needed to begin my trek “back home” to the Lord. No matter what the results.

I thought about Shepherds – how when one sheep is missing they leave their “whole” flock to look for it. I’ve been “missing” for the past two years. Away from the safety, the warmth, the peace the comfort of the Lord. Like a rebellious teenager saying “no Lord! I don’t wanna!!!” I’d gone my own way, looking for – I don’t know what.  And knowing the whole time that I was “looking for I-don’t-know-what.” The ironic thing about it – is I realized during the whole time I waited for the results – that all I need my Father supplies.  And you know – He gives so much better so much more ample, so much more generously than I can provide for myself.  Does that make sense? These past two years – I’ve done things I’m not proud of and probably will only reveal to my inner circle of prayer partners – and you know – I think it is important for each of us to be as transparent with our walks as we can.  Because the fact is – so many other brothers and sisters in Christ are going thru similar situations.  This blog is NOT a confessional blog.  You see – the only one I really need to confess ANYTHING to – is the Father.  And the most ironic thing about it – is HE KNOWS EVERYTHING ANYHOW.  He knows!  You can’t hide ANYTHING from Him. So why do we even try? Like Adam and Eve in the Garden – having eaten the apple – God knew it. He knew what they had done – but still – they tried to hide from Him.  We haven’t changed all that much. (LOL) we are STILL trying to hide from Him.  But here’s the thing – here is what I’ve learned – if you know the story of the Prodigal son.  You know that he realized how MUCH he needed his father.  He got to the lowest point in his life he could go and realized – He needed… He WANTED to return home.  And when he did – his Father was there – looking down the pathway – waiting, hoping for him to come home.  The Bible tells us his arms were open WIDE. WIDE WIDE WIDE.

I ran into my Father’s arms on June 24th. My doctor called me at work and told me – the results were positive. I have breast cancer.  My world has changed.  My life has changed – but you know what hasn’t changed? My GOD.  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  I gave my life to Him at the age of 21. That was 23 years ago. I have run back into my Father’s awaiting arms – and you know what I’ve found? PEACE. I found security, I found comfort. I found love.  What was it I had been looking for before? I don’t even KNOW.  I only know – that my arms are wrapped around Him TIGHTLY. TIGHTLY TIGHTLY TIGHTLY.  How would you be if your child was ill? If your child was hurting? You would wrap your arms around them and hold them close to you.  Kiss their head.  The Bible tells us “If we being evil give such good gifts to our children – how much MORE will your Heavenly Father give to you?”

I won’t lie to you – I’ve been bewildered.  I’ve been scared. I’ve been shocked. A week ago – I was FINE. Well no – I wasn’t.  But you know what? Ironically I am now.  I’m FINE.  Okay, so I have a Goliath in my life – its called breast cancer.  But you know what? This morning as I read my Word and I prayed.  I thought of David.  I thought of how his knees must have been shaking as he stood infront of this giant.  I thought of how the other soldiers must have been watching on – mocking him.  This shepherd boy. Waiting for him to get pummeled by this Giant of a man. Can you imagine their surprise when the Giant fell? Can you imagine Goliath’s shock what his last thought might have been before he fell? David stood before him with one weapon – his faith.  His trust.  His love for the Lord.  He knew He was real.  He knew the battle wasn’t his. He knew the LORD would win.

This stupid little nickel size tumor came as a huge shock to me.  But you know – it didn’t to my Father. I and many of my Survivor sisters – who btw I’m just beginning to meet – are having/had a “Goliath experience.” But the fight is NOT ours.  And our weapon – is our Faith. I don’t know why my Father is allowing me to go through this – but this I know.  He is in control.  My eyes are on my Father.  My weapon – my faith. I’m standing before the Giant – and I know that as David did – I will win this battle. And my Father will be victorious and I will use this experience to extend the right hand of fellowship to the woman behind me (as women are doing now to me). 

Everyone in their lives goes through a Prodigal experience at some point. Its what you choose to do with what you learn that makes the difference. There is mercy and grace and love in my Father’s arms. In YOUR Father’s arms.  He is no respector of persons.  He has no favorites. He loves all of us – just exactly the same. In the midst of the battle – there is PEACE.

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