“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”” John 8:12
“For a dog that hid in the woods, Gracie, you’ve come a pretty long way. Walking the streets of New York City,” I basically told sweet shy black lab mix Gracie as I walked with her and 13-year-old black lab mix Abigail as we took an early morning walk on a chilly June day in New York City. “Your story’s like my story,” I essentially added.
Gracie, dumped at a gas station in rural Georgia, hit by two cars on the same day on the highway in front of the gas station, hid in the woods for about six weeks except occasional trips to the gas station so people could throw her food while she kept her distance. Despite a bad break to a major bone, she refused to be rescued for six weeks by anyone. A man driving through town prayed every night for her. I found out about her on a long drive to another rural Georgia spot where I picked up paralyzed Miss Mercy from a shelter. It took six weeks of driving back and forth a few times a week with a lot of prayer and help and eventually an animal welfare expert to corner her into a position she could be rescued. For days at a time after she came home with me, she would not let me anywhere near her. Today, she loves me to no end, but she is still a very frightened dog around strangers, around noises, around movement, around anything unexpected. But she loves her little life with me her Mom and her fellow doggies. And despite looking around her a lot as she normally does when outside her comfort zone of home, she does an absolutely beautiful job walking up and down the New York City streets as we walk and people stop us to talk and I have the opportunity to give out Gospel tracts and talk to people about the Lord as He leads.
For years, I hid in the woods. I was too broken, too messed up, too discouraged, too afraid, to do anything more than hide behind the trees, running from bush to bush, staying where I felt safe, if I could feel safe at all, from life. I didn’t live in the real woods, no. But figuratively, I hid from life, and in so doing I kept myself distant from God, though I professed to believe in Him and love Him, and I kept myself distant from the purpose God has for me on this earth. Because of the past, that was my excuse. Because of how I felt, that was my reason. Because of life, that was my justification. But the Lord rescued me, bringing me into a forever relationship with Him first and foremost, yes, but not stopping there, as He then led me to commit my life utterly to Him, and, in so doing, to come out of the hiding place of the woods and to live and breathe to love, worship, and serve Him to the fullest. Today, as I walk the streets of New York City, sometimes with my dogs, sometimes without, I walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and keep my heart and eyes open to anyone to whom He leads me to talk about Him.
Some of us need to come out of the woods, friend. Some of us are in hiding. Maybe not in the woods. Maybe under the blankets on our beds. Maybe behind the cardboard boxes we live in on the streets. Maybe in silence in our prison cells. Maybe in putting on an appearance at work and staying distant from people. Maybe in not taking the risk to enter into new relationships with people. Maybe, most of all, distancing ourselves from the Lord. Some of us as I did even living the life of a Christian on the outside as far as church and the Bible and such are concerned but walling off our hearts and lives from God almighty.
Just like Gracie still does, I still have my times of fear, of wishing I could run back into the woods, of looking all around me worrying about what bad thing might happen, etc. But instead of bowing down to the feelings and running back into the woods, I hold on tighter to the Lord Jesus Christ – and keep walking, in the plain daylight, not in the woods, but finding my safety in Him, in His love, in His forever fellowship, going where He leads me, doing what God wants me to do, as best I can, rejoicing that I no longer hide in the woods, like Gracie once did, but just as she walks with me and her fellow doggies, I walk with the Lord and my fellow Christ followers.
Are you hiding in the woods? Come to the Lord. Walk with Him. In the light. Let Him be your hiding place. Your safety. Let Him lead you forth. Forever.