The Swing

“I was so close,” she thought with disappointment as gravity pulled her away. “Why can’t I just stay here where things are so much clearer? Why am I always pulled away?”

Helplessly she watched the sky grow further away, then disappear as the angle of her IMG_20180719_144815604body changed. Her vision now was filled with overshadowing trees, prickly bushes, weed-invested grass, and dirt crawling with bugs – the everyday mixture of good and bad she was very familiar with. Although she could no longer feel as if she was part of the glorious sky, she could still get a glimpse of it if she looked up. But the land around her was interesting in its own way and thoughts of it slowly crowded out the sky from her mind.

She didn’t get to stay there very long. She was pulled back up, this time backwards where all she could see was the ground receding from her. The dark, flat view that filled her eyes replaced the memory of the wide open blue sky and began to make her question if that blue sky even existed. “Did I just imagine it?” she wondered. “I can’t see blue sky anywhere around here. It must have been just wishful thinking.” However, in spite of the sad feeling that accompanied that thought, she was surprised how the distance provided her a new perspective on what she thought she knew so well. Like how little those bugs really were, and how the weeds seem to disappear into the greenness of the grass.

Just when she accepted her new vision, it changed.

“Arhh!” she screamed as she fell facedown towards the ground. “Not again!” Visions of smashing into the ground filled her mind with anxiety. As the ground loomed larger and larger in her sight, she just knew this time there was no way she was going to come out of this unhurt. With hands clenching on tight, she closed her eyes and began to pray.

But when the impact didn’t happen, she took a peek through one eye and saw she was not going down anymore. She was moving sideways and missing every obstacle. “Whew”, she said to herself. “I don’t know how, but I made it again.” Relief flooded her and she drew in deep breath and relaxed as her familiar world surrounded her yet again. Then in her peripheral vision, she got a glimpse of blueness above her and something in her spirit stirred. Looking up she was reminded of the things she had seen before and a longing rose up in her. How could she make her way back up there? And if she did, could she get high enough to stay there? She strived to push herself upwards but that didn’t help, and neither did wildly kicking her feet. Eventually she gave up.

Before long, though, she noticed everything began to seem brighter and she got increasingly frequent glimpses of the blueness above her. Her angle continued to change until all she could see was the bright blue sky and awesome white clouds. And once again everything seemed so peaceful and clear to her and she wanted to stay there forever.

But of course she couldn’t, and gravity pulled her back down again and she started the cycle all over.

“Wow, that was amazing!” she said as the ride stopped and she got off.

“Swinging like this has its ups and downs,” she thought. “Just like my Christian life. Sometimes I get so close to God and seem to understand everything so much clearer, but then that feeling fades away as days go by and I find my vision limited to what I can see down here.”

Then she had another thought. “There is one big difference. This swing may always come back down, but one day, I’m going to make it up into that spiritual sky and never come down!”

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.