Older brothers … humph! At ten, Mia was two years younger than Kyle, and two was exactly about how old he was acting today. He had grabbed her arm and pulled her after him … out the front door, down to the end of the street, and now they were running through the woods.
She had to keep up with him. She didn’t like these woods and she worried about getting lost out here, but lost together would be better than lost alone. Like it or not, she was going to have to meet this old guy Kyle had blabbered about all week.
A thought ran through her mind, What’s gonna’ happen when Mom finds out? She shuddered to think … so she just wouldn’t think about that now, and she put it out of her mind ... and plowed right into her brother who had come to a dead stop.
"KYLE!" But he stood frozen, staring off at something unseen ...
Mia looked around ... was this their woods? What was this place? The trees suddenly weren’t so thick and the beginning of a pathway seemed to be opening right before her eyes. She didn’t recall any trails in these woods …
“Mia! I’m so happy to meet you!”
Uh, what … Mia came out of her thoughts to focus on the figure in front of her ... what an odd little man!
He looked older than the trees they stood under. Yet there was a vibrancy about him that gave her the impression that he could probably run circles around her on her best days. As he spoke to her the light in his eyes sparkled and danced. His whole being glowed with life. She liked him immediately.
“I am the Storyteller. Kyle said he would be bringing you for a visit.”
A storyteller! Mia loved stories! “Yes, sir … um, I mean … it's nice to meet you, too. Thank you.”
“Come, children, let’s walk.”
The three turned and started down the path. Mia gasped. Was that there before? It was beautiful!
Stretched out before them was a beckoning trail aligned on either side by flowers and trees and lush greenery where rabbits and deer moved about. Birds sang and butterflies and iridescent dragonflies flitted through the sunlight that filtered through the trees. It was an explosion of color and fragrance and … music? Where was that coming from? It was coming from everywhere! This was NOT their woods!
It’s paradise! she thought, immediately struck by what an odd word that was for her ten year old self. But it was the perfect word … this was indeed paradise! She had a million questions, but they would have to wait. The Storyteller was beginning his tale …
Once there was a boy who lived in the years right after the beginning of things.
His parents told him the story of the beginning often … about the Creator and how the people had turned away from Him to go their own way. They told him about the special place – a garden – where the Creator Himself would come everyday to meet and speak with the people face to face. But when the people rejected the Creator, He banished them from the garden and the special tree that was there. It was a tree whose fruit, if eaten, would make you live forever.
As all children do, the boy loved his parents’ stories. His favorites were the stories about talking animals and how beautiful the garden was. At night he would lay out under the stars and wonder how was it possible that the world could be even more beautiful than it already was? Who was this Creator who could create such marvels as this? How powerful and awesome He must be … how could any mere man even dare to approach Him and speak? How could the created question and challenge the Creator? And the boy would fall asleep, pondering all this in his heart, worshipping this silent and invisible entity.
The years passed and he grew into a young man. It was time to make his way in the world. Now he was around more people, especially other young men like himself. They scoffed at his naïve view of the world and its Creator. Fables, they said, that parents told to their young children to get them to sleep at night.
A seed of doubt took root in his heart and began to grow. His parents wouldn’t intentionally lie to him. If those had just been made-up stories, wouldn’t they have explained that as he got older?
The more he talked with others about it, the more confused he became. There were others who had heard the old stories and believed, but most did not. Myths and legends about how everything came to be were designed to entertain. Nothing more.
But all those nights … his whole life … worshipping under starlight … that was real, wasn't it?
One night he did the unthinkable ... he spoke directly to the Creator … challenging Him to show Himself, and thus validate the young man’s belief. All he received was silence.
It was unacceptable. He HAD to know. He became obsessed to the edge of madness … he was going to find the garden. If the stories were true, he wouldn’t be allowed to enter. But at least he would know it existed. He could point to it and say, See! It DOES EXIST! The stories are TRUE!!
And a madman set out on a mad journey.
Years passed as he traveled the earth. He had no home. No family. No friends. He grew old in his body and his madness. Now he was the story, as people mocked him and whispered about him.
Finally the end came. For the last time, he laid himself down under the stars. He knew he would not rise again. He shook his fist at the silent sky.
"Why?! Why?!” he demanded. “Why, Creator, won’t you confirm me? So many turned away, but I didn’t! I believed! I know it’s all true! Why won’t you show yourself? Then the others would believe, too! As it stands, you have made a mockery of one who trusted … it’s no wonder the others don’t believe! If this is how your followers wind up, only fools would follow!”
He lay sobbing until he had no more strength to sob. Then he lay silent, gazing up at those wonderous stars, waiting for the end to come. So beautiful! The familiar awe and wonder he had known since childhood flooded his heart and mind and drove the madness away. In a final moment of clarity and worship he spoke:
“Creator, forgive me. Who am I? The biggest fool of all.”
He closed his eyes and it was over.
But men are spiritual as well as physical. Even the madmen among us. When he opened his eyes in the spiritual realm, he was surrounded by unfathomable beauty. A majestic angel stood before him. Before he could mouth the words, the angel answered his questions:
"You are standing in the garden you sought. The music you hear is the creation singing praises to the Creator. Why did you seek spiritual things amongst the physical?"
Before he could respond, the angel continued:
"The enemy has gained a foothold in the earth and has deceived humans so that separation between the realms has come. There is a Plan unfolding to defeat the enemy and restore unity between the King and His people. Meanwhile, just as happened with you, He still speaks through His creation and draws people to Himself.
"The King is honored by your faith. He has assigned for you to go back into the physical realm and tell your story to the especially gifted ones, who, like you, do not understand the two different realms. The ones who are willing will hear. That understanding will be sown into their works, which will sing praises to the Creator just as this creation does. Then the King will be honored in the earth and others will be drawn to Him."
And that, children, is the story of how I came to be here. I am so honored that you came to hear my story, because no one finds me unless the Creator brings them. That means that He has ordained the work He has gifted and called you to do.
Honor Him in all you do as you live, work, and serve others.
May the works of your hands be blessed and bring Him honor and praise.
Then in a blink the Storyteller was gone, and the children were left standing in their normal bland forest, right where they had started.
"But I had so many questions ..." Mia protested.
"Yeah, that's how it ended when I came the first time, too. But, Mia, did you hear it?"
"Oh, yes! I heard it!
And they turned and walked home in silence, each trying in their own mind to hang onto the memory of the music.