"Where am I and how did I get here?" Overcomer said softly to no one but herself. The answer came from someone above her climbing up the steep wall of the deep ravine.
"You came here for the goodies down there just like I did," said the very haggard-looking woman climbing in front of her. She had to weigh over 400 pounds. "Free triple cheeseburgers, French fries, hot cherry pies, ice cream that never melts, cheesecake, cinnamon rolls, Dutch pastries, white chocolate fudge with nuts, caramels, Grandma's oatmeal cookies, literally whatever you want anytime you want it and all the diet soda in the world to wash it down with." She chuckled as if to indicate it really wasn't funny.
"Where are the goodies?" Overcomer asked.
"Down there." The woman pointed at the bottom of the ravine. "Down where the bottom feeders still are."
Overcomer looked down and saw thousands of people nearly buried in the various kinds of foods the woman described. Some were gathering goodies by the armfuls and carefully trying to sneak them away to caves or shelters they had cobbled together intent on remaining where the food was for as long as possible.
"Were we down there?" Overcomer asked.
"Why can't I remember?"
"It's that so-called food. It numbed us and caused us to look like this."
Then, as if awakening from a deep coma, Overcomer looked at herself. She weighed at least what the woman above her weighed and maybe more. All of a sudden she was aware of every ache and pain she felt, as well as the extreme desire to let go and slide back down into the pit.
"Why aren't we back down there?" Overcomer asked.
"I don't know about you," the woman explained, "but I finally realized eating all that stuff that I used to make me feel like I was in heaven was getting me nowhere. I didn't want to die down there with all the bottom feeders. I woke up one day and a voice whispered to me, 'Life or death?' I chose life and started climbing."
"But climbing is hard work," Overcomer said groaning as she hefted her leg onto a another rocky outcropping. "I think I'll go back. I have no idea why I left in the first place. I'll certainly never get to the top."
Desperately Hungry to See and Be Seen
The woman stopped, turned around and said, "You must have left there for a reason. You need to think about why you left. More than that, you need to think about who is watching you."
"What do you mean?" Overcomer said, turning and looking down longingly at the never-ending supply of all her favorite foods.
"Everyone down there is watching us, of course. But down is not the way you should be looking," said the woman gazing upwards with a look of admiration in her eyes.
As Overcomer turned her eyes to the top of the ravine, she saw what looked like the face of Jesus staring down with compassion and a sense of urgency.
She was still staring when the woman reached down and said, "Here, let me help you. The climb will be easier if you follow me. Then both of us will be looking to the only One who really can help us on this journey."
For a minute Overcomer simply stared into the eyes of the One she knew she had forsaken by making her stomach her god. "What's your name?" she asked the woman.
Desperately Hungry for Life
"Hungry. Now, take my hand," she said as she reached down. In that moment Overcomer was struck with the realization that she, too, wanted to choose life. No matter how hard it might be, surely it would be easier than spending a life of hoarding food and being in pain all the time. Then she remembered. Disgust with her existence had caused her to become crazy enough to start trying to find a way out.
Now she was climbing. It was slow going. At times she needed both hands to climb and so did Hungry. Each time she needed energy and fuel to climb higher, Hungry would show her the edible plants and fruits that grew in abundance all along the ground and between the rocks. There was clear, pure water to drink in the nearby brooks. And each evening as they stopped, a warm fire with a healthy meal was waiting for them at the intended campsite. It was complete with the presence of an unseen guest.
The face of Jesus was constantly before her, and she knew it was His strength helping her climb. She and Hungry weren't the only ones climbing out of the pit. Each day more joined them as Hungry led the way, always being careful to let Overcomer and the others know that they needed to follow Jesus for the path upwards and out. She also shared with them methods to climb better, where to find footholds, how to watch for loose stones that could send them tumbling back to the pit and many other things they needed to know to survive the journey.
Desperately Hungry To Rescue Others
Overcomer was also aware as she dropped off to sleep each night that Hungry climbed back down to the point where they had met and brought more back up to join them on the journey. If she didn't come back in the morning, Overcomer led the others and continued on. Always, Hungry would come back with more to join them.
"The journey seems to be getting easier," Overcomer said to Hungry one evening sitting by the campfire.
"Look at yourself," Hungry answered. "Look at me."
They were both much smaller. "When did that happen?" Overcomer asked, shocked at her outward transformation.
"It happened to me before you met me, but it's been happening to you all along."
"But when I met you, you were almost my size"
"You saw me the way I was before I left the bottom. Every night when I climb down, I become who I was. I become like those I am helping so they know that I, too, have been where they are."
Overcomer thought for a moment and then said, "Maybe next time I'll go back down with you to rescue people. I could sure use a triple cheeseburger."
"You cannot help others if you're even thinking of going all the way to the bottom," Hungry explained. "We are learning a different way of dealing with life now. We are learning the journey with the Master leading us is much sweeter than what's at the bottom. For now, your job is to stay here and lead always upwards as I bring others to join us," Hungry explained.
She paused for a moment. Then, looking Overcomer in the eyes, she continued, "I can only help those who have made the decision to come out. Sometimes they don't even know why they have come out of the pit. But once they make the decision to come out, it is my job to give them all the resources they need to stay on the journey."
"How do you do that?"
Desperately Hungry to Never Go Back
"The most important thing is to stay on the path myself and NEVER go back to the bottom."
"On all your journeys back, you've never gone there?"
"I did once," Hungry admitted, hanging her head. "It was even harder to climb back out. I learned my lesson. I vowed with His help to never go back again."
"Isn't it hard climbing back down to climb back up again?"
"It's not hard when I know I have His strength to help me. That's all we need on this journey. It's all I'm hungry for."
"But don't you get hungry for all of those foods down there?"
"Do you know why my name is Hungry?" she asked?
Overcomer shook her head no.
Desperately Hungry for God
"I was once desperately hungry for all of those foods down there," she said. "But a coach helped me understand what I really was hungry for was God. Now, every day I change any human hunger into my desperate hunger for Him. Every night I fall asleep knowing He holding me close. He encourages me to keep going. He points out yet another one I am to rescue. He tells me He will be with me as I climb back down. It's as if time stands still until I finish the task. In the morning I'm as rested as if I've slept all night."
Hungry sat down on a rock and picked a few nourishing plants. She ate for a moment, took a drink of water from the container she carried, then continued. "When you are ready to be a rescuer, a mentor, a coach, He will tell you. Then you will be strong enough to make the climb back down with me. When you do, I'll be here to help you stay on the path. Your name alone should tell you that your destiny lies in helping others."
Overcomer closed her eyes, and immediately Jesus was right beside her speaking softly to her heart, telling her of things to come and her part in His Kingdom.
Then, He said, "My child, you have more to learn. You are in the right place. Don't hurry the process. Take a deep drink of the freedom I give you. It's the freedom to follow Me completely. I have more for you so much more.
"I will do new things in your life. You should already know this because your transformation has already begun. But there will be more. I will make paths for you to follow where there are none now. You will be called a trailblazer, but that will only be when you follow Me. And when you need refreshment, I will show you rivers of water where there were none before. It's already happening."
She had a million questions, but instead, she just rested in the arms of the One who loves her completely, desperately hungry to spend every minute in His presence. When she focused on Him, she needed nothing else.
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of seven books, all available on Amazon. Her latest book, Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God, is available now, and Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds is the No. 1 Christian weight-loss memoir. She is also a writing and weight-loss coach, blogger, speaker, wife and mother. Visit her online at TeresaShieldsParker.com to find her books, coaching programs and free gifts.
This article originally appeared at teresashieldparker.com.
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