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Shepherds Hill Homestead » A Separated Life, Plain Lifestyle » Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!

Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!

 I am the youngest child in a family of 5 siblings.  I have three older brothers:  John (Duke), Allen and David and one sister Tracy (now living in Heaven with our Lord!).  Duke and Allen were 10 and 8 years older than me respectively, so most of my memories of them are as older BIG brothers.  David and Tracy and I were closer in age and so my memories of play when I was a little one are with them.  When we were children we played outside mostly.  In those days, it was a punishment to have to stay inside.  Around dusk in the evening we loved to be outside catching fireflies and when it got dark, we would play games like “freeze-tag”, “sling the statue” or best of all – HideNGo Seek. I wrote that with no spaces between the words because that is the way we said it “HideNGo”.  We shoved all the words together in one breath. 

 If you have ever had the thrill of playing HideNGo Seek then you probably will understand most of what I will be talking of in this article.  As with any game, there are rules, terminology and even some tricks to help you win.  This particular game involved someone being “IT”.  I hated to be IT.  Now that I look back on things, I reckon everyone hated being IT.  We all wanted to be hiders.  Well, IT had to stand against a tree or car with their head down and eyes closed and count out loud to 100 by 5’s.  While the counting was going on everyone else ran to hide.  There were boundariesthat we couldn’t go beyond of course, but most importantly there was BASE.  Usually BASE was wherever IT had stood to count – a tree or car or stump or something prominent.  Being the youngest child in the group it seemed my entire goal of childhood was to get to BASE.  That was the place of safety and refuge and IT (whoever that was at the moment) could never get me once I touched BASE.  One of the greatest achievements was when you safely arrived and called out as loud as possible “BASE!!”  I still feel the ripple of excitement when I think back on those glorious, terrifying, mad dashes to get there. 

 Today I had a flash of memory flood over my mind and my heart of a time when we were enjoying one of those excellent summer afternoons.  Tracy, David, and several other kids in our neighborhood were outside.  We had already had supper and the sky was getting dark.  The tree frogs were thunderously loud and lightening bugs were sparkling everywhere.  Our streetlight was at the end of our little driveway and so it was the gathering place.  We would sit on the pavement and watch the bats start coming out to swoop around and catch bugs.  Of course, whenever one got close we would cover our heads so that they wouldn’t get tangled in our hair and lay their eggs.  Every self-respecting southern kid knew that if a bat laid their eggs in your hair you would go crazy.  J

 In our small yard there was a concrete birdbath and that was generally BASE everytime we played a game outside because it was in the center of the yard.  On this particular night my brother David was IT and I was excited because I got to hide.  I wasn’t as fast as everyone else, so whenever I had to be IT, I usually was for several rounds ‘cause I couldn’t catch anyone.  But this time I got to hide.  I could hear David counting “5, 10, 15, 20, 25 . . .” and my heart was racing.Tracywas already in the best spot behind Daddy’s car.  Michelle was under the bushes near the porch.  Everyone had already taken the best spots and I went into shear panic.  The only place I could think of was behind the tree where the rope swing was and that was within about 10 feet of BASE where David was counting.  “85, 90, 95, 100!  Ready or not, here I come!!!” he yelled.  My thought was that if he went toward Daddy’s car then I could run up behind and tag BASE and be safe before he ever turned around.  Sure enough, that is just what he did, butTracycame flying out from her spot and heading toward base before I could move my lead feet.  She was safe.  Then one by one he spotted the other kids –and each one somehow made it to safety.  But I was frozen and he still hadn’t seen where I was; then came that most dreadful sound “Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!”  My heart crumbled to pieces.  That meant that I HAD to come out from my spot and try to get to BASE before he tagged me.  Everyone else had been dealt with and I was the last one.  There were no more possibilities of distractions that would give me the chance to sneak out.  His eyes, his efforts, his movements were all going to be focused on getting me before I was safe. Oh, the sweet torture of it all. 😉

 Well, I came out.  I saw everybody watching me and laughing because they all knew that I was never going to make it.  Here I was face to face with my big brother and he had no intention of being IT again. I felt the heat rising in my face and I took off with everything I had.  David took off toward me – I was screaming – he was laughing and just before he got me, he tripped on the root of an old tree and tumbled over.  I was running so hard and so fast that I nearly fell into the birdbath before I could stop and yelled out with the greatest joy in the world, “SAFE!!!”  I was safe. I had made it and as silly as it may sound, I can still feel the relief in my mind almost 40 years later.  Amazing how long it takes to write out something like this and yet it is just an instant long when it goes through your mind. 

