I’ve been living in hiding. Paralyzed by all I can’t control but wearing myself weary controlling and hovering. This is the absence of trust. This is the bondage to the will of another. Another without mercy.
These are my chains of fear.
I’ve had many fears these days. Fears that have come as a result of recent storms. Storms of finances and parenting. There are different kinds of trials in life. Some come and you can muster the faith to believe the truth. Others are of the substance that slam the air out of your lungs and the difference between faith and fear is not easy to differentiate.
I was compelled to go for a walk a few days ago. We were in Dallas at my parents’ house for Spring Break, visiting my grandmother who was in town. They live in Kessler Park, at the very edge of the city right next door to Oak Cliff. The trees are mature and there is a walking trail right beside Interstate 30, but the highway is hidden because of the trees and the hills and the streams that flow into the Trinity River.
I was restless because of prayerlessness and Springtime in Dallas beckoned me out. I cast a pleading eye at Jason and he winked his approval, agreeing to watch the kids as I wandered about.
So I set out quickly, crossing Sylvan Avenue and turning into the lane with the walking trail. I settled into a slow pace and walked silently as the world around me danced with life. I’ve come to see that prayer is just as much about silence and listening as it is about me actually using my own words as I seek audience with Almighty God. And for me nothing arouses heart-felt worship quite like nature.
I took my time down the lane, eyes wide open, sensing everything. Bamboo grew wild on the side of the trail to my left, covering the view of the creek down below. I heard it faintly gurgle as it washed over rocks and debris. Honey bees hummed around the early wild flowers just poking up from their winter slumber. I drank in the sweet, new air and lifted my eyes to the fresh green trees to catch a glimpse of the bird who sang that hauntingly beautiful song. The sweet notes filled me with wonder. Birds don’t worry about life. It’s all praise. Effortless praise.
I prayed for my brother, Andrian who was on a missions trip. A strong rush of wind spun about me from out of nowhere. I prayed that the Spirit of God would be poured out upon him.
I prayed for the spiritual protection of my children. I stood looking into a clearing, the land sloping down a bit with tall trees marking the end of the wildflower field. The wind picked up again and the trees danced shaking off their seed. The lightweight pods swirled magically through the air slowly. I watched one as it floated towards me. It landed on my chest, a tiny bit of fluff surrounding the life-giving seed. Those who sow in tears, will reap with shouts of joy. I looked down at the seed and kept it there. Not wishing to remove it from my heart.
I turned away from the walking trail and started to hike up the hill through the residential streets of Kessler Park. There were no sidewalks here, but only a road separating gated properties and large mansions. I walked quickly up the incline and felt the surge of blood course faster through my veins. My fears began to melt away as everywhere I went, I saw truth manifested in reckless beauty. A flowering rose bush reminded me to pray for my friend, Gulnaz. A monarch butterfly gave me hope for transformation. At the top of the hill I could see a single cross lifted high on top of the Methodist Hospital just a few blocks away. It took my breath away.
I began my descent down the hill. At the very bottom, just before turning back onto the walking trail, I noticed a bush with dominant white blossoms. At that point I decided I would take one home with me. I looked around to make sure no one was watching and reached my hand through the iron bars to pick the flower. I gasped as I realized that the bush was actually a bramble of long, intertwining thorns. Deadly-looking thorns that threatened my pursuit of beauty. The kind that would have been used to crown my Savior. They twisted large and fierce but produced a flower so beautiful I was compelled to take it.
I smiled and carefully placed my hand back through the bars and not so gently eased the white flower from its thorny home. I secured it into my pony tail and walked back to my parents’ house. The sun, magnificent, broke free from the clouds and shone all around me as I rejoiced that here, even now, is the promise of life and freedom from the curse of the thorns.