"What a Year!" Contest First Place Entry
Title: "The Road"
Written by: Christian Mericle
'The ice-cold westerly wind blew in my face and chilled me to the bone'1 as I stood in the parched wasteland. I cried out for help. Was there hope for my hopeless soul? I fell to my knees and began to weep. As my tears dropped to the ground, they began to wash the dust away from something. I reached down and tried to unearth the object, but it was too large. I could not move it. Brushing away the soil, I realized that it was a large rock. I could read an inscription: 'There is a way that leads to life; the few that find it never die. Past mountain peaks graced white with snow, the way grows brighter as it goes.'2 I stood to leave but paused. There were names carved deep into the rock. I brushed away more dirt. Bob H., Ronny, Jim, Greg V., David, John S., Kevin, Lonnie, John D., Bill, Bob F., Mark, Greg H., John L., Pete, Louie, John Sl... I realized that these were the names of the men who told of the hope for which I sought. The message was not of their own invention-- no, it came from a higher Source-- they were merely servants proclaiming the Truth.
I began walking toward those mountains in the distance. Here I would find that road to Zion, my hope. In an instant I stood at the foot of the towering peaks. How had I arrived so quickly? Had I been borne along by angels?
My heart leaped within my breast. I was finally free... But, no, the chasm. How could I cross this chasm that separated me from that path of hope. I looked to the left, to the right. Too long, too deep, too wide. I again began to cry.
"Why the tears?" I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to look into the eyes of a bewhiskered man.
"My hope is over there, across this canyon. I cannot get to the other side."
"You are hopeless?"
I tried to answer, but was overcome by sobs. Finally, I regained my composure enough to speak. "'Sometimes the night seems to go on for days when it's hard to see the light through the darkness and haze.'"3 I closed my eyes and allowed my chin to drop to my chest.
"Dry your tears." The man's peace-filled voice offered comfort. "You 'can surely rise above it.'4 'The provision has been made. The foundation has been laid. He paid the ransom due and tore the temple veil in two, and opened up the way for me and you.'"5
"I don't understand." I opened my eyes and raised my head, but the man was gone. I began to run, seeking him, but stopped. What was this? A hill standing at the edge of the canyon, and, at the top, something... But, what? I began climbing and when I reached the peak, I saw three crosses. My heart told me to embrace the one in the middle and I did. Throwing my arms around its rough wood, I cried, "Save me, oh God."
Like a river running through my soul, I felt my sins being washed away. I felt the love of Christ 'killing my old man'6-- that sinful man. I felt something I had never felt before. I felt 'clean, clean before my Lord.'7 There on that hill, 'where the blood runs below, died a King, two thieves and'8 me.
I looked again at the chasm. Now, though, I beheld a great bridge. Why didn't I see it before? It could not have been there earlier.
I began to run across it and thank God for his mercy. "'More than a thousand words won't say, more than my life will not repay. More than a thousand things I do won't make it up to You.'"9
I soon found that Road to Zion and was greeted by a young woman.
"Is this Heaven?" I asked.
She was bemused by my ignorance. "No, friend, this is not Heaven. 'Here we are just pilgrims in a strange land. We are so far from our homeland.'"10
"Is this an easy way?"
"Sometimes it is, but often it is not. When you feel weak, remember there's 'more power to ya when you're standing on His word, when you're trusting with your whole heart in the message you have heard.'"11
"'So, I just need to keep walking in the light, every day and night'?"12
"May I walk with you?" I asked shyly.
"Of course, you can. 'I'll be there when you call, lift you up when you fall-- two are better than one.'"13
As my new friend told, the journey was sometimes easy, sometimes hard. Sometimes, I stumbled and fell. As we walked together in tough times, she reminded me that 'sometimes a shadow dark and cold lays like a mist across the road. But, be encouraged by the sight, where there's a shadow, there's a light.'2
Many years have passed since I crossed that chasm and began my pilgrimage. Every step of the way, I felt the Lord telling me to 'be of good cheer'14 Often, through my 'thankfulness and praise' I would spiritually 'enter into Heaven's Holy Place.'15 The day came that I passed from life to death. I stood before the 'Bema Seat'16 and saw my works tested. Many I had met on the road were there in Heaven to welcome me, to say "'Hello again.'"17 But the one I wanted to see was Jesus. He was there waiting and 'after all those years of falling down, I fell up in the arms of love.'18
- "Road to Zion" from The Petra Devotional by Bob Hartman
- "Road to Zion" from More Power to Ya (Star Song)
- "Just Reach Out" from Wake Up Call (Word)
- "Why Should the Father Bother?" from Washes Whiter Than (Star Song)
- "It is Finished" from Captured in Time and Space (Star Song)
- "Killing My Old Man" from Never Say Die (Star Song)
- "Clean" from Beat the System (Star Song)
- "Dead Reckoning" from This Means War (Star Song)
- "More Than a Thousand Words" from No Doubt (Word)
- "Not of This World" from Not of This World (Star Song)
- "More Power to Ya" from More Power to Ya (Star Song)
- "Walkin' in the Light" from Petra (Myrrh)
- "Two Are Better Than One" from No Doubt (Word)
- "Be of Good Cheer" from Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus (Word)
- "Enter In" from No Doubt (Word)
- "Bema Seat" from Not of this World (Star Song)
- "Hello Again" from God Fixation (Word)
- "Falling Up" from God Fixation (Word)