This is a previously written analogy I wanted to share. For the preface, read this.
I am running a race. I have been going for quite some time now and I can feel the exhaustion creeping up on me, weighing my limbs down. My throat is becoming progressively rough and dry and I desperately need a drink of water. As I reach my right hand down to grab my bottle from my belt to satisfy my thirst – as I have so many other times before when I had a need – my hands find nothing.
Panic fills me as I realize I have lost my lifeline. Now I see the dust that I’ve kicked up in my journey, and I start to sweat with fear. What will I do now? How will I find my way? Will I ever finish this race? All the questions I never entertained now come rushing back with a vengeance, and the dust and doubt sticks to my skin. It mixes with my sweat and forms a suffocating layer, the sun baking it and fastening it to me.
I’m walking now – shuffling, and then stumbling. The dust is stifling, and I can’t think straight or see clearly. With the sun beating down harshly on me, I see a sand dune in front of me rise to an impossible height and so I crumble. Kneeling now on my hands and feet, I wonder how I ever got this far.
What was I even running for? A race, I think. The memory of a time brimming with purpose and direction and energy is quickly fading. My soul aches for it, but I don’t remember how to get it back. What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go? I don’t remember anymore, and with my head beginning to pound, I’m finding it hard to care.
I can’t go on anymore so I let myself slump to the ground, my face falling in the sand. I close my eyes but before I can hardly rest them I hear the call of an Eagle. Cracking open one eye, I see it perched on a branch sticking up out of the sand, and wonder how there is anything even alive out here. It cocks its head, staring at me, then takes flight and soars farther away – down the way I was meant to go. There is no longer an impossible sand dune, but a shimmering oasis in the distance, and in the middle is a cross, standing tall and strong.
A voice questions my sanity and sneers, “There’s nothing there. It’s just an illusion your exhausted brain concocted – just like this race. There’s nothing else for you.” But there is another stronger, more sure voice saying, “Shake yourself from the dust and arise, my child. Let go and rest in my palm, for those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
There is something about the strength and peace in that voice that causes my spirit to lift and breathe once again. I remember the cross and all that it stands for as tears begin to trail down my cheeks as I wonder how I could ever have forgotten something so integral. I sigh and close my eyes as I remember the times when I would float leisurely on the surface of a glistening lake, basking in the glory of the surrounding peace and freedom. I feel the layer of dust and dirt caked on me begin to crack from the joyful tears that streamed down my face moments before, and I know what I must do: I must press on toward the goal that God has called me to.
I know I must get up, but my body protests and immediately those nagging questions return with weights of anxiety. This time, I do not let them stick to me and I hear the dusty layer of doubt cracking and breaking away as I rise to my hands and knees. I don’t know how I will do this but I know I must. With a final mighty push off the ground, I am propelled up until I’m standing straight and tall once again. I don’t know how I had the strength to do so, and that’s when I realize I didn’t: I just had to lean on Him.
As I take stock of myself, I am flabbergasted as my left hand finds my water bottle. I shake my head and chuckle at my foolishness, as all this time I had never lost the ability to press on, yet I had let my fear nest and give birth to more perilous and false mindsets.
Shaking off my mistakes, I start walking and find my footing sure, so I break out in a jog. As I regain my previous speed, the layer of dust is breaking away in large chunks until it is gone and there is no trace that it had ever marred me. Soon enough I am sprinting faster than I ever thought I could and I hear the sound of the Eagle above me once again. A wide smile crosses my face as I know where my strength has come from. When my gaze returns in front of me, I find I’m no longer running across sandy dunes, but rather soaring far above them in the sky.
For a moment, I think this is impossible and I feel myself dip downward slightly but just as quickly I toss that thought away and rise back up again, knowing serenely who I am and where I came from. I laugh joyfully, spreading my arms out like wings, as I soar across the sky. I look below me and see there is another running in my place: a Lion. It tears through the sand dunes effortlessly and leaves destiny in its wake. I hear it let loose a powerful roar, declaring its dominion to all and I am both awed and inspired.
I watch it for a moment more, delighted to simply take in its glory and majesty. Then I spot something else: my shadow, which now resembles a cross more than myself. Smiling even wider, I find from my elevated vantage point I can now see ahead of me: just beyond is a lush area, teeming with life, colour and lakes. I remember again the seasons I spent running and pressing forward and those I spent resting. Though, the thing I remember most was that, no matter what I was doing or where I was, I could always lean against Him who loves me.
A peaceful assurance settles into my belly as I fly with the Eagle and the Lion and I know: I was born to be limitless! To fly on faith and to run like a Lion – that against all reason and education, I am free!
June 1, 2013