Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)
TITLE: Cascading Despair; Artesian Grace
By Beth Muehlhausen
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Thunderous emotions descend with Niagara-force, crashing on inner boulders worn smooth by years of ongoing assault. The very foundation of my soul shudders. Such forceful pounding promises to crush the human spirit. I feel suffocated.
The constant onslaught of panic wears me down like a gushing, insidious form of internal Chinese water torture. Anxiety gains the upper hand; hope evaporates in a misty haze of doubt and fear. Down, down I sink into depths of hopelessness, alone and overcome by circumstances far beyond anyone’s control.
I’m blinded by both physical and emotional pain, numbed by this unstoppable river of feelings as they tumble in deep descent. Surely my life - with so much weariness - has become merely a matter of survival. I will wait to die while stalked by inadequacy.
And yet … God wills that my brokenness be resurrected by virtue of His very presence. In a split second defying earthly explanation, kairos (God-time) intersects with chronos (earth-time). I fall to my knees and cry out to Him in a state of utter abandonment. “MERCY!” The steep, limestone-gray canyon walls of my soul echo my plea: mercy … mercy … mercy!
I raise my head and shout at the top of my lungs: “HOSANNA – SAVE ME!” Again, the echoes peal: hosanna – save me … save me … save me!
The walls offer no tangible answer, no inner peace.
My entire body falls facedown. The weight of despair crushes me until I’m literally pressed, diminished, flattened. I slither in something like oozy mud, weeping. I can no longer endure. Like an injured snake confined to its belly and frozen in place, I try to writhe in my agony, but am unable to leave this miry spot of self-absorbed defeat.
Time is torturous; minutes drag - or seem to even stop. How long must I wait to die? How long must I grovel in despair? I cry tributary tears that mingle with the Lord’s at the foot of His cross – kairos, again.
My breathing becomes raspy and labored. Will God forsake me to my pain?
A slow trickle of hope emerges from the unified streams of tears to shimmer like a subtle-mirage-turned-real. Renewed, I follow it to discover an artesian well gushing up in a previously hidden, deep-deep-dark-soul-spot. The water, bubbling with the promise of eternal life, looks mineral-laden: red and bloody. Is this my own blood? Living water? Baptismal water? Sacrificial tabernacle washing water, stained by the blood of a perfect lamb?
Is this what they call the cleansing flood?
I gaze into something resembling the pool of Bethesda where the tears and artesian water have collected and clarified. Adrenaline courses, and my heart races. I glance furtively, wondering if I might dare to stay here indefinitely. Surely this place is the wellspring of my life: MY HEART. I blink hard to gather my wits and find that yes indeed, it’s true, and Jesus is here with me. He asks me one simple question: “Do you want to be healed?”
The artesian waters continue to flow up, up, up from deeper cavernous substructures that exist well below the superficiality of my rational mind – ones created even before the beginning of time. The surface of the resulting pool ripples as if from the touch of angels’ wings. Can He refresh my heart, restore life, and replace dread? Will He choose to do this for me – TO me?
“Hosanna?” I whisper meekly, while kneeling at His feet. And then, more boldly, I turn my face upward and our eyes meet. “Save me, Lord Jesus?”
He gestures with one arm, inviting me to immerse myself in deep places, to be baptized once again in His grace. I slip quietly into the pool of living water, hold my breath, and descend below the surface: willful relinquishment. At just the right moment hope rescues me, and I find myself at the surface again - panting, gasping, starved for a breath of Real Life.
As I climb back onto dry land and peer into His face, everything seems different. Once I was blind, but now I see clearly with heightened sensory and spiritual perception. I’ve risen from the bowels of Noah’s ark into Light. I am the woman at the well; the blind man with mud rinsed from his eyes; the lame man healed at the pool.
He leads me to a high spot above the canyon and washes my feet. I am called to descend to others below, and do likewise.
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