The sound of sirens screamed above my head warning me that something dreadful was approaching. Like many times before, I walked along a narrow path in the wood. There were no signs of a storm. No wind. No dark clouds billowing in the distance. The sun, warm and yellow, filtered through the trees.
“Probably just a test,” I said aloud to the peace in front of me. There was no one in my way. I was carefree and glad to be wandering on my own. The birds dashed, dived and called to one another overhead. The flowers seemed to radiate colors never seen before. It was an exquisite afternoon and I was drawing in every quiet moment.
“There is no way there’s a storm coming. Not when the sky is immeasurable blue.”
I ignored the warning and continued on my way. If I had really been in danger I thought it would have been obvious. The sirens would have kept going or rain would have begun to fall. But the noise calmed itself and seemed to fold away, and with it any thoughts I might have had of being harmed.
And that’s when I saw it. Like something out of storybooks a different and more alluring path was suddenly revealed to me. In all my years of following this same path never had I noticed the tiny segue tucked under the vines and underbrush. I stopped and looked around to see if there was anyone else who noticed this sudden revelation. This secret garden filled with enchantment. But it seemed as though it was just for me.
A wave of excitement took me over. It was something that looked so inviting and promised to offer adventure that my usual way never had. I was full of curiosity and time seemed to stretch like a sleepy cat, so I chose to wander away from the things I knew. I told myself I wouldn’t stray for too long. I’d just walk a little ways down the path and turn back to my familiar surroundings in a few minutes. I just had to see if I could find something better heading a different way. I took a deep breath and began my journey down a path that lead to anywhere. It felt so good. It felt like an adventure. Doing something different than what I have always done. Going a different way. There was no telling what I might find!
It seemed to smell sweeter. The earth dark and fresh with life. It felt soft beneath my feet. Comfortable. New. I was alone but felt like the whole world needed me to do this. The whole world needed me to discover promises of something better.
Suddenly, a cool breeze rustled through the canopy of branches and gathered around my shoulders. I shivered at the dramatic change in temperature and thought it would be best if I turned around to head back to my old faithful path. But I could see a clearing up ahead and I let the temptation of the rush of freedom under an open sky overwhelm me. So, I walked even farther down the unfamiliar path. Twisting and turning my way into satiated oblivion.
High on exploration, suddenly I stopped dead in my tracks. An eery darkness fell and I could feel something lurking. Something so perfectly intriguing. Something obscure. Something heavy and powerful. Magnetic and inhuman. Something was watching me.
I wasn’t alone.
Rolls of thunder began to call in the distance begging me to turn back. I looked over my shoulder to see how far I had walked down this unmarked road and my stomach lurched. It was dark behind me like a curtain had been pulled. A veil shielding any light that may have once been there. Panic shot up my veins when I realized I had wandered too far.
I was lost.
What I had thought was a path was simply a fabrication in my mind. All of it’s beauty and allure suddenly vanished and I couldn’t believe I walked that far and never realized there was nothing special about it at all. I felt empty and foolish. Hopeless. There was nothing to show me where I had come from. Nothing to indicate how to get back to what I knew was safe and would lead me home. Fear sped through my spirit like a freight train. I didn’t know where to go, or which way to turn. Frantic and scared I began to run back in the direction where I thought I had come.
Straight into the storm I had denied was building.
I kept running blind just hoping that whatever force that had been minding my steps was not continuing to follow my every move. I knew I was wrong to have wandered off the road marked before me and I was desperate to be back on that path. I didn’t care what it took to get me there, but I didn’t know where to turn and there was no one around to help me. The distress over my isolation crashed with the streaks of lightening in the sky.
There was nothing left for me to do but to fall to my knees and endure the heartache of weathering a storm. I cried out for someone, anyone to save me. I begged for shelter and mercy from the unrelenting rain. Wind tore through me and I feared it would rip me apart. Lightening struck a tree and firey fingers fell around me like darts. It looked like a war zone. It felt like an attack. Angry at myself for not heading the warnings. In disbelief that I had allowed something to pull me away from my straight and narrow path I yelled through the unforgiving downpour.
“Lord, save me! Fight this storm for me, Lord! Forgive me for my wandering and rescue me from myself!”
You won’t believe me when I tell you but all of it is true. My sweet savior came to me immediately and quieted the storm swirling around me. He lifted me out of my own muck and mire and set me down on dry ground among the path marked out just for me. He took my hand in his and said, “My child, I have heard you. Now come. Follow me.”
With tears streaming down my face and my heart bursting with gratitude I looked at him and said:
“Lead the way.”