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Hope and Wait…

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God”-Romans 8:25-27

Through the lush vegetation, he pushed. Behind him, darkness and danger had pursued him like demons from another realm. There had been many near misses; moments when it felt as if the very life had been sucked from his lungs. As he neared the edge of the jungle, the light from beyond beckoned, like a welcoming host waving their guest home.

He was so close.

Each day as he had neared the edge of the dark realm, he could feel the grip of death lessen. Each new day, there was an increased hope, like that of a child expectant of the excitement of opening their gifts on Christmas morning. At first, the feeling was barely noticeable, but as the sound of release from beyond the infirmaries of bondage slipped away, he could feel a growing anticipation of eagerness stir within his blood.

Yet, he could not see what was to come.

He thought back to the verse which echoed in his mind like the raptor’s call off the nearby canyon walls, “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” A chill passed through his bones as its meaning resonated with his soul.

Evil had stalked him like a dark predator, walking in the shadow of each footstep. The multitude of workload and stress it placed upon his life was nearly to the point of an unbearable burden. Yet, he pushed on; praying for strength, guidance, and wisdom every waking moment. There were times when his foot would slip on the path, and the weight of those shackles would throw him to the ground. Each time he would moan under his breath, gritting his teeth, as he pushed upward, looking for what little ray of hope that flickered through the somber canopy above. Questions clouded his mind as Satan attempted to confuse him, trying to distract him long enough to make him lose his way and give up. When the roar of tumult would overwhelm him, he would pause, bending over and holding his knees as he sought air to breathe, like the fighter pausing between rounds; then he would drag his weary frame back into the fray.

Each time he gained momentum, as if the clouds overhead had parted and a slimmer of light would escape to the forest floor, the darkness would slam him once more, like a mule kicking him in the stomach. Nauseating helplessness would momentarily overwhelm his spirit as he would stumble backward; dazed, confused, and humiliated by what all was said of his inescapable ineptitudes as Satan tried to make him lose courage. The taunts would cut him to the core, as if the prince of darkness knew what mattered most, and would use those words to slice his soul to the very marrow of his existence. As he lay upon the sod, barely breathing, the darkness would leave, feeling accomplished for what it had done. Behind it, the man closed his eyes and prayed in a whispered breath, “God, I need you like never before. If this is the path you want me to take, then show me the way. If this is not, then show me the door to take, for I cannot do this, nor have I ever done this without you.”

As the man’s face looked up from the earth, overhead a fluorescent butterfly lit upon a branch of forest fern nearby. Amongst the deep recess of the darkness, its radiance lifted his spirit momentarily, like the wings of that insect, fluttering upward, then gently floating away. He could feel his on soul rise upon the occasion and a temporary moment of repose warmed his being. He closed his eyes and pressed it into his memory, for it was the only reprieve from the oppression he had known it some time.

The days would turn into months.

Each new month brought the repeated episode of the man being beaten down, again and again, until his health began to deteriorate. It seemed as the darkness was winning. But the man had not lost faith, and in his faith, there was eternal hope; a strength greater than the darkness could compete, for the gates of hell could not prevail against it. Each day, his journey brought him closer to the end, and each day, victory was nearer than before.

Satan knew he had won, but as he watched in earnest, he could not stop the man from continuing to move onward, never stopping, never giving up. He used every means possible to stop his progress, but nothing seemed to dissuade the man from his point of focus. It was if he had another life within that the darkness could not penetrate; a light within.

As the pathway neared the end, the man felt his spirit begin to soar. Each new day, each new breath, the life he once thought had gone was now returning, but unlike ever before; more clear, more vivid, more alive than ever before. It was as if he had died and was born again.

Death had lost its grip, and his victory was with God, through Christ Jesus.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the edge of the deep wood opened, and there before him lay the vastness of eternity. The glory, in all its splendor, was more than his mind could grasp. Tears filled his eyes as the expanse of beauty flooded through his eyes, warming his soul from without, to within. The marrow of his being had been infused with something greater than any feeling he had previously known, as if an agape love, charity for which no expression could be summoned, touched an inner precept that he had not known until now.

The words flooded his soul like the voices of a thousand waterfalls, whispering a roar into his being, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The man sat and wept as God welcomed him into the fold, for his heart was now healed.

We may never know the journey someone is on in this life, nor the tribulations through which they are struggling. We can each in our own way be a ray of hope, a brilliant butterfly to their being with nothing more than a smile, a warm welcome, or just simply a kind hello.

Seek to empathize with your neighbor, colleague, or family member. Remember, “. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Smile, and be patient, for, in the end, hope will guide you.

We may not see the next door, but with hope, and faith, we will know that when it opens, it will be the will of God.

And most importantly,

Thanks be to God.


Filed under Inspirational, Uncategorized

The Frailty of Existence….

