A small patch on his arm caught his eye as he put on his cloak. He stared at it for a moment and wondered if he’d brushed by a poisonous plant while chasing after that loose pig last week. “I’m sure it’s nothing,” he assured himself. Puzzled, he continued getting dressed.
The spot was, in fact, something and it soon covered his whole arm. It was just a matter of time before he would be found out and banished. “This wasn’t supposed to happen to me,” he thought, “and definitely not now.”
His wife was with child and their happy marriage was made even happier as they excitedly made plans for their growing family, wondered whom the baby would look like and dreamed about the impact their child might have on the world. If they found out about his disease, he would miss everything. The thought that his child might never know him drowned his soul in waves of sorrow.
Right now, he felt nothing but joy. Even the pigs smelled good today. He grinned as he daydreamed about the beautiful moment he shared with his wife last night when his baby kicked for the first time. A stranger’s voice rudely called him back to reality.
“David!” an approaching man called out. David looked up, defeated, the joy draining quickly from his face. Someone must have seen the sores when he was in town and now they had come to take him away.
“Let me at least say goodbye,” he begged, eyes pleading for mercy.
“You’ve already put your wife and unborn child at risk,” another man coldly replied. “You must go now.”
His heart sunk. He knew there was no point in resisting. He allowed himself to be led away as his wife and her parents looked on in shame. He saw the tears running down her face. His eyes locked with hers. “I will return home!” he promised over his shoulder, his voice cracking in pain.
The hope he had the day he was carted away shrunk as his sores grew. He had come to the realization that he would never return to his family. Even if did, he couldn’t bear to subject his wife to the horrific sight that was now his face. The unbearable pain coursing throughout his entire body made rest impossible. And as if being deprived of joy, human contact and sleep wasn’t enough, he endured the daily torture of the putrid stench of his own rotting flesh. It was a fragrance far worse than anything he had ever smelled and it was inescapable.
He couldn’t live like this anymore. He wanted to cry, but no tears came out. He wanted to scream. He wanted the ground to open up and swallow him. Why had God blessed him with a child only to be ripped from it? What had become of his life? He stood and began to walk. He didn’t know where he was going, how far he would walk or why. He just knew that he couldn’t stay there. After about a half-day’s journey, despair and dehydration finally got the better of him. He lay down and prayed for the sweet relief of death.
He awoke with a start as a large herd moved nearby. Disappointed to find himself still alive, he looked up and saw the herd was actually a large crowd of people. What were that many people doing out here? Confused, he thought for a moment. Could that be this Jesus he had heard of? His eyes immediately brightened. Yes and Jesus could help him. Full of a renewed hope, he rose and ran so fast that he forgot for a minute that he needed to be healed.
As he grew closer, many stared in horror. Mothers pulled their children close. The crowd parted. He fell to his knees weeping before Jesus. “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean!”
Jesus looked compassionately into his eyes. “I am willing,” he answered as he gently reached for his hand. “Be clean.”
The people gasped as the man stood up. His skin was as clean as a newborn baby’s. “Thank you!” He threw his arms around Jesus gratefully and sobbed. “Thank you!”
He drank in the clean smell of the mountain air and hugged a few stunned onlookers. The fragrance of his fresh start couldn’t smell any sweeter. He rejoiced and went to find his family.
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