Pastor Steve Kielley's
A Father Who Took My Place ~ an allegory
My mind races back through the years I have lived. Like a man turning back the pages of his life, I open and turn the pages gingerly as if not wanting to disturb the lifeless forms of what used to be. Like walking through a graveyard of memories. Their lifeless forms stare blankly without any sign of emotion or expression.
I look up from where I stand, the sky is black, void of any light. The stars have chosen to hide themselves from my view. One lone cry in the night, a lonely coyote no doubt, calling out to whosoever will listen. I am in the past, once again experiencing the raw untainted emotion of what once was. The wind has stirred and its tiny fingers have torn away through my clothing, like little knives they reach out and stab my already bleeding heart.
Oh moon where have you gone, the sun has raced away as though upon some urgent mission. My soul is lost, raging rivers of torment wash over me as water upon the rocks of a mountain stream. I cry, "All is lost, no one cares for my soul!" The pain crushes me as though I am nothing. I look for some way to escape. My hand is reaching, trying to grasp the tool which would release me from this bad and relentless torment. The tears explode from already reddened eyes. I have been cast off. I am drifting towards a bottomless abyss. No one knows, no one hears the voice of my crying.
The end is closer. I realize one more bend, just a little farther. The peace of death reaches out with its seductive voice calling for me to come near. I take a step its hands are reaching out. There is a pounding in my ears, like the sound of a thousand drums beating the cadence for the march of death. All is lost. I have surrendered to fate. I am helpless in this void, there is no strength left. I find myself carried away in a current stronger than I. A cry escapes my lips, unsolicited, agonizingly reaching one last time for something, someone, anyone to deliver my soul from death. Death laughs hysterically, mockingly as the bird is encased with its net. Struggling one last time for freedom it realizes the seal of destiny in its place.
Yet in the distance I see a flicker of
light. Yes, unmistakably
it's there. Like a spectator in the stands, watching. It's different, I sense something emanating from it. Its single ray of hope causes me to struggle more in the net of my captor. It's hopeless; there is no way to escape. The voice of death taunts me now unmercifully. There are still no stars, excepting for this one, small light. I find comfort in its presence. Like a small boy in a blackened room the light gives me courage I had not possessed up to this point. I cry out again, it's closer now, making itself available to me. Its pure light sends shafts of crimson upon my situation. Death has stepped back, giving way to the Light. It has stopped its taunting and I sense fear in it by the way it is shaking.
My soul is exceedingly heavy, bearing the guilt for the lifetime of senseless living I to this point have experienced. I feel something calling to me from this point of light. It knows my name, the sound of its voice is not condemning even though it it reads the secret thoughts of my mind. The net has fallen from me. The torrent ceased. A calm has come over this place. A sereneness I have never experienced.
take one step, then another. We have come close together. I
an approach no closer. I sense its foreboding withdrawal. It
is repulsed by former actions. Yet, the loving flow of compassion
still surges from it like an endless ocean of emotion. I realize
that death must have its day. "But Sir!" I cry out, "Please
must I go?" I have been given hope, unlike any
other. Reason has reentered my thinking. I have
a cause to live for. Yet I still must die.
The Light has taken form, the form of a man, very masculine and strong. His features common, but his presence overpowering. He is looking through my eyes like a window, searching the depths of my soul. He must have found something there, for he speaks suddenly words which are more beautiful than the mind can imagine.
Death calls out its challenge, demanding its prey with a fierceness and wrath unwarranted. This image of a man has taken my place in the net. I am paralyzed by what I see. I neither move nor seem to breathe. I see him suffer and die in my place. I fall down as dead. I know not how long I have lain this way. There is a stirring around me. Like the sound of wings, comforting hands reach down to lift me up. Angelic faces of mercy peer into mine.
sky is no longer dark and foreboding. The stars have taken their
place once again. The sun shines brightly from its perch in
heaven. A warm wind stirs the branches of trees formerly not
I feel different.
The load that had crushed the life from my soul is missing. The scars of life are gone and my skin is clean and white. I am looking earnestly for the one who took my place. How could have he endured my pain, a stranger?
I suddenly cry out in desperation as one who has lost a newfound love. I saw him die, I am sure of it now: it was more than a bad dream. I saw his last agonizing breath, the blood which flowed from a multitude of wounds. Even in the presence of this divine host, even amidst the sun and stars, life could not be the same without him.
I lift my head at the sound of my name. He stands before me with hands outstretched, bidding me come. I feel no repulsion as before; as we draw nearer, we embrace. I wish always to stay here in his arms. A father who took my place when I needed him the most.