There was a scarlet thread. No matter where I went, I saw it. Sometimes muddied or tattered, but always there. I don’t know why it comforted me, and I determined to track its source. It stirred memories- warm conversations long forgotten. Whispers of One who broke burdens, healed wounds, and gave purpose. A Savior- it sparked something inside me, like a flicker of light in the darkness.

From the fall, humanity has been set on self-destruction, though a seed of eternity is buried on our hearts. Like Atlas, straining under the weight of the world, we bear the burden of trying to make ourselves whole. Our hands are raw and blistered from struggling with the thick, unyielding straps. With each step further along, our knees buckle. Grotesque, lifeless faces stare back at me, from carcasses strewn along the way. But even those living stare blankly. l clutch the string tighter. The more they lose hope, the more hollow their eyes become. Without a salvation, Satan owns our souls, and he will never let us forget. The last of my strength was used to climb an arduous hill. The rope was anchored to a wooden beam, and it ended there. I fell against it, sinking in a heap like the others. I was grateful. At least for a little while, unconsciousness numbed me. My physical body reflected the many paths I’d tried. I was haggard and scarred. Inside: loneliness, guilt, and unfulfillment were starving me. Insatiable hungers I could not satisfy myself. I was broken beyond repair, or even desire. Who would want me?

Sunlight streamed in. I had slept so well, though my pack was cumbersome as always. My eyes adjusted and took in the simple, clean room. From closed curtains to a small bedside table holding a red coil, to the Man sitting on a chair beside me. I couldn’t make out His exact features, but I could feel Him. He provided the light! He radiated all the warmth, acceptance, forgiveness, and love I’d longed for. The burden! The smile faded and my cheeks flushed. I wanted to look into His face, but my gaze was riveted to the ground. He gently lifted my chin with His scarred hand and spoke the most healing words. “I know what paths you have been on, and I am the Way you are looking for. I know the lies you have believed, and I am the Truth they are lost in. And the life you are meant to live? That can only be found in Me. If a traveler follows the string, they all stop here. I can take your burden. All you have to do is ask, and I will walk with you.

I said yes. He lifted the load as if it weighed nothing. He added it to the sack He carried. Though faded, I could make out the words “trophies of grace,” etched upon it. In place of what I compiled, He supplied portions that strengthened me and made me more like Him. Compassion, joy, peace, humility, and integrity, to name a few. And so we walked. Through luscious meadows and across snow-capped mountaintops. Beside still streams and roaring waterfalls. Once we were fording a river with a strong current. My heart raced with anxiety as the water rose above my head. He tightened His grip on my hand and led the way, never faltering. I was quite fatigued after that, and He took such care to bind my wounds from the rocks beneath the waves. Sometimes, when he wasn’t looking, I dug out my pack and tried it on again. Or on several occasions, I thought I recalled a better way. Many a times He has extended forgiveness and reminded me that He has so much in store if I would just trust Him.  He assures me of His love, while picking brambles out of my hair and applying salve to the gashes incurred from my own willful disobedience.

As we traveled, beautiful things also captured my eye. He said the lovely things of this world foreshadowed and anticipated the untarnished splendor of the new world. Warm summer nights allowed me to soak in the stars- ‘pinpricks in the curtain of heaven.’ The thin veneer of sky was ready to fall away and let eternity unfurl. From His perspective, nothing was too small of an occurrence. As the mighty sun rose each day, we enjoyed seeing where the rays alighted, creating a dance between shadow and light. We often stopped to converse with and assist others. Daily I saw love and truth in action. He sorrowed over those who spat in His face, stood up for the oppressed, encouraged the faint of heart, and cheered on the faithful sojourners.

The Gates of Glory. Dear friend, I couldn’t breathe. Everything related, to all had I previously experienced melted away. “This is my favorite part,” He whispered. I held the marred and battered burden one last time. Little by little, it faded away into nothing, until I was staring down into my open, empty hands. As we walked across the threshold, a song of jubilation rang out. I was home.