For many years this horrid beast has kept me trapped inside its stinking dungeon.
"You loser, you'll never amount to anything," I hear it mock from atop its hoard of golden coins, the ones it snatched from the furthest recesses of my tattered pockets.
It's preparing me for the kill, and I see no way out.
Then suddenly one morning while the beast is sleeping, a magnificent light shines into my cell.
"Great news!" proclaims a glorious voice from above. "Your prayers are answered. It's time to leave this place."
Immediately my chains disintegrate. Like a zombie I just stand there, unable to believe I'm finally free. Seeing my hesitation, the angel grabs my hand and physically leads me past the bars, up a set of winding stairs, and toward a narrow road. Upon that road sits a fiery red car, ready and waiting.
In the blink of an eye I find myself seated behind the wheel, no time to gawk.
"Let's burn rubber," orders the angel. Without further ado, I turn the key.
The engine roars, tires screech, and off we zoom. A number of important documents unexpectedly fly out of my coat pocket and straight out the open window. I make a wild grab to catch them, and receive a harsh rebuke.
"Hands on the steering wheel. This is no game."
"But - My homeowner's insurance," I protest. "And there goes my social security card!"
"Oh stop whining and let them go. What's more important, your life or your stuff?"
"But... But..." I protest, still reeling from the speed of this escape. Surely the situation isn't quite that serious.
Two giant thumps, a monstrous groan, and a huge snort from behind me change my mind. It seems the beast has awoken after all. Its call to me, strong and familiar, unleashes a strong magnetic pull.
So... tempted... to turn.
A firm hand to my cheek keeps me in check.
"Face forward," commands the angel, "And no turning your head. Cases like this call for a stiff neck."
Just then I hear a flapping sound, like that of giant bat wings. It makes me feel naked.
"Why aren't there any weapons in this car?" I want to know.
"Stop changing the subject and just drive."
I can feel the creature breathing down my neck. So much smoke. So much heat. So much pressure. So much wondering.
Have I made any progress? Will I ever outrun it? Just how close is it anyway?
The sound of a sharp tail cracking the air stirs a bitter cauldron of emotions. I feel a feverish mix of panic, frustration and anger build up inside of me. It's nearer than I thought. Hopefully not too near. If only I could know for sure!
Suddenly it occurs to me.
"Where are the rearview mirrors?"
"We don't need them."
"Don't need them?!"
"I already told you that. They won't work."
"Why not?" I ask. "With a mirror we could shine a little light in its eyes."
"True, but think about it. We're talking dragons' eyes. As in fiery darts. Darts hit the mirror, reflect back at whatever eyes are looking in it, and zap! Just like a laser beam through a magnifying glass."
Okay, I get it. Rearview mirrors can be dangerous.
The famous Salt Pillar landmark is coming up soon. A memorial to Lot's distracted wife, it teaches me how not to look in rearview mirrors.
The dragon's always there, you see, ready to fill my nostrils with the smoke of possible pots I might have left burning on the stove. Worry is one of his favorite tools to bring me down. Another is regret, like the sort that comes when I can't stop ruing wrongful real estate decisions that have just gone up in flames. The clincher of course is guilt, like the kind some people feel when they wish they'd tried a little harder to save their two potential son-in-laws from getting barbecued.
Those are the sorts of things I see when I look back toward the dragon, rather than forward, which is where I'm looking now.
That's where He's waiting for me, arms outstretched, my name inscribed within His nail-scarred hands. I've decided to keep my eyes on Him, the One who saved me and who ever leads me into the eternal shelter of His glory.
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