Holding on to the Branch

Deuteronomy 31:8     The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Psalm 23:4     Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 34:18     The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 40:1-3     I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.  He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.

Proverbs 3:5-6     Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understsanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths

Isaiah 41:10     Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Joshua 1:9     Have I not comanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with  you wherever you go.

Jeremiah 29:11     “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Philippians 4:13     I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

1 Peter 5:7     Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.


“Hopelessness causes us to lose perspective.  It stops us from looking ahead to a positive future and it paralyses us in our present state of anxiety and worry.  It steals our future and it holds us back from stepping into all that God has for us.  And when it comes to our faith, it can cause us to believe that we are unable to receive the hope that God has promised us.”   Tom James, theological writer and researcher based in London.  Glorify-app.com  October 24, 2022

A few years ago I was living in a swamp of quicksand.  My life was spent hanging on to a branch, and I could see the swamp had slight light during the day as the tree cover was dense, and was totally dark in the night.  Initially, I was scared of what I could not see—possible night time crawly things, snakes, mosquitos and the diseases they can bring.   There was nothing that was distinguishable to me; yes, dark green, lush leaves, and brown thick treetrunks.  But, thankfully, after a few days, I realized there didn’t seem to be any critters, scary or beautiful—no birds twittering and singing, there were no mosquitos buzzing and biting, no snakes, no anything that visibly moved or seemed to live there.

I had no idea how I had come to be there.  The branch I held kept me out of the quicksand to just below my breasts.  If I moved and struggled, I went deeper, and the thin branch bent.  I knew enough to know that the thin bough was young and could not bear my weight struggling without either snapping off or bowing me further and deeper into the muck.

Trying to peer through the thick copse of leaves during the day brough little light, and I had no sense of where the sun rose and which direction it set.  I considered letting go of the branch several times.  Why was I holding on in the middle of a quicksand patch, in the middle of a marshy, smelly swamp.  What was the point?  But something kept me holding tight. 

My arms never tired, althoug my shoulders did occasionally, I could rotate them a little, find almost immediate relief, and continue to hold on.  There seemed to be little hope of escape from that swamp.  It amazed me that my arms never fully tired, they never felt like pins and needles, they stayed strong and other than slightly rotating my shoulders, nothing ever felt aching.  I couldn’t understand how my neck didn’t scream in discomfort as I slept with my chin on my chest.  Funny, as I’m writing this, I don’t remember ever needing the toilet in the several months I was there.

Although I asked God repeatedly what was going on; Why, God, why?  He was silent almost the entire time.   OK, what am I supposed to learn?  I don’t even have my bible here, how can I read and grow jsut hanging here?  Are You so disgusted with me, I am to stay in this Lodebar forever?  What’s the point?  How can I learn if You are not talking to me?   Thank You there are no mosquitoes or other nasty biting things, no snakes, no bats, or any of the other creepy things I don’t like.  But I miss my birds—well, Your birds, but my gift, thank You for them.  Even though they are not here—can’t see or hear them, I have that as one of my wonderful memories.   I had several verses I repeated–

Eventually, the branch seemed a little thicker, and I, who had a difficult time getting to the top of the rope climb in gym class, inched my way closer to the tree truck.  The branch held, no bending, no cracking, and soon I was at the tree trunk, able to straddle it and move sideways and stand on solid ground.   Whew!   But now what?

I had no direction to go toward.  What was beyond here?  I already knew I was safe, well, kind of safe with no human contact, no animals, and I had not been hungry or needed to eat this entire time, so maybe I should explore my immediate area, get to the limits of what I could see, before willy-nilly starting out with no plan and no direction.   Since I was unsure how I had found my way into the swamp, that seemed wise to explore first before venturing beyond what I knew.

It was entirely possible my impulsiveness had gotten me lost and put me in this quicksand and swampland.

Since I’d only been able to see what was ahed of me—a big tree trunk with a thin branch, and further away, many, many tree trunks and thick, abundant leaves, and had no idea what was behind me, I wonderred if I should check out behind me.  But behind was the quicksand, and I didn’t know how wide that was.  I did stand beside the large tree and look, but other than the grayish tan of the quicksand, and an abundance of trees with thick leaves, it all looked the same.  If I walked forward, I could keep the large (saving) tree within my sight and make it back after my exploring.  Maybe if I could get to the edge of the woods, I’d be able to tell direction, or see something more bright.

I did eventually feel Him lift me out.  I didn’t get any answers to my why questions; my what was I supposed to learn, or if this was my feeling lost and alone, and since I had made a rash decision to sell my home and move fulltime to the beach, that now I was dealing with a bit of depression.   Most of my social group was in the town I’d lived and sold the house.  So, I made the trek in to that town at least four days a week—I even continued all my volunteering activities such as church accounting team and depositing the funds, working at one of the community theaters selling tickets, and occasionally working one of the shows and selling tickets for walk-in theater goers; or working at the police department setting up children programs for the summer and being in meetings with the SRO officers.

I’m still not sure.   Not sure, but relieved I am not there any longer, and thankful for that.  I still do not understand it or what I was supposed to learn, and if I was in a period of being in a wilderness, and developing strengths that God wanted me to learn, or if I was in a bit of depression.

Lord, You know where I was even though I still do not, and thankfully, I am back to enjoying Your creation of birds flittingh and flying and singing and chirping, enjoying the many moods of the ocean, enjoying the flowers and bushes and great weather, and the great family and friends You have blessed me with.  So, although I still am not clear about those several months, I am very glad You have been with me and ‘mybellaviews.’