Deliverance

Standing there in the midst of the chaos I felt all alone. Why? I had been here before, knew what was around me, but suddenly things changed. The feeling was almost overwhelming, as if everyone around me was suddenly clamoring for my attention, yelling in my face what they wanted me to hear, see and do. I wanted to scream, to run away or hide, but I was frozen. So there I stood. I closed my eyes tightly and screamed for the madness to stop. Shaking my head I dropped to my knees and prayed for deliverance. Then, as quickly as the madness began, it stopped. Suddenly I looked up and realized that I was, indeed, all alone. I looked around and saw no one. The quiet was eerie and calming all at the same time. For a few moments, all I did was stand there on the streets beneath the towers of glass and steel and look up into the reflection of the sky projected back at me. I wondered where everyone went, but found no answers in my despair. I began to walk the empty streets, mystified by how different things look when void of humanity. In the back of my mind I realize that I cannot truly be alone here, but why then can I not see anyone? Where did the voices go?

I walked further until I came to a park with trees, water, windswept grasses and birds singing. I felt suddenly relieved that the birds were still there. Still there were no other people that I could see. And yet, I felt eyes on me, as though I were being constantly scrutinized in my vulnerable state. I was reminded of the old tale of the Footprints in the Sand. I wondered if maybe this was God’s way of telling me that I needed to step outside of myself and reconsider the direction that my life was going. As I sat there, I began to ponder that very thought. Where was my life going? Was I happy with the decisions that I had made? I realized with a shuddering resonation that I was not happy with many things. I did not have the career that I had always dreamed of, the lovely home full of warmth, family and friends, nor did I have a clear understanding of what I had become. The word complacent resounded in my mind over and over until I wanted to faint. That word, with its connotations of laziness and irresponsibility was like thunder in my mind. But yet, it was true. The passion, drive and motivation for life had left me somewhere along my way. I stopped searching for the inspiring, and the things that brought joy to my heart. I stopped singing and lifting my voice before our Lord. I stopped working hard to reach the goals of my adolescence.

I asked myself why? And the answer came to me with another resounding thud; fear. Fear of trying and failing. Fear of making choices that those around me did not approve of. Fear of losing those close to me if I chose the wrong path. Fear of labels, stereotypes and meanness. Fear of breaking out of my shell to realize that I was not good enough.  But these fears were fought in a battle against myself years ago, why were they back? I began to pray, sing, and dance. I stepped into the pond and let the water wash over me as I lifted my voice to heaven. A light like I’ve never seen washed over my face and provided the sweetest warmth my eyes had ever seen, or my skin felt. I continued this movement as I prayed for revelation, for deliverance. In a moment, the sky turned gray and the sun faded with its warmth leaving me cold, bitter and sad. I stopped singing and moving, and just stood there in the water as it began to rise. Slowly, I pulled myself onto dry land and started to walk again, looking for that sunlight. I could not find it.

As I began to walk the streets, the melody of the song I had been singing flooded back to me. I started to feel warm as a first hum escaped my lips, then a few words, then strong words. My heart began to lift and my eyes turned once again toward heaven. In the midst of an empty street I stood singing strong toward heaven. I closed my eyes and reveled in the sweetness of the moment, when I heard a small sound. Another voice? Yes, that must be it. Another voice had been lifted in harmony with my own. The echoes reflected off of the glass and steel sounded eerie and soothing, and simply magnificent. Slowly, as we made our way toward each other, our voices grew stronger. Then there was a third, forth, and fifth voice. In a matter of minutes, there were even more. Suddenly, my voice broke and I stopped to look around. The streets were once again crowded but instead of the voices ringing in my ears yelling and screaming, they were singing along with mine in sweet harmony only brought by the Lord. The sound of hundreds, maybe thousands of voices lifted up all around me filled me with a hope like I have never felt before. I dropped to my knees once again and closed my eyes, this time in gratitude for what the Lord had done.

As suddenly as the first moment began, a new one emerged. This time, I opened my eyes to find myself kneeling down on the street with a man standing over me. He was homeless, battered and smelled of alcohol and other noxious substances. He smiled at me through his thick beard, and held out his hand. I was not afraid of him, and I accepted his offering. As he helped me stand, his eyes were kind. I looked around and the streets were as they had been before I encountered the changing scenes that I had. My clothes were completely dry, and the sun was once again reflecting off of the tall buildings. People were milling around in every direction, and I realized that I was still holding the man’s hand. I looked at him, smiled and thanked him for my help. When I tried to offer him money, he refused and simply said to me that he had everything he needed; that the Lord had provided him a roof over his head. He pointed to a corner building with not much more than a dilapidated awning for cover. The scene was complete with a dog barking and excitedly running up to him. He told me that the Lord even provided him a friend, and that he could not accept my offering. I thanked him once again and turned to gather my thoughts and continue on my way. As I was walking away, a sound caused me to stop. I turned around, and the man was walking to his home, singing the words of the song that had, only moments before, flooded my mind, heart and soul.

I realized that, it is not always where you are in life that matters; it is what you make of that place. It is how you choose to view your situation and decisions, and where you choose to place your eyes, faith and trust.

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