I was once told the story of a child who had been invited to spend a sunny summer day playing with his friends. He lived in a rural area and it took him a good bit of time to make the trek. But the child made his way toward his friends as they made their way toward him and eventually they came upon one another halfway. Soon they were climbing trees and jumping creeks and skipping rocks and generally having the time of their lives.
Around dusk, the boy realized he should begin his return journey. But just as he was about to say his farewells, one of the other lads began to tell a story. The child, once drawn in, couldn’t force himself away. He sat in rapt attention as the story progressed, as the action waxed and waned, as the hero faced peril and emerged victorious.
By the time the story was complete, the sun had dipped behind the distant horizon. Now the boy gazed into the gathering darkness and realized he was afraid to set out by himself. He asked his friends to come with him, but they all needed to return in the opposite direction. As the boy dawdled and tried to work up his courage, the sun’s last rays disappeared from the sky. He fretted about his family, wondering if they were concerned about what had become of him.
The night grew darker still as clouds rolled in and began to blanket the moon and the stars. At last he decided he must stop procrastinating and set out. But just as he stood to his feet, a blinding flash of lightning shot from the sky and it was soon followed by a mighty crack of thunder. His courage failed him altogether.
Yet just as he was about to sink into utter despair, his eye spotted a flicker of light bobbing in the distance. Curious, he watched as it grew closer, as it grew brighter. And, then, to his delight, he saw that it was his older brother come to fetch him, come to bring him home. And now he quickly said farewell to his friends and boldly stepped into the darkness. He confidently made his way toward his brother who then led him safely home—home where his family threw their arms around him, home where a meal had been laid out for him, home where peace and rest awaited him.
And after the storyteller had said all of this, he paused for a moment. He paused to gather his thoughts and consider his words. And then he spoke once more.
So may it be for you when the night of death comes. So may it be for you when your friends cannot accompany you. So may it be for you when you do not dare to go alone.
On that day, your friend who is closer than a brother, your Savior who is your elder brother, will come to meet you at just the right time. In his hand will be the lantern of all the precious promises he has made, and this will be the lamp to your feet and the light to your path. He will lead you through the dark night and into the brightest day. He will accompany you to the place where your family awaits you and longs to see you, the place where a great supper has been laid out for you, the place where God himself is ready to welcome you home. Never, no never, do you need to fear that you will have to go that way alone.
Inspired by De Witt Talmage