Only When You Move

She stood frozen in her spot. Not daring to move, she watched as the sharks swam lazily around her.

“Do you see them?” whispered Mike.

“Yes. Where did they come from?” she responded.

“I don’t know. They aren’t supposed to be around here.”

“What are we going to do?”

They were standing on a submerged sidewalk that edged a river. Nearby was a set of steps leading up into an upper room. The directions they had been given was to find and follow the sidewalk to the stairs, then climb up them to the room they would find up there.  No one had said anything about sharks.

“Let’s try to make a run for it to the stairs,” he suggested. “We’ll go on the count of three.”

“OK,” she said, trying to sound braver than she felt.

“One… two… THREE!”

They both ran for the stairs. But running in water doesn’t work too well. And the sharks had no trouble chasing them down, biting at their feet every step of the way. They gave up, knowing they wouldn’t make it to the stairs.

“What do we do now?” she asked, looking down at her bleeding feet.

“Hey,” he said, confused. “They’ve backed off.”

Sure enough, they were back to swimming their lazy patterns, keeping watch, but not biting.

“Maybe we spooked them,” she offered. “What if we move very slowly”

“Worth a try,” he said. “Ready?”IMG_20180501_204629540_HDR

They both took an extremely slow step. But before they could take a secon

 

d step, the sharks were back, nipping and biting their feet again.

They stopped.

“Have you noticed that they only bite when we move?” he said.

“Yeah, I’m starting to get that idea,” she answered.

They stood still for a few more moments.

“This is not getting us anywhere,” she finally said in frustration. “We need to get on those stairs.”

“And how are we going to do that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe we just need to get there as fast as we can and try to ignore the sharks as they bite.”

“And LET them bite us?” He shook his head. “No way!”

“Then what do you suggest?”

“We could just stand here. Maybe they’ll get tired of waiting for us to move and they’ll swim away.”

“And what if they don’t?

“Then we can try your plan.”

So they stood there for an hour. Each time they shifted their weight, sharks would perk up and head for them only to turn around at the last minute.

“This is ridiculous!” she finally exclaimed. “You can stand here all day if you want, but I’ve had enough. Bite or no bites, I’m getting off this sidewalk and on to those stairs.”

“It’s a three foot climb to get off this sidewalk. You’re going to need help. I’m coming with you.”

They both took a deep breath, then as quickly as they could, made their way to the wall. He gave her push up and when she was out, she reached down and took his hand to help pull him up. All the while the sharks were in a frenzy chasing them and biting at their feet.

Relieved to be out of the water, they hugged each other and checked their wounds.

“There’s a lot of blood, but the bites don’t seem to be serious,” he said.

“Maybe not,” she responded. “But they hurt.”

“Don’t mind the sharks,” a voice called to them. “As long as you don’t move, they’re actually quite friendly.”

Startled, they looked around for the source of the voice but didn’t see anyone.

“Who’s there?” he called out.

Not getting an answer, they decided to head for the stairs. They didn’t get too far when sounds of splashing came from behind them. Terrified, they looked back and saw the sharks climbing out of the water.

“What in the world??” she said, panic in her voice. “How are they doing that?”

“It doesn’t matter how they are doing it. They’re doing it! We need to run!”

So they did, as fast as they could until they reached the stairs. Breathing hard, more in panic than in exertion, they stopped to catch their breath. The sharks had reached them now and actually looked like they were swimming in the air about a foot off the ground.

She looked at him and said, “Do you think they can climb stairs, too?”

“Only one way to find out,” he answered grimly. “Let’s go.”

She didn’t want to move but saw no other choice if they were going to reach the top, so they began climbing.

She slowly woke up, the feelings of being chased by sharks lingering as she thought about her dream. She had had more than a few spiritual dreams since she had become a Christian, But nothing like this one. Usually her dreams were about being with Jesus and left her feeling good. This one was unsettling. What did it mean?

She asked the Lord to explain the dream to her.

