God, Why Don’t You Answer?

“There’s a disturbance down south,” they said.

No problem. There’re always disturbances in the tropics, she thought as she went about her normal, everyday activities.

“The disturbance is now a depression,” they said.

That’s fine, she thought. Depressions are nothing. And besides, it’ll probably go towards Texas like so many others. Not likely to come here to Panama City.

“The depression is now a storm named Michael, and will probably hit Northwest Florida as a possible category 1 hurricane. Not too likely, but it might happen,” they said.

Okaaaay, not really a threat, but something to watch, she thought as she took her daily walk around her neighborhood.

“The storm is intensifying. It will hit Northwest Florida as a category 1 hurricane in a few days. Start preparing now,” they said.

Hmmm, she thought. I guess I should pick up loose objects outside to keep them from blowing away. But still no big deal. We’ll probably only get a little bit of wind and some rain, like all those other hurricanes that have come this way.

“Michael is now category 1 with signs of strengthening. Everyone in Northwest Florida should be preparing now. Watch for updates and start making plans in case you need to evacuate,” they said.

Evacuate? No, not for a cat 1 storm. But what if it gets to cat 2 before it gets here? “Lord, should we leave?” she prayed but got no answer.

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“Michael is now category 2. Its pressure is dropping signifying that it might possibly strengthen to a category 3 before making landfall somewhere between Pensacola and Apalachicola.  Storm surge will be 4-6 feet. Find out your zone now and listen for mandatory evacuation orders,” they said.

This is getting serious, she thought. Maybe we should leave. “Lord,” she prayed again, “what should we do?” She thought she heard, “leave”, but she wasn’t sure so she asked God to tell her husband the same thing. Her husband, watching the latest update, said, “We’re going to stay. Our house is built to hurricane code. We’ll be fine.” OK, she thought. It wasn’t God.

“Michael is now category 3. There’s nothing out there to slow its growth. Storm surge is now forecasted to be 6-8 feet. Zones A, B, and C are under mandatory evacuation notice. Do not delay. This storm is dangerous. Get out now,” they said.

She quickly looked up her zone. Zone D, but so close to C that part of her backyard was actually in Zone C. Should they leave? Could their house flood? “No, it didn’t flood during the last cat 3 storm, it won’t flood now We’re fine,” her husband said. “God, should we leave?” she prayed again. Again she heard, “Leave” but this time a sense of panic accompanied it. That’s not God, she thought. God doesn’t panic. Besides, if that was really God, why wasn’t her husband getting the same message?

“Michael is approaching category 4. If you can evacuate, you should leave. The storm surge can kill you. The winds will make catastrophic damage and might kill you,” they said.

“Are you leaving?” her daughter texted from two states away.

“No, we’re staying,” she texted back.

“ARE YOU CRAZY???”

“We’ll be fine. We’ll stay in the under-the-stairs closet when it gets bad. Our house is well built.”

“I’ll be a nervous wreck all day,” her daughter texted back. “Be safe!”

“Are you leaving?” her siblings wanted to know.

“No, we’re staying. We’re not in a flood zone and besides, who would take us in with our with 3 small not-housebroken dogs, a larger senior dog who can’t get around well, a grown son with stitches in his leg and his large dog who eats smaller dogs.”

“We’ll take you in,” her brother immediately texted back.

She went to talk to her husband. “Should we leave?” They prayed together, but neither got an answer. Why isn’t God answering us? She couldn’t understand. “God why don’t You answer when we really need to hear from you?”

“We’ll stay,” her husband said. “We’ll be OK.”

She felt at peace about that decision. Peace is of God, she thought, so maybe that’s His answer. She was more relieved than apprehensive because she really didn’t want to leave. Also, once they left town, it might be days if not weeks before the roads were cleared and opened for them to be able to return.

She went to bed and fell asleep quickly but was jarred awake around 1 AM with the shrill alert sound on her phone. She got up and checked the forecast.

“It’s a strong category 4 and will probably be a 4 when it makes landfall. But there is a small chance it can increase to a 5 by landfall,” they said.

Ok, she thought. We might weather a 3 or even a weak 4. But a strong 4/5?? But we decided God said it was OK to stay. Did we get that wrong? Or was that just us because we want to stay?

