God’s Canvas, Conclusion

Believing that the darkness held the DNA of the Author, in the form of his son, was darkness indeed. Those who had followed the son were devastated as the Lucifer ink now seemed to hold the advantage. Using that moment of advantage, the darkness swept across the canvas. Attempting to completely cover God’s canvas, the Lucifer ink stained with darkness every place save for one – the path of the son. Where the son had walked and touched, the Lucifer ink could not stick. The Author’s plan remained in tact for his son was the Word – he was LOVE.
It was true. It is true. Everywhere that the son had walked and touched left an outline of LOVE. The reason the writers had not recognized this was because the son had reversed it. All this time the writers had been writing LOVE so that they could read it. The son’s path wrote LOVE facing the other way – so that the Author could read it. After all, it was HIS canvas.
Everyone could hear the voice in the darkness working furiously, attempting to undo the work of the son. But it could not be undone. Screaming again, this time with rage, the voice in the darkness echoed from the place where the son’s body had been laid. Where the body had been laid there was no body, only an empty ring of blood. A gnarled, deformed pen reached out of the darkness to fill in the ring with Lucifer ink. As it did, the ink was swallowed up and covered in the blood of the son. Trying again, the pen reached out. Again the ink was immediately and completely covered by the blood of the son.
Realizing that this place was also a lost cause, the voice and the ink retreated. As it turned, the voice in the darkness howled. A howl of fierce loss. For there, walking with the writers, was the son! How was this possible? He had died, the blood had spilled, and the body dragged into darkness. And now..now the son was walking with the writers, even brighter than before!
Again, the son showed the writers where to write, and how to write. “Walk as I walk,” the son said. “Talk as I talk. I am the Word that you need to live.” At last the writers understood – in order to write LOVE, they needed to live LOVE. So the writers began to write again. Using the ink that God had given, the writers began to fill in LOVE. This time they huddled together to help each other, and to teach other writers. When they started to realize just how big LOVE is, the writers asked the son, “Won’t we need the ink…the ink that was lost to darkness? Lost to the Lucifer ink? We cannot fill this in without it, can we?”
The son smiled and said, “Yes, we certainly will. Here walk with me.” The son would then take each writer to the edge of LOVE and tell them, “Place your pen right here.” Each writer would look in horror as they saw where the son had pointed. He pointed to his veins, exposed now by the holes in his hands and his feet.
“We cannot draw from you!” the writers objected. “You are the Author’s son, we know that now. It would not be right for us to pierce you!”
“I have already been pierced,” the son answered, “by you and for you. It is for that reason that you must draw from me. The only way that we can restore God’s ink to you and complete my father’s portrait is if you first draw from my veins. The DNA of my father is in me, and it must also be in you. That is what will separate your ink from the Lucifer ink. It is the only way. LOVE will not be complete without it.” Then, sounding very much like his father, the son said, “This is not a problem for me.”
Every writer that believed the son would first place their pen into his veins. Then, reaching down together, the writer and the son would draw up the ink from the darkness. “The Lucifer ink is still attached!” nearly every writer screamed. “Get it off!”
“Do not worry,” the son said. We have a place for that, too. Lucifer’s ink cannot stay in LOVE, for I have sealed the perimeter completely.” So, hand in hand and step by step, the son and the writer went to a place that only the son had seen.
“What is this place?” every writer would ask.
The son always smiled and said, “You’ll see.”
The writer would watch in amazement as they placed the pen inside an empty ring on the canvas. Inside of the ring, the Lucifer ink is always pulled in and always covered in blood. It was in that ring where the Author’s DNA was poured out, so that darkness can never exist within it. The son’s blood had been shed completely for this very purpose. Once the ink was restored to its original state (yet better, it seemed), the writer would walk back to finish the Author’s project. Back to complete LOVE.
This is where you enter the scene. You are a writer. More accurately, you are a vessel – a pen with a purpose. God has given you the ink you need to write, and to complete this LOVE, which is so much bigger than you ever imagined. Maybe one of the writers has told you about the son. Have you met him? And have you gone with the son to reclaim all of your ink? He knows that your ink is tainted – that happens to everyone. But to complete your picture, his picture, the Author’s picture, you must let him reclaim your ink.
The final picture is still in process, but it is coming together. There is less darkness on the canvas now. The Author’s son is reclaiming it for his father. And every time a writer first draws from the son’s veins, more of God’s ink is reclaimed. Soon there will be no more darkness, and the voice from the darkness will vanish. It will vanish, howling as it is swallowed in that empty ring left by the son.
You see, there are many colors in ink. There are many colors in LOVE. But inside that ring there is only red. The Author calls that a period. As in, it is His canvas – period. All darkness will vanish – period.
LOVE. Period.
That is the final project. That is the Author’s plan from the beginning. That is His plan always. The project is a self-portrait – a self-portrait of the son. The Author sent him to be the Word – to LOVE, period.
He did.
We should too. When called upon to be a vessel, to complete LOVE, simply say what you have learned by now to say: “This is not a problem for me.”
And LOVE, period.

