My Friend, There’s Someone I’d Like You To Meet
Early on, I saw him from afar. He was ordinary and plain, dressed poorly in dirty clothing. Yet, he carried himself with a certain dignity. I moved on and forgot about him……
Until miles later when I met him in passing. “Dirty feet,” I thought. “Oily hair. Calloused, grubby hands. Still dresses shabbily. Bad haircut and doesn’t shave.” Yet, he looked confident as he spoke to the people he met. I don’t think he noticed me as I passed with only a glance, saying nothing. No-one to bother with…..
Until time flew, and the years became heavy, and I found myself wandering into the back alley of my life. Losing myself. Confused by myself. Stumbling in despair amidst garbage, and wreckage. Holes in my worn-out walking shoes. Walking on cold, wet, well-traveled dirt, the way ever-narrowing between breath-stifling walls. Suddenly I slipped. I felt myself falling and sliding down the steep-sided pit of what must have been an old storm sewer. After I landed, I sat and wept. There was no way out. It was getting hotter. Darker. I sat in the hot, sulfurous muck and wept. The muck was rising.
Fear gripped my throat. “Helllllp. Is anybody there? Does anybody hear me?”
“I’m here. I hear you. Be still and all will be well.” A candle was lit behind me, illuminating a face.
“It is I. Always have been me,” he said, grinning. ” Don’t you remember how, early on, I waved at you from a distance, but you didn’t want to see? Later we met in passing and I smiled, but you didn’t speak. Many times I walked behind you, beside you, and before you, but you avoided, sidestepped, ignored, looked past, seemingly blind, deaf, and dumb. Well, don’t feel bad. I get that a lot. It happens to lots of folks. You’d be surprised how many I’ve met for the first time in a pit like this one. Why you deprive yourselves for so long kind of mystifies me. It’s a cryin’ shame and such a waste of good time, don’t you think?”
” I……I……sorry…..,” I looked away, embarrassed. “Umm, this stinky stuff is rising……”
He was holding a strong stick with which he began poking and pounding a hole in the bottom of the filthy pit as he spoke some foreign-sounding words. After awhile the muck began to drain out.
“Thanks. How did you do that?”
“It’s not so hard if you know how to speak to it.”
I began to notice that he was clean, in spite of the surrounding filth. I was the smelly, dirty, oily, grubby, and shabby one. It was, indeed, a crying shame.
“Let’s get you outa here,…… that is, unless you’d rather stay.”
“Nooo!” I cried desperately, “This is horrible! I want out! But……but……I don’t see any way out! There’s no way ouuuut!” It was like hearing someone who’s going hysterical, only it was my own panicked voice. I waited for the counteracting slap in the face that always came in the old movies…….
“Be still, my friend, be still. I am your way out. Do you believe me? Look at me……”
I looked. “Yes……. it’s strange, but, but, yes I do believe you. Please get me out of here.”
With that, he smiled, held the candle up, and looked toward the impossibly high rim of the pit.
“When I say the word, you climb this rope, okay?” With a gesture, he indicated his whole slender self. I stared, thinking a whole series of negative thoughts, then nodded in the affirmative.
He then stuck the candle into the loose side of the pit and in one continuous motion, ran three steps across the floor and two steps up the side, gave a determined yell, stretched his full length upward, grabbed the rim firmly with his fingers, and kicked his toes into the wall.
“I’m ready. Climb swiftly now!”
My first jump missed. His feet were well above my head, so I took a run and caught my fingers inside the backs of his shoes. They should have pulled off his feet, but they were miraculously tight. I scrambled and dug furiously with my feet until I could grab his clothing and pull myself up, hand over hand.
“That’s right, pull up until you can get your feet on my calves.”
I finally got my hands over his shoulders and my feet on his calves. That had to hurt him, but he didn’t make a sound.
“Now use your feet and knees to get any purchase you can on my back. Persevere, my friend.”
I was already panting. Exhausted. But then he did an amazing thing. Reaching back with his right hand, he grasped my right wrist and pulled upward. My shoes scraped his back cruelly. I hurt for him as he put my right hand on the rough rim of the pit. He reached down around my back and used my belt to pull me up farther while hanging onto the rim with only his left hand. This man was strong! I straightened my left arm above his left shoulder, then placed my knee on his right one.
“Are you all right?” I gasped.
“I endure,” he breathed. “Keep climbing.”
I managed to get my foot on his left shoulder. Pulling with my arms, I then placed my other foot on his right shoulder and stood. The side of his face was pressed against the wall. I moaned at the pain I must be causing him as I swung one leg, then the other, over the edge and rolled to safety. As I moved to help him, I heard his feet scrambling and saw him press with his arms and pull himself up until his arms were straight. Then he swung a foot up, pushed, and rolled over beside me.
“Thank You,” I heard him whisper.
