Where You Are When Reaching The End Of The Line

     By Phil Scovell

          Dad and  I packed the car  with our fishing gear and  left for an
     afternoon of  fishing at the  lake 30 miles south  of our home.   This
     time we didn't take  Uncle Fred's motor boat because there wasn't that
     much time, dad said,  so we would just  fish from the bank.   That was
     fine with me.

          Driving around to the north end of the lake, dad found a place to
     pull off  the road.  We were high over the lake and from the road, you
     could see the lake over the tops of most of the trees which were thick
     and nearly down to the water's edge.

          Quickly gathering my gear, I saw the well worn path leading  down
     into  the thickness of  the greenery.  "Can  I go on  ahead, dad?"  He
     said that I could and that he would be down shortly.

          Falling the trail was fun.  I couldn't have been more than 8 or 9
     years of age but I loved hiking.  Soon I was lost to sight as the tall
     leafy green trees closed  in around me.   It was cool on the  path and
     the  trees  did an  excellent  job  blocking out  much  of the  bright
     sunlight.  It was almost like being in a long green tunnel.

          Soon I reached  the tree line.   I had probably walked  a hundred
     yards, when I walked into  a wide open place, about 30  feet in width,
     that was hard pack.  I walked to the waters edge and stared out across
     the lake.  It was quiet and well  sheltered from any wind so the water
     was quiet.  It looked like a wonderful place to fish.  I sat down, put
     my equipment together, and bated up.

          My line was  already in the water  when I heard my  father coming
     down  the narrow path.   I turned  just as his  figured became visible
     through the thickness  of the trees.   He looked content and  ready to
     enjoy a peaceful afternoon fishing with is only son.

          Just as he  stepped into the  open, the long  fishing rod he  was
     carrying in  one hand  suddenly, and  inexplicably, jerked  backwards,
     nearly ripping  it from his grasp, and almost  causing him to lose his
     balance.  I watched as my dad spun around, a startled look clearly  on
     his  face,  as  if  expecting to  see  someone  behind  him  playing a
     practical joke.  All the air went out of his instant anger when he saw
     his own fishing  line snaking  back up  the trail snagged  in the  low
     hanging leafy branches.   His line had caught on an overhanging branch
     on  the narrow  path far  back up  the trail  and ran  out just  as he
     stepped into the clearing.

          This  pleasant memory, although somewhat humorous, often comes to
     mind when remembering my dad.  He took me hunting and fishing with him
     even when  I was really too young and too small to get much out of it.
     He,  and his oldest  brother, my Uncle Fred,  always taught me safety,
     too.   This was back in the  1950s when lawn mowers  had absolutely no
     safety  devices on  them  at all,  cars  had no  seat  belts, electric
     heaters had  no safety shut off features if  the unit got tipped over,
     and you could, even living in the city, burn your own trash in a trash
     barrel in the backyard.   It was my  job, even at  5 years of age,  to
     burn  the trash  so  I was  taught  safety  around fire  and  matches.
     Parents,  and other  adults,  took  time, back  then,  to teach  their
     children  all  sorts of  safety  things,  such  as, you  always  carry
     scissors  and  knives and  rifles  and  shotguns  pointing toward  the
     ground.  Likewise, if carrying such  things, never never run but walk.
     Always  look both ways,  twice, when crossing a  street no matter what
     street it was.   Never walk around the back end of a  horse even if he
     is in the barn.  Never mount your horse in the barn in case he decides
     to try  and buck  you  off and  you break  your back  on the  overhead
     rafters.  Then there is the  most important safety tip of all.   Never
     eat yellow snow.

          When this childhood memory came  to mind recently, I was puzzled.
     This  was,  and  always  has been,  a  pleasant  memory  for me;  even
     humorous.  I examined the memory closely to see if there was something
     there in  the memory  that felt uncomfortable  or out  of place  but I
     found nothing.  Later, I realized what this  childhood memory meant to

          I have listen to  more than 40,000 sermons in my life  time.  One
     thing I have heard many times,  by those trying to bring encouragement
     to their listener is this little saying.  "So you have come to the end
     of  your rope in your life?  Then tie  a knot and hang on.  Victory is
     just around the  corner."  I  thought this was cute  the first time  I
     heard it.   By the time I had  heard it a hundred times,  I started to
     hate it.  I eventually realized why.  The answer?  Because it not only
     didn't work,  it had no meaning for me.   Why?  Because I finally came
     to a  place in my Christian life when I had done everything I had been
     taught and  trained to do.   I discovered, I  wasn't at the end  of my
     rope, I was at  the end of my  life, and possibly  even the end of  my
     relationship with God entirely.  I was afraid, to say the least, about
     how I  felt.  In short, I  learned there was no knot  to which I could
     hold on and I had slipped from the end of the rope and now was in free
     fall and where was God!

