This story is inspired by the children’s trilogy by David and Karen Mains called Tales of the Kingdom.  The books were given to me by a dear friend and sister in Christ, and though they are not well-known,  they should be.  For they are full of rich analogies to the Christian life, vivid and imaginative, yet feeding your soul with reminders of the simplicity and complexity that is life with Christ, as they rehearse time and again the story of the Gospel and its redemptive power and complex infiltration of our fallen world.

There once was a little girl who lived in a Great Park where the trees lost their leaves all year round, and the flowers withered, and the darkness of the night reigned.  These things delighted her soul. She loved to watch the browning leaves curl up from the dryness, loosely floating to the ground where they decayed.  She loved the feeling of the crunch-crunch underneath her feet as she walked in the fading forests.   At every step, her spirits soared at the sound.  The very thought of death intrigued her, subdued her, enslaved her. The little girl’s name was Hope.

One day, as Hope was hopping down the warn, beaten path, humming a little nothing to herself, a slight beam of light caught her eye.  She stopped. Hmm. That doesn’t belong here.  She thought to herself.  I wonder if I should get rid of it.  For, you see, Hope esteemed herself as the caretaker of this Great Park.  She had done many things to keep out the warmth and the sun and the bright colors of the flowers.  One time, Hope had managed to talk the clouds into overshadowing the forest for 40 days!  The dark things listened to her, and as a result, she listened to them.  That was her gift.

So she approached this beam of light.  At first, from far away, it seemed minuscule.  But the closer she got, the larger it appeared.  By the time she reached its parameter, it seemed to her to be a mile wide, and two, no three miles high.  She had never come across such a penetration of her territory.

But, not to fear. Ahem.  She cleared her throat.  “Excuse me,” she called out to the beam of light.  “Mr. Light? Um, sir, you don’t belong here.”

But the light did not respond.

She spoke up. “Mr. Light, sir? You must leave this place. You don’t belong here. Go somewhere else.”

Silence.

She sighed and stomped her feet a bit.  Maybe it’s deaf in its right ear.  I should walk around to the other side and talk to it there.

A mile wide…she sighed again and picked up her feet.  Several minutes, and tree stumps, and scrapped knees later, she found herself on the other side.  And she tried again.

“Mr. Light!” This time, her voice was harsh.  “Please leave this place at once!” She stomped her feet for an effect.

To no avail…the light, it seemed, only grew brighter.

She sat down on the ground and crossed her legs in a pout. What shall I do? She asked herself.  He certainly can’t stay here.  But he doesn’t seem to hear me.

“Ahem.” A clearing throat interrupted her frustrations.

She stood up at a start. “Who’s there?”

“Miss, is something wrong?”

“Why, yes! This light here, sir, won’t budge. I can’t seem to get him to listen!” She wondered where the voice was coming from.

“Ah. I see,” said the voice.  “Have you tried talking to it in Light?”

Her brows bent in perplexity.  “I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about.”

“I could show you…if you want.”

Hope paused to consider. It was her pride and joy to remove all life-giving things from the forest. She didn’t like having to be taught. Well, she thought. All the great ones must have been taught by someone at some point. And anyways, I don’t want this monstrous light in my path any longer.

“Ok,” she answered.

“Ahem.” The voice cleared again.  Then, there was silence.

She poked her head closer to the region from where the voice seemed to come to listen harder. But all she heard was silence, and the tap of a nearby leaf fallen to the floor.

Finally, she raised her voice and said, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Then, she listened again.

“Hmm.” The voice said. “That’s odd, I was speaking loud and clear.”

She gave a stout pout.  But she wasn’t ready to give up yet. “Try again.” She commanded.

Silence…then — what was that? A gentle hum? Just one note, deepening, growing in volume. “I hear you! I hear you!” She shouted in exhilaration.

Hummmmm. Huuummmm. Huh, huh, huh, hummmmmmm. Now there was a rhythm, now there was a step, a new pitch. The song grew and grew and as she listened longer, her feet began to tap to the beat.  Tap, tap, tap-tap, tappity-tap-tap, tap-tap.

Then her arms began to sway, her whole body becoming engrossed in the song.  Before she knew it, her voice was bellowing its lyric:

The light, the light, the light of day.

Brings life, its light holds night at bay.

The light of life, He gives a song.

To all who heed His voice to do no wrong.

The song would have continued on, but she stopped suddenly. “What is this foreign melody?” She spoke aloud, the sound of her voice echoing back in haunting silence.

The mile-wide, three mile-high light had grown larger at the song, but at the silence, suddenly began to dim.

She found a panic rising within her. Don’t go, she wanted to say aloud.  We were just getting started!

The light continued fading.

Oh, what am I to do? Light does not belong in this forest of the dark.  But…her thoughts betrayed her. Oh dear! What is this new delight in my heart?

The light was shrinking.

“Mr. Light, er, voice of the man who sung the song of Light, please help me.  Tell me what to do! I want to keep the light, but it does not belong here! Tell me what I must do?”

Suddenly, out of the light came a man, bright, in white, with the lightness all around him, even as he stepped into the shadows.  The darkness did not overtake him.

There was an immeasurable strength about him.  His eyes glimmered brilliantly, almost like fire.  They seemed too bright to look at.

She dropped her eyes to the ground, the dark, decaying ground beneath the trees of the lightless forest.

Then…her eyes were drawn upward, and though she fought it, her eyes locked on to his, and she gazed. Long. At every blink of her eyes, a strength seemed to grow within her, a longing, a desire she had never felt before. And with it came all sorts of uprooted dirt and darkness, hatred and anger — she suddenly hated it, longed to be rid of it, yet felt its tormenting, deceitful chains gnawing at her soul.  Her eyes pleaded with his — “I am not worthy, but oh, would you save me?”

Even as the request was on her tongue, she stood up straight from her bent position — a new-found strength arose. She took a step back, as if to get a better view of this man with whom she had fallen in love.

Oh! She cried. Do my eyes betray me? Can this be? What is this darkness that overshadows his brilliant light? His eyes grew black and cold and hard.  His body bent to the ground, as if burdened by a great weight.

Suddenly, all the darkness that surrounded her, that had once been her comfort and only friend, it seemed to be sucked up in one final whoosh, and the Man of Light consumed it.  In just moments, his eyes went from dark to light — there was no dawn. Fire flashed, and then the forest burst forth with life.  The warmth of the sun flooded her body, and vivid purples and blues and greens and reds blossomed before her eyes, the ground now lay with rich grass and wild flowers, too multiple to count, too diverse to identify.

She sighed, overwhelmed by wonder, awe…rest. She breathed deeply for several moments.

And then she turned to face the man who had brought her into the light. He was sitting on a old, rugged, aged tree stump where once the beam of light had shown. It seemed to be the only stump in the forest around them.  He smiled — not the fake, pretending, only-kind-of-happy-kind. It was real, deep, abiding.

“My beloved,” he said.

And she knelt at his feet.