Alice turns to read the red numbers of her digital alarm clock - 3:00 a.m. - then sighs and wipes the hot, sticky tears from her cheeks. A weary captive of the raucous screams of her inner head noise called tinnitus, she cannot sleep.
Remembering the recent months of her husbandís diagnostic tests, she listens as Alan snores with his typical, jerky rhythms. Just last week the doctor said his heart was weakerÖ
A soft breeze blows through the open window to gently stir the ruffled curtains. She breathes deeply of the cool, damp night air, and then pours out her heavy heart.
Iím coming clean with the truth, Lord Ö Iím overwhelmed Ö canít cope in this moment Ö canít stand being layered between frightening memories and the fear of tomorrow.
Alice repositions her body to face the window where she can view a full, very bright moon dappling the grape arbor outside.
Iím grateful for the lesson of the vine and the branches* Ė how I receive from You who have given all of Yourself to me so I can surrender to You in return. I canít be afraid when Iím overflowing with You - with Your love that delivers me from myself.
If only I could learn the virtue of waiting, Lord! I want to know - NOW - deep down in the heart-spot that is deeper than my brain - what it means to abide in You. I want to rest in faith, as the branch yields and receives from the vine, and bear fruit! Come to me Ö give me a reason to hope Ö
Her eyes close and sleep comes, bringing a dream filled with intense images.
An oppressive steamroller crushes my heart much like a car amidst creeping rush hour traffic might destroy a disposable coffee cup. Slowly, deliberately, it flattens me until hope all but vanishes.
A spirit from the dark gloats as its victim lies flattened, seemingly destroyed and stripped of all but a shred of optimism. With predatory insistence the bully named Despair presses her even more while she squirms in protest - sensing escape is futile.
I weep inwardly, knowing the deep sorrow of one who too often fights internal battles alone. How much more can I withstand?
The beast of prey first claws - then tears - her whole being, panting after her will. He digs deeper and deeper until body and soul both become bloody altars for pain. The gaping wounds uncover a cancerous seeping in her deepest heart Ė FEAR. As long as it prevails, Despair will ultimately conquer her spirit.
A tidal wave of pure anguish screeches its high-pitched screams - tosses me with its long, treacherous tongue onto the rocky coral of depression - threatens to consume the rag doll I have become. I miraculously escape by the grace of God, and lie lifelessly in the backwash. Devoid of strength or even desire to live, I can no longer fight.
An evil plot emerges: abandonment. In some deep glacial crack of utter defeat, Despairís partner, Panic, waits to freeze her body, soul, and spirit in such a solitary spot that the Samaritanís arm of assistance or gesture of kindness will never reach.
All I want is relief Ö a season without this torture! Instead the icy wind of impending death swoops into our marriage and plummets me into a dank and dark, lonely chamber where inner sorrow only intensifies. Iím immobile - held fast by chains of helplessness. Is there no mercy? God! You promised to never forsake me!!
An angel of Hope swoops from the heavens with great flourish and intention. Despair is caught off-guard by the sudden frontal attack, plummets from its perch of counterfeit authority, and crashes headfirst into an armored fleet of angels. Its resulting retreat is immediate, if temporary. Panic, watching from the sidelines, also takes flight and disappears.
Stunned by the rescue, hope swells in my chest; my heart is no longer crushed! The faces of my loved ones appear; I plead with them for tangible reassurance, understanding, and comfort. A knowing light streams from the eyes of a friend well-seasoned by her own experiences with travail and healing: ďLetís get together this week Ö and talk.Ē
Alice wakes with a start as the moon dips below the horizon. Her God is faithful! He is fighting for her, even now, and providing supporters who promise to encourage her. Dawn is coming; darkness will not prevail.
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