There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.

– William Cowper

Questions to consider
*What does it mean to you that the son was pierced “by you and for you”?

*Do you live LOVE?

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God’s Canvas, Part 4

“You’ll see.”
Such a clever way for the son to remind the writers of what they already knew: everything has a time, a time to be seen. But “see” they would. And see they did as they followed the son on his journey. A journey that established a new perimeter for LOVE. The Author had said that it would be bigger, but the writers had clearly underestimated the scope of the project. The son established just how far they must go, stopping and placing his hands and feet in his father’s ink all along the way. As he walked out the L, the O, the V, and the E, many began to follow. Some left their pens behind. Some carried their pens along. Some tried to write as they walked but quickly gave it up. Others followed with swords to guard against the other writers.
And quietly, stealthy as it is, the darkness crept closer. It whispered to those who would listen. It questioned the motives of the son. The voice of darkness made many believe that the son would take all of the credit. To others, the darkness whispered that the son was deceiving them. Some writers believed that they should sharpen their pens. They believed that the sword was mightier than the pen. And though God had said to write, they chose the fight.
With the whispering of darkness, many chose to stay back and not follow the son. They were convinced that this man could not be the Author’s son. Many did not like that he was writing without a pen. Many did not like that the son wanted to change the rules, to nearly eliminate the rules! “Live LOVE,” he said, “for my father and each other.” It could not be that simple! So, with pens sharpened, the writers corralled the son. As they did, many who had followed the son fled the scene.
The writers struck the son with all of their disbelief. “This man is a liar! He claims to be from the Author, yet he has no pen! Moreover, he writes with his hands! None of us can do that, why should he?” What they were saying was true. The son had no pen. He did write with his hands. But was that cause for death? The writers continued to accuse, “You know the rules! Anyone who claims the Author as the father must die!” This was true, also. Almost. The rule stated that anyone who falsely claimed the Author as their father must die. The writers decided that the son must die because they did not believe he was the Author’s son. He was not to be allowed to work on the project any longer. He would die for their disbelief.
The Author watched all of this. Though it made him sad, he knew it must happen. And it did. Pierced by transgressions – not his, but theirs – the son’s blood began to flow. Run through by the writers, the son bled. With shouts of, “The sword is mightier than the pen!” writers struck him. Those who had followed the son had no swords, save for one. But the son told that writer to put his sword away. Many of the son’s followers dropped their pens and fled. They huddled in the corners, trapped between the swords of the writers and the darkness of Lucifer’s ink. Many watched in horror as the writers dragged the son’s body toward the darkness, to be deposited out of LOVE.
As the body was dragged away, a curious thing happened. What was true of the son in life was also true in death: every place or person he touched was changed. There was separation, and restoration, as God’s ink was set free from the Lucifer ink. The writers questions were being answered, whether they realized it or not.
It was in his DNA.
Before the son had come to the canvas, he had placed his hands and his feet in his father’s tears. The Author, as Light, always repelled darkness. The Author’s DNA was on the son and in the son. Lucifer’s ink, existing only in darkness, could not remain where the son had touched. And now, within the plan of the Author, his son’s blood spilled so that his DNA could free the writers to use his ink once again.
As the son’s body was dragged beyond LOVE and into darkness, the writers heard a voice. It was the same voice that had whispered to them. It was the same voice that whispered from the darkness to the first writers. But this was not a whisper. This was a blood-curdling scream from the darkness. A scream of victory. The darkness now held the very thing that could defeat darkness – the DNA of the Author.

Questions to consider
*where do you see yourself in this part of the story? Who do you identify with?

