I stand there, not knowing what to expect. I have friends and family around me. Three of my brothers, Josh, Eric and David, plus four friends of mine that will remain nameless. We all wait in anticipation as we gear up and get ready to head out on the snowy path. Then the phone rings and I'm put back into my home and grab the phone off the hook, “Hello?”
“Hola, this is...” Oh yes, one of my students. I knew it was before he even said his name because he always answers the same way, with “hola”. I don't listen to a thing he's saying because I'm scared out of my mind about what I'm going to do pretty soon. I hang up after he's done speaking and forget all about it. I go up to my brother Eric and ask, “Are we gonna leave yet?” Then the phone rings again. He picks it up, and hands it to me, I say hi and find that it's the mother of one of the friends. She wants to know where her daughter is. I tell her she's still on her trip but should be home shortly, then tell her that her son is with us and having a good time.
Finally, we're leaving, it took ages to get out of here. We're thrown into another world where we find ourselves in a cavernous cave tunnel. Water rushing around and we must fight for survival. Josh yells out, “Mind the gap!” He says this just in time for the other seven of us to fall through this huge hole in the path with water running down it in torrents. I hold on for dear life as I feel my fingers slipping away. Two sets of hands pull me up and I'm safe... for now. We keep going, each of us in turn falling down a hole, or slipping into some slimy puddle.
After a while we find that the water level has decreased quite a bit. We seem at a safe height at the moment. Then, a friend of mine leading the group steps down on the earth and it begins to crumble. We all being to fall, screaming, we grab onto each other, and the ledge that's left. One friend didn't fall, he was safe, and helped us back up as we continued on down this seemingly endless tunnel. I look down, there's the water. It's rushing at fast speeds below me, I feel sick.
“Guys, we got ourselves a problem!” calls out another friend. All I can think is, “What next?” I look and the ground all around us is falling to pieces, there's a leap that we must all take in order to get to the next safe place, one of them is already over it. I start to feel even more sick as I look down the hundreds of feet drop to the water below. Then, as I look to my right I see something, I don't know how I missed it before, but it's a huge, rectangular block. If I just climb up the two feet high of it to the top, I can easily walk across it to safety! I call to the others and we all realize how easy that is. The first person gets up on it and it too begins to fall apart, he runs across and is safe but time is too short to allow us all to do the same. So we jump.
We then walk across some boards with biting sea animals beneath us snapping at the few ropes that hold them together. Finally, it's over. We walk into a lighted room with four chairs, and some odd looking robotic cars driving around. I see three of my friends disappear into the light and I wait, noticing something, I say, “Where's Josh!” (not my brother). Eric turns to me and says, “He didn't make it man... he didn't make it. I begin to cry, as I sit down on one of the chairs. My brothers join me, facing the place that we came from. I look down, see tears fall into my lap. But, as I look up the darkness is gone, the water, the cave, the creatures, their all gone! Oddly though, what's left is a school room, the type you find in a public school, only bigger. There are many kids sitting there, talking, laughing, then they stop, and on a stage there's a violinist playing a concert, it's happy, light, fun, safe...
I am sure that you are all thoroughly confused now. You may think that I just made that up, but I really didn't. That just happened to be a dream I had last night. As most dreams go it didn't make much sense, was twisted, confused, partially annoying. As I woke up this morning I thought of that dream, it seems to have lasted the entire night. I didn't think much of it besides the fact that I don't want to have it again. Then I began to think, “Wait, I don't usually have dreams with much meaning, but there's a meaning to that one!” All I could think of was that God put that twisted dream into my head so that I could share it with you. Let me ask you this, what does that dream sound like? I don't know about you but it sounds to me like life! We all have friends, and when we fall those true friends will pick us up. When we slip those friends will give us a hand. Life is like that cave. There are dangers, snares, sometimes it seems that there are things attacking us, big leaps of faith we must take, and when we try to cheat around that leap, it may work for some, but not for all of us. Yet, as we look back, we'll see what beauty comes of a hard life, how far God has brought us.
Also, sometimes most of us will fail, we will fall into the trap, but if there is one good, close friend who is truly a believer, and who will truly help you, he can be the only savior. One person, sent by God to help us continue on in life. The saddest part? We don't all make it. I lost someone, he was gone, I couldn't do a thing about it, he was lost, betrayed himself to the devil, never to return. This story seems to go along the same lines as Pilgrims Progress. That classic novel about life.
I want to ask you a very serious question though. You don't really have to answer it to me unless you want to, but you should answer it to yourself. Here it is: Do you have true friends? Do you have friends that won't turn their backs on you when you make a mistake? Do you have a friend, or friends that when you mess up they will take your hand, they will help you out of the pit? And will they do so by the power of God? You can have a friend that seems so loving, and kind, and always helps you, but that person is nothing if he or she doesn't truly believe in the saving faith of Christ. So ask yourself, “Do I have true friends? Or do I have people in my life that like me for my clothes, or my looks, or my 'personality'?” If the answer is that you don't have those real, strong, loving friends, then you've gotta fix that. If those friends are your siblings, then great! Stick to them. If they are people you have met over the years, then great! Return the favor. But if you don't have even just one, you will find that it will be hard to survive. I know, going through what I have God has used those friends to pick me up again. But if you turn your back on God, and turn your back on those God has sent to you for help.
There's this joke, I'm sure some of you have heard it before, but it goes something like this. There was once a man who was stuck on top of his house after a huge storm. The rivers were flooded, and he had no way out. He prayed, “God! Save me! Come and rescue your servant!” A little while later a civilian in a boat came along and said, “Hey there! You look like you need some help, I'll get you off of there.” But the man replied, “Oh no, thank you though. God will save me.” After a time another boat came along, a rescue boat and the captain said, “Come on down, get on the boat, we'll help you out!” But again, the man said, “No, no need, thank you though, but God will save me.” That night, a helicopter came by, the spotlight settling on the house and the pilot saw the man, he dropped a rescue ladder and called out, “Come on up! You'll be safe!” The man refused again. The next day another storm came through and the man was drowned. At the Gated of Heaven He asked God, “God, what's up with that? I asked for help, I prayed for help, but you never saved me!” God looked at him and said, “Oh no young man! I sent you two boats and a helicopter! You didn't take the help that I sent.”
I believe some of us live this way. I say, “God! I need help! Help me please I'm falling!” God sends a friend, or a family member, and I refuse the help. Really, that is the help. God's sending us help through a person. We need to allow God to help us, and know that the path of life isn't an easy one. But without faith in God, we can do nothing.
Psalm 17 A Prayer of David. Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right!
You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.
They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
They have now surrounded our steps; they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.
He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush.
Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.