I was traveling down a winding trail unawares when suddenly a man appeared before me. It was quite a shock as I had been lost in thought and looking at my feet. He smiled warmly yet his eyes were serious. “The path you are looking for is this way.” He pointed to the tangled mess of trees and vines to my right, I noticed no path through the chaos. “What do you mean?” I asked confused, “there isn’t a path through that mess.” He laughed and shook his head, “It is the only path my dear, the one you walk only looks clean and bare because many have walked it, just as unaware that they were traveling the wrong way as you.”
In silence, I stepped closer to the path which he pointed to, “If this is a path, not many have traveled this way, why should I?” His face softened as he replied, “because it leads to life, at the end, you will find the beginning.” I took another step, “the beginning of what?” I glanced over again at the man and realized that a light seemed to radiate from him a little. He held out his hand, “come with me, and I will show you.”
I began to feel afraid, the man felt both safe and wild, his eyes flashed like fire and soothed like water. I swallowed and asked, “Can’t I go alone?” His smile faded and was replaced with sadness, “You could, but you would never find the garden, and you would wander back to this path, the one that you know and trust.” I sighed in resignation, “So you are saying that I need you?” And then I gasped and added quickly, “…a garden?” He reached towards a large oak tree and ran his hand down the rough bark in thought. “Yes, however, it’s not “a garden”, but thee garden.”
I couldn’t help but feel excitement and wonder rise up within me. In response, I held out my hand to the wild man. And he turned from the tree and grasped it as though it was what he had been waiting for all along. He smiled warmly and his joy was contagious. He led the way through the brambles and vines. I had to push and fight my way through every step, at times I stopped and he stopped with me, looking back expectant yet patient. A few times I longed to go back altogether and he would say, “to go back would be more painful than going forward, you wouldn’t have me to lead the way.” And so we continued and as we walked and fought together, we trusted and grew closer to one another. After a while, I asked him, “Why are you helping me?” He now was covered in many scratches and bleeding, he sat down and said, “because I love you.”
I was full of both awe and shock as I looked at this bleeding yet wonderful man before me. “Why do you love me?” He reached out and pushed the hair out of my face, “I love you without reason and without end.” I laughed now completely content, “that doesn’t make sense and yet I think I’m beginning to understand the more time I spend with you.” He chuckled too and stood up, though tired and sore he seemed to radiate life. I stood up as well and noticed that the trees and brambles were beginning to fill with beautiful flowers, the wind picked up and to my right, I suddenly saw a whole open field of grass and mountains beyond that. The sound of a stream bed and the musical tones of birds filled the once silent and staleness of the brambled path. And yet in that amazing moment, I longed only to hear the man’s voice, to feel his hand in mine, and to look at his face.
I turned and in an instant, the garden disappeared and before me stood the man I love. And yet now a name came to mind, “Jesus.” His name is Jesus! I fell at my feet before Him, He was clothed in white and the light coming from His being was so bright I could barely see. “Forgive me, God!” I called out in fear and shame. Jesus knelt down beside me and lifted my face, “daughter, I am the garden and you have found me!” He kissed my head and hugged me tightly. With tears in my eyes, I said, “I didn’t know it was you, Jesus, beside me all along…I’m so sorry.” He wiped away my tears and said. “You took my hand even when you didn’t know me, you took a leap of faith and trusted me even though you were afraid and unsure.” He lifted me up on my feet and took both my hands in His. “Welcome to the beginning, welcome home.” I laughed and cried and shouted in joy and Jesus celebrated with me.
Never again would I wander down the beaten path, for I knew that the greatest and wildest destinations are only found on the paths less traveled by.
And never would I go down a path, without Jesus’s hand in mine.