“What? Thank you, Man!” I gasped, relieved.
At that, he stood and grinned down at me. He reached down and helped me stand on wobbly legs.
“There were probably a dozen easier ways to do that, but I wanted to make a point. Surely you see the metaphoric value in what just happened.”
“ Metaphor? Stinking hot pit….. Wait. Who are you. What’s your name?” I asked with hesitation.
“It would be better if I showed you. You will have to close your eyes to see. Hold my face in your hands and don’t let go.”
His image began to resolve before me. I saw his feet. Grimy, stained with dried blood, a deep wound in each. I shuddered as I heard words enter my mind. “These are the feet that walk into the light. The ones that carry the Truth, the Word of Peace. These pierced feet were made to carry you to safety. You needed but ask it.
His hands were closed, but I could see that the backs had wounds like his feet. I began to be alarmed and tried to let go of his face and open my eyes, but they wouldn’t open and I felt his strong, gentle hands hold my own hands to his cheeks. “It’s all right. Be at peace. Pierced for you, these are the hands that can lift you. Heal you. Help you. Hold you close and safe forever. You need but ask it. As his hands turned over and opened, I was amazed to see that my name was written in red across his right palm. His left palm contained a single word in red. Forgiven.
I wanted to comment, but my mouth wouldn’t open. Just as well. It contained only foolish words. What I had thought was myth and legend and Christian delusion was being revealed to me as real truth. Boy, had I been wrong……again…….
I saw his chest rising and falling. Laboring for breath. And inside it, he revealed his innermost heart. I must tell you that words are inadequate to describe it. Even the small portion that he thought I could handle. This pierced heart is the “place” where he keeps the care, the concern, the immense love he has for me. It was overwhelming to comprehend. My own heart struggled with the hugeness of it, yet I felt it being expanded in order to partially accommodate and understand such wonder and beauty. “Yes, it’s beyond all your understanding, but one day you will be given comprehension, if you but ask. My heart has spoken to yours many times, but you did not know its language. Do you recall? Do you know me yet?”
“You must be the One my family and friends have called The Savior, The Christ. Of course you are! You just revealed that beyond a doubt! You’re Jesus. They call you Son of God and Son of Man, right? The One who was born on Christmas and died on Easter!” I’ve seen you on TV……. Sorry, that was lame…….. They don’t do you justice………….
“Well, you’re on the right track. Look at me once more!”
I looked at His face. His torn, bleeding, tortured face. On his brow was a cruel crown. I somehow knew that it was the crown of my wickedness. Of my sin. And it was heavy. And painful. And the horrible weight of it was pressing down unbearably on Him but He was not crushed.
“Whyyy,” I moaned as he removed my hands from His face and let my eyes open. When my eyes were fully opened, I saw Him differently. He was whole. He was radiant. He was bright with majestic splendor! And now, there was no crushing headpiece, but on His head He wore a brilliant Crown of Glory. If I fell to my knees in awe, He must have lifted me up then…….
“Why? Because you couldn’t. You would have been crushed and destroyed under it. Like what happened in this pit, only I can deliver you from the “great death” and by “great” I don’t mean good, I mean enormously bad. The price of your reckless spending had to be paid, but you were broke. You bought what the enemy was selling on credit until your debt was outrageous. He can collect anytime, you know. We abhor the thought of that happening to you, so I bought your debt and paid it myself, in hopes that you would someday turn toward me and against the enemy. Toward Truth and against lies. To be given a new heart. A heart filled with joy. And to be transformed back into the person you were always intended to be. Yes, We paid it all in the hope that you would merely want to pay it back. You, could never settle that kind of debt, of course, so We make it free. A “wash sale”, in the hope that you will turn around, believe in me, say yes, choose life, and follow Us……..
Speaking of “wash”, no offense, but you smell quite bad. Hahahahahaaaa. You must be thirsty as well. Let’s leave this place and find some water to take care of that. We’ll greet the morning together and you can tell Me what you’ve decided about your life……..
I’ll never forget the huge hug he gave me as we left that alley. His cheek left a film of sweat on mine that stayed cool as it evaporated away and I walked with Him into the peaceful warmth of a new sunrise, a new heart, a new hope, and a brand-new life……..
Of course, I said yes! Once I said yes to Him, He asked something of me. He wants me to make introductions. Everywhere. In any and every way I can think of. I said yes to that as well. Gladly!
That’s why I wait at the edge of the deep pit. I stand at the entrance to the alley of death. I walk the mean streets and frequent the black markets hoping to find you there because there’s someone I’d like you to meet. And when I do find you there, my greatest hope is that you will come with me a short way to where He is so that I can say “Lord Jesus, I’d like you to meet My Friend, and, My Friend, meet Jesus, my Savior-Lord and my King!” He will say “I’m most pleased to meet you.” What will you say, My Friend?