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
Mountain Time Zone
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