“I’m leaving,” her son told them as he packed his electronics and dog. “Let me know what you decide.”

Her son leaving? He never panics! And he was so sure just a few hours earlier that staying home would be safer than being on the road with all those other evacuees. Should we go, she and her husband wondered. They prayed again together. Still no answer.

“God, I wish I could just hear your answer clearly. Only You know what will happen to our house.”

In spite of the peace they felt about staying, they decided to leave. They scurried around packing the most important things, not knowing if anything would be left when they returned. As she looked around her house, overwhelmed with the decision of what to take and what would be OK to lose, she ended up taking very little.

Tears streaming down her face, not wanting to leave, she drove north on the now empty road. Beside her were her smallest dog, some blankets and pillows, and her computer. Behind her was her husband with the other two small dogs and the larger senior dog, along with tubs and boxes of important papers, clothing, dog supplies, medicines, and other essential items. Before long the senior dog had a seizure, due to stress, they thought, and she was tempted to turn around. But she didn’t and several hours later they arrived at her brother’s house.

Several hours after that, Hurricane Michael slammed into her home town, with winds just two miles an hour under a Category 5 hurricane.

The following day, she read every Facebook post, watched every hurricane update, trying to get some news on the condition of her neighborhood, especially her home. Was it still standing? So many houses were not. The stress of not knowing was worse than finding out her house was gone, she thought. “God, is our house still standing?” she asked. Again, no answer. Why isn’t He talking to me, she wondered.

The day after that, someone posted a photo of the flood in her neighborhood. As she studied the photo, she stopped. What was that in the background?  She looked closer. It was her house! And it was still standing! Relief flooded her, replacing the stress that had just minutes before filled her. This photo was a gift from God, reminding her that God was always listening even when she couldn’t hear any answers.

Three days after the hurricane hit, she was able to return home. Her house was not only standing, but there was no severe damage and no flooding. If she had stayed, she’d have been fine. So maybe that peace was God’s answer all along, only we didn’t recognize it, she thought. Maybe by not answering, He was allowing us to make the choice, knowing we’d be safe no matter which choice we made.

Bella – part 17 Today is the Day

Bella woke with a start. She had a strong sense that there was something dangerous she needed to do. Something important. What was it?

And then she remembered.

Today was the day she would confront Pastor Toby. Was she ready?

Heart thumping loudly in her chest, she got up and went into the bathroom. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she wondered if she was brave enough to go through with it. Or was it being stupid? Maybe she should just forget about it and accept it like everyone else seemed to have done.

No! She had already been through this and the decision had been made. She would go confront him today no matter how bad it might turn out. She thought about the possibilities as she got dressed.

  1. He was an alien and would feel threatened by her knowledge and she would end up imprisoned somewhere in that weird church.
  2. He was an alien but would deny it and she would be dismissed as having a great imagination.
  3. He wasn’t an alien and would laugh at Andy’s joke on her and she’d end up a fool.
  4. He wasn’t an alien and he’d seriously question her sanity and she’d end up in a mental hospital.

She didn’t like any of those scenarios so she created one more, one she hoped would happen: He was an alien and her threat to take what she knew to the media would be enough to make him pack up his church and leave the planet. Without the secrecy, there was no point in him being here to observe anymore. And she might actually come out of this a hero.

Bolstered by the thought of saving the world, she took one last glance in the mirror, saluted herself, then left her apartment.

She was surprised to see how empty the sidewalks were. Being early morning, she’d have assumed at least there would be many people heading to work. “I wonder where everyone is,” she mumbled. It felt weird to have the sidewalk all to herself and she hurried the few blocks to the church.

As she walked, a tiny voice inside her whispered, “What about his love for you?”  She had forgotten about that. She let herself remember how accepting he was, how loved she felt in his presence. And how much she longed to spend more time with him. Then another thought filled her mind. She only felt that way because he used some kind of alien technology on people to brainwash them feel that way. It wasn’t real. Shaking her head, she pushed aside all thoughts except the one about confronting him.

When she got there, she found the church door open, as if waiting for her arrival. She squared her shoulders and marched through the entrance, across the foyer, and up to Pastor Toby’s door.

