I was hiking in a prairie with a Friend the other day. We weren’t talking much, but we were holding hands. There were lots of people around, too, so I kept entertained. It was nice. We took a safe, easy road so the walk was not hard at all. In fact, I think I was even a little bored, I like to be challenged (just a little bit).
Then we came to a fork in the road. I had to make a choice. One way, the path continued, appearing to be safe and easy, somewhat familiar. But different somehow. Sure, it looked a little rocky, barren even. The grass wasn’t as lush and colorful as the prairie. I could see some trees though. There was beauty in it, I think. At least I thought so at the time.
The other path looked more difficult, a steep climb. It was magnificent, but there was a steep drop-off on one side. What if I fall?!? And I couldn’t see what was ahead. Were my friends there? I certainly didn’t want to be by myself. Suddenly, I was too afraid. There are too many unknowns. My Friend encouraged me to go with Him. He was going up the mountain and wanted me to come. He even promised to keep me safe. Well, I don’t know about that. Nobody can keep that kind of promise. But I certainly didn’t want to be alone … Then I realized I could see more friends up ahead on the path that ran alongside instead. Besides, the two paths were parallel to each other.
So, I let go of my Friend’s hand. He didn’t want me to, I don’t think. But I wasn’t worried. I could still see Him. I would wave once in a while and we’d shout back and forth while we walked.
He invited me back onto His path a few times, there were plenty of opportunities to. But those paths were treacherous and vulnerable. Plus, I didn’t want to admit I’d made a mistake. I am sure the paths will reconnect soon … Don’t worry. I can handle it. I was enjoying myself too much, making my own decisions. I was on my own, yet my Friend was there just not as bossy as He was before. Besides, it was interesting, the path, so I got distracted. It wasn’t scary at all, at least not at first; it was kinda fun. It started to get more challenging, but I was enjoying it. No matter how fast I moved, I couldn’t catch my friends though. In fact, the faster I hiked, the further they seemed to be ahead. I was frustrated. Didn’t they see me? I was beginning to think nobody was there at all.
I didn’t realize that I started to veer away from the other path. I never noticed that I couldn’t see my Friend anymore. It was okay though, I had a new friend. Not sure where he came from. I guess he was there the whole time. He said something once about helping me choose this path but I didn’t think much about it. It was amazing all the things we had in common. We talked a lot, especially about the challenges we came upon and the state of the thickening forest around us. It looked so sad, like there’d been a fire that burned the trees and a lot of them had fallen over. He put his arms around me. I felt safe.
We worked together to climb a few toppled trees (I look back now and realize those were warnings to turn back around), but my new friend helped me to see that the obstacles just made the path more exciting. There were even a few “Stop” and “Do not enter” signs. But those weren’t for me. I knew I’d made the right choice. I was certain. Right? I should tell … wait, where’s my Friend? I turned around frantically searching, but I couldn’t see Him. It was getting dark. Fast. Figures. I knew He wouldn’t be there for me when I needed Him.
I took a step backward and suddenly felt myself falling. With a thud I landed on the hard, cold ground. I … I fear I broke my leg. So I start to cry. Great, I’m such a wuss. I collect myself and get over it. Still, it’s pitch black. As hard as I squinted and strained my eyes, I couldn’t see anything. With my eyes closed, I reached around groping with my hands but found nothing but cold, wet stone. “Don’t worry,” my new friend whispered. He was there with me. Then why did I feel so alone? Suddenly, his arms were suffocating me, squeezing harder and harder. It didn’t hurt at first, but now … I just want to be free. I started to struggle and that made it worse, his talons starting to shred my skin. It hurts! I can’t breathe! Am I going to die? Now he’s laughing at me.
“God help me.”
I’m afraid to open my eyes but something’s different. Somebody’s there but I think my new friend is gone. I know now he really wasn’t my friend. I hang my head. I feel numb. But the ground doesn’t feel so cold anymore. I am afraid to trust anyone, even my Friend. He’s there. I know it. He’s not saying much. I’m still waiting for “I told you so.” I feel so stupid. Can someone die from stupidity? I began to think so.
All my Friend says is “I love you.” It doesn’t make any sense. My heart is throbbing, I think it might burst from my chest. It aches from the depth of my sorrow. My Friend holds me while I sob. He says stupidity won’t be my legacy. He has other plans for me.
My wounds are mostly healed now. But I have scars. I think I’m supposed to, so I don’t forget. They aren’t pretty and I can’t always hide them. But my Friend doesn’t seem to notice. Sometimes I want to remind Him. He’s talking more now. Or maybe I am just listening more. Yeah, I think that’s it.
I finally opened my eyes. The view is beautiful. Breathtaking, even when I look behind me. I still can’t see very far ahead, but I am not afraid. The path is difficult … But my Friend is carrying me, and I’m not letting go.
“But the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:18-19