And just as the boy was getting ready to set out on his journey, the angel gave him one final word of advice…
“The road ahead of you is very long and difficult, full of trials and hardship and loss. Of the many kinds of people you’ll come across, It is of the utmost importance that you find someone to walk with you, who, has walked with god.”
“But how will I know if they’ve truly walked with god?” The boy asked. “There’s so many cultures, languages, religions.”
“Beware of those who are quick tell you of how they walk with god, for they often speak of what they do not know. Those who truly have met god often don’t know it, and if they do, know there are some things best left unsaid.”
Thinking for a moment, the boy asked again, “So what can I do? I don’t want to be mislead, but also, I don’t want to judge too harshly, for if someone claims they’ve walked with god, who knows, maybe they have. But if someone hasn’t, and they don’t even know if they have, how can they be of any help to me? And if it’s of the upmost importance to find such a person, there must be a way to know. Angel, will you please tell me how to know if someone has walked with god?”
The angel smiled. “Don’t look for words, or customs, or religion, or wealth, or status. All these things have the appearance of godliness but can lack the substance. So don’t be deceived. You will know a person has truly walked with god by this…
When wronged; they forgive.
When mistreated; they show mercy.
When they work; they have joy.
What they earn; they share.
When they fall; they get up.
When they fail; they try again.
In their pursuits; they think neither of winning nor losing, only of giving genuine effort, and they sleep soundly knowing they did the most important thing—simply try.
When they’re weak; they ask for help.
When you talk; they listen.
When they talk; they tell the truth, and, when speaking of others, their words, though painful, heal.
When they meet a fork in the road; they pray, and then choose a path, knowing; a choice is all the path was looking for.
When the wind blows; they bend.
When everything’s dark; they hope.
When their city is attacked and their friends lose heart; they bleed, they cry, they trust that there is a season for everything under the sun, even death, so they wait and let God work, believing love is carrying everything along.
“But what's the most important thing?” The boy interrupted. “What matters most? What’s the biggest thing to look for?”
“It’s impossible to make such a thing so small,” the angel replied, “but if I must, and
I say this after many, many years watching mankind, I’d say it is this: Against all odds, those who have walked with god believe in themselves. Even to the point of meeting god and wrestling with him, fighting against the almighty until dawn. One such man did, and when he was done, the lord changed his name from Jacob, which meant “heal grabber, or, follower” to Israel, which means “one who struggles, contends, or fights.” This act of standing on his own two feet brought such delight to god that god blessed him and his lineage, affecting the course of human history forever.”
“How will I know if someone believes in themselves, and has fought with god?” asked the boy.
“They will have a limp.” The angel chuckled. "But beyond self belief, there is another trait I would leave you with. A trait that I would say is even above what father Jacob, and wonderful names like Noah, Elijah, David, or even Solomon displayed.”
“What is it?!” They boy urged excitedly.
“Yes, laughter. For though Noah’s obedience and Jacobs independence and David’s passion were acceptable, they were all signs of what humans do who have not yet walked with god. David would later learn that “in his presence is the fullness of joy, and in his right hand is eternal pleasure.”
It’s incredibly hard to go to battle when you can’t stop smiling. It’s very hard to worry about the future, to pray, to hate, to envy, to judge, to regret, to even think straight, when you’re overcome with joy.
Joy is the key to eternity; to stepping past time. For as it is written, “…God would fill them with the gladness of heart that he wouldn’t even take into account the length of his days.” When we find joy, we stop counting. For time is an illusion, a curse, the result of a mind that has lost it’s joy.”
The boy wasn’t sure what to think at this moment. He had thought the angel very wise up til’ now, but this seemed too simple. But, even though he was unsure, he had lived enough days with the picture of a distant, dissatisfied god in his head. And for some reason, it just felt good (even for a moment) to trust someone who had pictures in their head of a god laughing.
“My boy, remember, don’t be deceived with words. Look for people who do the things I told you, and most importantly, as if your life depends on it, look for someone who—through all of life’s ups and downs and trials and hardships—has a limp, and still smiles and laughs, like a child.”
Ronnie is an artist who's ideas have launched businesses, apps, music albums, and as of late, cartoons. Visit his website here. He thinks outside the box but don't tell him that, he doesn't believe in boxes, unless you're in a movie cinema. Ronnie lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A with his wife Anna and their three boys Jack, Griffin and Maverick.
See previous articles by Ronnie Herrema