Anger found the man….defenseless, unable to resist him. Anger smiled to himself as he dug his red hot pincers into the softest part of the man’s flesh. The burned man howled in rage. And rage became him. Lured by the sounds of anguish and the smell of charred emotions, Self-Pity crawled up to the embroiled man and grasped both sides of his tight, whiskered face in a vice grip of self-deprecation and bitterness. The man’s cheeks sagged beneath the strain of Self-Pity’s weight, heavier than concrete. As the man struggled to put one foot in front of the other, Intimidation stealthily snuck up behind him, eclipsing the man’s shadow under the black outline of his enormous being. Terrified, the man grabbed ahold of Self-Pity in an attempt to ease his burden and ran with all of his might. The more he ran, the more exhausted he became, constantly looking behind him to gauge how far the dark shadow was from his weakened frame. He gasped in fear, tripped and ran headlong into the humid, dank form of Depression. He breathed in Depression’s dusky, heavy air, coughing and sputtering, trying desperately to clear his aching lungs. If he could just get a gulp of clean air, he knew he would be alright. Depression played with him, pulling his dust cloud back for a moment, only to fall upon the man again just as he imagined he had reached a point of triumph. On and on the man trudged, sinking lower and lower with every step. All he wanted was something to comfort him, something to make him feel whole again. He wreaked of desperation. Lust and Addiction could taste it on the air from miles away. They hungrily pursued him like fiendish hounds and lapped at the air around him before each grabbed one of the man’s seemingly lifeless arms and clawed their initials into his pallid skin. Still, the man pushed on, heaving and straining…his mind replaying the message, “Just one more step…one more step.” The man began to look to the right and left. Surely someone would come to his rescue. There had to be a way out. Didn’t there? Maybe there wasn’t. He moved forward another inch. “This isn’t my fault,” he argued. “I don’t deserve this. I’m a good man. I’m better than this.” Just as he began to drag himself one step further, Self-Righteousness threw his ugly frame right in front of the man’s feet. The man flailed his bleeding arms and tumbled over and over on hard, unforgiving ground. Finally, he landed….in a heap, barely able to breathe. Barely able to move.
That’s when we met him. We couldn’t see the evil leeches that were pinning him to the ground. We only saw his tired eyes…his stained shirt and his deadpan expression. Judgment banged his gavel right on top of the man’s head and all we could think was, “What’s wrong with this guy? He needs to get it together.” Then, the man spoke. He wanted to cry for help, but instead his voice attacked us. He meant to apologize, but could only come off whiny and rude. Offense, robed in pretentious piety, locked eyes with us and pointed out each and every one of the man’s flaws. We leapt back from the man as if the stink of his life had smacked us in the face. We thanked the Lord that we weren’t like him. We filed his inappropriate actions away inside our cabinet of grudges, and vowed to no more than endure his presence in the future. We couldn’t stand him. We didn’t want him. We wouldn’t love him. Who could?
Then, just as we were turning to walk away, to leave this stupid man to the lonely fate he deserved, we heard the Voice. “Look closely,” He said. So we turned back, reluctantly and with more than a little impatience. What are we looking for? “Don’t look with your eyes,” the Voice whispered. Offense shrieked in pain and covered his hideous ears with his hairy, oafish hands. “You don’t wrestle against flesh and blood,” the Voice echoed. Judgment furiously swatted the air with his gavel in every conceivable direction, vainly attempting to silence the Voice. “Your quarrel isn’t with this man,” the Voice reiterated. Our minds were stretching, aching to understand but violently opposed to this message. If our quarrel isn’t with this angry, pitiful excuse of a man, than who are we supposed to oppose? “Look closely,” the Voice gently urged. So we looked at the man, but this time, we closed our eyes. We took a calming breath and responded to the Voice. “What do you want me to see?” In that instant, our eyes reopened; wind rushed in from the left and carried with it the faulty sands of mortality, leaving behind it all that is eternal. We looked around us uncertainly until our new eyes settled on the poor, writhing creature before us. Could that be the same man? We took it all in within the span of a heartbeat, Anger, with his weapon of terror, Self-Pity, his gluttonous fists clenching the man’s face. We saw Intimidation looming over the terrified figure of the man, and we put our hand over our face to block out the nauseating, suffocating smell of Depression. We felt our throat’s constrict with compassion as our eyes locked onto the bleeding, scratched up remnants of Lust and Addiction. Tears streaked down our faces when our gaze was drawn to the defeated man’s broken feet, bones exposed and ankles turned in agonizing directions from the effects of Self-Righteousness. Who could endure such torture and live? Then, unable to stand from the weight of our sorrow, we knelt. We impeached the Voice, “Do Something!”
“I have,” the Voice, answered, and we could almost hear Him smile. “I brought you.”
So we stood. Empowered by the Voice, we commanded Self-Righteousness to submit to the power of grace. We watched, spell bound as the man’s swollen ankles snapped back into place and his toes found their home beneath the protective safety of healthy skin. Emboldened by the victory, we held the man in our arms and gently, oh so gently, we urged him, “Can you hear the Voice?” Barely breathing, the man muttered a reply. We placed our ear next to his mouth, ignoring the stinking, putrid odor of Self-Pity’s rank breath. “Can you hear the Voice?” we asked again.
“I can.” He leaned into us. “It’s so kind,” the man meekly ventured, “so kind.”
“Yes. Yes it is, we cried, as our tears washed the man’s dirty, crusted hair.
“I wish He would come, ” the man managed between haggard breaths.
“He did,” we answered, as love floated in waves from our eyes. “He’s here. And He’s yours if you want Him.” Just at that moment, Anger dug his boiling pincers even further into the man’s mutilated flesh. Intimidation growled and bathed the man in the hot breath of a thousand dangers. The man twisted in agony.
“Get back!” We screamed at the darkness. “Get away from him!” Our furious command echoed off of every surface, building in intensity until it silenced the sources of the struggling man’s pain. “Do you want him?” we asked the man again.
“I do,” he weakly answered. “I do,” he says again, more determination in his words. He took one painful desperate breath and forced out the cry, “I want the Voice!” His declaration produced the most glorious light we had ever seen. Intimidation evaporated under its intensity. Depression vanished as if sucked from the room. Anger couldn’t bear up under its splendor and skulked away like a whipped dog. Self-Pity fought to hang on to the man’s face but lost its grip in the tornado of illumination. Lust and Addiction lurked in the corner, trying desperately to stick around without being seen. The man could feel new strength coursing through him. He slowly sat up and took a few tentative breaths. Then he gulped the fresh air like a man deprived of water who had finally tasted its relief. The man looked at his arms and found not even a shadow of its former disfiguration. He patted himself down and couldn’t feel a single scratch. Then, he laughed. He actually laughed…and we laughed with him. “Look. Look what He did!” The man jumped to his feet and held out his arms so we could see who he had become.
“You’re magnificent,” we answered and shook our heads in awe and wonder. Lust and Addiction drew our attention by softly moaning in the corner. “Do you want to take care of that?” We asked and pointed to their detestable frames.
“Of course,” the man replied as he dusted himself off. He turned, locked eyes with Lust and Addiction and ever so calmly, with all the authority of a King, he commanded them, “Leave. I have the Voice now. I don’t need you. I’ve never needed you. Leave. Now.” And they left.
And we walked on together, with new eyes and purer hearts to find the next man who needed the power and life altering love of the Voice.