The Princess looked about wildly. How could she have been so stupid! Although this road had looked so inviting, deep in her heart she knew that it would take her off the King's Highway. The King's Highway had seemed so rough at the moment. She was so hot and tired. His road had been filled with ruts and sharp rocks. The hot sun beat down upon her and there was little if any shade. She didn't like this part of the journey one bit!
That's when she saw a lovely little path. While it was true that it did not quite follow The King's Highway, it certainly looked like a much better road. It seemed to be quite free of ruts and stones. In fact, there was a refreshing little stream right over there beneath some lovely shade trees. She could dip her aching feet into the cool water and rest beneath the trees for awhile before continuing her journey. She would just be off the King's Highway for a moment. Surely there would be no harm in doing that.
The Princess hurried over to the stream and slipped off her princess slippers. Oh! That was MUCH better! Ah! She got out her golden water bottle which was filled with the King's very own water and dumped it out. Now while it was that bottle was never empty, she figured that she had been drinking from it for so long that the water needed to be refreshed so she filled it with this water instead. After all, it looked so pure and tasted so refreshing.
Now as the Princess was resting, she noticed that this particular path was lined with fruit trees. She decided there would be no harm in gathering some fruit to take with her on her journey. There were also some lovely flowers. So she wandered down the path gathering fruit and flowers, not noticing that she was straying further and further from the King's Highway.
She had been doing this for sometime, when suddenly she became hungry. She opened up her princess lunch basket which had been made for her by the King himself. Now like her golden cup, this lunch basket was always filled with bread and fruit. How she loved the King's good bread and fruit! At least, she always had but now it seemed dull compared to the fruit she had gathered along the path. That seemed much more... exotic and exciting. So, the Princess dumped out her basket and filled it with the fruit she had gathered instead. Then she settled down to a nice picnic lunch of fruit salad and water from the stream. Mmm... yummy! After lunch, she stretched out under one of the inviting shade trees and fell asleep.
Now when she awakened, she noticed that it was getting late. She suddenly realized that she was not feeling very well at all. Her head was pounding and her tummy was upset. It was very upset. In fact... She shook uncontrollably with chills. Where was she? Where was the King's Highway? Perhaps a drink of water would help. She took a sip and spit it out. The water had become so bitter she couldn't drink it. She opened her basket and cried out in horror. The fruit that had appeared to be so beautiful and delicious was crawling with maggots and was putrid. No wonder she was sick!
She realized that in her wanderings, she had become so turned around that she didn't know which way led back to the King's Highway. Stifling a sob, she began to try to make her way back as the darkness was falling around her. It was a darkness like she had never seen before. There was no light.
She despaired as she stumbled along in the darkness. The path hadn't been like this before. She must be going the wrong way and tried to turn around but she was blinded by the darkness. She didn't know where she was going!
Suddenly, she banged herself up against something hard. It was a brick wall. It was in front of her as high as she could reach. She reached out on either side of her and discovered brick walls there as well. As she turned around to retrace her steps, she heard a sound which chilled her to the heart. It was the sound of a heavy door being slammed shut and locked. She was trapped! Oh, whatever would she do? There was no escape! No one could hear her cries and the only thing she could hear was the laugher of her captor and then there was silence.
In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
Jonah 2:2 (NIV)
The Princess suddenly realized there was someone in the prison with her. Her prison cell was suddenly filled with light. Gentle hands touched her and instantly she was healed and made whole once again. She stifled a sob as she looked at the hands that had touched her for those hands were nail-scarred.
She instantly fell at His feet sobbing uncontrollably. Oh, she was so sorry for what she had done. She kissed His dear feet and wiped them dry with her hair. She did not deserve His mercy. She deserved death.
He took her golden bottle and carefully washed it clean once again. He refilled it with the water which quenches all thirst and never runs out. He purged her little basket which He had woven for her with His own hands so long ago and replenished with the Bread of Life and the Fruit of the Spirit. He restored her torn and stained garments to their former beauty and then He showed her something she had not noticed before. There was a door in the brick wall.
He inserted a key into the lock of the door and the name of that key is grace. He opened up the door and behold, the Princess discovered to her great joy and delight that when she stepped through that door she was standing on the King's Highway once again.
Never forget about God's grace.
...And MERCY! Thank God for His abundant Grace AND Mercy!
How many times we have willingly strayed off the path, but by His grace we are saved and by His mercy He allows us back!
Wonderful rendering of a story we have all lived... some more times than we care to remember. And thank God He has tossed them as far as the East is from the West!
Praise God for His mercy and grace!