Amusement Park: Haunted House, Sixth Room – Mountain, part 1

Amusement Park: Haunted House, Sixth Room – Mountain, part 1

Still staring at her image, Amalia didn’t notice the car start up and push through the next door. Could this really be her? If Jesus said it was, then it had to be. But she couldn’t believe it. She knew herself better.  A warrior? She was so full of fears and insecurities that she doubted she could ever battle anything. Right now she was a nobody, not some great warrior. And she was hardly confident or joyful most days. If the mirror was showing what Jesus saw when He looked at her, like He said it did, then it must be how Jesus saw her as she would be one day when she got to heaven. Certainly not as she was right now.

Slowly the sounds of birds singing and leaves rustling in the wind penetrated her thoughts. She lowered the mirror and looked around with confused pleasure as the car came to another stop. They were at the edge of a grassy field, with colorful flowers dotting the ground for as far as she could see. Here and there large spreading trees were providing shade and protection to the birds that flew around their branches. But neither the flowers nor the trees compared to the majestic mountains she could see in the far distance.

How could this be? They were in a haunted house. A house with walls and a ceiling. And yet it appeared that they were now in an open field, maybe a valley, leading to some gorgeous mountains. Amalia frowned in concentration, trying to make sense of what she saw, heard, and felt. The mountains could just be an incredible painted mural, the breeze could be created by hidden fans, and the bird songs could be recordings. But those were real flowers, and they went on for what appeared to be miles. More mirrors? And what about the trees? They were huge, too big to fit in this building. But they were definitely real. The nearest one was so close she could make out the design of its bark.

“Jesus, where are we?”

“We are right where we’re supposed to be. Come on, from here we have to walk. The next door is over those mountains.”

Amalia sat, eyes moving over the landscape. Surely she had heard Him wrong. “We have to walk?”

He was already climbing out of the car. “Come on, let’s get started.”

She slowly climbed out, still looking around with wide eyes. Wherever they were, Jesus was enjoying it. Maybe she should quit trying to figure it out, and just enjoy it like He was. Besides, if they had to get out and walk in one of the rooms of this crazy house, this one was by far the best one.

As they walked, she couldn’t get enough of the beauty all around her. The deep green of the grass blades complemented the brilliant white of the clouds floating in a cobalt blue sky.  And those flowers! The soft, colorful petals, each so different and yet perfectly shaped! Bees buzzed in and around many of them, joining the soft sounds of bird calls and rustling leaves. Inhaling deeply, she sighed. This place was much better than anywhere else she could imagine. Not even those scary looking mountains could contain as much beauty as this place. Why did she have to climb them anyway? They looked way harder than anything she had ever done before. Why couldn’t Jesus just make an easier way to get to the car? Even better, why even get to the car at all? Why not stay here? It was so perfect here, with none of the problems and worries that seemed to fill the world outside this place.

She stopped, and turned to Jesus. “Can we just stay here? With You, I won’t need anything else.”

He chuckled. “Well, it’s true that with Me you have everything. But you weren’t made to stay here. We have a ride to finish, and the car is on the other side of those mountains.”

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He pointed to them with such great joy and excitement that Amalia wondered what He was seeing that she didn’t see. Didn’t He know how difficult this looked to her? Hadn’t He noticed how dubious she felt? If He would just tell her what He saw, she might feel better about the whole thing. And yet He didn’t. Sometimes He could be so frustrating. Sighing, she began walking.

At first it was easy, but the incline of the field grew steadily steeper, and soon she lost sight of the beauty of the place as she focused on her feet and on her breathing. The lush green grass had grown sparse in places, with patches of rocks and loose dirt that caused her feet to frequently stumble. She began to regret wearing sandals instead of hiking shoes. But then, how was she to know she would end up where she was?

“I’m here. Take My hand. I won’t let you fall,” she heard Jesus say when she had stumbled the first time. She did, and found that holding on to Him steadied her. But as they walked, she kept finding the need to use both hands to shake out small pebbles that got in her sandals, or to shade her eyes from the bright sun while she pushed the taller weeds out of her way. As the inclined steepened, she stumbled more frequently. Sometimes she remembered to grab His hand. Or His shoulder. Or His clothes. But other times, she was too busy flailing her arms in panic to think of Him, so He would reach out to her with His steadying arm.

Finally He told her, “Let’s sit down and rest for a few minutes.”

She sank down and closed her eyes in relief. Walking with Jesus in this room was a lot harder than it looked. She had thought it would be easy, surrounded by beauty all the way. But she hadn’t expected the increase in slope to make such a difference. It also seemed the harder the walk became, the harder it was to see the beauty. Well, she had to admit, the beauty was still there, but the more she focused on her feet, the less of the beauty she saw. Maybe, when they continued walking, she should try to keep her eyes looking upward instead of downward.

All too soon, Jesus pulled her up, and they continued their walk towards the mountains. As they walked, He told her of what to expect.

“It’s quite high so we will have to go slower. There are paths in some areas, but in others, we will have to make our own way. There are dangers everywhere: animals, poisonous plants, cliffs, and sudden storms. You will get tired. You will get hungry. You will want to quit. But be assured that I am with You. I can keep you safe from every danger, as long as you do as I say.”

