JT started out that bright and sunny morning on his walk to the next town. Shortly, he came to a fork in the road. One road was wide and went straight up and over the mountain. He could see the steep road that went up and up as far as he could see. That road looked like it would be a long and arduous one. He wondered if there was an easier way to get around the mountain.
The other fork led to an unused path. It was barely more than a foot trail and appeared to be overgrown and not very wide at all. However, upon closer inspection, he found that it went directly between two mountains through a valley. He couldn’t see the end; however it was a much easier path to travel. This would be a great way to travel; JT was delighted and headed down this path.
After a short time, he came to the place where it appeared to be directly between two mountains. This path widened into a road and led right between the mountains. ‘This was surely the best way to go.’ JT thought. He wondered why more people did not take this road, maybe they couldn’t find it? Or maybe they just liked to do things the hard way.
As JT traveled on the road, the sides of the path grew steeper and steeper. Soon, the sides of the path were sheer cliffs, and the only way to go was the path. Then the sides began to widen away from the road at the bottom. There were deep shadows on each side. The sunshine only lit the road, everything else was in shadows.
JT began to wonder if this road was such a good idea after all, and he turned to go back. Suddenly, there was a rumbling and a giant boulder fell onto the path behind him. Now the only way to go back the way he came was to go deep into the shadows around the boulder.
He started to hear growling and snarling from the shadows. Nothing was visible in the sunlight, but he could see shapes moving around in the shadows. Large shapes bristling with fur scraping their claws on the ground were traipsing back and forth in the shadows.
He thought it was all from one side, so maybe he could go around the boulder on the other side. Now that he was paying attention, he saw shapes in the shadows on the other side as well.
He gulped and began walking quickly down the center of the sunlit road. As JT walked, the shadows grew larger and deeper on both sides. The sunlight was bright and strong on the path. There was no way he was going to leave this path that was for sure! The snarling and growling continued as he walked the road. He also heard the clicking and scratching of claws on stone that appeared to be on a parallel path to his. He tried running, and the sounds ran. He slowed to a walk, and so did his followers.
‘Why oh why, did I want to go this way?’ JT thought. ‘Now I know why no one wanted to go this way. How will I ever get out of here?’ JT saw the path narrowed, but it was still in bright sunshine. He sure wanted to be out of here by night. The sunlight would not be holding back whatever beasts were in the shadows. In those shadows was death, and there was no way he wanted to travel in that darkness.
The sun was high up in the sky now, JT saw that he only had a few hours until the sunlight was gone. He stayed on the narrow, sunlit path and walked as quickly as he could. Every now and then, he could swear he heard the whispers of, “Stop, sleep. Stop, sleep, stop, sleep…’ from all about him. Without firm determination, he could see that he would give in to the voices.
In the middle of the path ahead was a pile of bones. JT did not dare go to the right or the left as the path had narrowed to just over the width of his outspread arms. He started to run and leapt over the bones and fell to the ground. He scraped his knee and it began to bleed. The snarling and growling grew to a frenzy of yelps, barks and howls. He could tell that this narrow path of sunlight is all that stood between him and whatever was in the shadows.
Since those bones were in the center of the path, they must have been here at night! This gave him a newfound determination to get out of this valley before nightfall. He changed his pace to a cross between a walk and a run. On and on he went, until he could see the end of the valley in the distance. He tried to go as fast as he could, but the sunlight was beginning to fade into sunset.
He stayed in the center of the path and tried with all of his might to go as fast as possible. The sunlight was falling behind the horizon, and he thought he was in severe danger. Then, the bright starlight shone on that path and made a way for him to go. He was travelling as fast as possible.
The snarling and growling was still beside him in the deep shadows, but still he continued. Finally, he reached the end of the valley and continued to run as fast as he could go. He didn’t know how far from the valley of shadows the beasts would roam. He was about to collapse from fatigue, when he saw a shepherd and his sheep in the distance.
The man stood there with his staff in a green pasture, feeding his sheep. JT ran up to him and fell at his feet. “Please protect me, kind shepherd. I have traveled through the valley of shadows and the beasts are pursuing me.”
In the starlight, JT saw a bearded man with long hair and a white robe smiling kindly at him. “Rest here, I will protect you.”
JT gratefully collapsed and fell asleep instantly. He awoke the next morning and there was no one around. The sunshine was bright, and he could see the valley of shadows in the distance. There was no pasture here, only sand and not a trace could be seen of the shepherd or his sheep. A short distance away JT saw the wide road that wound over the mountain leading to the next town.
QOTD: This story illustrated part of the 23rd Psalm. Do you see how JT’s journey is like the scripture?
The answer to last weeks’ story Jesus Trek Chapter 23 – The King’s Tax (Mark 12:17).
To read the introduction to this series please click HERE