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TITLE: Jourheys --Edited
By dee smith

This piece was recently edited.

Not so long ago in a place very near to us lived a king. This king was not nice nor was he good, but he had the people fooled into believing he was God. He was very cruel and heartless. He ruled with fear. Those who opposed him were tortured, but not destroyed. He loved to play with them and taunt them. He spent his days looking for ways to be even more cruel. He hated his subjects, but would never let them leave.

He rode through town shouting insults and accusations at people. His subjects would try to hide but to no avail. He would get into their minds and torment them. They were never good enough, but must continue to strive to be perfect. Nothing less was acceptable. They couldn’t be loved until they reached perfection in his eyes.

The king was never satisfied. He wanted more and more and more. This included servants and subjects. To attract new subjects he would make wild promises. They could be their own boss. They could make their own rules. No one would ever tell them what to do. They could be like gods. They were in control of their destiny. They shaped the future. If only they would come and live in his kingdom.

He would show them his palace and promise them a place if only they could be good enough to deserve to be there. It looked beautiful. Lots of food laid out on large banquet tables, plush furniture, servants running to and fro. Lavish wardrobes filled with beautiful clothes. Piles of gold were there for the taking. Who wouldn’t want to live here. The people would be inspired to go back and try harder. They were always trying harder, but never attaining. No one had ever earned these beautiful rewards. Still the king would show them off and challenge his people. He delighted in the fact they could never attain his goods.

The king would take parents and bind them into chairs with their eyes held open and make them watch as he tortured the children. He was hated but more importantly, at least to the king, he was feared. He drew his power from their fear. In their hatred of him, some of the people decided this must be what God is like--cruel and judgmental. Never satisfied no matter what you did--never appeased.

So they turned away from the very concept of God. Why bother trying to appease an insatiable appetite? Others decided there was no God at all. Why would a good God allow this to happen to them? Some thought maybe he existed at one time, but was surely dead now. The king claimed to have killed him and taken the kingdom from him. Who would dare question the king?

The kingdom had a dark gloom hanging over it which the king disguised as light. Helplessness filled the air. Despair was the way of life. Hope was an unknown word. There was no mercy, or grace. No just cruelty. The king made sure of that.

Yet strangely enough there was a flower that grew in the midst of the people. It was a beautiful flower. It smelled wonderful and had so many colors. The king would try to eradicate it but pouring salt and vinegar on it, yet it persisted. He would try to pull it up and burn it, but somehow it always grew back. The king treated it like an unwanted weed and told his people never to look at it or smell it. It was a trick from another evil wizard meant to entice them into an even worse slavery.

But there were some who held on to the concept of a good God. They saw and smelled the flower. But, they could never be worthy of such a good God. Who could be?

Life went on this way for a very long time. Long ago there had been rumors of a rescue, but those were just old wives’ tales. What hope did they have? The king was too powerful and they were too defeated.

All the promises that enticed them into coming were now just empty threats. No one was their own master—they all served the cruel king! No one could make their own way or write their own rules. His iron fist was too heavy. No those were lies and lead to slavery. Some tried to remember life before the slavery, but no one could. It seemed they had always been enslaved without hope.

One day a rival king crashed through the gates. The king was furious, yet fearful. He covered his fear with rage. He tried to fight off the rival king, but lost the keys to his kingdom. So he decided to blind the people.

He began to shout: “This new king was not good, no he was even worse than I have been. It should be obvious. Look at the promises the new king was making. Compare them to what I have said. They seem better, but we all know that really means the slavery is worse. No, come and follow me. Why not stay with what you know? Was it really all that bad? It could be worse. I promise I will make it better for you. I will let you decide what you really want freedom with me or slavery with him.”

Despite all the king’s cruelty, people still wanted to follow him. They kept believing his lies and rumors. It might seem illogical, but it was comfortable. Why go with a new king and take a chance? Why not stay in what is the norm and seems uncomfortably comfortable? Just who was this new king anyway?

Some did follow the new king. They figured it couldn’t get worse and maybe he would keep his promises. They remembered the flower and tried to have hope. The new king would walk through the streets and invite anyone who wanted to come and be with him. He had a beautiful smile and kind eyes. His voice was so soothing. He never hurled insults or accusations at them like the old king.

Yet, it was so hard to trust him. They had trusted the lies of the old king and it led to slavery. Could the new king be trusted? How could they know for sure? That’s why they followed him--very hesitantly at first. They wanted to be careful—to see if he really was as good as he seemed. Would he really keep his word?

So, a journey that looked more like a dance began. He would approach them and they would back up and then take a step towards him. He seemed so patient, so loving. Could this really be true? Was this another cruel dream by the old king? The old king kept creeping back into their lives. He still had lies and accusations. Would they be enslaved when they reached the new king’s kingdom? He was not to be trusted, no they should return to the old king. This was too hard.

Yet, every time they looked at the new king, he would be smiling at them--always speaking words of encouragement. So often it seemed too good to be true. Why would he love them? Why did he bother to rescue them? What did he want? It always seemed to boil down to can he be trusted? The only way to know for sure was to trust him--to walk through all the doubts and fears and come to him and see. It took courage, but somehow just looking at him gave one the courage needed.

The old king never gave up trying to cause them to stumble or give up; but, he was defeated before he began. The more they walked with the new king, the more they learned they could trust him. The more they trusted him, the easier the walk became and the softer the voice of the old king got. So the journey continues…
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