Meet Shaylee Murphy. She is seventeen years old, a junior in high school, and a girl who just wants to fit in. Sound familiar?
Well, Shaylee is struggling. She feels as if her worlds are split in two; one world while she’s at home with her parents and another at school with her friends. Peer-pressure is real, and Shay has been starting to feel it more and more each day. Her friends are regularly asking her why she is single, even after Alex, the handsome guy from science class, asked her to homecoming; but how should she respond? With the truth? Absolutely not!
Growing up, her parents set the firm, embarrassing, “No Dating” rule. However, Shay has never understood this rule since all her other friends have been going on dates and making out with boys since they started high school; but she respects her parents too much to disobey and doesn’t want to disappoint them. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean she doesn’t think about rebelling.
One night, as Shay was laying on her bed, she started to contemplate her situation.
‘Surely I could go on one small date without my parent’s knowing? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?’
But, no matter which way she tried to look at it, Shay couldn’t shake the feeling that her thoughts were wrong.
‘I just don’t understand why my parents don’t trust me to at least experience a first date. They raised me in a godly way; they have to know that I wouldn’t do anything bad….’
These thoughts and inner struggles replayed in her mind until she was so lost in them she didn’t hear her mom call her for dinner.
Later that night, after getting into bed, Shay prayed for guidance and help. When she fell asleep, she dreamt the most vivid dream she’s ever had.
The wind was cold and brittle; it stung when it touched Shay’s face. Around her, there was a field, the atmosphere eerie and dark, with a forest to her left and the sea to her right.
As she started to explore her surroundings, a figure appeared ahead of her. Curiosity getting the better of her, Shay slowly walked over to where the figure stood. Who or what was with her in this empty field? There didn’t seem to be a sign of civilization for miles.
When she was twenty feet away from the figure, she realized that it was a sheep. One lone sheep, leisurely eating the grass in the field. Shay relaxed, “Oh, you’re just a sheep, I was nervous for nothing.”
However, just as she thought these words and started to turn away, the sheep shifted, causing Shay to turn back toward it. When she was once again facing where the sheep had been, she realized that the sheep was no longer standing in front of her; instead, there was now a wolf with piercing yellow eyes and the biggest teeth Shay had ever seen, snarling at her.
Slowly backing away, Shay felt a burst of adrenaline and broke out into a sprint, in an attempt to get away; but, where could she go? She didn’t know where she was and couldn’t possibly outrun a wolf!
Instinct seeming to kick in, the forest felt like her best option in this situation; so, Shay changed her direction and began heading for the trees. She’d never felt so afraid and was sure that the wolf was going to catch up and bite her ankles at any moment.
At the opening of the forest, however, there were two paths; one on her left that was wide and bright, and the other on her right that was dark and very narrow.
Quietly, Shay asked herself, “Which path?”
Her heart told her that the one on her left was her best chance for survival, but a little voice in her ear seemed to whisper that the one on her right should be her choice.
Not sure why, Shay quickly darted down to the right and immediately regretted it. There were fallen branches all over the ground, and she was ensnared in a sea of thorns! In a state of despair, she cried out to God for help, not knowing what He could possibly do to help her through this treacherous trail.
As she called out to God for help, a bright light shone through the cluster of thorns and branches. Shay made her way to the light as fast as she could, weary of the thorns that were catching onto her clothes with every step she took, and not daring to look back to see where the wolf was.
As she reached the light, Shay noticed that she was trapped. “Great, this just keeps getting better,” she thought.
The thorns and branches encased her, with the only exit being the way she’d come. She could see the wolf making his way to her in a slow, stalking, manner, though the thorns were also proving to be an obstacle for the beast.
Looking around for something to defend herself with, Shay saw that the light she’d been attracted to was coming from a sword! What luck!
Running towards the sword, but having no actual clue how to use or hold it, she picked it up and tried to look as brave and fierce as she could. When the wolf entered the alcove, Shay extended her arm as far as she could and shouted, “In the name of Yeshua/Jesus, get away from me and leave me alone! You will NOT attack me!”
Never in her life had those words left her mouth, her faith wasn’t exactly strong, but they were the first words that came into her mind and what did she have to lose?
Soon after the words were out of her mouth, the wolf seemed to lose his ferocity and turned into a frightened pup. It all happened so quickly, one minute this wolf was about to attack her, the next he was turning around and cowering into the depth of the forest.
Exhausted, yet relieved, Shay let out the breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. When the adrenaline suddenly wore off, Shay collapsed onto the ground. Catching her breath, she couldn’t believe she was alive; she was sure that she had just experienced the last moments of her life.
Thankful to be alive, Shay’s heart was just beginning to beat steadily again when she felt something touch her shoulder! She jumped in shock and sprung to her feet! And there, standing before her, was a man without a face, only a bright light that blinded her.
Putting her arms over her eyes to shield herself from the light and as a last act of defense before her imminent death; Shay waited for the blow or whatever this faceless person decided to kill her with, but nothing happened. In fact, the faceless person hadn’t moved toward her…‘Weird,’ she thought.
Slowly, Shay began lowering her arm, when the man spoke for the first time. His voice was masculine but gentle. It was as if a soft breeze were brushing over her face or her mother was singing her a soothing lullaby.
“You’re safe, My child. Your faith saved you tonight, and no harm will fall on you. However, you must be watchful at all times; you never know when you’re near a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Don’t lose faith and follow Me always. One day, you will experience all the things you desire, but now is not the time. Take courage, and have patience, I am preparing you for something more than you imagined. You will never falter if you follow these instructions.”
Peace flooded over Shay, and just as she was about to respond to the man, He disappeared. Darkness once again surrounded Shay, but she didn’t feel the fear she had only moments before; instead, she felt strong and knew that she would make it out of the forest alive.
With the sound of her alarm whisking her dream away, Shaylee tried to hold onto it for just a second longer. It was the best dream she’d ever had; but alas, the alarm was growing louder the longer she ignored it. Coming out of her slumber, Shay felt like a different person. She felt lighter and more awake than ever before.
As Shay pondered over the meaning of the dream during breakfast, she realized that it was a picture of her life. The wolf represented all the temptations of this world and the dangers they could lead to, while the sword was God and His Word. Shay subconsciously knew that God would guide her toward the right paths and tell her where she should go. Just because she knows right from wrong doesn’t mean she is protected from evil. Everyone slips up, but when we listen to God and have faith, He will lead us back to safety.
God had answered her prayer for guidance! She realized that no matter what happened, as long as she trusted and listened to His Voice, she’d be alright. No matter how hard or narrow the road got, the Light would be there, with a sword, ready to fight for her!
So, even though her friends think her parents are kill-joys and over-protective, Shay now understood that they are only shielding her heart and teaching her that just because her friends are doing things, doesn’t mean she has to as well. God has other plans for her life and going on a first date is not a part of that plan, in this season of her life. He also wants to protect her heart and keep her from the temptations of this world. One day, she will be ready to have relationships, go on dates, and find a husband; but for now, she needs to focus on growing closer to God and learn who she is before adding anyone else to the equation.
Getting dressed for school, Shaylee felt ready to face the new day and be honest with her friends. Maybe they will understand, or perhaps they won’t; but for the first time ever, Shay was eager to be honest and stand up for what she truly believes in.