In response to many requests for easy access to the section of Principle/Step Eight in He Did Deliver Me from Bondage, entitled, “The Parable,” I am posting it here and linking it to my Facebook page. Please feel free to share it wherever the Spirit moves you to do so.
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A PARABLE OF ATONEMENT
In my dream I saw myself in a scene that appeared as if I were returning from participating in a great war. I was leaning on a crutch as I limped along a tree-lined lane, and though I was ragged and wounded and had to rest every few steps, I was full of excitement. I had just entered into the last stretch in what had been a long and perilous journey home. I knew that just over the next low hill was “the green, green grass of home” where all my family were waiting to greet me. Even there along the lane, every tree was filled with yellow ribbons to represent their prayers for my return. And when the breeze carried just right, I could already hear music playing and smell the feast at the great party they were having to celebrate this day of reunion, of homecoming.
Suddenly I noticed that another figure was hobbling along just ahead of me. Whoever this poor soul was, I could tell that he was in at least as bad a shape as I was. But even with all his wounds, he had made it this far too. My heart went out to him in fellowship, and quickening my pace, I hurried to overtake him, calling out to him, “Brother, wait! Wait for me!”
He stopped and turned. My heart went chill as all feelings drained from it. I recognized his face. He had been my enemy, the very one who had inflicted the deepest wounds—wounds that had made my journey so slow and painful—wounds that I still bore unhealed. Not him! How could he be here too?
I halted my steps, unable to approach him any further, unwilling to say anything. As he called out “Who’s there? I can’t see you,” I realized that he was blind. Rather than answer his plaintive cry, I held my breath. Soon he turned, dejected, and shuffled on his way.
Just As He Promised, He Employs No Servant There
I didn’t have far to follow him, for just ahead of us was a shining, glorious gate. The boundary that it marked was as definite as if it were guarding night from day. Even though the beauty of the country through which the lane passed was exquisite, what lay beyond the gate was beyond description, but not recognition. It was Home. Upon my seeing it, childhood memories seemed to flood my mind. Every path and byway was familiar to me. The longing to be there once more became an overwhelming ache within me. It caused me to totally forget my reluctance to approach my enemy, who was even now standing at the gatehouse, speaking to the gatekeeper.
The gatekeeper had his back to me. Still I recognized Him immediately as my Lord and Good Shepherd, He who had carried me throughout much of my journey, ministering to my stubborn wounds. Just as He had promised, He employed no servant here. Still I could see only my enemy’s face. There was light shining either from it or on it. I could not tell which. Suddenly I realized that his eyes were bright and clear, focused upon the face of the Gatekeeper. I realized he was not blind anymore! Then I noted how straight he stood. Eagerly I threw down my crutch and rushed forward. Maybe I too could be made whole!
Before I could take more than a step or two, I was suddenly aware of the Gatekeeper’s words to my lifelong enemy. “There is only one last thing before you are ready to enter in, one last question I must ask.”
My enemy! This person who had been responsible for my deepest wounds? He was about to enter in?
Are You a Friend to Every Man?
The Gatekeeper continued, breaking through my shock, “Are you a friend to every man?”
Taking his gaze from the Gatekeeper’s face, the man looked steadily into my eyes, and I knew that he was seeing me, really seeing me, for the first time. Somewhere inside I trembled. I had known all along that I would have to face the Lord to enter in, but my enemy?
His words pierced my soul. “I am willing to be,” he said quietly. Healed and no longer blind, he loved me. Could I, still maimed and crippled as I was, say the same? Could I answer this one last question with an honest yes?
The Gatekeeper seemed to disappear from between us, though I knew He was near. Nothing stood between my enemy and me. He waited for my response with longing meekness in his eyes, unable to enter in without my approbation. And just as surely, I knew I could not enter in without him. My long-harbored resentment and bitterness, or all that lay beyond this last barrier—which would it be? Which would I choose? Why had I waited so long? How had I thought I could avoid this moment?
My first step toward my former enemy was still halting, as if crippled, but with each step my strength grew greater and greater. I could feel my wounds healing as I reached for his hands and then his embrace.
Father, These Are My Friends
And as the dream ended, I saw us wrapped in more than each other’s acceptance and forgiveness. The Gatekeeper and still another figure stood with us. With shining countenance the Gatekeeper turned to the other; and speaking my name in unison with that of my former adversary, He said, “Father, these are my friends.”
As I awoke from the dream, the last impression I had was hearing the voice of the Father, so long awaited, “Well done. You may all enter in.”