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The Known Stranger

A young man was walking along under a semi-dark sky and the path he was walking on was very treacherous. At times he would stop and just think about turning around and not continuing not the path, but inside he knew this was the best for him to do. Keep on walking forward. On the path his steps would find unstable footing and it seemed like very other rock he stepped on was very slippery and slick. The path veered off to the left and when he started to go that way he started to fall and a hand grabbed him by the shoulder and kept him upright. He only felt the hand for a short time but at the time the timing of the hand grabbing his shoulder was perfect. For awhile now he had noticed a presence like someone walking with him, but he thought it was just his imagination and dismissed it to the partial darkness of the sky overhead. He proceeded on the path that veered left and found himself going up the hill to a higher elevation. The young man was actually scared of heights and really wanted to turn around and go back but when he stopped he thought he heard a voice say, “Go ahead. You can do it.” He thought to himself, “Oh this is great. Now I’m hearing voices. I’m really losing it!” But, he heeded the advise from the voice and started up the incline, being very intent on not looking down. About halfway to the top he began to really labor because of the thinner air and the top loomed even farther away in his present lack of oxygen. The young man sat down and pondered his decision to go on. He thought, “Here I am scared of heights and I’m dizzy from a lack of oxygen.” In the middle of that thought a hand rested on his shoulder and that same voice said, “Here, try this.” The hand gave him a mask and when he put it on his breathing returned to normal and his dizziness ceased. Actually he was getting super revived and felt a great surge of energy from the air he was breathing. The hand took the mask away and he tried to grab it to get more, but the voice said, “No that is enough for you to finish the climb.” The young man turned and looked up the hill and he was amazed that he was much closer to the top than he first thought. Energized he picked up the pace and reached the peak in no time. When he got to the top he turned to the right and thought, “I feel great. I am going to pick up the pace and get to my destination even quicker than I thought. His competition attitude kicked in and he even thought about running the rest of the way. About the time he was starting to sprint the hand grabbed his shoulder again and the voice said, “Stop here for awhile.” He thought, “I’ve got to see who this is who is trying to direct my steps and is trying to stop me when I feel like sprinting.” As the young man gathered himself he turned to look into the face of the One who was traveling with him.

To his amazement it was a man who looked a lot like him and he was taken back by the gaze of this stranger who had taken it upon himself to be his guardian. The young man didn’t remember ever meeting this man, but the man was VERY familiar, so the young man felt comfortable and sat down and the man sat beside him. Then the man began to speak. “Young man you have done well on your journey and I have enjoyed giving you balance in your unstable time, air when you needed it, energy to make the climb, and now is the most important part of the whole journey. This time of resting and reflection will be what makes the journey have the intended impact I intended it to have to help you make many more journeys of faith. But, you need to stop and spend time with me for a while and look at all we have accomplished together over this journey and let it revive you and remind you of how you completed this journey. The young man was listening intently to the man’s words and they were like a salve to his heart, and he experienced a deep understanding about the need for the help from the stranger and how much he needed it to continue on. The young man focused on the man’s words and gazed into his eyes and realized that he was in the presence of greatness. Just about the time he was going to stay a while longer in the presence of the man, the man stood up and disappeared from his sight. The young man called out, “Wait. I want to spend some more time with you. ” But no answer and no man appeared.

The young man stood up and pondered what this meeting was all about and turned to go on down the path to his destination. He could see where the trail ended and the flat ground of the finish to his hike and began down the hill. The rocks were even more slippery and he almost fell a few times, but he noticed no hand grabbing him to keep him upright. He also noticed that his reaction time and balance was much better, but he attributed it to his newly found bravery when up high. As the young man stepped on the flat surface at the bottom of the climb he gathered himself and caught his breath. Suddenly he felt that familiar hand on his shoulder and that familiar voice said, “Now for the next climb. Let’s go!” The young man turned and saw the man walking off in the direction of a huge mountain and as the man looked back he said, “C’mon. We got this.” The young man felt a sudden sense of great faith and great empowerment in the words of the man when he said. “We got this.” He looked around and then looked up the mountain and said to himself, “Yeah, we DO got this.”

Things to keep in mind from this story.

  1. The young man was willing to make this initial climb up the mountain, even though he was scared of heights. Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

  2. A hand came out of nowhere to balance him when he needed it most. Jude 1:24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,

  3. When the young man began to lose his strength the stranger gave him a refreshing breath of oxygen so he could keep going. Philippians 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

  4. When the young man got to the top and looked and saw the finish he wanted to sprint to the finish without finding out where his strength came from and who was helping. him. Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Psalm 121:I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to slip;

  5. The stranger wanted to spend time with the young man for just a while. Isaiah 1:“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.

  6. The stranger wanted to give the young man some time to reflect on their journey because the stranger knew he was taking the young man on an even greater adventure and the young man needed the insights derived from the former climb. Deuteronomy 5:33 You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.

  7. The stranger went ahead of the young man to let Him know that He was with him on this new journey. 2 Corinthians 12: 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am always amazed at the stories of my life and how I can see it was that Known Stranger always with me. We need that kind of encouragement and we need to realize that waiting for our lives as believers is a great adventure of faith and challenge and God is not only with us all along the way, but He is making it all work in His perfect way.

The Pilgrimage continues……

David Warren

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