It arches against the horizon, the firm wooden slats giving slivered glimpses of the river below. The scent of cedar rises strong and heady in the breeze. He stands on the bank before it, waiting for me. He calls me by name, and we step together, He and I, onto the bridge. Onto the path of My Journey.
When we reach the middle, the tallest point, I gasp, jerking to a stop. The joy so nearly bubbling from within me dies, the creeping grasp of dread reaching to my throat.
On the other bank the smooth wood of the bridge abruptly meets a dirt trail, rocky and pitted with crevices. The dark path twists downward, emptying into a valley filled with fog so thick it allows only shifting glances of thorny hedges and jagged boulders.
“But Lord,” I turn to look at Him, tears already finding their way down my cheeks, “I do not understand.”
“This is your path, my child.” His eyes fill with empathy; something stronger yet than that, a knowing, an understanding beyond my own.
“But,” the word escapes me once more. I seem unable to stop it. “Why me? Why this path?”
He reaches out a hand, gentle, and yet strong, lifting my chin so slightly. “Because, child, within you is a faith strong enough to cross this bridge. You will cling to me, and grow stronger because of the trials. I will teach you, and you will learn. This is your path.”
I do cling to Him then, because my legs will not support me. My eyes leave His, drawn once again to the darkness of the trail. “Is that the good that will come of it, then? That I will draw closer to You?”
“Not only that.” He kneels, drawing me to His side and pointing into the charcoal smog. “Look.”
At first I see nothing, only the choking swirl of haze. Then I see a glimmer of light, far in the distance. It grows clearer until I can see a small house, lit only by a dim candle that seems one flicker from going out.
“You are the one I will use to brighten that light, encourage it and fan it into a flame so brilliant it will glow for miles around.” His voice rings with a timbre that fills me almost with excitement. “If you do not follow that path it will continue to grow dimmer, until it fades to only an ember.”
The fog closes once more, and I stand still, taking in the rocks that spike from the ground, the thorns leaning over the path, ready to shred any who pass by. Slowly, I take my gaze from them and turn back to Him, seeking assurance.
He lays an arm around my shoulder and points once more. The fog shifts in another area and this time I gasp in wonder. A meadow of emerald green shimmers in a gentle breeze, mingling with flowers blooming so brightly I can see them from the bridge, almost smell their sweetness. Birds swoop in gentle rhythm, playing among the limbs of the trees that circle the glen. It all flows in a dance of worship, of joy, of peace.
The Creator smiles. “This is a place of rest I have prepared for you along the way.”
My heart sings. He cares. He loves. He has created for me.
He turns and looks full into my face. Compassion fills His eyes. “The path will be difficult. You will fall. You will hurt. The journey will be long.”
He searches my face. I have no words to give Him. I can only grip Him tighter, and wait for Him to continue.
“But I will be with you. Every step of the way I will be there. I will raise you when you fall. I will mend your wounds. When your strength fails, I will lift you and carry you.” A tear drips down His face, filled with a rainbow of feelings… pain… empathy… strength… love… “All you have to do is reach out your hand and I will hold you up.”
There is a silence as our tears mingle.
At last He holds out His hand, scarred and mangled, strong and beautiful. “It is time.”
My hand is small and white as it slips into His. Strength flows from Him as we cross the span of the bridge. I cling to His hand and, together, we step onto the path.
This is my journey.
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