“If it’s that hard, why do we have to climb it? You can do anything, so why can’t You just make this mountain disappear?”

“Sometimes a mountain can be moved, but others, like this one, must be climbed. It’s for your good.”

“Well, if I have to go over it, can You at least carry me?”

“Sure, I can carry you from time to time.  But I can’t climb this whole mountain for you. You need the strength and wisdom you will gain from climbing it. “

Amalia looked doubtfully at the mountains that seemed to be approaching quickly. “I don’t think I want to go any further. I’m not ready.”

“Yes, you are, or I wouldn’t have brought you here.”

“But I don’t have any climbing gear. I don’t have any food or water or first aid supplies. I don’t have the knowledge to differentiate between good plants from poisonous ones. And I don’t have a weapon to fight off wild animals. I have nothing. Not even hiking boots.”

“You have everything you need. You have Me.”

“But You don’t have a back pack either. What if my sandal strap breaks and I have to travel barefooted. I’ll get blisters, which will probably get infected, and with no medicine, I’ll probably end up losing my feet. Let’s just go back. There must be another way.”

He laughed. “You won’t lose your feet. I am your healer.”

“But what if an animal attacks me while You’re not looking? I have nothing to defend myself with. I don’t want to get hurt. Even though You can heal me, it will surely delay our journey. Let’s go back to the safety of the field.”

“You won’t be hurt as long as you stay near Me. I am your protector.”

Amalia looked at Jesus’ empty hands. Did He have a knife hidden up His sleeve? Or maybe He was planning on finding some sturdy branches to use? “But You don’t have anything, either.”

She thought of another reason not to keep going. “I don’t have any water. And without water purification tablets, I can’t drink the water in any streams we find. I’m going to get dehydrated. And then I’ll get dizzy and weak and confused. I’ll be too sick to go on and end up dying on this mountain.”

He reached for and squeezed her hand. “You won’t die of thirst. I am your provider.”

But what if I’m walking along a path and suddenly find myself on a cliff? My balance is not all that great now. I know I will fall! Can’t we get to the door by going through the field, and completely avoid these mountains?”

He smiled and shook His head. “You will not fall. I am your guide and will keep you away from cliffs.”

No matter what objections Amalia came up with, Jesus seemed amused and had an answer. Evidently He wanted her up that mountain whether she wanted to or not, but that didn’t stop her from trying to talk Him out of it with new reasons as they came to her. She was increasingly dismayed to see that the closer they got to the mountains, the higher and harder and scarier they looked. In fact, she couldn’t even see the tops of the higher ones.

“Don’t worry,” Jesus told her, seeing the worry on her face. “The way is hard, but the reward is more than you can imagine. When we get to the top, you will be so grateful to have made the climb. I can’t wait to celebrate up there with you! However, there is one thing you need to do before we begin.”

“Run the other way?” she asked, looking behind her as if the car would suddenly appear. “This is just a joke, right?”

“Nope, no joke.” He spoke seriously now. “Before we start, you’ll need to make a commitment to follow Me no matter how rough it gets, or how long it takes. That commitment will help you when you think you can’t go on. Do you trust Me? Will you make that commitment?”

Amalia thought about it. She looked up at the mountain, and then down the way they had come. “What if I decide not to go?”

“It’s your choice. Just know this: if you go back, you will never know what you’ll have missed. And since the car is on the other side of this mountain, you will not be able to progress through this haunted house. You will be stuck in that field. As beautiful as it is, do you really want to be stuck there… or go back to the room with the mirrors… or the floorless room… or…”

“Okay, I get the point. It’s go forwards or go nowhere. You did this to me on purpose, didn’t You? You knew before we even entered this haunted house that I would be faced with this decision.”

Jesus winked at her. “And I even know what you’re going to decide.”

Sighing, she resigned herself to her fate. “Okay, if we’re going to die, let’s get it over with.”

You Call That Help? (from a dream – totally symbolic)

Was it a cavity? Did she need to have a tooth pulled? Braces? She didn’t know. She just knew there was something wrong with her teeth. They didn’t hurt, but she could feel something was off.

She had tried everything she could. Brushing, flossing, rinsing – nothing seemed to help. So she decided to take the next step and scheduled an appointment with Dr. Worldlee. Dr. W was considered the best around for his expertise and patient care. Surely he would be able to fix the problem.

The next week she was nervously sitting in the chair, white napkin clipped around her neck, waiting for Dr. W to arrive. A glance around the room revealed an assortment of posters advertising treatments for different tooth problems. She had had to bring her baby when the babysitter cancelled at the last minute and could hear him through the open doorway, babbling with the receptionist.

“Good morning!” Dr. W said cheerfully as he walked through that doorway. “How are you today?”

“I’ll be a lot better,” she smiled. “as soon as this is over.”

“Relax. It’s going to be OK. You’re in good hands,” he said as he glanced at the x-ray on the computer monitor. “Hmmm….”

“Hmmm?” she asked, her eyes getting big. Hmmm’s are never good.