“It’s about what happens in the spirit world when you walk the path I set before you.”

“But I thought walking with You was supposed to be wonderful. You take care of me and talk with me and it always fills me with joy and peace. This dream was nothing like that.”

“Walking with me is not always easy or comfortable.”

“Was that You walking with me in that dream?”

“No, that was another believer. As you saw, having other believers can help you on your journey.”

“And the sharks?”

“The enemy. He will send things into your life to hurt you when he can.”

“Why did they only bite when we moved?”

“It’s when you’re moving that you’re a threat to the Evil One. As long as you aren’t making any progress, they’ll leave you alone. Their goal is to keep you immobile in your walk with Me so that you are ineffective and powerless.”

“Who’s voice was that?”

“Someone who decided to avoid the shark bites by remaining still. Those who are not moving forward tend to try to discourage others from moving forward.”

She began to understand. She had entered a new stage in her Christian  walk. The enemy had taken notice. Her choices? Submit to the terror tactic and stop walking. Or chance the bites for the sake of the amazing joy she would have when she reached the top.

She chose to keep walking.

Of course.

Could Satan Really Do That?

“I need you. Come right over. Now!”

She hung up the phone, trembling as she looked over at the little boy standing in front of her. He seemed calmer than she felt even though he was the one who was hurt. She held his arm over his head as she waited for her friend to arrive. How could this have happened? One minute the eight year old had been running around the yard and climbing everything he could. The next, he had been dangling by one arm from an abandoned swing set frame. When she got him down, she saw that, as he had gripped the top of the frame with his upper arm to keep from falling, a large screw she didn’t know was up there had ripped a deep slash into his armpit. She could see layers of skin and tissue and other things she couldn’t identify and was surprised that there was very little blood.

The next few hours were spent trying to reach his foster mother, and praying in the clinic’s waiting room as doctors and nurses worked on his underarm.

Struggling with guilt, she tried to figure out why he had gotten hurt in the first place. In the two years she had been babysitting kids in her home, no one had ever gotten hurt. She took good care of them. She never left them unsupervised. She removed anything she thought could cause injury. And she maintained order and discipline, not allowing any wild or crazy behavior.

And yet, in the past month or so three boys had gotten hurt in seemingly random bizarre ways.

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Not finding any physical explanations for the sudden injuries, she looked to the spiritual. Did her recent spiritual growth have anything to do with the physical things happening around her? She knew the Bible said that Satan went around like a lion looking for who he could devour. She knew he would try to attack her to keep her faith from getting any stronger, but her kids? Would Satan really do that? Could he do that? Kids getting hurt was not acceptable.

 

“God,” she prayed. “Is it Satan? Does he have the authority and power to hurt people around me because of my spiritual activity?”

“What happened to Job?” she seemed to hear Him say.

“Satan was allowed to harm him in order to test his faith.”

“Did Satan harm anyone else?”

“Well, yes. His family was killed. Wow. I guess Satan CAN attack others because of me. But I don’t like it.”

“Job didn’t either. What did Job do about it?”

“Complain. Feel sorry for himself.”

“Did he lose faith?”

“No, I don’t think he did. He questioned a lot though.”

“Just like you’re doing?”

“Good point.”

What happened at the end?”

“You restored him. He was better off.”

“Why?”

“Hmmm… I guess because You were with him? And You have ultimate control?”

“Yes. Just as I do in all this. The boys are not permanently harmed. You did nothing wrong and the families don’t blame you. The question remains, what are you going to do? Back off spiritually to keep Satan from attacking again?”

“Nnnoooo… I don’t think that would be right. I shouldn’t let Satan control me like that. I guess I will keep working on growing my faith – but I AM going to get more serious about praying for the kids. And learn more about spiritual warfare.”

She did, and for the next two years that she babysat, no one else got hurt.

So what’s amazing about story?

Maybe how much the spiritual realm can manifest in the physical?

Maybe how answers for even something like this can be found in the Bible?