Saturday we met first-hand the sheer thin line between life and death we tread upon each day.

One moment we are living, breathing, pulsating exuberances; then in one fatal step, an acorn underfoot on a cliff’s precipice, we are looking back at our lives during the last few seconds of consciousness as we plummet to our deaths. The finality only matches the youthful feeling of immortality where the two intertwine momentarily, one ripping the life’s breath from one’s chest leaving a void of unexpected helplessness to be all too quickly replaced with the dread and fear of dying.

As I sat watching monarch butterflies ride the thermals in the clear blue sky, effortlessly floating overhead on a river of air currents unseen to the eye, I couldn’t know the peril that lurked below. There on the place of granite summit upon which we sat, a blue azure sky glowed as the artist’s hand dotted its glory with bright spots of joy that moved with a fluidness of the gentle breeze.  In a previous trip here, the sky was filled with black vultures circling the stench of death below. Today, death was preparing to make a grand entrance, forsaking all the man-made festivities, bringing with it, its own purpose, little caring that it carries life-altering physicality as well as simple memories of the ever so slight onlooker; thus, the gravity of the morbid self, this death.

The group of boys, dressed in a myriad of assorted pants but all in matching red t-shirts, we first met gathered around the chimney on the trail to the summit of Stone Mountain. They were being lectured to by a bearded leader and taking group photos, pictures that would soon become snapshots of a better time. As we passed them we greeted one another in cordial, “Good morning,” and soon went on our way.

Shortly afterward, upon reaching the first stone-face overlook, we took a brief rest. I sat down in a shady spot while Jonathan and Mary went to investigate an area they had visited before with the Scouts from Troop 900 when we ventured here on a previous trip. Not long after, while we were still taking pictures of our own, the boys in red came blaring onto the scene. Their voices were heard well before they were actually seen. They were as loud and boisterous as any group I’d ever met on a hike, screaming, making animal noises, and have a grand time. Forsaking our own personal solace, which had long ago vanished, we left and planned to hurriedly create as much a buffer between us and these Scouts as possible lest our peaceful hike be ruined by someone else’s party. At least we might gain a few minutes of solitude at the summit if we could arrive ahead of the herd.

For the next few minutes, we took as many strenuous short cuts as we could physically afford, while remaining in the bounds of safety to reach the summit in record time. What seemed like a victory in time only bought us a few precious minutes. Not long after reaching the peak and finding ourselves a familiar shady spot, they were soon on us; again their shouts of joy greatly preceded their arrival.

The first few arrived proudly, led by an older Scout who quickly caught my attention just from the way he was dressed. He wore the matching red shirt like the others, but in addition he wore desert fatigues with a matching desert fatigue day-pack, boots and hat. I didn’t expect to see a Scout dressed to the hilt in military attire, yet he was apparently dressed for the adventure of a lifetime I pondered, and left it at that. The military youth and his acorn throwing buddies quickly went to the ridge ahead of us and disappeared over it ascending down the other side, out of sight and sound. There was a momentary pause in the noise as more Scouts arrived, all filtering down toward where the others had just disappeared. Overhead the butterflies wafted, floating down toward where the boys had vanished.

Not far from where the Scouts were disappearing sat a young couple. They had their moment interrupted as well and were watching the parade of boys filter past. I later spoke with them and they said the desert-storm-wearing Scout was jumping in lunges sideways down the mountain. They had no idea as to what had transpired since they had left shortly after we did. Over the ridge that appears to gently slope down forever,  it becomes increasingly steep until it reaches a point of no-return and becomes a sheer cliff face. We met the couple later on the trail below the mountain on the way to the homestead where we had just come from. There at homestead’s cabin, we met the elderly gentlemen who told us of hearing the sound of the body falling. He said “It was a sound like firewood coming down the mountain, but I knew better…I’ll never get that sound out of my head.”  It was then the reality of death began to weigh upon us. We had tried to outrun the joy, but the dread weighed upon us all like the shadow of the mountain under which we sat.

Yet, the weightless colors of the rainbow flutter above, making a joyful scenic beauty only soon to be matched by the dark ness that would encompass this dome. As the body of the boy lay at the foot of the cliff face, the dark figures of the vultures returned overhead replacing the wafting beauty with the dread reality of the cold vein of granite stone that weaves its thread through our collective souls.

In one moment we can be alive and a vibrant living being…the next…walking with God.

It’s the frailty of life…

The 911 call came in a 12:01…

“And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord God,
“That I will make the sun go down at noon,
And I will darken the earth in broad daylight;
10 I will turn your feasts into mourning,
And all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth on every waist,
And baldness on every head;
I will make it like mourning for an only son,
And its end like a bitter day.

–                                                      Amos 8:9-10

Please keep the family of Christopher Overcash and Troop 128 in your prayers.


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