суббота, 10 ноября 2012 г.

Mr. Sunshine

By Pam Bostwick

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater.
~Annie Johnson Flint

I wake up in a cold sweat and can't stop sobbing. The dream is so real — a child trapped, screaming that will not stop. It is me screaming. I cannot quit shaking while I pull the bedclothes around me. Restless, I can't go back to sleep. In the darkness, I pray, "God, when will these nightmares end?"
There is no answer as I stumble from my bed and into the shower to calm my nerves. It isn't morning yet. I must get away for a while to think. No, I don't want to think. The shadows of my past cling to me. No matter how I try, I can't cast away the burden of me as a child, abandoned, hurting.

I scrawl a note for my oldest daughter of five kids telling her where I've gone. Being a Saturday, they will probably sleep until I return. I am a single mom.

I rush out the door and down the hill. "I can't take anymore," I tell God. He already knows my pain, but I don't seem to reach Him. I feel too desperate, too hopeless.

Recklessly, I half-walk, half-run for what seems like miles. I end up near my favorite lake. In the pre-dawn, I notice an old coupe parked there and groan inwardly. Someone must be here this early when I'd like to be alone.

Light barely filters through the trees when I pass the car and slowly follow the path down to the stream bank.

I see a bald man in ragged jeans and a faded sweatshirt crouching at the water's edge. For a fleeting second, I wonder if he will accost me. Should I leave? Then he turns slightly and notices me. His features aren't striking. He's an ordinary man until he smiles. My fears dissolve as warmth floods through me. The sun isn't up, yet the heat of its rays flow from him. I stand rooted to the spot, transfixed.

"I leave you be and give you your space," he says.

"No," I answer, surprising myself. I thought I wanted my solitude. Now as I sit down on a large boulder not far from him, I add, "I'd like the company."

His serene manner brings tranquility to my troubled mind. His glowing countenance penetrates my aching heart like a healing balm.

He lays down his fishing pole and concentrates on the rocks before him.

"Lookie, here's a pretty one. You can always find a pretty one." He grins at me and doesn't seem to mind me staring.

My eyes focus on the stones by him. "They all look like gray blobs to me in this gray dawn," I reflect. "Kind of like my life."

I realize he seems to be peering through me. His look pierces my soul, but it doesn't frighten me or make me feel uncomfortable. I turn my hot face away to hide my unbidden emotion.

He walks over to me, reaches out his stub of a finger, and gently lifts my chin. I don't flinch or pull away. He wipes at a tear on my cheek.

"There's lots of sadness in the world, and I'm sorry you be carryin' more than your share."

I wonder if there is a hurt in his old heart since he seems to understand me so well. I can't speak through the lump in my throat. I have not received this kind of comfort in a long time. His whole being radiates a peace I had never known.

I have the urge to snuggle up to him, to become a part of that assurance he seems to possess within his entire self. He reminds me of a big, safe teddy bear. Who is he? Someone sent to rescue me from the harshness of my circumstances. I long for his strong arms to steady me the way God tries to do so every day of my life — if I would let Him. How could I have shut Him out?

I sweep my arm across the sky to take it all in. "I want to thank God for all this and embrace this new day with joy, not dread."

"Ya can't heal until ya get rid of the anger and bitterness," my companion acknowledges. Handing me a large stone, he motions for me to throw it into the depths below.

This is silly, I think. To humor him, I hurl the first stone into the river. It hits with a thud. Amazingly, I feel better.

Each time I thrust more rocks farther into the water, I imagine letting go of revenge toward my abusers. The agony of my own deep wounds seems to lift.

"The shame and guilt are gone," I exclaim in awe.

"The relief of getting rid of something pent-up can give ya a solace ya have never known."

"And forgiveness," I whisper.

The exercise leaves me spent. I relax against a nearby tree and close my eyes.

Suddenly, the sun peeps over the top of the hill and glimmers with hope. It shatters the ice that has been in my heart for years.

"Jesus be here with ya," the man states.

It is true. I know this with every fiber of my soul.

"Give that burden ya got to Him. He's strong enough, and He's able to bear it. Ya be a lot lighter feelin' goin' home."

I feel a glow from this man and believe he knows a great deal about Christ's love for me.

I squeeze my eyes shut while I picture God taking sacks filled with my darkness and garbage from me. As the weight and baggage and anguish I had packed around lifts from me, I offer up a prayer of gratitude to God.

I open my eyes, and the man is gone. I blink in disbelief. Did he go through the woods, disappear or what? I will never know, but his presence remains like a candle, giving me faith.

I accept that the Lord has been here with me through this old man. God is not a stranger anymore. He knew I needed Jesus with skin on.

I sense someone touching my auburn hair and speaking to me with perfect harmony. I can hear the old man say, "There be no regrettin'! Every day be a golden one like that sun risin' high in the sky to bless ya."

My heart cries out, "What if sadness comes again?"

I hear his answer. "There will always be sadness. Ya are not alone with it as ya feel those feelings. God be helping ya' through it."

I would never have the same despair again. That day in the mountains, my life was impacted forever by an angel.

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