Maybe that Satan is real and constantly seeks to cause harm to God’s people in whatever ways he can, including physically?

Maybe that life – even spiritual life – is not always fair?

I don’t know. What do you think?

Let the Cramping Begin

“We’re back!” they said with evil glee.

“Oh no!” she said. “Not now! The kids are here and there’s no one to cover for me! Can’t you just skip me this month?”

“Um, nope. We’re here.”

“Then come back later, after the kids have gone home.”

“Aw… one would think you didn’t like us,” they said, pretending to be hurt.

“I don’t. You’re timing is terrible.”

“Nah, we think now is a good time.”

All that Friday morning, as she took care of the kids she babysat in her home, she could feel her abdomen tightening in anticipation of the intense pain that usually accompanied these visitors each month. And she could hear them taunting her.

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“It’s going to be bad this time.”

“You’re going to scare the kids when you get sick right in front of them.”

“Feel that? It’s only going to get worse!”

“You may as well as give up. We’re going to be here a long time.”

At noon, she took some pain reliever and prayed, “Jesus, please bless these pills and make them work for me.”

“No! Not the pills!” they cried in mock horror. Then they scornfully laughed at her. “Those pills can’t even begin to touch what we have in store for you today.”

After settling the kids down for their naps, she sat down and held her abdomen. I don’t know what to do, she thought. What will happen if I can’t take care of the kids when they wake? And what about the after-school kids coming later this afternoon?

A small thought made its way into her brain. “You don’t know what to do, but you know Someone who does.”

Of course! Why didn’t she think of that sooner? She placed one hand flat on her abdomen and raised the other hand towards her Healer.

“Wait! What are you doing?” they asked nervously. She had not done that before and it looked a lot like a prayer position to them.

“Just watch,” she responded.

Then she closed her eyes and began speaking. “Jesus, Lord of all creation, You made me and You know how my body works. Please hold back these cramps from me while the kids are here. And while I attend the football game tonight. After that, it doesn’t matter. If the cramps have to happen, I’ll be able to spend the day in bed tomorrow with them.”

Then after a moment, she added, “But I can’t promise not to complain or ask You to take them again if You allow them back.”

“That won’t work. He doesn’t care about a little bit of cramping,” they jeered.

“He cares about everything I care about.”

“Your prayers don’t always work. They’re not going to work this time either.”

“That’s up to God. I trust Him to take care of me.”

“Not if we have anything to say about it,” they said as they became more active – pulling and pushing and twisting inside her.

Finally, she couldn’t stand it any longer and decided to lay down to see if that would help.

“That’s right,” they said. “Get ready for some fireworks! We’re just getting warmed up!”

Their taunts grew louder as her cramps intensified.

“You’re going to get so sick, you won’t be able to take care of the kids.”

“Yeah, they’re going to get up and destroy your house.”

“And maybe ever get hurt.”

“And then their parents are going to be so angry you took a nap and neglected their precious children that they will never bring their kids to you again. You will lose everything!”

And they laughed their evil laughs, enjoying their own imaginations.

“Jesus,” she began.

“Oh no! She’s praying again. Let’s see if He hears her this time.”

“I don’t know why these cramps are still here. I place them in Your hands. Please don’t let me fall asleep as I lay here.”

“No problem,” they laughed at her as if she was speaking to them. “You’re going to be hurting too much to fall asleep.”

“Thank You, Lord,” she continued. “Thank You for these cramps, for they show me that my body is working.”

“That’s a new one,” they said as they looked at each other. “This can’t be good.”

As she prayed, she kept her thoughts on Jesus, on what He’s done for her in the past and what He will do for her in the future. She began to doze.

They looked with bewilderment at each other. Something was happening. Something they hadn’t experienced with her before. They were shrinking right before their own eyes!

A little while later, she roused.  After making sure the kids were still sleeping, she checked on the cramps.  She couldn’t feel them. Were they gone? How could that be? Every month in the past, they would hang around for a day or two. How could they be gone in just thirty minutes?

