The Oasis - March 10, 2021

Author: Pastor Dan Hollis
March 10, 2021

March 10, 2021
by Pastor Dan

     I don’t know how old I was—7 or 9 maybe? Surely not 10. My mom used to go get tennis lessons, and when my little brother and I had nowhere else to be she would take us with her. I remember it as kind of a fancy facility: lounge chairs and maybe a fountain next to the outdoor courts, and a family room filled with toys and games near the indoor courts. My memory probably fails me, but I think the reason Mom knew about the place was because we had a babysitter who lived in the gated community the tennis club was part of. I remember on one trip there, while she was getting lessons, my brother and I hung out at this babysitter’s house playing with his video games and whatever toys we had brought. I remember I had a plastic great white shark with a working mouth you could fit other toys inside.
     After a while, the babysitter walked us back to the tennis club a few streets over. We waited in the outside lounge area for our mom to finish with her games, while the babysitter went off to get ready for his day job. At some point, I suddenly realized I didn’t have the shark. I had left it at his house! Well, using the powerful logic of a small child, I decided to just get up and walk back to the house to get it. We had just come back from there after all. I didn’t need to, oh I don’t know, tell anyone or anything.
     As it turned out, I didn’t actually have any idea where this guy’s house was! I hadn’t been memorizing how many blocks, turns, or shortcuts we were taking to get there and back. Within minutes, the confidence of youth had me completely lost in a vast network of tall hedges and identical expensive suburban homes. Desperation started to set in. A hopeless feeling; with each minute that passed the bottom of my stomach seemed to drop deeper and deeper. Tears began to gather at the corners of my eyes. Half of me wanted to give up, but then where would I be? Still lost.
     Eventually—don’t ask me how much time had passed—I found what I thought might have been the right place, but by then my confidence had evaporated and even I knew there was a good chance I was on totally the wrong street. I knocked on the door, calling out the babysitter’s name, not sure who would answer, and wouldn’t you know it… no one answered. No one was home. To this day I don’t know whether it was the right house—though let’s be honest, it probably wasn’t.
     Sorry, there isn’t a miracle ending to this story, unless you count the fact that I actually did make it back to the tennis club. That was touch-and-go there for a bit, too, but luckily there was a lake or a large pond next to the club, and once I found that I just had to follow the bank. I even managed to make it back just as my mom—only having just finished with her lessons—had started to look for me. She thought I might have been trying to get into the locked room with the arcade cabinets or something.
     Back home, Mom gave the babysitter’s family a call, and I was eventually reunited with my great white shark. I don’t think I ever did go back to his house, and I certainly never again went wandering in that suburban wilderness.

     We’ve all had times in our lives when we were alone… and times not nearly as silly as the one I just shared. Times when we were helpless. Without recourse. Stumbling in the dark, not even sure what the light at the end of the tunnel would look like if we ever got there. They range from the fairly benign—a kid lost in a shopping mall—to the life-altering—unemployment, a cancer diagnosis, a global pandemic. God, resources, people that care are out there, we aren’t truly alone… but they’re just so far away, and we’re just so small.
     I’m glad God was watching over 8-year-old me as I wandered that suburban wilderness, even if it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;”  Psalm 23:4 (KJV)

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