When the World Crumbles (Part 2)

Jane's eyes widened in wonder and awe. The man before her laughed, knowing that she had figured out who he was. "It's about time you recognized me. You'd think after spending your whole life with me in your heart, you'd know your own Savior."

Immobolized by the thought running through her head, Jane was rendered speechless. But quickly the bitter words and angry feelings came back to the surface, and she stepped back from the man.

"What do you want?" she asked, a caustic edge to her voice. "Haven't you taken enough from me?" Her accusations were meant to hurt him, but his face simply softened and searched her eyes- no, her heart. Slowly, he began to shake his head.

"You have no idea, do you? You really, truly, honestly, do not know who I AM." Jane was infuriated by these words.

"Oh, but I do! You're the man who died on the cross for me! The one who rose again from the dead! The one who stole my boyfriend, my friends, and now even my parents from me! Because you are the God who gives and takes away, right? You're the God who destroys lives just so that you, in your jealousness, can be the center of them!" Her anger rushed out in a torrent of words and tears. Her jaw tensed and her fists clenched. How dare he come here and try to woo her with his touch? How dare he invite her out here after taking away all that she loved?

Understanding filled his eyes. "Dear Jane... that wasn't me," he whispered. Jane was out of words, so she just stared at him. He reached for her hand and she let him grab it. What do I have to lose? she thought. He smiled, and she remembered he could read her thoughts.

He led her deeper into the forest, and Jane was shocked to see that the beauty continued to get better as she got closer to the core. Freshly fallen dew glistened in the light of the moon, trees were taller, and the distant sound of a creek filled the air. He stopped by a rock and turned to face her.

"It's much more prettier in here than it was at the outskirts of the woods, isn't it?" he asked.

Jane was slightly confused by the question, but she nodded. Why does the beauty in here matter? I just finished yelling at you and you're showing me how nice the forest behind my home is...

He smiled and winked at her, the laugh lines around his eyes deepening as he did so. Though Jane was still angry and befuddled with all that was going on, she let herself enjoy the moment she was in, hoping soon enough her companion would explain what was going on.

And he did just that. "Though the outskirts of the forest are pretty, the outter world can still reach you there. Outside predators can still see you and find you. But the deeper you get in, the more stunning the forest becomes, and the less the outsiders can find you."

Jane felt like he was talking in riddles, but she decided she would go along with it. He continued. "And the further you go in, the further you want to keep travelling, until you're suddenly at the heart. You get lost in the wonder of it all and no longer desire to be on the outside, because the pain can no longer reach you there. That's where you understand what the forest truly is. But if you stay on the outskirts of it, you'll never know, and you'll think that it's no different than living on the outside anyways."

Jaw dropping with what he was trying to get across, she finally knew what he was referring to. "But... religion never shows us how to go deeper."

"Religion isn't what I want, dearest. Religion is man's way of getting to me. Its like the vines at the edge of the forest, and so many people get caught in them. This makes them fair game for anyone on the outside." He made sure she was still following what he was saying, probably reading her thoughts. Then he spoke again. "Instead, I want you to run to the core, to the center, of me. I want a relationship. Seek me and you will find me, call on me and I will answer, draw near to me and I will draw near to you..."

Then he was gone. Jane looked around, frightened by his sudden disappearance. She heard a gentle whisper, "Chase me, and you will catch me."

So Jane ran, she wasn't sure where she was running but she ran. Using the sound of the creek as her guide, she went in the direction she thought would be the core. As she ran, she began to laugh. Then she came to a clearing, and there was the creek. "Jump in," the whisper said.

She jumped in, submerging herself in the crisp waters. When she came up for breath, she couldn't help the joy that flowed from her. At the edge of the creek, she saw her Savior standing. She got out quickly, wanting to hear more of what he had to say.

"Did you touch the bottom?" he asked.

Jane shook her head, "I couldn't find it."

He smiled. "That's because it's bottomless." She made a face, confused. "Like my love, it doesn't end. It just keeps going."

Jane remembered the thoughts she had during the day. A loving God... His teeth showed as he smiled once again at her. Then he took both her hands and began to dance. Jesus knows how to dance?? she quickly thought.

He threw his head back in laughter and she couldn't help but join in. This was wonderful, this was amazing, she never wanted to leave here. But she knew she would have to eventually. Obviously reading her thoughts again, he spoke up.

"You never have to leave, Jane. Keep this forest in your heart forever. Don't get caught in the vines, but instead run to the core. This is my Father's heart, flowing with joy and love and peace. The outsiders can't touch you here." Then he picked a flower from beside the creek and handed it to her. Jane remembered hearing that God was a romantic, but she never took the saying seriously. Now she knew that it was quite true.

Searching his eyes, she knew it was time to return home. Holding the flower close to her heart, she squeezed her eyes shut. When she opened them again, she was in her bed and it was morning.

Frantic, Jane looked around her room. Was it just a dream? she wondered. Smiling at the memory of her Savior dancing with her, she sat up in bed. That's when she felt it in her hand.

The flower. "So it wasn't a dream after all," she whispered.

And that's when the vines of religion let go of Jane's heart. That's when she learned to run to the core of the forest no matter where she was. That's when she learned that the outside predators couldn't touch her.

That's when she found her relationship with God, and found life in it.

Daddy's Girl

Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

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