An excerpt from Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver

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 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, for help, for relief.

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. On the good days, even the walls seemed to recede into the background.

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.

Precious Creator, how often I have been as unthinking as Patton, so desperate to escape painful circumstances that I forget the walls I see are really Your hands protecting me. Help me to understand and trust in Your goodness. Amen.


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