*What does this line mean to you, Many watched in horror as the writers dragged the son’s body toward the darkness, to be deposited out of LOVE. ?

God’s Canvas, Part 3

With his father’s tears still upon his hands and feet, the Author’s son stepped onto the canvas. Immediately he was questioned by the writers, “Who are you?”
“I am the Word,” the son replied.
“What do you mean, ‘I am the Word’?” the writers asked.
“I am the Word you have been writing,” the son answered.
Very few writers could understand what the son meant, so many ignored him. “He doesn’t even have a pen,” they declared. “How can he possibly help?” One by one, the writers went back to writing, but mostly arguing, and watching God’s ink being drawn away to darkness. Yet a few stayed. They hoped the son could show them something different. They asked him, “When you say that you are the ‘Word,’ do you mean that you are ‘LOVE‘?”
“I am,” the son replied.
“So teach us how to write it!” they demanded.
“You have been shown how to write by my father, the Author. You must learn how to live LOVE,” the son responded. “Then my father’s portrait will be complete.
“Your father is the Author?!” the writers asked in disbelief.
“I tell you the truth, he is,” the son responded. “He sent me with a solution to Lucifer’s ink. If you draw from me, you will be able to write as the Author desires. You will be able to live LOVE as my father instructed.”
The son’s declaration that the Author is his father caused even more writers to walk away. If the Author had a son, surely this could not be him. He was plain. Ordinary. And hadn’t he come from the corner of the L? No one of importance came from there. Some writers even believed that this writer had only come to deceive them. He had no pen. He claimed to be the Author’s son, yet no one had seen the Author in a very long time. And this man, this son – as he claimed – walked around taking the ink of writers in his hands and placing it on the canvas. Then he would step in it and leave his footprints all over. Clearly this man was from the darkness, sent to ruin the picture completely.
Once told to write LOVE, the writers did not live it. Trying to live LOVE, the writers did not give it. They conspired against the son. Several sharpened their pens into swords. These writers believed that the only way to save the picture now would be to get this man out of it. The writers believed that, if they worked together, they could send this man, the Author’s son, to his death. As with all the others before, they would then drag his body into the darkness.
What a chaotic scene. Remember the history. God, as Light, drove the darkness to the edges of the canvas. God, as Author, stored the darkness as ink. God, as Creator, began to write. Intending to create a portrait of LOVE, a portrait that was immediately marred by the Lucifer ink. The Lucifer ink then pulled God’s ink away from writer after writer. Streak after streak created not LOVE, but darkness.
And now, with the canvas full of maimed and wounded writers, there was a glorious mess. Some were writing. Some were arguing about how to write. Some were taking the ink given by God and using it to fill in the darkness. (After all, that seemed easier than all the rules created for writing LOVE.) And still more gave their pens over to swords, to no longer write but to self-preserve.
The Author’s decision to send his son seemed to only add to this confusion. A few followed the son, to listen for how they should write. To hear how to live LOVE, and to observe this man without a pen who left ink on the canvas with every step and every touch. Finally one of the writers had to ask the son, “How is it that you can take this ink and have it stay where you want? When we do what you are doing, the ink stains our hands. And why doesn’t the Lucifer ink pull your work away?”
The son simply smiled and said, “You’ll see.”

Questions to consider
*Why would it be so difficult to accept that the son was of the Author? Why is (or was) it for you?

*How are you doing at living LOVE?

