Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:24-26
The only sounds I heard were the crunch of leaves and branches as I continued walking deeper into the forest. While I followed the animals, I kept asking myself ever so often if I was becoming delusional. Surely I didn’t hear animals talking to me. Then I overheard the squirrel talk about meeting its quota of acorns for the year. Nevermind.
“Where exactly are we going?” I enquired.
The deer turned its head back to me. “We are going to show you the Broken Stream.”
I felt suspicious to say the least. For all I knew, the animals were just thirsty for water and dragging me along. A chill wind blew through the branches making me shiver. Rubbing the goose bumps on my arms, I continued to follow the nonchalant creatures. Father, how am I supposed to learn of your sorrow by following these creatures deeper into the woods?
Gradually, the sunlight scattered, and we seemed to plunge deeper into darkening forest. How strange since it was not time for sunset. The birds were still perched above, but their twittering changed. They seemed hesitant to sing. Even the animals gingerly made their way up the incline. When I reached the top, an open area was revealed. A shocked gasp escaped my lips.
We had reached the Broken Stream. Within seconds, I knew this was no normal stream. Where it was once complete darkness, blinding silver streams of light reflected into the surroundings. What arrested my attention was the source of the ethereal waters. On the opposite side of the clearing there were three giant trees.
My woodland companions carefully walked toward the trees careful not to step foot into the glowing waters. I followed suit. The hidden birds were no longer singing solo. Other creatures joined the chorus. The sorrowful song seemed to grow louder. Even the raccoon hummed along. We prodded along, and I noticed two very important things. The once placid stream was now a speeding current, and surrounding the trunk of the three trees were strangling vines covered in sharp thorns. For some unknown reason, my heart felt heavy, almost sad. I closed my eyes to avoid looking at the awful sight.
I scrunched my eyes tighter trying to focus on the background noise. Father, what am I supposed to hear? The mournful singing faded away to reveal the hidden truth. It was inconsolable weeping that my ears heard. I finally opened my eyes and really examined the gigantic trees up close. The descending branches covered in leaves resembled long locks of hair, yet I could see silver droplets falling from the tips. The spiky vines cut so deep into the trunk that amber sap seeped out of the layers of bark.
“They are the last surviving weeping willows,” said the squirrel in hushed tones. I stared at the once majestic trees. “Where did the thorns come from?” I asked. This time the raccoon muttered a response. “Some say that they grew from the graves of dead bones. Others believe that the vines began to grow from the very center of our world until it reached the surface.”
“No, this can’t be true. More people would have noticed by now.” I tried to take a calming breath. “I know someone would have noticed something so terrifying.” With solemn eyes, the deer turned to face me. “Humans are blinded by the thorns that bind their feet and keep them from ever moving forward. They are unaware of the vines wrapped around their wrists. Now, they are nothing but puppets on a string.” The deer continued to speak with fervor. “Most lethal of all are the thorns wrapped around the hearts of humans. With each heartbeat, they are steadily dying…until life bleeds out.”
“How did this happen?” I whispered.
“I think I will take things from here,” spoke Elyon. Suddenly, the entire forest broke out into a fevered frenzy. I still couldn’t see most of the creatures, but I could hear their singing and hollering with sudden joy in seeing the Forgotten King. My Father smiled at me, but this wasn’t like His usual smiles. It was sad.
“Melody, draw your sword,” He instructed.
I stood there blinking at him stupidly for a solid minute. My sword? My right arm reached up over my shoulder and unsheathed the sword. I looked at the weapon in my hand with utter astonishment. How did I forget about my sword? What I fool I am. Feeling so shameful, I could barely look at Elyon in the face.
“I am about to show you the answers to many of your questions.” He continued with His discourse, “You won’t like what you see, but this is the only way you can understand my heart and my purpose for your life. Now place the tip of the sword into the stream.”
I plunged the distal end into the glowing waters as instructed. As soon as the metal touched the surface, the sword appeared to absorb some of the fluid causing a bright glow extending from the tapered tip to the hilt. “Now lift the sword away from the stream,” commanded the King.
As I obeyed, the water began to drain from the metal. Instead of dripping, the water formed a glowing orb. The small translucent ball gradually grew in size until it obscured my central view. The rest of my surroundings faded away as I watched the past play out before my eyes in fast forward.
I saw a beautiful kingdom ruled by the Most High King. The citizens were all so happy and content. There was always singing and dancing. The animals and the people understood each other. Life flourished. Then a shadow entered the kingdom. It followed the people. Like wildfire it spread until each person was tricked into believing that the shadow was always there…not something to avoid or to be wary of. The shadow began to whisper in the darkness. “There’s a better world outside of this kingdom… The King is holding you back… He is keeping riches from you!”
One by one, the citizens decided to leave the kingdom. They chose the world instead of the King. Unknown to the people, the King had a vast army that outnumbered his subjects. Father could have easily forced His people to comply, but that went against His nature. He did not want mindless slaves. He wanted a family.
The people left, but the Shadow made sure not to tell them the penalty of their decisions. One by one, they began to forget. They could not remember true happiness let alone true love. Things that used to be easy suddenly became hard. Work became hard. The animals who were once friends of the people were now incomprehensible. Death was born. Worst of all, they forgot the Most High King. He became nothing but a legend of folklore.
When the Shadow won that first battle, he planted a seed in the hearts of man. It was nothing but a deadly parasite that fed on bitterness, resentment, greed, lust, disobedience, and hate. As the seed sprouted and grew its vines and thorns, it attracted Death. One by one the people fell, one generation after another.
While all forgot the King, He could not forget the ones that broke His heart. When Death and Sin entered and became the new masters, two things were born from the very heart of the King: Mercy and Grace. Love made the King leave His domain to enter our world. Because of Mercy, the King spared His subjects from the penalty of disobedience. By Grace, Father called out and adopted the fallen to be in His new Kingdom.
Suddenly, I could no longer keep my sword up. As my arm dropped to my side, the floating orb burst. I quickly sheathed my sword and collapsed onto the dirt floor. It felt like I had been standing for hours upon hours. My breathing was very rapid, and I couldn’t help the angry tears coursing down my cheeks. Father knelt down to my level. His expression was neutral, and it made me more upset. “Father, how could you be so soft on them? They deserved to be punished! They had it SO good. How could they be so stupid and leave it all behind?”
The tears just kept coming. Then I noticed that my face was glowing. My tears to be exact. Elyon pointed at the Broken Stream, “I have seen their tears, and they cry out to Me. I cannot turn away from the hearts of the broken. I am the Great Physician.” The King turned His eyes back to the trees. “I would rather take the thorns and Death upon myself to spare you.” Then He looked right at me. “I have spared you Melody.”
I gave Father a watery smile. Then I noticed two floating orbs. One shone like gold, and I immediately recognized the creature to be Grace. The other looked very similar to Grace, but the other one was maroon. Father looked over His shoulder with a smirk before speaking, “You have been shown Grace and Mercy.”