Again, she found the door already open. “What’s going on here?” she wondered, eyes IMG_20181005_154132429darting around. Was everyone hiding? Did they know what she was about to do and wanted to watch the show? Not seeing anyone, she cautiously entered the living room.

Now what, she thought. Do I wait for him or Jude to arrive, or do I go looking for him?

As she stood there, just inside the door, she heard singing. It was a different song, but the same singer. No doubt about that.

Not knowing what to do, she listened to the soul-stirring music coming from somewhere down the hall. Although she couldn’t understand the lyrics, she felt drawn by the melody, like it was calling her and making her feel safe. And courageous. Like it was encouraging her to do what she had come to do.

Taking a deep breath, she crossed the room and entered the hallway. Where should she look first? The kitchen?  Isn’t that where Pastor Toby spends a lot of his time? And it was breakfast time so where else would he be? The garden, maybe? Since the kitchen was on the way to the garden, she decided to try it first.

But when she got to the kitchen, it was empty. Not even food cooking on the stove. Maybe he’s not up yet, she thought. Maybe I should just go.

But the soft sound of a song from that sweet unseen singer drifted into her mind, and she was filled with the sense that something exciting was about to happen if only she kept looking.

 

Bella stories:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really Part 1 Part 2

Bella part 6   9  10  11 12  13   14  15   16

Dear Brave One, (from Someone Who Loves You Series)

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Dear Brave One,

It’s so hard to watch you hurt as you struggle to grow. Your face all red and grimacing reveals the battle going on inside you. Your body is fighting to get rid of the things that don’t belong in there. Be strong, Little One, and let them go. I know it hurts sometimes but you don’t need them.  And you will feel so much better once they are gone. Can you feel my hand on your back, supporting and encouraging you? Probably not, but that’s OK. I’m here whether you know it or not. I’m not going anywhere.

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my new granddaughter. But deeper down I hear God telling us the same things.  As you reread them, replace the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

Dear Sleepyhead,

Dear Sleepyhead,

You are so cute I can’t take my eyes from you as you sleep here in my arms. Hours go by as minutes – and still I don’t have my fill of you. I wonder what you are dreaming about, and if you feel the incredible love I have for you. Do you hear me as I whisper to you? Can you feel the strength of my arms keeping you safe as you sleep? Somewhere inside you, I think you do. For when you grow restless in your sleep, all it takes is a few pats to settle you back into the deep, restful sleep you need. And knowing you trust me to watch over you fills my heart to overflowing. I treasure each and every moment I get to spend with you.

Always,

Someone who loves you

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my new granddaughter. But deeper down I hear God telling us the same things.  As you reread them, replace the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

Dear Hidden One (From Someone Who Loves You series)

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Dear Hidden One,

Maybe most people can’t see you there, moving in the darkness that surrounds you, but I can. You are so beautiful! And I love you so much already!

You probably think that where you are is all there is in life. But you are so wrong. There is so much more to life than you can imagine, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Although most of the time you seem content in your small dark place, I wonder if you sense there is more.  I see you stretching out your arms and legs, testing the walls around you. Do you ever get frustrated with those boundaries?  Or do you know they are there to keep you safe until you’re ready to join me in the light?

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my granddaughter. But they are also letters God is writing to you. Reread them, replacing the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

 

 

But Fleas, God?

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Fleas!  Not just one or two or ten or even twenty. But thousands! They covered the kitchen floor like sand giving the floor a polka dot look. Only these polka dots moved. Hopping, jumping polka dots.

She looked through the open door with disbelief. Where had all these fleas come from? They hadn’t been there when she had left early that morning. How is this even possible?

No way could she stay there that night. She would have to go back to her mom’s house. But first she would need to get a few items.

She looked the other way – towards the living room. Are the fleas on the rug too? How was she going to get to her room to pick up a change of clothes and the other things she would need?

Taking a deep breath, she dashed across the living room, down the hall, and into her room. She grabbed an armful of clothes then ran into the bathroom for her hair brush, deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste. The rest could wait. Calling her dog to follow her, she ran back down the hallway, across the living room, and outside. After tossing her clothes into her car, she looked down at her legs. There were hundreds of fleas crawling and jumping around on the lower part of her jeans. She slapped at them trying to knock off as many as she could. She looked at her dog. Poor puppy – there’s got to be just as many crawling all over him. He’d need a bath first thing when they got back to her mom’s house. She got in her car and drove back across town.

