Walk With Me

The Valley of the Shadow of Death by George Inness
The Valley of the Shadow of Death by George Inness

A week or so ago, my Dad emailed me and asked me where he could find a piece I’d written a number of years ago called, “Walk With Me.” If you recall from last week, I wrote about 9/11 and how it factored into the many reasons I experienced a long time of doubt about my Christian faith. I wrote “Walk With Me” towards the end of that time. It was really a turning point in my mind. I noticed a definite change in my emotional state after I wrote it,  a giant sigh of relief you might say. At any rate, since my Dad was looking for it on my blog, I went hunting for it, too. I realized I had never posted it here. So, I decided to do it today. Enjoy.

Jesus said, “Walk with me.”

So I left everything behind me and walked with him. The place was beautiful where we walked. The path was bright and shining. I sang for joy with the birds, and the flowers smiled up at me from the ground.

“I love you, Jesus,” I said.

But as we walked, a cloud slid over the sun, and a little mist fell from the sky. I began to feel cold from the damp.

“Oh, well,” I sighed, “I guess everything can’t be perfect. I still love you, Jesus.”

But a cloud had come into my mind that I couldn’t shake. The path began to get muddier and went up a hill. My breathing grew heavy, and my feet started to ache.

“Jesus, I’m getting tired. Can’t we stop for a while?”

He said, “Walk with me.”

“But I’m too tired!”

“Hold my hand.”

So I held his hand, and trudged wearily on. We climbed higher and higher. Soon, the way was so steep, I was crawling on my hands and knees over sharp rocks. I began to bleed.

“Jesus, where are you taking me?” I asked, panic rising in my heart.

“Walk with me,” he said.

We came to the top, and the sight that met my eyes sent my heart into my throat. It was dark. The wind had begun to blow wildly. A canyon stretched before us, so deep, I could scarcely see the bottom. I heard strange voices and unearthly cries and mutterings. Savage screams floated up from that pit as the wind whipped my hair back and forth.

“Jesus,” my voice shook, “what is this place? Why did you bring me here? What do you want me to do?”

“Walk with me,” he said.

“But how? There is no bridge!”

But then I saw it. A thin board, bowed and rotting, stretched from one side of the canyon to the other.

“Jesus!” I said in fear. “How can I walk over that? I’ll fall. It’s not safe!”

He held out his hand and said, “I will keep you safe. Do you believe me?”

“Of course, but…” I turned around and looked behind me. I could go back and forget this impossible journey.

But I heard a voice say to me, “If any man puts his hand to the plow and turns back, he is not worthy of Me.”

I turned back around, took his hand, and began to walk. My heart pounded so hard, I thought it would burst. I stepped onto the plank and it shook. On the next step, the board made a terrible cracking sound.

“Jesus,” I screamed, “I’m going to fall!”

“Look at me,” he said. “Don’t look around you. You will not fall.”

So I looked full into his face and began to walk again. The fear subsided, and I walked with more confidence. We reached the middle of the board, when a sudden gust of wind, a clap of thunder, and a horrible scream rent the air. I looked down and saw the gulf. I felt the terrible wind and shook with fear. In a panic, I jerked my hand free and lost my balance. I fell and fell and fell, and the farther I fell the darker and heavier the air became. I hit the ground with such force, I could not breath for a long moment. The darkness pressed in on me and crushed me. I felt things slithering around me and dead men’s bones.

A strange, evil voice began to whisper in my ear, “You have failed. You wouldn’t trust him. You never did in the first place. You fooled yourself into thinking you did, but you know better. Even in the beginning, you sighed when it began to rain. That’s just fine, though.  He doesn’t really exist–only in your mind.

“But I heard him,” I sobbed. “He asked me to walk with him.”

“You’re imagining things. If he exists, why doesn’t he come and get you? You can’t even see him. If he exists, why did he let all the people, whose bones you lie on, die such terrible deaths? If he is alive, he is not loving.”

Fear. Fear, is my only reality.

“Is it true?” I think. “I can’t see him. I can’t hear him.”

Fear eats at my heart. Many voices join the first, hurling accusations at me until I put my hands over my ears and crouch down into the ground.

But another voice, a calm, still voice says, “Out of the deep have I cried unto thee, O Lord.”

I struggle to my feet and stretch out my hands.

“Jesus!” I cry.

The voices get louder and louder. I feel cold fingers reaching up to grab me and pull me back down. I kick myself free.

“Jesus, ” I scream. “Jesus, I believe. Help my unbelief.”

My groping hand immediately finds his.

“Jesus,” I weep, “is it you?”

“It is I. Be not afraid.”

I can’t see his face, but I remember his voice. I hold on to his hand and follow him up and up. The farther we go, the clearer his outline in front of me. Fear still grips me, but I will never let go of his hand again. Finally, after stumbling in the dark for hours and hours, I begin to see a light from far away. It is Jerusalem.

Jesus says again, “Walk with me.”

And I walk with him. I am tired, but I can’t let go of his hand. We come to a river. A wide, wild river. he turns to me again.

“Walk with me.”

I am afraid, so afraid.

“Forgive me, Jesus,” I say.  “I will walk with you.”

The river is cold and the current is strong. The water is deep, and I can’t feel the ground. But I hold on tightly to his hand and look into his face. The water goes over my head.  Through its rushing, I can see his face and hear his words of comfort. My head breaks through the surface and I near the other shore. My feet can feel the bottom, and I slowly wade to land. I collapse on the shore with my hand touching the hem of is robe. I can feel the warmth of the light coming from Jerusalem. I can feel the love that he has for me.  Weak, I try to lift my head to look at his face.

“I love you, Jesus,” I say.

He reaches down, lifts me in his arms, and carries me through the gates into the light of God’s glory.

Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.

I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing:

I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.

I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried:

mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.

Psalm 69:1-2

Why art thou cast down, O my soul?

And why art thou disquieted within me?

Hope thou in God:

for I shall yet praise him

who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 42:11

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