Prologue- The Journey Remembered
by Matthew Elliott
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Prologue- The Journey Remembered
Nathaniel sat in front of a solitary window, his mind a swirling mixture of uncertainty and doubt. He held his staff in one hand and a quill in the other. He vainly searched for purpose in his life as fresh rain began to fall outside the window. The sound was a comfort to his troubled mind as he paused to watch it. It almost seemed as though this rain, like many before it, fell from the very heavens. If only it could flood his weary soul and clear his cluttered thoughts. Nathaniel could smell that indescribable scent rain always gave and heard the beat of each and every drop as it hit the ground. He looked at the path that he had traveled so often and his memory took him back to days past. These were the days he often thought about, the days his heart truly longed for. It was almost as if the rain was telling the stories he used to tell, the stories he once lived. He could hear the wind whistling the songs of praise his heart held so dear. “I want that again, that freedom to sing to my King, to my Creator,” he said to himself.
As he continued to watch, his heart began to beat faster and it was almost as if he were really there for a second or two; but, alas, it was only his heart letting his thoughts drag him off to the past. They were thoughts of the people he had met in his life, of the journeys he once took, of the man he dedicated his whole heart to, the calling he set his complete mind to, and the life his soul longed for all those years ago. Questions flooded his mind, “What was my life worth then? Did I really live up to the calling I was given? Was I the example I should have been? Why do I feel such misery now as my time here comes to an end?” Nathaniel was at that point in life we all must break through. That point in life when we feel as though we have no purpose, when we are all searching for what is next. He did not fear death at all, what he feared was the life he would leave behind one day.
These thoughts compelled Nathaniel to fear the unknown and he simply could not help but write down what was tearing his heart apart. He had been working his way through it for months now. Each and every day he would stare out the window hoping and praying for a revelation. With every revelation came another part of the letter.
I, Nathaniel, a servant of Christ Jesus by the will of God, along with my brother Zadok, write to you now from Tyre. I write as one of your own, once a slave from Caesarea, freed by the grace of God. I have longed to tell you of my sufferings, of the journey I have taken and of the journey still to come. I have struggled with writing this to you because I fear the repercussions it may cause; however, the Lord Most High has compelled my heart so that I cannot resist it any longer…
The door flew open and Nathaniel’s brother Zadok came running into his room frantic about something that he was too anxious to speak of. Once again Nathaniel lost his train of thought. He jumped up out of his chair, startled by what had just taken place. He spoke abruptly to his younger brother, “What in the world are you doing, brother? Can’t you see that I am in the middle of something important? LET ME BE…” Nathaniel had a temper that could have easily gotten him into trouble on many occasions. Most of the time, it was the compassion of his brother Zadok that kept him from losing it completely. Zadok, though younger, was the only person in Nathaniel’s life that he really ever got along with quite well, aside from his sister Elena whom he was really close to.
Zadok spoke with compassion as he responded to his brother’s unpleasant remark. He said, “Brother, what are you doing? You’re not going to find the answers you seek by sitting in this room staring out at the rain as you write your random thoughts. It didn’t work when we first came here and it isn’t going to work now. You have never been the type for that. How long will you go on like this? Don’t let the world get you down.” It had been almost six months since Nathaniel had left that room. Zadok would bring him food, friends would come and go, but Nathaniel stayed in that room seeking answers and never really finding them. “Zadok, it would be a waste of time for me to do anything other than what I am doing. I can’t believe I am saying this, but the zeal for the Lord I once held so dear is slowly dissipating day by day and I need to find it again.” Nathaniel had searched so hard to find what he was looking for, but Zadok knew now that the only way his brother would find the answers he sought after was if he left his dismal room and lived among the people again.
"Nathaniel, you are my brother and you know I love you, but you need to hear something. You have forgotten who you are! Remember the journeys we have been on, what we’ve seen, what we’ve been taught! Things aren’t meant to be easy for us and Peter even told us when we were in Rome that ‘our trials come to test our faith.’ Where is your faith now, brother, WHERE IS IT NOW?”