God’s Canvas, Part 2

To the writers, God’s original plan appeared ruined. A giant streak of ink across the canvas and increasing darkness at the edges – how could this work? There is no eraser for ink. But God insisted that they should still write.
God did invite more and more writers to the canvas, just as he said. Each one was given the same instruction, “Write LOVE.” Some wrote well. Some did not. Some could see that the word was taking shape. Others could not understand the big picture at all. Yet, with all of their differences, every writer had one thing in common – every one left a streak on the canvas. Inevitably the shiny Lucifer ink looked more appealing. At some point each man, woman, girl, and boy dipped their pen in the Lucifer ink. Inevitably their ink was pulled away. The errant marks increased, as did the darkness.
There were many times when the confusion – the out-of-bounds marks – created conflict. Some writers began to declare that there must be rules about how to hold the pen. Rules about how much to write. Rules determining which writers worked on which letters. Although meant to be helpful, the rules only added to the confusion. What should happen to the people who broke the rules? Should they have to stop writing? For how long? Maybe they could write, but only on their knees? And what should be done about those who used all of their ink to fill in the darkness?
Some of the punishments created by the writers were very cruel indeed. With their mouths they said the punishments were needed to please the Author – certainly he would not want writers to continuously leave errant marks. The writers had discovered that the tips of their fountain pens could be made extremely sharp, sharp enough to pierce skin. And pierce they did. However, they noticed that piercing another writer would leave blood stains on the canvas. When the writers tried to cover the stains with ink, they could not. Eventually they determined that they could use their pens, now swords, to draw the blood out of another writer’s veins. They would then take that blood to the perimeter in order to leave it in the darkness. Every time, as they attempted to do this, Lucifer ink claimed the blood and the blood of the writer. Some writers became completely unable to write again. With their mouth they had professed a desire to please the Author, but their heart confessed a desire to please themselves. If a writer was lost to darkness, it would mean more credit could be given to those who wrote well. This desire for credit, for glory, spread like Lucifer ink among the writers. Many worked furiously, eyes facing the canvas except to occasionally look up and fend off another writer. Tainted by the Lucifer ink, the writers took on that quality of self-preservation.
Maimed and wounded writers all over the canvas, some had now come together for the sake of protection. Writers of LOVE stood in opposition to writers of darkness. “The sword is mightier than the pen!” they would shout, and stand armed with their sharpened pens poised. However, with a sword you cannot write, and God’s canvas remained unfinished. Even the writers of the word LOVE opposed each other. Writers of the L opposed the writers of the O who opposed the writers of the V opposing the writers of the E. Every day, more blood was spilled. Every day, writers killed. Every day, the darkness grew. “What was the plan again?” No one knew.
God looked at them and loved them. Loved them in spite of their mess. “This is not a problem for me.” God called his only son over and they watched together. God asked, “Will you show them how to write?” “Yes, Father,” the son replied. The son saw the tears of his father and reached up to place his hands on his father’s cheeks in a loving embrace. “I’ll be back, Father.”
“Yes, I know,” the Father said as he smiled. The son then stepped out of the pool of tears and on to the canvas.

Questions to consider
*What rules do you have or follow for how you should write that seem different from other writers?

*Have you ever punished another writer for their mistake? How have you been punished?

*Which is in your hand more often – a pen or a sword? Is self-preservation in some ways necessary?

God’s Canvas, Part 1

You may have heard that God separated the light from the darkness. You might not have heard where the darkness was stored and how God put it to use.

God stepped onto his canvas. As Light, his presence drove the darkness back. But God decided to put the inky darkness to use. So he stored it in a giant inkwell, intending to create a portrait. A self-portrait. There he stood, pen in hand, one canvas. God decided to write LOVE on his canvas. As he took his pen and drew up the first ink, one drop fell onto the canvas.
This particular type of ink that fell was called Lucifer ink. It was especially adhesive – to itself and to other ink. However, the Lucifer ink could not be part of the word LOVE because it would not remain where God would assign it. It would not adhere to the canvas because it could not let go of itself.
At this point, God – Author and Creator of this canvas – did a most unusual thing. He invited others to participate, to write with him. The first two invitees were a man and a woman. God handed them each a pen, provided them with ink, and told them the plan – to write LOVE. As part of the instructions, God cautioned them about the perimeter. An outline for the word was indicated and God said, “Only write here.”
As the man and the woman began to write, they noticed another source of ink. Outside of the perimeter was the Lucifer ink, surrounded by darkness. The man and the woman heard a voice whisper from the darkness, “Did God really say that you could only use his ink?” The man and the woman saw that this other ink was especially shiny and pleasing to the eye. They began to believe that it would make their word more appealing. With their mouth they said, “This will please the Author,” but with their heart they said, “This will please me.”
Believing the lie that the Author had not given them the best, they both dipped their pen into the Lucifer ink. Immediately they noticed their ink – God’s ink – was pulled away from them and beyond the perimeter. The Lucifer ink, with its adhesive properties, held tightly to their ink and pulled it into the darkness. Pulled it to the very edges of the canvas.
The man and woman did not know what to do. They had not foreseen this consequence. God had told them to write LOVE and shown them where to write, but now there was ink at the far edges of the canvas. Their ink had not created a word, it had created more darkness. They saw that the darkness on the canvas was spreading. In fact, the pen holding the Lucifer ink wanted God’s ink as well. The Lucifer ink was attempting to cover God’s entire canvas in darkness, to drive back the light. You see, the Lucifer ink can only exist in darkness, so this was an act of self-preservation. Powerless to adhere to the canvas by itself, it could only create darkness by drawing away the ink of other writers. This unseen author wanted no one to see a word, but only to see darkness.
God came to check on the man and the woman, but he did not find them writing. He looked down at their pens, seemingly dropped in haste, and he knew. He knew by the streak left behind. Looking up, God saw the two of them huddled along his perimeter. “Where are you?” he asked. Visibly shaken, the woman and man came forward. “We tried to write as you taught us, but we used a different ink – that shiny ink – and it pulled our ink away. Now there is this huge mark on your canvas.” They continued, “We did not know how to fix it, so we hid.”
God looked at them and loved them. “Pick up your pens,” he said. “This is not a problem for me. We will write the word bigger. But that means we will need a lot more writers.”