“How can God do this to me?” she wailed as her mom helped her out of her jeans, which still had dozens of fleas happily hopping around. She had only just started following Him and didn’t really know what to expect, but knew this was not it.

“God didn’t do this,” her mom answered.

“They why did He allow it? He’s supposed to be taking care of me! First I can’t get a job, and now this! It’s like He’s playing some kind of joke on me. Well,  ha ha. This is NOT funny!”

“Calm down. It’ll be all right.  Why don’t you go away for a week or so while the exterminators bomb your place.”

“Where would I go? I don’t have any money. No job, remember?”

“Your dad is renting a small house while working out of town this month. Why don’t you ask him if you can stay with him?”

Of course he said yes, so she packed up the little she had and drove the 200 miles to her dad’s temporary place. All along the way, she cried and complained to God. Tears running down her face made driving hard, but she couldn’t seem to stop the flow. “I don’t know why You are allowing this,” she cried. “You promised to take care of all our needs. I can’t get a job, and now I don’t even have a home. Some care.” She felt neglected – like she wasn’t worth His attention much less His intervention. But if this was what following Him would be like, then so be it. After what He did when He saved her, after dying for her, she wouldn’t turn back. no matter how bad it got.

By the time she got to her dad’s place, she had begun to feel just a little better. A week of rest away from everything would be good for her.

The next day, the landlady, who happened to live next door, came over to meet her. As they talked, the lady explained how she had run a home day care in the little house but had hurt her back and was looking for someone who’d be willing to take over.

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing! All she had to do was move here – and she would have both a home and a job! Better than just a job – she would have her own business!

Later that night, she humbly closed her eyes and got quiet before God. “Thank you,” she finally managed to say. “I’m sorry for not trusting You. For complaining and accusing You of not taking care of me. And all along You had been arranging something far better than I could imagine. But fleas, God? Someday You’ll need to explain that to me. For now I’m just happy and grateful to be here, and awed at what You did for me, even when I was being a brat. You are amazing!”

Hey, God, are You there?

She sat in the rehab room watching her dad pretend to be sleeping. After five hours, she was tired and bored. Other than a few breaks, when her dad had left for therapy and when he returned, and when her sister had called, she had sat in the not quite comfortable chair and played games on her iPad while he did his daily computer tasks then slept. Now it was dinner time and she was all gamed out. Not having anything else to do she decided to call God.

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“Hey, God, are You there?”

“Yes, right here.”

“If I could see You, right here in the rehab, what would I see?”

“You would see a man, bending over your dad, whispering words of love, and waiting patiently for a response.

You would see a man, sitting next to you, covering you with strength and peace as we keep watch.

You would see a man, walking up and down the hallway, greeting the residents with encouraging words and gentle hugs.

You would see a man, standing near the employees, arm across their shoulders. providing support and wisdom as they need it.

And you would see that man doing all those things at the same time for I am not limited by time or space.”

Wow! What an amazing God!

Yet how many of those people know that He is doing all that, she thought. Especially those who don’t know Him yet? Hmmm… maybe that’s where she comes in. Maybe she should show them by doing  physically what God is doing spiritually. After all, that’s what Jesus did while He was on earth.

“Whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.” John 5:20 NIV

  “It is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:10 NIV

So maybe, she thought, she should change her question a little.

“Hey, God! Will You show me what You are doing so I can do it too?”

And they both smiled.

The Open Window

“You’ll like this one,” her husband told her.

She wasn’t so sure. House hunting had turned out to be more time consuming and exhausting than she had expected. Between her job and her kids, she could barely squeeze in the time that looking at houses took. And, as much as she wanted to move out of their cramped trailer, she just wasn’t happy with the houses she had seen in their price range. So she had turned the bulk of the house hunting over to her husband. He and the realtor had already spent countless hours searching and touring houses – back when it all had to be done in person – and only involved her when they needed her opinion on the more promising ones.

“Actually, there are two houses, so if you don’t like the first one, we can go look at the second one,” her husband told her as they dropped off their kids with his mom and headed across town.

