The darkness was closing in around me. The wilderness had been bleak and threatening before, but not like this. Never like this. I couldn’t see a thing. Each step brought new danger. Each moment seemed more and more ominous. Even the air was heavy–I could scarcely breathe …
Hard pressed on every side, but not crushed.
Confusion reigned. Absolutely nothing made sense. I didn’t understand. In my mind, I retraced my steps over and over again. Each step had been taken in faith; in obedience. Or so I thought. Obviously, I had done something very wrong. Took a wrong turn somewhere. How else could I have ended up here?
Perplexed, but not in despair.
There was nowhere to hide. I felt exposed. No matter which way I turned, arrows from the enemy’s camp pounded me. Accusations.Threats. Lies. I would dodge them for a while, but they would start again from another direction. They swirled around me from every side–it became impossible to defend myself …
Persecuted, but not abandoned.
I was shaking from head to toe. I knew I couldn’t stand much longer. My legs felt like jello–one last well-timed jab kicked them out from underneath me. I lost my footing. I began to slip …
Struck down, but not destroyed.
BUT. NOT. DESTROYED.
I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was down for the count, but a strength I didn’t know I possessed lifted me from the ground. I had been struck down, but I refused to quit. It wasn’t over until it was OVER.
As I clawed my way back up, things became strangely calm. Peaceful, even. I fumbled over to a clearing. The fog lifted just a bit. I could see well enough to take inventory. I was bruised and bloodied. I was weary and disoriented. But I was not crushed. I was not in despair. I had not been abandoned …
And I had not been destroyed.
I knew the worst was over, but I was still incredibly shaky. My steps were tentative. I hadn’t been destroyed, but it also hadn’t been pretty. Although I had somehow managed to survive, I knew I must have done just about everything wrong. The deep regret I felt over my failure seemed worse than the wounds I sustained in the battle. I wanted to be brave. I wanted to show I could be trusted as a warrior. I wanted to honor him by standing faithfully in the heat of battle.
Instead, I barely made it out alive.
Humbled and broken, I feebly bowed before the Commander of the Angel Armies; the Lord of Hosts. I was so relieved by his presence, but deeply grieved that I had let him down–the One I so desired to please.
“I’m so sorry I failed. I’m so, so sorry. But if you still want me, I’m still yours. I have so little to offer you. I wish I could give you more, but all I can offer you is … is this …”
I opened my fist and released a single, pea-sized nugget. It was the one thing I hadn’t lost. It was so small. It seemed so insignificant. But I had managed to keep it safe throughout the battle.
“This is what’s left. I know it’s very small, but it’s all I have … it’s for you.”
As I laid my minuscule gift at his feet, I was startled to realize it didn’t look the way it had when I first set out on the journey. Then it had been rough and jagged–an ordinary looking rock, really. But now … now it glowed. It was no longer rough and jagged, it was smooth and polished. It sparkled. It was dazzling …
It was pure gold.
I gasped. He smiled. Our eyes met. And I knew …
This is what he wanted all along.
What I saw as failure, he saw as a gift. A gift more precious than the gold it was wrapped in…
He saw faith.
And it pleased him.