Questions to consider
*Why would God choose LOVE to be his self-portrait?

*In what ways do you find the Lucifer ink more appealing? Do you find that your mouth and your heart say two different things?

An Ark, not lifeboats

I knew this before I went to sleep last night, but I had no words. In a way I am tired of words. I’m tired of my own words. This took place very close to dear friends of mine. The man who died is a cousin of an old friend. I am tired of words. I am tired of grieving. I am certain that none of the recent acts have been random. I am also certain that the enemy laughs while we mourn. Because we need more than words. One person will not stop this – it is not a physical fight. It is the spirit of death waging war against the spirit of life. But you can do something. You must do something.
Last night I drove home on a dark, snowy, two-lane highway and a car was following me closely. Normally this bothers me, especially in less-than-ideal driving conditions. Then I realized this: it was safer for them to follow my light than to be on the dark road alone. I did the same thing to a car on the highway, benefitting from their light and guidance. No matter how bright or dim your light in the darkness is, it is light in the darkness. Someone needs it.
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Hebrews 11:7
Here is what I see: Everything we see is a copy and a shadow. Everything since Christ has a redirected purpose. Well, in unholy fear, Grand Rapids has labored for 162 years to build boats – two-person lifeboats. Big enough for you and the person you want to let in the boat with you. The Church has become the churches. The Body has become the body parts. We prepare ourselves for the flood, rather than making enough room for those God would choose to save.
You carry a light. Someone would like to be by you to be safe. But if you only lead them to a two-person lifeboat, you will be done. Certainly you will not give up your spot for someone else. But what if everyone who carries the light had the faith enough, had enough holy fear, to guide others to The Church? How long could you go back and forth then – if you knew that God had enough room for all who come?
What you can do: pray. That is what the disciples did first when Jesus ascended. When God’s physical presence was no longer with them, they prayed until God’s spiritual presence came. Pray until the Spirit comes. Without the Spirit, you will drown in the waters because you will be lost in the darkness yourself. Once the Spirit comes, follow. I promise you that there will be directions that take you out of your comfort zone. Follow. I also strongly believe that your instructions will take you out of the churches – the building – and bring you to the Church – the Body. Find body parts and attach them.
The first permanent resident of Grand Rapids who was not of the Ottawa people was a Baptist minister. John Ball called this area “the promised land.” And we believed it. And built lifeboats. And the enemy laughs. Want to condemn, by faith, the darkness that settles? Take your light to the Ark, the only Ark that saves – God.

Joshua’s Return

My small village is all I’ve known. I feel blessed to be a part of such a place. The people are kind, the festivals bring me joy, and the view is amazing. Perched high on a mountain, I love that I can wake up every morning and see a sunrise that few people get to see. I’ve never really ventured far, but I’ve never really had to. Many in my village are farmers. Others hunt. Others know how to make beautiful clothes for me, and the stream that comes down the mountain brings cool, fresh water. I lack for nothing.

Today, out of curiosity, I decided to take a longer walk than normal. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t see the need. I often go for walks, taking provisions with me and returning before sunset. But today I took a different course, and I love it. I saw a type of deer I’ve never seen. The flowers look bright and beautiful. I saw a lake, and found peace in watching the fish jump out of the water while the dragonflies dance near me.

