A figure walked a rocky ridge as pebbles loosened beneath his feet with every step. As he approached the foot bridge, he could see a lone figure walking toward him. The thunderous crack of the stone below jolted his body into a tense free fall. The figure he had been staring at no longer appeared to him but instead was replaced by blurred vision, a deafening ringing in his ears, and pain in his extremities. He looked at his wounds oozing crimson on the cold gray rock.
He attempted to reach up and grab onto the narrow ledge on which he had just been upright. However, as more and more of his surroundings crumbled the pain set in. He clawed frantically at the mountainous surface while he held his breath for fear it would further throw off his balance. His fingers cradled in two small crevasses just above his head.
He heard a voice cry out, “Don’t move!”
He raised his eyes to see a man’s face above him. “I will lower my belt to you so you can grab on, and I will pull you up.” A thin leather strap appeared to the left of his hand. “Grab on and I will pull you up.”
“Okay,” he managed to speak weakly with the belt now clenched in his fist.
The figure braced behind a large rock began to pull. The weight was tremendous as the skin on his hands broke open from the belt’s friction, and his legs trembled against the boulder. Undaunted, he continued his task. He could hear loose rock continuing to fall with each tug. The minutes seemed like hours until finally the outstretched arms appeared with hands wrapped around the leather lifeline. The man prayed, “Dear Lord, I am so tired please help me pull him the rest of the way up.” With a few more heaves a prayer was answered.
This could not be… the man’s body was lifeless. “I am sorry Lord. I have failed you. I couldn’t save him.” An autopsy later revealed the man received a blow to the head by a falling rock as he was being pulled up which was complicated by further internal injuries.
The man, still dealing with the tragic event arrived at church hoping to hear God’s answer to it all. Instead, before service began, he was approached by several congregation members who wanted to hear his answers.
“I heard you beat him up and took his money.”
“I heard you never liked him and were out to settle a score.”
“I heard you pushed him and wanted to see if you could save what was left.”
“I heard it was self-defense.”
“I heard the news reports stating he died of head injuries, but they didn’t say how he got those.”
The man tried to explain, to little avail, what actually happened. The murmurs were like piercing mosquitoes in his ears and the stares like he was attending his own stoning.
He took a seat in the back pew by himself and began to pray, “Lord, if this is my punishment then so be it. I could not save him, and I failed you. I am sorry. Please forgive me.” A small pair of eyes fixated on him wholly with every word he uttered. Then, right in the middle of the service the child with the intense gaze walked directly to the front of the church where the pastor was in mid-sentence regarding a lion licking his chops and glaring directly at Daniel.
The small child tugged at the pastor’s pant leg and motioned for him to bend down. She whispered something into his ear, and he looked dumbfounded. He shook his head no and the small figure knelt before a Bible placed on a side podium and prayed. The pastor went to her, knelt beside her and whispered in her ear, and then disappeared into a church classroom. The murmurs started again. Quickly, the pastor returned with a step stool in hand, placed it behind the podium, and nodded to the child.
The small girl climbed up on the stool and glanced at the pastor. He raised his hands and made the introduction, “Members of the church, community, friends, and families this child has asked to speak today regarding recent events that have taken place. Please be courteous in giving a moment of your time to hear her.”
“I heard that a man prayed for help. His arms were stretched out to the sky, and as one lay weary and struggling, the man let go of all his pain and God gently took both of his hands and lifted him up to take him home. I heard that another man prayed for forgiveness when he couldn’t save another, and he has been forgiven by a Saviour. All the pain that lies in our hearts was not God’s doing… it was ours. Then, I heard that we can pray, with hands in hands held high, and God will lift us up and forgive us too.” The child stepped down and nodded to the pastor. The pastor bowed his head and addressed the congregation, “Let us all pray that God will forgive and lift us up. Let us remember to walk in His light and ways. Please lift your arms and join hands in The Lord’s Prayer.”
The child raced to the back pew, climbed up on the seat, looked directly into the eyes of the man who was praying so fervently, and took his hands in hers and lifted his arms.
God had answered.