I am on a road that is going nowhere. From what I can see, I am the only living soul around. I have been walking for a while without any clear direction. I have no idea where I am at or where I am heading. I just keep walking.
As I journey through this valley of nothingness, I feel extremely lonely and fearful. I cannot contain the tears that are continuously rolling down my face.
I call out to God for help, but nothing happens. I pray until I am lost for words. However, there is no sign of God nearby. I sense He has abandoned me.
The day seems eternal. The sun continues to pound relentlessly upon my body. There is no place to take shelter. Night has not come, and it seems it will not. I continue to walk aimlessly. I am exhausted. My body wants to collapse and give up this endless journey. I don’t know how much more I can endure.
"When will this journey end? How long will I bear this agony? Why am I here? Why has God abandoned me?" I cry out desperately to the heavens. Still, I receive no answer.
Although my hopes and faith are slowly fading away, I continue to pray.
After walking endlessly, I realize I am still where I started from. Feeling defeated and hurt, I exclaim, “Why is this happening to me?” Still, I receive no answer.
Suddenly, I see an obscure image. The closer I get, I see the figure of an old man sitting on the side of the road.
"Can this be true or is it a mirage?" I wonder. No, it is not a mirage. It is a man; and he appears to be meditating.
“Has God answered my prayers?” I ask myself.
He appears to be in deep thought. I don’t want to disturb him, but I need to find out where I am. “Excuse me sir, can you help me?” I say politely. Slowly, he lifts his head and smiles at me. It’s a warm and friendly smile. He signals me to sit and offers me water. “Where am I?” I ask.
“You are on an endless road. It leads you nowhere. If you want, I can help you. I'll be happy to show you a road that leads to a place of plenty...a place of riches, happiness and merriment. Come with me and I will show you the way,” he states. Although something inside me is telling me not to go, I ignore the feeling, and follow him faithfully.
We go through an opening on the side of the road. After traveling a short distance, we arrive at the place he spoke of.
It is exactly as he said. The place is absolutely stunning. It lacks nothing. The people are extremely friendly and helpful. There is plenty of everything- food, people, laughter, etc. The streets are paved with gold. Everything is bright. The sun is shining; and there is not one cloud across the sky. The sun is no longer pounding on me. Instead, it is bathing me with its light. A warm and gentle breeze has dried the tears from my face. The place is truly paradise. As the old man said, this is the land of plenty.
The old man smiles and bits me farewell. Before leaving, he tells me to enjoy myself. Suddenly, he disappears.
Yes, I have finally arrived at my destination. My aimless walking has ended.
For days, I indulge in the various pleasures made available to me. I become addicted to all. I crave for more. I have become a pleasure seeker. The more I get, the more I want. I am out of control. In search for more, I roam to another part of this so-called paradise.
I can’t believe my eyes. I have gone from one extreme to another. This place is so gloomy and dark. Here, the streets are not covered with gold, rather cheap dark metal. Although there are people all around, they don’t appear happy. They walk around like zombies, or lost souls. There are great destruction and misery all around. Abandoned babies crying and slowly dying of hunger; young children selling their bodies in order to eat; people killing each other senselessly, little children dirty and hungry roaming the streets; women suffering from physical and emotional abuse; youngsters with numerous needle marks desperately looking for another fix; elderly abandoned and living in cardboard boxes; people riddled with diseases; and the list goes on.
Yes, the old man was right about this place. It is a place of plenty. There are enough misery, tears, hate, anguish, hunger, pain, despair, illness and darkness for everyone. The streets are no longer beautiful; and the sun no longer shines.
Oh, my God, what have I done? I made a terrible mistake. I selected a path that was short and less burdensome without realizing the heavy penalty attached. I allowed myself to be enticed by the trappings of a world with a dark hidden agenda. Is this what people refer to as, "Hell on earth?" It is true, “Not everything that shines is gold.”
The old man was not sent by God to help me as I initially thought. He was the devil disguised as a benevolent human being feeding on my weaknesses and imperfections.
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” –Matthew 4:1-11.
Although Jesus was a great teacher, undoubtedly, I am a poor student. Wanting immediate gratification, I never considered the ramifications of my actions. I allowed myself to be pulled in by the negative energies that wait patiently for its prey. Now, I am a prisoner of this Sodom and Gomorrah situation without an escape plan.
My only option is prayer. I pray, however, I feel that God has abandoned me. “Will God ever heed my plead? I wonder.
“God, forgive me. Help me to get out of here and back to where I started,” I implore.
I sit alone in total darkness. I have no sense of time. It seems I have been here forever. I am scared. I sense movement around me, but I cannot see who it is. The energy seems sinister. Even though the noise around me is maddening, I pray ceaselessly.
“Will God rescue me from this darkness?” I can only hope for it to be true.
Suddenly, a luminous light appears. The light transforms into an angel. He smiles and takes my hand. My heart is pounding. I can’t believe that I am finally going to be saved. He guides me out of the darkness and into the light. I am back where I started. As the old man said, “The road to nowhere.” As I turn to thank my savior, he is no longer around. He has vanished without saying good-bye.
“God, forgive me for doubting you. I know now that you were always by my side. I was foolish and selfish. Instead of accepting my earthly trials and tribulations, I took the easy way out. I know that we are here to learn and purify our souls; and the only road to you is the one you have set in front of us. Forgive me and give me strength so that I will not deviate from my true spiritual journey.”
Now, I walk the lonely road without complaints. I try to enjoy and take in all I see. I no longer feel lonely or question where I am going. God is with me at all times. I know he has a master plan for me.
Shortcuts in life are not always the safest or easiest way to get to your destination.
Everyone who comes here must face trials and tribulations. Some are endurable while others are emotionally and physically exhausting. Test can last a short time while others seem to last an eternity.
The key is to trust God. He will not abandon you. He will be with you every step of the way.