The cool, damp air touches me. I shiver in the darkness as it wraps around me, but I make no effort to move because I’ve been here for a long time — lonely, waiting on God to come. I often gasp as though something or someone is pulling the air straight from my lungs. I wonder how much longer I must endure this agony. Will I ever be free from this misery? Is this my purpose here, and then I die?
I reach for my faithful book. I slowly turn its crisp pages until I find the words of Jesus, “I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.”
My vision blurs as tears spill out. “Oh Jesus, what have I done wrong? Why don’t I have an abundant life? Did I get into the wrong line when you handed out abundant lives? Is abundance for everyone except me? You said, ‘it’s for whosoever will’. And I will! I do”!
My cheek sticks to the cold bars as I lean against them, staring into the darkness. I feel my dull, slow pulse pound against the rods, and my hot tears burn my face. I shift my weight, but it doesn’t matter. There’s no relief from the pain, depression, or anxiety.
From my peripheral vision, a movement catches my eye, and I turn and stare in the direction of the movement. In the blackness, I notice something that I haven’t seen before, a gap in the bars that surround me. I roll onto all fours, and like a tigress, I inch my way closer, my senses heightened. It takes me a moment, but I realize that the gap is something more, it’s an opening with its door swinging wide open, and by the rust on its hinges, it’s been that way for quite some time.
How have I missed this all these years?
Still on all fours, as though ready to attack my prey, I inch closer. My eyes fixed on the swinging cage door. Then from out of the black unknown, as though an unseen lover blows me a kiss, a warm breeze sweeps across my face. I am overwhelmed by its fresh fragrance, and without hesitation, I leap forward. The warm wind intensifies, and I’m sure I can hear a rushing voice say, “Come away with me, my beautiful one.”
Each breath is rapid, but now they are long and deep. I close my eyes, and in that second, my mind flies to a far-off place, a vast open sky, and I can taste the salty ocean air in my mouth. My desires are satisfied with good things, and as my blood pumps through my veins, I know I have been here before. Maybe it was when I was a child, full of hope, alive like an eagle.
I step up on the edge of the opening and grip the sides of my cage. My heart is alive. Like a bird knows the wind, I know this is Love. I know this is abundant life. All I want to do is jump, fly to the mountain tops, to be free. Deep down inside, I know that’s what I am supposed to do.
“What am I DOING”?! A hissing whisper seems to come from behind me. I open my eyes, and in that instant, the darkness engulfs me again. I spin around to catch the evil intruder, but I see no one. I must be alone.
“I can’t believe I am about to jump. What if I jump, and I’m wrong, and I tumble to hell”?
Fear overcomes me as I step back down into my cage. The hissing seems closer.
“I was so full of pride to think I was worthy of greatness. I need to ask God to forgive my arrogance”.
I slump down to my knees. Then, as if a single incandescent bulb clicks on, a dim yellow glow casts over the darkness. As my eyes adjust to this new light, in every direction, I see cages, just like mine, and from inside those cages, downcast faces peer out at me. I see their rusty doors swinging out of sync, and as they clutch their bars, it’s like their weary eyes say to me, “We are free.”
Now the hissing voice seems to be in my head, “I know all these people can’t be wrong. I am free. We are all free”.
The voice whispers, Again. Outloud!
“I am free.”
“I AM FREE”! I scream into the darkness, and applause erupts from the cages around me.
“And why am I free”? The voice hisses.
“BECAUSE HE THAT THE SON HAS SET FREE IS FREE INDEED”!
I feel my rapid short breaths overtake me, and then from the darkness, like a baseball player hitting a home run, an iron rod crashes into the side of my cage. My heart pounds in fear, and I stumble back into my cage. I press my face against the cold floor and clutch my faithful book.
“I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
The commotion eventually dies down. I welcome the cold quiet around me and sink into a fitful sleep. The only sound in the darkness is the rhythm of my swinging cage door.