“Oh, not to worry. It seems your x-ray shows something is off, but not in enough detail enough to show me what it is. But I know what will give me that information.” He opened a cabinet door and pulled out a dark jar. The label was too small for her to read so she watched carefully as he opened it. He reached inside and wiggled his hand a little. When he pulled his hand back out, there were several brown bug-looking things crawling on it. He plucked one off, then shook the rest of them back into the jar, replace the cover, and returned the jar to the cabinet. With the bug still grasped with his fingers, he approached her.

“Open up,” he said. “This will give me more information.”0226190724 (2)

Clamping her mouth shut, she shook her head. She had heard of this “treatment”. After swallowing it, that little bug would burrow itself inside her in order to provide more information which would be displayed on the dentist’s computer. But she had also heard that that wasn’t the only information the bug provided, and that once a bug was inside a person, it frequently led to more complications which sometimes became life threatening.

“Don’t worry, it doesn’t bite,” he reassured her. “You probably won’t even feel it.”

She shook her head again. “No, thanks.”

“You really need to,” he said, a bit more seriously. “Everyone does, sooner or later.”

“Not me.”

She tried to get out of the chair, but the dentist pushed her back down as he motioned to someone outside the room. She knew he was recruiting help. One way or another, by cajoling or by force, she knew he was going to get that bug in her mouth if she stayed in that chair. But how could she escape?

“Wait!” she cried out, keeping her teeth clenched together. “I’ll do it. “But.. But…” She tried desperately to come up with a logical reason to leave the room. “But I need to go get some water first.” She motioned to the water fountain behind a large lady making her way towards them.

“You don’t need water. This will just glide down your throat.”

“Yes I do. I have a very strong gag reflex. I have to have water to swallow anything or else I will just throw it back up. It will just take a minute.”

“I’ll get you some water from this sink.”

“No! I mean no, I need the water to be cold. Like the fountain water in the waiting room.”

He looked suspiciously at her but agreed to let her get up. She walked to the fountain, pulled out a cup, and began filling it. As she did, she glanced at the front desk to check on her baby and gasped. He wasn’t there! Where was he? What did they do with him? Then she heard his cry. It was coming from the little room she had just exited. She threw the cup down and ran back into the little room in time to see the dentist attempting to put something in her son’s mouth. She knocked it from his hand, grabbed her son from the receptionist’s arms, and ran from the room. She made it all the way to the front door sighing with relief as she reached out to push the door open. But before it opened, the large lady grabbed her and began pulling her back towards the little room.

“It’s OK,” Dr. W said as he walked up. “We can do it here.”

She shook her head, keeping her mouth tightly closed, knowing if she didn’t, he would take advantage of any opening he saw. She looked around for help from the other people in the room, but they were pretty much ignoring her. Those that watched seemed more interested in watching the drama than in helping her.

All of a sudden, her baby let out a scream. Startled, she turned her head just in time to see the large lady’s hand move away from the baby’s arm and the dentist slip a bug in his mouth. She quickly stuck her finger in the baby’s mouth, pried the bug out, slung it to the floor, and stomped on it. Picking up her foot, she saw the bug still moving so she picked up a nearby statue – a really heavy one – and smashed it down on the bug. Then she raced for the door, got it open, and escaped into the fresh air outside.

The last thing she heard before the door closed behind her was, “That won’t hurt it. You can’t get rid of it that way.”

She ran to her car and tried to unlock the door but the baby was struggling to get down and she dropped the keys.

“I’m sorry. Let me help.”

She jumped. It was Dr W! He had followed her outside. She tried to back away but he apologized again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I was just trying to help. Here, let me hold your son so you can get the keys and unlock the door.”

He wasn’t holding anything and sounded so sincere that she agreed and handed her baby to him. She bent down to retrieve her keys, inserted one into the lock, and turned it. As she heard the click of the door unlocking, she turned back to the dentist and her son just in time to see Dr. W hold a syringe full of a brownish liquid above the baby’s eyes. As quickly as she could, she knocked the syringe from his hands, but not before he was able to hit the plunger. The baby wailed as the brownish liquid filled his eyes.

She grabbed him from the dentist and ran back inside to the water fountain and began filling and emptying cups of water into the baby’s eyes. After a few minutes, the baby calmed and she stopped splashing to look at it. His eyes were red and swollen.

She walked back outside where the dentist was still standing near her car. She yelled, “Now I’m going to sue you! Just wait until you hear from my Lawyer!”

He answered softly, “I don’t understand your resistance. I was just trying to help.”

“Yeah, right,” she said angrily. “You call that help? Your kind of help just makes everything worse. I’m going to the One who can really help. A real Healer.”

After securing her son in his car seat, she got into the driver’s seat and turned on the car engine. She had to get to the Doctor as soon as possible. No telling what damage had been done to her son’s eyes. But she knew if she got there soon enough, the Doctor would know how to heal it.

This Doctor knew how to heal anything. And no need to make an appointment. He was always available.

She smiled. Yes, the Doctor would know what to do. If only she had gone to Him first. So much distress could have been avoided. Well, next time, she vowed, she would.

 

 

 

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!