 As I remembered this, the Lord used it to show me something very important and that is what I want to share with you.  We are all progressing through this life one step at a time.  Some folks walk in sadness.  Some walk in joy.  Some walk in victory.  Some walk in defeat.  Some walk in fear.  Some walk in peace.  We all experience these things at different times and most of us, through maturity, learn to maintain a balance in our lives.  But the goal for each and every one of us is the same, happiness – BASE!  We want to reach that place where we are safe and the enemy cannot get us. There is an inner knowing in each of us that there is a place of peace.  But so many are like I was in this memory – so afraid of failing, so afraid of making the wrong move, so afraid that I wasn’t going to make it all the way that I was frozen in fear and doubt. My hiding place in the darkness protected me.  The probability that I would be found wasn’t important because I was mistakenly confident that I had hidden myself so well.  I watched everyone else emerge and conquer.  I envied them.  I was thrilled when they made it.  But my heart was so uncertain of the outcome that my hiding place was where I really wanted to stay. 

 There finally came a moment when I was forced to make a decision.  I was no longer allowed to just stay back and hide in the false security of the darkness.  Finally I was commanded to reveal myself.  I had to make a change.  The probability of failure was no longer the most important factor. The possibility of success became my motivation.  I was not instantly safe, just because I made the decision to move out.  I still had to run the race and I had to run to win.  There was every reason to believe that I was going to fail.  Those around watching me, believed that I would be defeated.  But that had to be secondary to the goal.  I HAD to succeed.  In my mind, there was no way that I could have foreseen the situation that would insure my victory. No one could.  Would I have made it if David had not tripped?  I have no idea.  What matters is that a little girl with little obvious ability was able to conquer her fear, her situation.

 Every single day of our lives we have an enemy waiting to defeat us.  He plans his attacks against us with knowledge of our weaknesses and fears and shortcomings.  Often times we hide and try to avoid dealing with those attacks because even though we know the victory would be wonderful, we really don’t want to have to run the race to get there and risk failure.  We think, if we just don’t step out then we won’t have to face the challenge.  Staying back in the darkness seems to be the easiest way.  But dear ones, the day comes in all of our lives when we are called to account.  The moment inevitably arrives when we are no longer offered the option of hiding.  It is time to make a decision.  Will you run the race or will you quit and throw up your hands and give up? 

 Today I was talking with my daughter Sarah and she said, “Mother, why do people think that the walk with the Lord is going to be so easy? Why do they think that things should work smoothly for them once they obey?  It doesn’t show that anywhere in scripture?”  My response was not very satisfactory I am sorry to say. I didn’t know why.  I don’t know where the idea came from that theChristian walk; especially the truly committedChristian walk – you know the real one where you actually do what God says when He says it – is supposed to be just a nice buggy ride on the carousel of life.  He promised us that it would be right the opposite.  He also promised us that when we walked through the fire we would not be burned.  He didn’t say we wouldn’t ever feel the heat.  This walk is H*A*R*D!  It is for everyone.  But!  If we stick with it, if we set our face like a flint, if we determine that we will stay the course, then we will have peace and we will reach BASE!  I don’t just mean Heaven; I mean that sweet place of surety.  That internal place of knowing in your spirit, in your mind, in your heart that everything is going to be fine and that the enemy is defeated no matter what your circumstances are telling you.     

 So if you are hearing “Ollie, Ollie, Oxen Free” in your spirit then it is time for you to come out from hiding.  Step into the light and get moving!  God Himself is calling you forth.

“For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.”   Isaiah 50:7

 “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”  Isaiah 43:2


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"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." Lamentations 3:22-24

Filed under: A Separated Life, Plain Lifestyle

One Response to "Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!"

  1. Deb Silviano says:

    I have been hearing that “ollie ollie oxen free” for a long time, but it is that verse that tells the truth about me….setting my face like flint is where I fail. I know what I want, but I lack the courage and resolve.

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