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"For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." I lived on the banks of a river . . . and it captured my attention. These are my observations about the parallels between my life...and the river.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When the Bottom Drops Out

     If you've never seen the movie, "The Emperor's New Groove", I highly recommend it.  If you have however, there's one scene in particular that I'm thinking of as I sit to write this post.  Actually, it's a scene that is repeated in many different movies.  The main character of whatever movie it is somehow ends up in a river unexpectedly -- maybe on a raft, or tied to a piece of tree trunk (as in "The Emperor's New Groove), or in a canoe, or trying mightily to swim to shore -- and then, the music changes dramatically, "Dum, dum, DUMMMMMMM!!!" and suddenly, a giant waterfall is just around the bend!!!  

     Time is suspended and it seems like each second lasts forever as we wait with anticipation to see if our hero survives the plunge over the falls and into the waters below, or if they resurface downstream, lifeless...broken...overcome by the violence of the river.

     Life is like that.  Except without the music to warn us of the coming plunge.  In life, the bottom often drops and the river ends suddenly and without warning, plunging us hundreds of "feet" -- which can be fatal to us emotionally -- and it can happen with just a phone call or an unexpected visitor.  Life happens that fast.  

     I witnessed this in the life of a dear friend of mine today.  She received a phone call, and moments later I received a phone call from her.  She couldn't even talk.  I only heard my name, and her broken voice, sobbing. "I need help."  I hung up the phone and ran -- literally -- to her side.  Held her while she sobbed over the tragedy that had struck her family so suddenly and senselessly.  I had no words.  I just held her tightly in my arms.

     But then she asked me to pray for her.  

     What?  Pray?  Well, of course, I do that.  Pray.  But I don't know what to say at this moment.  I'm at a complete loss for words.  I've never been in this kind of situation before.  This kind of tragedy is beyond my comprehension, really.  I'm just here to ... um ... uhhh ... 

     "Jesus. ... Jesus, help..."

     Uh, Lord?  Why did you send me here?  I'm not equipped!  I don't have the words!!  I just love her and I ache for her, I want to help her but I don't know how.  Help me help her!!!

     In His faithfulness, He answered my desperate plea for help.  He reminded me that He is our Father.  That He, too, has experienced tragic loss and He understands how it feels.  He knows our pain.  He aches and weeps with us.  He longs to comfort us.  In this world we will never be free from sorrow, tragedy, loss or pain, but He is here and will walk through the valleys with us.  He had to watch wicked men torture and kill His Son, all so that He could redeem us.  

     Life in the river is so unpredictable.  But we have a Father who loves us so much that He sent His Son to live life in the river -- with all of its twists and turns, rapids and waterfalls -- so that He could make a way for us to go through it and survive.  Not only that, but reach others who may be drowning along the way and offer them hope as well.  

     As I held my friend and prayed to our Father for His comfort, peace began to fill the room.  No, it wasn't fixed.  The tragedy was still real, the tears still came.  But we both acknowledged that He was there.  That He knew the pain, and that He would be the faithful Comforter.  The fear of the unknown was there, but it was less.  There will be many days of rapids, and maybe even more cliffs in the near future.  That's the nature of the river.  

     But we're not in it alone.