foxhole definitionAbout 4 days after Shepherd fell in, the day before he was weaned off sedation and given the chance to wake from his induced coma, I had a conversation with a dear friend that I still play over and over in my head. It had been a grueling four days, and together my friend and I took a break. We went outside, sat on the concrete, and spent a few minutes trying to catch our breath and digest all that had unfolded in the last several days while preparing for what we would face tomorrow when Shep, hopefully, woke up. The way I remember the conversation going was me, suggesting that something bigger, (and something good) was in control of the hellish situation we were sitting in at that present moment. My friend is a little older than me, wiser, honest, and very, very smart. My friend also has a long, complicated and somewhat confusing relationship with religion; I’m still not exactly sure where my friend stands on the whole Jesus thing. During our conversation I revealed an off-the-cuff prayer request I’d sent out to another friend a few days before Shep’s accident. In a nutshell, the prayer was that I could find ways to live out my faith in a meaningful way, so that some people I loved, people like my friend, could see it and feel it without me needing to say a word. You see, I may be able to put words on paper, but when it comes to tricky topics like Jesus, love, and redemption… I get a little tongue-tied and it never comes out the way I want. I’m always missing the point with my spoken words. So…I cautiously shared this information with my friend. I thought it was worth revealing. My friend respectfully digested this odd bit of news. My friend loves me, and it was killing my friend to watch me and my boy go through this terrifying free fall into the great unknown. After a moment, my friend replied with something I’ll never forget, “Well, everybody’s a believer in the foxhole.” I burst into laughter because I couldn’t have thought of a more appropriate response. My friend is clever and kind, neither accepting nor disregarding what I was suggesting. My friend’s reply was also honest, and frankly, true. Most everyone IS a believer in the foxhole. I laughed because my friend was right, when your whole world is on the line, chances are, you’re going to start sending up some prayers to whoever might be up there if that’s what it takes to have a shot at keeping your world in tact. But what I think my friend was really saying is, “Allie, if believing is what you think it will take, then right now, that’s what I am believing too.”

Our prayers were answered, God graciously allowed me to walk out my faith in front of my friend on a path that led to a happy ending. But what if the answer had been no? What if instead of sparing Shepherd, God had said, “No, sweet Allie. I love you, but no. This is not how I will redeem your story.”

I will never fully know what my response would have been. Yes, I know how I responded in the moment in which “NO” was very nearly our reality, but I cannot say with ANY certainty at all, what walking out my faith would have looked like days, months or even years after crossing an un-crossable line.

However, I do know this… If the God I believe in is real, and the story He tells is true, then God is big, and just as importantly, He’s good. And His story is a love story. A confusing, brutal, beautiful love story. It’s a story full of grace and mercy as much as it’s full of power. So let’s say I had to cross that line… and it tore at my heart and soul, so I was left cut so deep I wasn’t sure I would ever breathe again. In the middle of that anguish, I can only hope a God big enough to hold the past, present and future, the mysterious ways of the universe and all things in it…would be big enough to hold me. Broken. Desperate. Defeated by what’s in front of me. Can people pick up and live life after a blow like that? Yes. They do, and some can do it alone. But what if….you didn’t have to? What if you didn’t have to crouch, alone, dodging bullets or taking hits in the foxhole, and you didn’t have to be alone when you crawled your way out of the dirt, and you didn’t have to be alone when you finally decided you were brave enough to start walking upright again? What if you didn’t have to be alone at all?

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16

So far, life has not been something I want to tough-out alone. I’m not good at quoting scripture, I never have it memorized, and if you’re like my friend, scripture may not carry a ton of weight. Yet, if I could have shared any verse with my friend that day on the concrete, I would have shared this one: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Trouble, we know it’s coming. For all of us. But take heart friend, there’s still a reason to be cautiously optimistic.

2 thoughts on “The foxhole

  1. Allie this is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for letting us in on such a sweet and dear conversation…. Your words are truly beautiful friend.

  2. One of the reasons I read your blog is because you inspire me! I love the part about Gods story being a love story. An incredibly beautiful, good and powerful love story. I know storms of trouble will come but I hope to take heart and be as brave, faithful and reflective as you. Keep on keeping on!

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