The pervasive darkness crowded me from all sides, seeping inside my soul, blackening my innermost thoughts. I took one last look, trying to remember myself before the night engulfed me. Wretched, miserable and poor, that was my latest identity. I closed my eyes, desperate, trying to blink the nightmare away; stumbled over the many years that I was dragging behind me, filled with time disfigured and scarred by my choices, crippling my running away into a slow crawl. I was going home, finally, or at least the place I once used to call home. Dusty memories from the old times kindled my mind and warmed my heart.
My dear Father; Just the memory of His tender love and kindness brought me to tears.
There have been countless heartaches since I last saw Him. Doubts assailed me, gnawing holes into my hopes. Does He still think of me, wondering where I am? Does He still love me? Could He possibly accept me like this? Dishevelled by pain and remorse, destitute of anything noble or lovely and pregnant with sin. Too pregnant. What if He won’t recognise me? What if He won’t take me back? I was so young back then, when I left home, and all I wanted was to be free, to follow my heart, hitchhiking whatever rides my desires would take me on. Like an adventure park, I thought. I discarded all rules and precepts taught by Father, imagining to find my freedom just outside His fences; I claimed what was my share of time and talents, health and good looks. Father, looking lovingly, handed over my self to me, tearfully. I left in a hurry, eager to invest my fortunes in any instant gratification merchandise. I did not even look back to say goodbye. I invested all I had in nothings; all kinds of nothings, all with guaranteed positive performances. And indeed, the returns were great: more nothings. When I finally sat down and counted them all, I found myself to have been sold to the cruellest master of all: me. My noble aspirations to be a good, moral person were trampled down by selfishness, deceit and vanity.
How could I be so blind? So stubborn?
From a small fold of my scrambled memory I pulled out the vision of home: the mansion, the smell of Eden, my Father’s loving embrace, my Brother . . . I longed for what I had before, my family, to have once more, to hold once more. I yearned for them. Never to leave again, never to disobey. I wiped my regrets away and cast my thoughts afar, anchoring them in the warmth of home, defrosting my limp dreams at the glow of happiness from long ago, flickering through the night.
In my mind, I unrolled the speech I was going to say to Father. I rehearsed it for the millionth time. Short and to the point, no excuses and no alibis: “ Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not worthy . . . make me like one of Your hired servants.”
I was moving slowly, dragging with me my deformed mind, ripened with regrets. I moaned and stumbled, falling to the ground, fettered by my past. I could hardly move. “Father!” I whispered. “Father, I’m coming home!” Fallen and bleeding, as I was, I felt in my chest the thump of thunder make way for the lightening, right over my heart, like a resuscitation to light. The night around me shrieked and waved, fighting the day, threatening to suffocate me. But the Lightening was coming for me, compelling the sea of darkness to part in the middle. The Light was running towards me, closer and closer until it dawned on me. The Light was Father. My Father. He was coming for me, to free me from myself. And my hopes started bubbling up, effervescent with joy. Father was calling me by my old name, my best name. I got myself up. I let go of all the burdens that could slow me down and I started running. With a fusion of tears and laughter, pain and ecstasy, I started running to Him, just as I was: bare feet, empty handed but a heart full of gratitude and assurance.
He got to me while I was still a long way off. He wrapped me in His never-ending arms, pouring His love over me, until my heart was running over, washing away any leftover doubts and fears. His tears anointed my head with forgiveness. His kisses bandaged my wounds and with His kindness He smoothed out the wrinkles of my past. He gave me light from His light to cover myself and placed His signet ring, the everlasting covenant, on my finger. I tried to whisper through sobs my made-up speech
“Father, I am not worthy, I have sinned against heaven and you . . .”
“My beloved Eve. You are finally home. You came back. Oh, how we longed for you, your Brother and I. You see, after you left, we were heartbroken. We felt that we could not be whole again as a family with you gone. We feared for your wellbeing. We feared that you might get robbed of truth on the way, or that you might become poor in spirit during the long journey, or perhaps, hungry and thirsty for righteousness in the faraway country. So, together we agreed that your elder Brother should come after you, to look after your every spiritual need.
He was there with you from the very beginning, and He never left you out of His sight all these years. He treaded the world, just a few steps ahead of you, clearing the path, treading serpents and scorpions, so that no harm would come to you. He held the candle for your feet so that you could have light on the path but you purposely stumbled and left the Way, re-inventing your direction, remapping your life. You greedily tasted from all the evils of this world that came your way, unknowing that they were also biting you back with malice, greed and pride. They stripped away your innocence, beat you with hatred and then left you half-dead on the wrong side of life.
Your brother, He came over to you. He carried you in His arms from the out to the Inn. There, He poured Himself out into oil and wine to heal your wounded hopes. He took onto Himself all your wrong choices, your wasted time, your undone good deeds towards others. He uncovered His back to take their torrential lashing, while protecting you from their merciless beating. And when your debt of death asked for your life, He paid it all in cash, He paid it out in love. That was the only currency He had. The money changers took all that love and exchanged it for 30 pieces of silver. They tried to cheat Him out of His extravagant love for you, to put a price on how much He loves you. But He refused to accept the transaction, saying your value greatly exceeds any monetary price, so He kept on giving. He piled on all His miracles, all His unselfish acts of mercy and grace towards humanity. But they were still covetous for more.
When they took his robe, He have them His righteousness too. When they pierced his feet, He gave them His hands too, to bury away in His body your trespassing. And when in the end they took His life, He gave them His eternity too. He didn’t stop giving, until He gave it all. It took all of Him to redeem you; Just so you might, just might, come back home once more. And live again as My daughter, as My beloved child.”
“Abba, I am not worthy . . .”
“Shhh, don’t cry my daughter. Let me wipe away the tears from your yesterdays. You are home now. And here shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Let us eat, and be merry: For you, my daughter, were dead and are alive again. You were lost and now are found.”
Denisa Selagea is a full-time mum, part-time dentist and quarter-time writer. She attends Yarra Valley Church, Victoria.