“Oh,” he added. “They are both a bit over our price range, but I think we can swing it.”

She turned to him. “How much over?”

 

“Don’t worry,” he responded. “It’s not that much.”

“How much?” she asked again.

“$150,000.”

“That’s not a little bit! We agreed we couldn’t go over $100,000!” She frowned. “This is a waste of time.”  What was he thinking? They were already counting pennies each month with the mortgage they were paying now. How in the world could they afford something that would be so much more?

“Let’s just go look at them for comparison. I really like them.”

Sure enough, the first house was so much better than any other house she had looked at. It had all the features she wanted, including a room upstairs that she could make into her private retreat. Then they went to look at the second house. As they pulled their minivan into the double driveway, she looked at the large two story brick front house and thought, “No way!”

Walking in the front door, she was blown away with the balcony overlooking the entryway and living room, and the large open floor plan. White walls were a welcome contrast to the dark paneling in their trailer, and there were large windows everywhere, including the floor to ceiling bay window in the living room.

“I love it,” she told her husband.”I could definitely be happy living here. But we can’t afford it.”

 

“We’ll see,” her husband said.

As they backed out of the driveway, she told him to stop for a minute so she could take a picture of it like she had done with the previous houses. She pushed the button on the door to roll down the window, stuck the camera out into the darkening winter air, snapped a picture, then pushed the button to raise the window. Only the window wouldn’t go up. She tried several times, then turned to her husband.

“It won’t go back up,” she said in frustration.

“Don’t worry. I’ll check it out. It’ll be too dark by the time we get home so I’ll look at it tomorrow.”

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She worried anyway. All the way home, shivering as the cold air from the open window blew over her, she worried about how much it would cost to fix it, and where they would get that money.

 

“Don’t worry, he told her again. “God will provide. Besides, it will probably be fine in the morning.”

 

He was right. In the morning, the window worked fine.

“It’s a sign from God,” he said.

The following Sunday they asked some friends to pray with them about the house. Should they let it go and stick to their price range like she thought? Or should they buy this house and trust God to provide the mortgage payments like her husband thought?

During the prayer, one of the friends said they believed the minivan window being stuck open was a sign from God, that He was giving them an open door – in this case, and open window – to the house even though it was way more expensive than she thought they could afford. “Trust God,” the friend said.

“See, I told you,” her husband told her.

So feeling she was walking on and would probably end up drowning in deep water, she signed the papers along with her husband, and moved into the house of her dreams.

Month after month God did provide although she couldn’t figure out how. Looking at their finances on paper, there was no way they should be able to make the payments. Yet they always did. She felt like she was living in an ongoing miracle!

Over the years, she would frequently stop and look around at the house – this gift from Him – and her heart would fill with gratitude to the amazing God who not only gave her more than she could have imagined, but gave it to her in such an amazing way!

P.S. For the rest of its life, that minivan window never got stuck again.

The Pit

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It was dark and cold. She sat at the bottom of a deep pit. How she got there, she didn’t know. She just knew she didn’t like it and wanted out.

She stared straight up at the faint speck of light she saw. She knew there was life up there – bright, warm life – because she vaguely remembered that she had once lived there and she wanted desperately to get back to that life, but how? She had tried calling for help until her voice went hoarse then eventually silent. But even if her voice had reached the top, no one had responded.

Maybe there were tunnels that would lead her out. She felt all around in the darkness but the walls surrounding her were solid.

Maybe there was a rope or something that she could use to pull herself up. No, she would have felt it when she was feeling the walls.

If she was going to get out of this pit, she would have to climb one of the walls. Although all the walls were made from dirt, she had noticed that they were also different from each other. One wall was quite bumpy with different size bumps sticking out in random places. Another wall was very smooth, almost slick, but seemed to have something like branches sticking out at different intervals. The holes on the third wall resembled the craters on the moon, with each hole varying in size and depth. And the last wall was plain dirt with no other feature that she could feel. Each of the first three walls appeared to be hard packed dirt but the dirt on the fourth wall was softer and looser. From time to time some of the dirt, knocked loose by a vibration or something, would drift down to her.

