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Developing Spiritual Courage Through The Pain Of Experience

By Synthia Esther

When we cry tears flow and our heart grows stronger or weaker depending upon the justification we give our pain. With our tears we baptize our choices. We can take each experience offering forgiveness and grow like wild flowers in an open field drenched in sunlight and bathed with rain from heaven above, or we can wallow in the depths of bitterness, pain and sorrow scorched by the sun, withering in the dust of our personal deserts. It is all a daily choice we must face and endure. With choices made we each begin a journey.

I reflected on my own journey and the proverbial fork in the road. Control or sacrifice, the signs with pointed arrows boldly declared. The roadway leading to the Land of Control looked clear, bright and easy, as far as the eye could see. The air was calm and the blue sky clear. The road leading to the Land of Sacrifice appeared to be less trodden and was filled with valleys, rock, and debris. Weeds and tall grass bordered its pathways. The wind whistled and blew like the desert wind with bits of sand that stung and blistered my face. The proverbial question in my mind? Do I take the path of least resistance, or the road less traveled? The less traveled road looked hard and uncertain to the conscious eyes of approval.

I was still learning to trust my faith in God and I immediately took the roadway to the Land of Control only to discover it ended abruptly on a high mountainous cliff. The dead-end forced me to turn back remembering the steps I had taken. Once again I came face to face with the fork in the road. This time I walked the uncertain, less trodden path way to the Land of Sacrifice. My journey was rough and turbulent. I tripped over rocks, cut and bruised my body, fell into deep valleys and pits while struggling along the rough terrain. With eyes closed I would say a prayer of faith and listen to my heart to guide me. My prayer's lifted my mask of fear and denial as I continued onward with courage and strength. Often times my walk was slow and progress minimal. At times I grew faint and weary. But my past experiences had taught me to say a prayer to God in my wilderness when tempted to curse my existence.
 I developed courage through the pain of experience and by faith I was impelled onward. I looked back and a sense of accomplishment filled my spirit as I saw the progress I had made. I began to notice the pathway was clearing and the roadway straight. Even the signs pointing the way to the Land of Sacrifice had changed to point the way to a place called the Land of Serenity. The rocks and debris had been replaced with the fragrance and beauty of lush flowers and blossoming trees. The aroma sweet and fresh to the senses. As I breathed deeply to enjoy its splendor, I experienced a sense of peace that was all encompassing.
 Another sign read; "This Way To The Land Of Serenity." In the distance I saw a man walking towards me waving his hand in a welcoming gesture. We met and his smile broadened with eyes turned upward as if his whole face was smiling. His entire being radiated a sense of assurance, strength and comfort. He hugged me as if he'd known me all my life. "Welcome," his voice was strong and powerful, yet serene and caring. " I am so glad you are here, there are many people waiting to see you. How was your trip?" I replied complaining in anguish, "Terrible, the roadway was rough, then all of a sudden when I thought I couldn't walk another step the terrain turned clear and easy. Do I know you? How did you know I was going to be here?" He replies with confident assurance, "We have a book that has every name written in it, of every resident who lives here. I'm sure you have a lot of questions. I will be glad to answer any of them for you." His face shined with a reflection of love, care and concern. His eyes seemed to look right through me as if he knew how difficult my journey had been.

Puzzled I asked, "How do you know me? Have we meet before?" Softly he answered, "Yes, we've met before. Shall we go?" He points to walk onward. Once again he smiled. This time his face showed a sense of compassion. His hand touched my shoulder and in an instant I felt more love than I had ever been shown or experienced in my entire life. I sensed a connection from deep with in my heart unlike any other in my lifetime. As we walked together I started to speak and ask him how he knew all about me, about my journey, my trials and tribulations, but before I could utter a word I knew he "felt" my questions. His spirit bare witness with mine. He spoke to my spirit... "I know about your difficult journey to the Land of Sacrifice because I walked it with you. It was I who planned your itinerary. I knew you would take the road to the Land of Control first...most people do."

Once again he looked at me and at once I felt peaceful and at ease. He spoke with compassion as he continued, " so I devised and made the cliff that was your dead end. I provided you such a journey to make sure you would arrive here. However, it was you who determined if you would begin the journey, how long the trip would take and how rough your roadways would become. I never took away your free will nor your freedom to choose. Everyone has their own journey. Everyone has their own hardships leading to and through their path of experiences."

He paused and allowed me to recount my journey in life. I remembered my experiences as cause and effect, for it was my experiences in life that had brought me to and through the Land of Sacrifice. In reflection I realized the most important sacrifice I had made was simply to surrender my fear. I wondered if everyone on earth had to go through these difficult cause and effect learning experiences. He went on to explain, "For some their journey homeward includes difficult battles, disease, giants, trials and tribulations of major proportion, as well as unseen principalities and powers. Their dead end may have been an endless body of water to cross, or a fire so intense the heat could be felt for miles.

Everyone has warnings. I left a plan of instructions, the Bible, unfortunately many never look upon its pages. I am glad you did, for it drew you near to me. Everyone has signs that point them in the right direction. But many times people are too busy fighting their inner demons, or their fear covers up the signs of direction and they never see them. It is by faith that your path clears and the signs are visible. Your faith does the work towards the path way to spiritual transformation, renewal, trust and progress. Without faith it is impossible to arrive. Faith is always a catalyst to change. Those who choose the opposite faculties of control, doubt, negativity and fear in life, do not heed the dead end or the many warnings. It is then that they end up for eternity in the "Land of Endless Self Destruction". As we were still walking I pondered the idea of an eternity of endless self destruction. That sounded like Hell to me. He immediately replied...".It is."

It was at this time that I noticed a very large white sign with the words, "WELCOME TO THE LAND OF ETERNAL SERENITY," written in big, bold red letters. Underneath and in smaller print was written, "All your taxes and penalties have been paid." I turned and looked into his eyes as a deep sense of gratitude overwhelmed me. Tears ran down my checks, my voice cracked with emotion as I tried to speak, "I do know you. No ones journey or cross to bear held such unbearable weight, nor was as difficult as yours. It was you who paid the taxes and penalties of sin for all humanity. It is because of your loving sacrifice, that I am here... in Heaven, the land of eternal serenity." Falling at his feet I declared with thankful tears of joy. "You are the Messiah, Jesus Christ, my blessed Holy Savior and friend. By your loving kindness you saved my life. By your mercy and grace you planned my life's journey, shinning light in the darkness. How can I ever repay you? How can I ever show my humble gratitude and thanks?" With a soft smile he whispered to my spirit, "My thanks has come by your arrival." Now basking in the majestic glory of His loving presence, and the bliss of peace and joy in the Land of Eternal Serenity, I was thank-full for my God ordained sacred journey home.

John 14:1-6, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. (2) In my Father's house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (4) You know the way to the place where I am going." (5) Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" (6) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

John 3:16-21, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (17) For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (18) Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. (19) This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (20) Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (21) But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

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