Nathaniel paused for a brief moment, resting himself on his stool, and spoke in a way Zadok had not heard for years. “ZADOK, IT ISN’T THAT EASY. Peter is on the verge of being crucified, our brother Paul has been beheaded, Phillip is off on one of his disappearing acts, and John, well who knows what happened to him.” Zadok firmly interrupted his older brother in a way he had not done since the days before they were given their freedom. “NATHANIEL, WATCH YOUR TONGUE!” taking a deep breath, “James always told us ‘The tongue spreads its evil through the whole body and it is set on fire by hell.’ Don’t let your tongue get the best of you. You speak as though you have lost all hope! We promised that we would never do that.”
Nathaniel began to weep in the midst of his thoughts and thanked his brother for his uplifting words, saying “I know you’re right brother and I am sorry. I’m just ready for something new and my mind is playing tricks on me. I hear what is going on outside this window and it is as though the wind and the rain are mocking me. But, my heart knows best. God’s timing is always perfect, I forget that sometimes.” Seeing that Nathaniel was beginning to calm down, Zadok took a moment to console his beloved brother. Suddenly, he remembered why he had interrupted Nathaniel in the first place.
“Nathaniel I have to tell you something, the reason why I interrupted you was because we just received a guest, it’s Marcus.” Marcus was Elena’s oldest son and would often come to visit his uncles. With the arrival of Marcus, Nathaniel hoped that he would receive the answer to the prayer he had prayed for so long. As the brothers gathered with Marcus and celebrated his safe return to them, he read the letter to everyone. The brothers were to begin making travel arrangements for the first assembly of believers in the New Year.
I Darcellus, a servant of Christ Jesus by the will of God, now write to my brothers, Nathaniel and Zadok, from Caesarea where I am now ministering to the churches. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, I thank our Lord always for you, because his hope remains in you, for you have learned many things that ensure that HIS hope will remain in us. May HIS blessings be upon you both and your hearts enlightened through this letter.
I am sending you this letter in remembrance of the one’s we all loved and of The Apostles that have been taken into glory; through them we have received much wisdom. I also write in remembrance of the Savior, in whom we have found redemption and grace. I trust that your hope in the Lord remains strong and that your message is still reaching the nations. Our Church often prays for you both and your ministry.
I write to you to request your presence here in Caesarea at the first assembly of the New Year; I remember the many wonderful journeys’ we have taken and long for the knowledge you have been receiving from our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Church has great need of our dear brothers, to come and share your story with the New Believers that have been gathering here, and I long to see you both. So, I employ you; rejoice in this for God has seen fit to bring you back home.
You know that your nephew Marcus, my son, has a heart for God and has a desire to pursue the ministry please utilize him in any way you can while he waits with you for our next assembly. The Lord has blessed him with wonderful gifts to offer the Church and he desires to use them in service to our Lord. He is filled with the power of the Spirit and could be of use to you both. He has proven himself useful on many occasions. I felt it was necessary to send him to you so that he can be of more use to the Kingdom of God and because he has been longing to see you once again. Therefore I employ once more that you accept his gifts and utilize them to further your ministry there.
Finally my brothers, maintain your faith and hope in the Lord. I know that times have been rough but as our beloved brother Paul once wrote to the Thessalonians, Stand firm, hold on to what you have been taught. Our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father loved us. By HIS grace God gave us comfort that will last forever. The hope he gave us is good. May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father comfort your hearts and may you stand strong in every good thing you do and say.
Greet all the believers and send them my blessing. I Darcellus, have written this with my own hand so that you may know that I care for you both and so that you may be encouraged by this message. May the hope of our Lord be with you always…
This brought great joy to Nathaniel and he felt that this was truly the answer to prayer that he had been searching for. It had been many years since they had been back to Caesarea and it would be good to finally go back home. The rest of the day people came and went and the brothers seemed to have an energy that had not been seen by any of their brothers and sisters in Christ who lived with them in Tyre. The thought of Caesarea brought back so many memories. Some of them were good, but many of them were not. To be summoned to Caesarea instead of Jerusalem was strange since Jerusalem was where most of the church family was, but that did not matter, Caesarea was where it all began. Now, after all they had been through, God was leading them home, to the very beginning of their story...
© 2012 by Matthew J. Elliott
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