i was 10 years old and we went to a zoo somewhere. we were on vacation and i don't remember where we were ... i only remember that i REALLY wanted to see the monkeys. i remember talking to my brother and sister of my desire to go find the monkeys in this massive zoo and just sit and watch their antics. off we all went stolling and soon i decided that we weren't getting to where i wanted to get to so i would just go find the monkeys on my own. i ran and turned and turned again until i had no idea where i was or where i was going.
so now i was a young lad lost in a zoo in a strange city and i was completely alone. it was then that i realized the precarious place that i was in. i started to wander even more, i turned left, i turned right, i just wandered around this maze of animals, cages and park-like enclosures. i had no idea where i was and where everyone else had gone to.
i walked into a clearing in the trees, there was no path or trail that i was following. in fact i was walking through plants and scrub that was nearly as tall as me since i was never very big until 14 with my first big growth spurt. by this time i was crying and walking and hoping to find my own way. it was at that moment that i heard a voice behind me asking me where i was going. i turned to see someone who worked at the zoo questioning me about why i was walking in the middle of the bush. i explained to this guide that i had been looking for the monkeys but now i can't find anyone and i don't know where i am. i remember my guide walking with me back to civilization and we soon walked into a clearing in the middle of the park where i quickly saw my family.
that innocuous story was one of the memories i meandered through when i was trying to pray through some of my fears. i sat with a couple men of God who i love and respect recently and i asked Jesus what he wanted me to know about this memory. i felt the overwhelming affirmation that "Ian, you're NEVER alone". as i revisited the memory Jesus became the guide who led me back to the safe place. He put his arm on my shoulder and walked me home. i later asked Him why it is that i feel like a failure when i'm alone but the answer to that question is another story.
that's part of the earth-shattering experience that is Emmanuel Prayers for me recently. it may seem like those experiences are very basic but just because you've heard and know that Jesus is with you doesn't mean that your really KNOW it. there are other memories around these themes that i'm still chewing on but this story was enough that i could process some of my abandoment/lost/failure feelings without embarrassing myself or someone else by putting it down on cyber paper.