One of my boyhood dreams was to attend a Chicago Cubs game at beautiful Wrigley Field. In June 2006, at the age of fifty-five, my dream came true.
I wouldn’t dare go to Chicago alone. Between five and six hundred people are murdered each year in Chicago, and I didn’t want to be another statistic. Self-defense for me is hiding in a closet praying that the thug doesn’t find me.
So, I was thrilled when my good friend, George Edwards, a native of Illinois, and an ex-Marine wanted to go with me. He had never been to Wrigley field either. Here were two grown men being kids again and seeing their dreams realized at last.
The “L,” the Chicago subway, unloads about two blocks from Wrigley, and it was about a three block walk from our hotel to the station where we boarded for Wrigley which took us under downtown to the Northside. We left in daylight but returned in the dark. From the station back to our hotel, a seemingly endless, dark, unlit, and lonely alley led to the well-lighted street not far from our hotel.
On our walk from the L, we talked about the Wrigley experience and the game which the Cubs lost to Houston, 1-0. We looked forward to getting back to the hotel and enjoying a good cigar in the courtyard.
Walking and talking through the alley, I was on the constant look-out for Mr. Thug. He was behind every bush, around every corner, and hiding behind each building. Suddenly, George grabbed me by the shoulder, yanked me to safety, and yelled, “Watch out!” I knew I was a goner. My heart rate went up to a thousand beats a second and landed in my throat. My first thought was about Joyce, my wife, who would in an instant be a widow. My second thought was “Where did he shoot me?”
George said, “Whew, that was a close one! You almost got it.”
Petrified, I shouted, “What is it? Where is he?”
He said, “Turn around and look behind you to your left.”
And there hiding in the night was this thug - a skunk in the middle of Chicago with his tail raised, cocked, loaded and ready to fire skunk juice all over me.
I gathered my wits and put my heart back into my chest, and mumbled a sincere and relieved, “Thanks.” It pays to have an ex-Marine with you walking on the mean, dark streets of Chicago. I was safe and secure with George by my side.
You know, it’s wonderful to have another friend walking by your side down the dark alleys of life, too. That friend is Jesus. You never know when the skunks (the two legged kind) are going to cock and fire their insults, criticisms, and cursing at you. The religious bureaucrats, the soldiers, and the mob spit on our Lord. They ridiculed him, mocked him, pulled his beard, and beat his back into a bloody pulp. Then, they murdered Him.
Yes, skunks can hurt us with their words and shun us when we thought they were our friends. Thugs can even murder us. And, we all will die. We’ll die of something - disease or an accident. Some skunk will get us.
But, our Savior, a true Friend, will never leave us or forsake us in some dark, mean alley. Yes, we can forsake Him. We can choose not to talk with Him through prayer and choose not to be a part of His body, the church. We can tell Him to get lost and walk the dark night alone. And if that is our choice, we don’t have to worry about Jesus tagging along with us through the sometimes dreadful streets of life. He will let us go recklessly on our way without Him. That “do it my own way” walk is certainly not the safe and secure way.
Jesus wants to go with us. If we accept Him as our traveling companion, we are safe and secure. That doesn’t mean He’s going to yank us away from every skunk we encounter. It does mean that our soul is safe and secure. “Have no fear,” Jesus said. "Don't be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There's nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands“ (Matthew 10:28 Message Bible).
I am thankful Jesus walks with me in the light as well as through life’s dark alleys. I am protected and secure with Him. He will get me safely home - home to the Father who waits for me. Jesus will take you safely home too if He is your traveling Friend.
Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world’s temptations;
Sin cannot harm me there.
Free from the blight of sorrow,
Free from my doubts and fears;
Only a few more trials,
Only a few more tears!
Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast
There by His love o’ershaded, sweetly my soul shall rest.
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