The wall with the branches seemed to be the best choice. Surely she could pull herself up branch by branch. She had always prided herself on her arm strength. She stood up and grabbed the first branch. Then standing on her toes, she managed to reach a slightly higher branch. Letting go of the first branch, she hung there not quite sure how to reach the next branch. She remembered some movies she had seen where people climbing mountains had swung on their ropes to reach one ledge after another. She didn’t have a rope, and she would have to swing using just one arm. Could she do it? She eyed the next branch she thought she’d be able to reach and began swinging. Back and forth in ever increasing arcs until she got close enough to grab it. Success! She tightened her grip on that branch and let go of the lower one. She chose her next branch and began swinging. She got this one too. And so slowly, branch by branch she got closer to the light at the top. Crack! The branch she was hanging from broke and she began falling. She tried desperately to snag a branch on her way down but was unsuccessful. She hit the bottom hard and lay there unmoving for what felt like hours. Or maybe days. Eventually she tried moving different body parts. Although everything was very sore, she didn’t think anything was broken. After a few more days, when she felt better, she tried climbing again choosing different branches. She got about halfway up before her grip on a branch slipped and she fell. This time her head hit the bottom and everything went black.

When she awoke later, her head was throbbing. At first she couldn’t remember what had happened. But as she lay there, it slowly came back to her – both her attempts at climbing the wall, and the falls. Not wanting to repeat them, she decided not to try the branch wall again.

She considered the other walls. Which should she try next? Maybe the one with the holes. With her feet in the holes helping to support her as she pulled herself up, she wouldn’t need to rely on just her upper body strength. She walked over to the wall and checked the holes. The ones she was able to feel seemed deep enough to put half her foot into – plenty big enough for what she wanted to do.

At first it was easy, and she quickly went from hole to hole. But as she got higher, the holes got further apart and she had to stretch to her limit to reach them. When she got near the top, using the light that made its way in, she couldn’t find any more holes within her reach. She looked down to retrace her steps so she could attempt a different path but the darkness prevented her from seeing her previous holes.  Her muscles began to tremble as they became fatigued. She knew if she didn’t move soon, she would fall.  But there was no way up, and no way down. Frustrated, she screamed and let her body fall.

When she awoke later, she could barely move. Every muscle hurt. There was no way she could attempt climbing again until she healed. So she curled up on the damp floor and cried. Eventually she fell asleep and dreamed of the freedom she would find if she ever managed to climb out of her pit.

There was no way to measure time so she didn’t know how long she had slept, but her muscles weren’t as sore when she woke. She stretched carefully and regarded the last two walls. One with bumps and one flat. The one with the bumps looked more promising. Like with the holes, she could use her feet to help stabilize and support her weight, and there were more bumps on this wall than holes on the other wall. As she climbed, she developed a rhythm. Reach, step, reach step. Again, at first it was easy. But as she neared the top, the bumps began to flatten slightly making them harder to grab and to step on. Sweating now, muscles beginning to tremble from exertion, she strained to reach the last few bumps. Just as she thought she had it, her sweaty hand slipped causing her to lose her balance. Scrambling frantically to grab hold of something, she managed to regain her grip only to lose it a moment later. She cried out as she fell, and hit the bottom hard, this time landing on her back. The breath knocked out of her, she lay there not moving, despair filling her.  Maybe it would be better to quit trying. All it has gotten her was more pain. But then she looked up at the faint light above her. There was freedom up there. There was life up there. If only she could reach it.

She turned her gaze to the last wall. The least appealing of the four. No hand holds. Nothing to grip. Just smooth, soft packed dirt.

How in the world would she get up that one? Or maybe she should try one of the other ones again? She shook her head, remembering the falls she had taken.

