By the Riverside
by Suzanne R
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The creature, if it could be called a creature, was pure energy. Spinning, flashing, laser-like energy emanating from its multiple eyes, it raced above the plain then descended, whipping up water and river rocks in its wake.
Just minutes earlier, I’d been peacefully strolling along the riverside path, quietly singing with my MP3 player: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord…. I want to see you.… The sun had been shining, the air warm with the promise of summer, and the dragonflies had been soaring and dipping over the water. The breeze had gently fondled my cheek with what I had imagined was my Lord's touch. It was a ‘God moment’ … and then the freak storm descended, the fearsome creature in its centre.
My heart felt like it would burst through my ribs. My hands dripped with cold sweat. My stomach churned. I would have run if my legs hadn’t turned to pillars as solid as those of Stonehenge. The roaring of the wind and the crashing of the thunder barely smothered the sound of the blood pounding through my ears. As for the MP3 player, I guess all that electrical energy in the air shorted it out. Mercifully, at that point, my mind allowed me to sink into comforting oblivion.
The booming voice cut through the blackness. “Stand up. I have something to say to you.”
I didn’t want to get up. In fact, I rather hoped the earth would split open and allow me to fall into its depths. I hoped in vain.
The Spirit of the creature invaded the core of who I am. Power not my own zapped through my quaking limbs. Before I knew it, I was on my feet and the recipient of a most unwelcome charge. I’m a non-confrontational gentle Christian. This was not my style.
How could I say no? The creature was capable of dissolving me into a mess of electrons, protons and neutrons, scattered throughout the universe.
I used to lie on my comfortable bed at night, sending up a few sleepy thoughts to the origin of light, deaf to the thundering voice of the powerful Creature. “Bless me, bless my family, make us happy. Please. I ask these things in the name of my friend, Jesus. Goodnight… I mean, Amen.” Snuggling under the blankets, I would mentally tick my ‘to-do’ list: evening prayers – done.
On church days, I cheerfully took my turn at washing the cups after the weekly morning tea. Smiling sweetly at the ‘challenged and challenging’, I would mentally tick my ‘to-do’ list: Christian service – done. I often glanced surreptitiously at my watch.
I’m ashamed to say that following this once-in-a-lifetime riverside encounter, I simply went home and sulked. No church. No work. No family. Nothing. The doctor was called and I was given a medical certificate for a week’s sick leave. It cited ‘extreme mental exhaustion’. During that week, my teeth were constantly clenched, my bowels in constant chaos, nerves twitched all over my body and my fists remained balled tightly. As I lay on my bed that week, I did NOT pray.
Then the creature gave me the commission again, but in a far less confrontational form. “This,” explained the Spirit, “is the message you are to give my people.”
That was the end of my life as I knew it. These days, I’m considered ‘a few sandwiches short of a picnic’. But how can one say ‘no’ to the powerful being we serve? How can one lie on one’s bed, mutter a few platitudes, and call it ‘prayer’? How can one consider doing anything BUT actively love and serve the people of God? Yet I often have to offend His people, because the Spirit has given the church a message … a most unwelcome message … a frightening message.
Our Creator is not a cushy optional extra in life, designed to bring comfort and pleasure to ourselves … apparently the centre of His creation. Our Redeemer is not a saccharine sweet Saviour, suitable for the invalid, the elderly and children. Our Judge will one day summon us to His courtroom, and on that day, we will drop in terror before the Origin of Energy.
A moment by the riverbank changed me. Yet nothing had changed at all, except my perception of reality. I pray these days, not for my own well-being, but for God’s church.
Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord. We want to see you.
(Loosely based on Ezekiel’s vision as recorded in Ezekiel 1-2)
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Love this article Suzanne. Yes, I believe you are so right. God is trying to get through a message that we need to stand in the fear of God. That isn't respect (= I respect your right to an opinion that differs from mine!) Fear is Fear and holiness is without diminution or compromise! We need to go beyond nice little messages and know the plans of the Almighty in these last days. The time is urgent and short. God bless you for being different. Speak up! Helen