Dearly Beloved, Grace and Peace to you.
Someone you know was walking through the woods alone, just following his whims, when he looked down into the hollow where a dark stream flowed. On the other side of the stream he saw something gold glinting in the darkness. It was out of his way, and looked difficult to reach, but the mysterious thing beckoned to him. So he left the well-maintained path, and descended the steep bank. He made his way, with great effort, through painful brambles and resistant thickets. Beyond the stream he could see the gold thing, shining in a tiny shaft of sunlight. As he stepped into the stream he realized that it was much deeper than he had imagined. He paused, thinking this was a silly obsession. What would people think of him going to all this trouble just to find a piece of trash beside a creek? But that thing seemed to be calling out to him— not from across the stream, but from within him. And he thought, “What better have I to do than to pursue this mystery?” So he plunged into the stream. It was over his head, and cold, and the current was surprisingly strong. He imagined what would happen if he drowned, and they found his body here. How would they explain that? It made him laugh. But he had resolved to make this little journey, so he swam across the current.
On the other side he waded through the mud to the treasure. It was certainly nothing that anybody else would want. It was an old picture with a gilded frame, dirty and mostly caked with mud, but shiny along one edge. He wiped off the glass. What he saw astonished him. It was a portrait. To someone looking on it might have looked like nothing but vague shapes of light and shadow. But among the dreamy shapes, he saw a portrait of himself! Only it was more noble and beautiful than he could have imagined. In this picture he had purpose. There was a look in his eyes of deep joy and wisdom. And it was clear that whoever had painted the picture had done so with great love and tenderness, with respect for even the tiniest and most ordinary details. Amazed, he stared at it for a long, long time. The afternoon passed away.
Finally, clutching it to his heart, he returned across the stream. But in the strong current the picture slipped from his hands and it sank into the unreachable depths. At first he wanted to dive down and find it; but then, floating on the water, he realized that it did not matter. He had seen the picture, and it was engraved in his heart; that was all that mattered to him. He crossed the stream and found a new road, eager to go home and, though it seemed impossible, to tell his wife.
Deep Blessings, Pastor Steve
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