As I stood up to leave for home, I stepped in water up to my ankles. Surprised, I looked around. The rock I was perched on was surrounded by water and I didn’t even notice. I splashed through the water for ten feet to reach dry ground. The water level must have come up. I turned around to walk home, and felt the water lap my feet again. Startled, I turned back around. The water WAS rising, and quickly. I tried again to set out, but I slipped. Now I’m soaked. I picked myself up to run, and a wave knocked me back down. I gulped water and felt fear for the first time in a long time. I half-walked and half-crawled to get my feet on dry ground. Then I ran. And ran. My peaceful day has turned upside-down.

On top of that, I ran to a place that looked unfamiliar. The shadows started to fall upon me in that valley, and I was genuinely afraid. The water rushed toward me and I made the only choice that I had left. Climb higher. Scrambling up a small foothill, I was able to pause..and rest. I could feel my heartbeat pounding and I took a deep breath. Unfortunately, my attempt to save myself left me worse off than before, for now the place where I was sitting was surrounded by water with no other land in sight.

I felt compelled to look for a way out of the situation, but how? The only familiar thing that I saw was my home village, which was miles away, even as the crow flies. The rising of the swirling waters was no place to jump in. That’s certain death, especially given the distance that I would have to swim. It’s not exactly peace that I feel, but at least I could catch my breath. I tried to think clearly, but there was nothing that I could do to escape my situation. So I sat, and sometimes stood, and often wept.

Nothing about my village prepared me for this. I always felt safe. I always felt loved. Now I could feel danger, and now I was alone. So alone. Not even the birds were flying overhead, and I could see why. Dark storm clouds were advancing as well, and the water kept rising. I had maybe six dry feet of land below me. My day, and my life, may be done. Things I once enjoyed will be no more. People I love will never be seen again. I sat on the ground, pulled up my knees, and dropped my head. Nothing else to say, I whispered, “Help me.”

The water brushed my feet and I assumed that this was the end. Something hard bumped into my shin, which made me look up for the first time in an hour. A canoe? With someone in it?! The man in the canoe looks familiar, but I don’t know why. “Come in,” he said. Still oblivious to my circumstances, I foolishly asked questions before I got in. “Who are you? Why are you here? What are you doing?”

The man smiled and calmly answered each question in turn: “Joshua. You asked for help. To save you.” I shook my head and stood up just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, or already dead. The stiffness in my legs convinced me that I was still alive, and I scrambled into the canoe. As I do, a wave pushed the canoe away and over the place where I was just sitting. I was facing death, and now I have life, courtesy of Joshua.

Joshua silently set a course and drives the canoe across the water. I had so many questions, but where to start? He gracefully answered each question, laughing often and smiling always. He speaks warmly about his father and how his father sent him to save me. “Your father saw me? Where was he? I didn’t see anyone.” Joshua replied, “He saw you and heard your cry for help.”

“What? My what?”

“Your cry for help.”

This launches a new set of questions, and again Joshua answered me clearly and lovingly. I had not even noticed how long we had been in the canoe and still in the middle of water. Joshua explained that his father has always known and loved me. And that his father loves my family. My family! Of course! Where are they? I frantically scanned the horizon to look for home. There it is! And their situation, although not as bad as mine, suddenly looked worse. The water had risen and was closing in on their home – my home. I began to ask Joshua about my family, “Can we…” when a large wave crashed over the canoe and plunged both of us under the water.

I felt something hit the top of my head and saw blood in the water above me. I struggled o find the surface, but the blow to my head and the struggles of the day had left me exhausted. A gasp caused me to gulp water, and I started to sink. My efforts to save myself only seemed to pull me farther down. After all of the events of the day, this must be it. I allowed myself to sink. A little deeper. A little deeper.

Suddenly I could feel myself pulled up from behind. Joshua’s strong arms grabbed a hold of me and pulled me up. But I had gone farther down than I realized. Joshua was wounded and struggling, and I had no strength to save myself or him. But it didn’t feel right allowing him to save me. I struggled to free yourself so I could sink. Joshua should be able to live. Maybe he and his father could help my family. Darkness began to consume me as I faded to black.