When she was able, she crawled over to the fourth wall and felt as much of it as she could. No hidden crevices, nothing sticking out anywhere. As she touched it, some of the dirt came loose and fell down by her. That dirt was way too loose even if there was something to grip. Wait… too loose? Could she dig her way out? If she could dig out the holes herself, she wouldn’t need to worry that she would run out of them when she got near the top, or that they would be too far apart. She tried scratching at the dirt with her fingers and the dirt easily fell away until she had a good size hole. She stood up and dug out another hole. Then another and another until she had five holes staggering up the wall, each one about a foot higher than the last. She carefully stepped into the bottom hole and eased herself up, her hands gripping the higher holes. The dirt held, so she tried putting her other foot into the next hole and again easing her weight up. But this hole crumbled at her weight and she slid back down to the ground. She wondered why the first hole had been strong enough but the second had not. Using her hands she studied the difference between the two and realized the second hole was not as deep into the wall as the first had been. She moved a few feet over and began digging again, this time making sure the holes matched that first one. As she climbed, she thought she could make it as long as she kept it slow and made sure the holes were consistent. But halfway up, she slipped and slid back down the wall. She tried a third time, then a fourth time. No success. She managed to get to varying heights, but each time, she ended up slipping back down. Eventually the wall wouldn’t hold any more holes and she was forced to give up.

Sitting back down in the center of her prison, she despaired. She knew there was life up there but there was no way she could reach it. This deep, dark pit was determined to keep her there no matter what she tried. Ok, fine. If that was the way it would be, then so be it. She accepted her fate, curled up on the floor, and waited to die.

However a part of her, a tiny piece of her from deep down, would not give up. So from time to time, she would call up weakly for help just on the chance that someone would be passing by at just that moment, hear her, and find a way to get her out. But she didn’t have much hope that it would work.

Then suddenly, she felt something wrap gently around her and start to pull her upwards. She looked up and was blinded by the brightness of the light that was so much closer to her already. Within minutes, she was out of that pit and standing on the soft green grass next to it. The light was so bright, the air so fresh, she couldn’t help dancing and shouting in delight. All around her people were doing the same thing. It was a glorious place, everything she had imagined and more. She turned to look for who or what had rescued her and saw a man standing nearby, a huge smile on his face as he watched her dance. She knew without asking that this was her rescuer. Crying out her thanks, she ran to him and was embraced by strong warm arms. As she let his love fill her, she knew she would never leave this amazing man. In his arms, she was safe, loved… and free!

In the Beginning, Chapter Three

She felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or, more accurately, a fear and a dislike.

She could go home early and chance finding her home had been visited again by someone unknown. She no longer felt safe in her house and usually tried to get there late enough that she could go straight to bed, cower under her blankets, and try to fall asleep immediately so she didn’t have to deal with the fear she felt.

IMG_20180221_154902913Or she could stay where she was, at her mom’s house, for a few more hours. But that would require she watch the stupid TV movie about Jesus her mom was turning on.

Neither option was good. Which was worse? Her fear of her home? Or her dislike of anything religious?

She stayed.

On the TV, she watched as Jesus was born, grew up, and began to preach. The acting was good, she thought, even though she wasn’t enjoying the story.

But that all changed at the first strike of the whip. Her world – the TV, living room, dog, mom, everything – disappeared as she was drawn into the story. She watched Him get whipped then nailed to a cross as if she was there. She almost felt the pain of the nails as they were hammered into his flesh. She felt such deep sorrow as He died.

Suddenly understanding flooded into her mind like light flooding a dark room when a light switch is turned on. She KNEW why He had died! She knew He had died for her sins and the sins of all people. She knew He died freely so they could be free.

Then she watched as He rose from the dead. Again understanding flooded her. He wasn’t dead any longer. He was alive! He was ALIVE! He IS ALIVE!

Her mind and heart on fire, she hurried home, dug out the bible she had been given years before but had never opened, and began reading. She wanted to know everything she could about Jesus.

In the following weeks, she could think of little else besides Jesus. Love for Him filled her completely and He consumed her every moment. She couldn’t help talking about Him to everyone she met.

“He’s alive!” she would say.

“Yeah, we know that,” they would respond.

But she knew by their lack of enthusiasm that they didn’t understand. So she would say, “No, you don’t understand. He didn’t just die, rise from the dead, and go to heaven. He’s alive! Right here with us right now!”

“Yeah, yeah, we know,” they continued to respond.

No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t make anyone understand. Sure, they listened to her – or at least most did – and politely agreed with her. But they couldn’t understand what she was talking about and they couldn’t understand the great love and excitement for Jesus that flowed throughout her entire being. They didn’t understand that her old life was over, and her new life was just beginning.

All they knew was the girl who never smiled had become a girl who couldn’t stop smiling!