“We’re not gone!” they yelled. “We’re still here!”

“Oh. Right. But I can barely feel you. You’re too little to do much. Jesus sure took care of you!”

“Just wait until next month. We’ll be back!”

“Bring it on. Jesus will still be here next month!”

And she spent the rest of the day singing praises to her amazing Healer-God!

That Wasn’t Fair!

“There she goes again,” Evil One said to Evil Two.

“Is she running with that four-legged beast again?” Evil Two asked.

“Yeah, ” Evil One said.

“I’ve got an idea.”

There was a long pause.

“Well, are you going to tell me?” Evil One glowered at Evil Two.

“Sure.”

Another long pause.

“Now would be a good time.”  Evil One spat at Evil Two. “I don’t have forever.”

“Umm… actually, you do.”  Evil Two smiled his evil smile.

“Enough of this! What is your idea?”

“Well, you know how she goes in that room every week to … worship God,” Evil Two barely got the words out, but then continued. “And then comes back out and runs down the block with her dog?”

“Yeah, so?”

“What if we gave her a little nudge.”

“A nudge? Like to make her go faster?”

“A nudge. Like to make her fly.”

“Oooo… that would be awesome! Then when she landed, on her face of course, she will get mad at God because she believes He protects her from everything!”

They both chuckled savoring the image her hitting the ground and cursing God.

Then Evil One turned to Evil Two. “Whose going to ask His permission to do this?”

“Hmmm, that’s right.”  Evil Two grimaced. “We have to have permission to touch her. So what can we say that would make Him agree to this?

Evil One said, after a moment, “I’ve got it! We can say we only want to help her run faster to get back to the safety of her car. After all, it is late at night and evil does hide in the darkness.”

“You mean like us?”

“Yeah. No. I mean like another human that would want to hurt her.”

“Think He’ll go for it?”

“Let’s go see.”

 

Moments later they were back.

“I can’t believe He fell for it.” Evil One said. “Whose going to do the honor?”

“Oh, you do it,” Evil Two responded with an look of anticipation. “I want to see her expression from the front.”

They began moving towards the girl and the dog, who were now running back towards the parking lot.

“Wait!” Evil Two said. “Make sure you nudge her to the right so she lands on her bad right shoulder. Another dislocation would be awesome right now!”

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“Well, that didn’t turn out too well.” Evil Two said sadly as they watched her get back in her car with her dog and drive away.

“Yeah. I didn’t see that coming. Who said anything about an angel protecting her fall? He sure came out of nowhere, didn’t he?”

“And did you hear what she said?” Evil Two’s face scrunched up in disgust. “She thanked Him! She actually thanked Him for His protection! She’s flat on her face and she’s thanking Him! The only one she got mad at was us.”

“Well, actually, she wasn’t flat on her face. I had the angle just right, but that angel rolled her in the air. Her face and right side never even touched the ground. ”

“That wasn’t fair. And angel was not part of the deal.”

Evil Two shook his head. “Just wait until next time. We’ll make sure we include a ‘no angels’ clause.

 

The next day, Evil Two asked Evil One, “Want to go see what she wrote in her journal? Maybe after thinking about it, she might not be in such a thankful mood.”

“You might be right. As hard as she hit the ground, she should be feeling pretty sore. It’s hard to be thankful when you’re hurting.”   He gave a nasty chuckle.

She was just finishing her journal entry when they appeared in her room.

They read: “I don’t know what happened. But somehow I fell last night and hit the ground pretty hard. It could have been so bad. If I had landed on my right side, my arm could have been dislocated again. But I didn’t. Somehow I didn’t even land on my face even though I fell face first. God is so amazing! He must have protected me and made me roll on my left side. I am so thankful to Him for His protection.  I know I can’t always protect myself. My trust is in Jesus…”

“Disgusting,” Evil Two said to Evil One. “Let’s get out of here!”

And God laughed.