But what was that? I could feel a breath enter me and I could open my eyes. Joshua’s eyes were closed, and he was sinking. I felt lighter, and I was rising. The thought crossed my mind to save him, but he was sinking fast. Either I could claim my life or we both would lose it. With a sudden resolve, I forced my way to the surfaceand gulped the air.

What a bittersweet mix of emotions: the shadow of death passed over me and I could feel the exhilaration of life, but the one who came to save me is gone. And, even in that moment, I had to press on or find myself in the same place. The mountainside that holds my village was close, and I pressed fiercely to reach it. As I did, there was the realization that I felt strong again. Stronger, actually. My head didn’t throb in spite of the blow, and my arms and legs moved with new energy. I reached my destination and climbed to a ledge to catch my breath.

I looked back at what was once my favorite view. The view has such a new meaning now – it is now the site of my helplessness, my brush with death, and my rescue. A final scan of the rising water revealed something familiar almost directly below me.  I reached over the ledge to grab it, and I suddenly realized what it was – Joshua’s coat! Again, the bittersweet flood of emotions washed over me. I searched the pockets for some clue about who he was, and maybe how to find his father. If I can ever leave this mountain, I will have to find Joshua’s father. The only thing in the pockets is a letter – addressed to me!

“My father sent me to save you, no matter the cost. I put new life in you so that you can tell your village that I’m coming back for them. The water will keep rising and I will be their only way out. Tell them to meet me where the sun rises. Love, Joshua”

How to process this? How could he..did he know? Did he know he would die? And now he’s coming back? No…that’s impossible! But is it any more impossible than the events of the day? More impossible than the destructive flood, my helpless state, or the miraculous rescue? He said his father sent him and loves my family. He knew where to find me. So it is really impossible to believe that he will return?

That is the place I find myself now. Either I believe the words of the letter, or I don’t. If I don’t, I will take my chances along with the rest of the village, hoping that the waters won’t reach us. But if I do believe… then there’s no time!

My once-safe ledge isn’t. That last wave proved that. I have to go tell them! But I find that the village does not look the way I left it. There are a few who sit in their homes, perhaps unaware of the flood. Yet when I tell them, they assure me that they will be fine. They tell me that their grandparents saw a flood like this before, and that it is impossible for the village to be lost. I have no time to argue. Everyone must be told!

I find others who are packing up and headed down the other side. “Wait!” I shout. “What are you doing? Why are you going down that way?” They respond with smiles, “This looks amazing! We want to experience this!” I see that they have peeled off strips of bark which they must believe they can use as..surfboards? “Wait! No!” I scream and wave at them, but they wave and rush down to the water. I only wish they knew what I know – the power and attraction of the thrill they seek also has the power to take their life. I’m running short on time.

I find some who look nervous and lost. I don’t know what to do. No one has listened to me. With a deep sigh, I whisper, “Help me.” Suddenly I remember the letter. Of course! “Look! Look at this!” I run up to my dear friend and show her Joshua’s letter. “Who is Joshua? Where did this come from?” I explain the day and what we must do. Looking again at the letter, she nods and says, “We have to tell them. They must know!” Around and around we go, showing people of the village the letter from Joshua. And some people believe that he’s coming, but many do not.

I don’t know what else to do but to take this life that I’m given and give it all back while I can. And when I’ve done all I can, we will go and wait in expectancy, and we will watch the sunrise, waiting for Joshua’s return.

Who are you, or where are you, in this story? Are you still safely in the village? Are you in a helpless place by your own choices, or even by no fault of your own? Are you in need of rescue? Or, are you rescued?

We are all Adams and Eves, and we all face the time when night is our day. But will you see the sunrise? The point of the story is not an apocalyptic 2012 theme. It’s a “what are you doing with your time” story? The Hebrew name for Joshua, Yeshua, holds the same meaning as the name Jesus. And his Father does know you, and love you, and desires to save you. The sun (Son) does rise just as we have been promised. And Yeshua will return. So where will you be?

I’d like to encourage you to read this again. It will be like watching a movie a second time – now that you know the ending, the story can take on additional meaning as you apply it to your own life. If there is someone else who should read this, please share it.

*Final note: I had no particular picture for this story as it grew on me today. I shared none of it until I share it with you now. So take a look at the picture –  my oldest son’s handiwork while I rested after dinner. When I woke up, he asked, “Like my present for you, dad?” I couldn’t think of any picture that would be better. Gotta love God’s choreography.