When Life Has You Trapped

Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:36 NIV

For a fleeting moment, it looked like a gigantic spider had invaded our house. As I entered an upstairs bedroom of our log home, something large and brown scurried over the carpet. My first impulse was to make a hasty exit; then I realized with a rush of relief that it was just our wayward pet, Patton.

Patton was a fiddler crab with a death wish. He shared a home in our roomy aquarium with a variety of tropical fish. But the cranky crustacean refused to live a peaceful underwater existence. From the top of every plant in the aquarium, he strained to reach the edge of the tank and the freedom that lay just beyond its glass walls.

He escaped a couple of times. Once my husband nearly ground him under his heel into the carpet before realizing Patton was once more on the loose.

Though it appeared Patton wanted to die, he just wanted to escape his circumstances. He didn’t have a big enough brain to figure out we were the ones keeping him safe, well fed, and clean. He was just a crab, after all. I can relate to his desperation, though.

As the initial shock of Kevin’s injury gave way to realization of the depth of his loss, a dark cloud of despair enveloped us. Our caregiving duties were extensive. Each night I collapsed exhausted into bed, knowing that another day exactly like it awaited the dawn.

Outwardly, I put on a brave face. Inwardly, I circled the walls of our captivity and strained to find an escape from our situation. I alternately argued with God and begged Him for answers.

Somehow we stumbled through the weeks and months. No thundering deliverance descended from heaven in answer to my prayers. But slowly, miraculously, Kevin began to improve. Bit by bit, we gathered up the fragments of our lives as one picks up the scattered pieces of an upended puzzle. We built new dreams. We made new memories. We had fun together again.

Months stretched into years. Much about our lives stayed the same. But somewhere along the way, I changed. Somewhere along the way, a Light broke through my prism of pain and bathed those once-hated walls in the soft, multicolored hues of sweet surrender.

One day I realized I had stopped searching for the door. So when did my vision clear? When did I actually begin to see our world through God’s eyes and open my heart to its beauty? Was it the morning I noticed the gentle way our sons dressed their brother? Was it the afternoon I heard squeals of laughter erupting from our granddaughters as Uncle Kevin chased them through the house in his wheelchair?

Did I discover its majesty in the tears of his sisters, the smiles of his grandparents, or the prayers of his church family? Did I find it in my dear husband’s sacrificial decision to sit alone each night and watch over his broken son as he slept? Or was it in Kevin’s own determination to live for Christ? Perhaps it was the day I saw myself in Patton.

I only know that one day I looked around me and discovered God has placed me in a truly exquisite and breathtaking world blessed by love, faith, and hope.

Patton wasn’t smart enough to trust us. But then, he was just a crab.

I am a child of God. The walls I see are really His hands cupped around me to keep me from harm. Now I understand that, in God’s hands, we are loved, safe, and truly free.

Your Turn

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How do you respond when life traps you?

by Pam Thorson

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Pam was born at the Millington Naval Base outside of Memphis, Tennessee, the first child of a Wisconsin navy seaman and a Southern belle. Her early life was marked by many moves around the country as her father pursued a career in broadcasting. After traveling throughout the deep South and the Pacific Northwest, the family finally settled on the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) reservation in Idaho. Pam met her wonderful husband during college, set her roots down deep along the banks of the Clearwater River, and happily began a home and family. Pam and Aaron educated all five of their children at home. They began homeschooling in 1982 and graduated their youngest daughter in 2006. Pam and Aaron have been married forty-one years. They have five grown children, two sets of precious in-laws, and two beautiful granddaughters. Pam has long loved to write. She began writing for the local college newspaper and homeschooling group. Later she authored many devotionals for her church and an article for Evangel. In 2008 she wrote Song in the Night, the true account of her son’s injury in Canada, their fight to keep the doctors from pulling the plug, and the subsequent journey back home. Her second book is due for release by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in early 2014. In 2000, Pam became certified as a nurses’ aide to care for their injured son. She and her family have operated a certified family home licensed by the state of Idaho since 2000. In 2011, she completed the practical nurse program at Walla Walla Community College and earned her license as an LPN. Her conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1975 set her on a journey with her Savior spanning nearly four decades. Her love for and devotion to life has come from this association with her Creator. Pam adores her husband, her family, and friends. She enjoys her beautiful little log home, good coffee, the sound of the river at night, and just about any kind of Christian music.

About Be the Light Editor

Martin Wiles is a minister, author, freelance editor, and English teacher who lives in Greenwood, SC. He is the founder of Love Lines from God and is the author of Grits & Grace and God and Grits, Gumbo and Going to Church. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions (www.christiandevotions.us) and Assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of three.