          Over the years of praying  with many people, I have  discovered a
     common denominator.   At the end of  everyone's rope, as it  were, and
     this  was  true for  me  as  well,  what  is  left over  seems  to  be
     loneliness.  when, during prayer sessions, we arrive  at this place in
     a person's  memories, I am  always glad.   Why?  Because it  means the
     person is not far from being delivered from the lies their entire life
     has been based upon.

          for some, it takes  us to a father who never bothered to show his
     little boy anything, or refused to  spend time with him, or proved  to
     be a  phony Christian in reality.  For  others, this loneliness at the
     end  of their  line is  identified as  shame cause  by  being sexually
     molested by their  father or grandfather or other relative.   In other
     cases, guilt lies beyond the end of the rope of loneliness.  Sometimes
     beyond  the  loneliness are  memories  of sadness  let  behind because
     parents thought the church was  more important than their children and
     they feel guilty because they  just can't seem to please God.   Then I
     find those who discover fear behind  the loneliness.  Fear they aren't
     good enough and  will not make it  and that Jesus really  doesn't love
     them  because  they  are  a  failure.   Besides,  they've  never  been
     successful so it must be true that they are a failure.  Then there are
     the little girls being told by their  mothers just to box up all their
     hurt  feelings and put them in a box with  a lid on it and then sit on
     the lid.  Then we  have the little boys told by their  dad's that they
     wished they had  never been born.  Little girls promised candy if they
     wouldn't tell.  Little boys threatened to be beaten if they  did tell.
     Eventually, the rope  runs out and there  is nothing left on  which to
     hold.  At the bottom of the well is darkness  and that darkness is the
     nature and  persona of loneliness for those who  are forced to face it
     alone.  The line has run out.

          Although it is difficult to believe at the time, Jesus is  at the
     end of the line.  No,  he isn't there to catch you because  you aren't
     going  any where.    He is  there, on  the  other hand,  to cure  your
     loneliness.  Yes, I used the word  "cure."  Did you know that you  can
     be lonely in the  middle of a crowd?  For example,  the woman with the
     issue of blood was in a  crowd, yet she was healed by Jesus.   She was
     alone  and nobody cared  about her.   The woman who  couldn't stand up
     straight for 18  years who came into  the temple as Jesus  taught, was
     all alone although other believers were all around her.  He focused on
     her because of her  loneliness he recognized and healed her.   Lazarus
     died alone but Jesus came and resurrected him from the dead.  Have you
     ever noticed that Jesus resurrected no one else in the graveyard?  The
     Galilean  demoniac lived  alone in the  tombs, we are  told, naked and
     demonized to the point, no one could approach him.  No one, of course,
     but Jesus, who did approach him and  ran the demons off by His  spoken
     Word.  The lame man at the pool  of Bethesda, who had been 38 years on
     his  back, was all alone.  He had no  man to put him into the water to
     be healed.  Jesus looked him  up one day and healed him.   There is no
     record that Jesus  healed anyone else at  that pool that day  but this
     one lone man.  We cannot  overlook the loneliness of the man  that was
     over 40 years of age that was carried to the gate of the temple called
     Beautiful  to beg.   The Bible confirms  he had been  lame from birth.
     Peter and  John spoke the Word of  Truth to him and taking  him by the
     right hand, lifted him up.  He was instantly healed and went with them
     into the temple walking and leaping and praising God.  Yet he had been
     alone,  all alone, as he lay on his  mat at the gate every day, and he
     was in the middle of great crowds.  Jesus cured him in his loneliness.

          I have personally stood, and sat, with groups of other Christians
     conversing among  themselves.  Yet,  they said nothing  to me.    Why?
     Some people, I suppose, don't think  a blind person has anything worth
     saying or worth listening to so why bother.  Yes, I have been alone in
     the middle  of crowds  myself many  times.   Yet today,  I know  Jesus
     Christ in a way that likely none of those who ignored my presence have
     ever discovered.  I have found Jesus beyond my loneliness.

          Now, how about you?  Are you  at the end of the line, the  bottom
     of the rope,  or the end  of the trail?   Call me, and let's  find out
     where Jesus is.

     Safe Place Fellowship
     Phil Scovell
     Denver, Colorado
     Mountain Time Zone

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