Proudly, I was walking tall through all life’s tests and trails. The horizon was clear and the ground ahead secure. Until suddenly my feet came out from underneath me, and I found myself face-down in the earth’s soil.
As much as I wanted to pull myself up, I couldn’t get my limbs to cooperate. Others passed me by, but because their eyes were so fixated on the horizon, they couldn’t, or maybe just wouldn’t, see me. So face-down I remained.
Along the way, others would trip over my body lying there in the dirt and end up on the ground next to me, but they too remained there.
Time passed. Days, weeks, maybe even months. I could no longer see the horizon, and while I was once disgusted with my position, I now had grown quite comfortable there. Occasionally I would see the shadow dance by of another traveler walking proudly on the trail, and somewhere deep down inside I would think that maybe I, too, could once again walk. But soon their shadows would pass, and reality would sink in. So in the dirt I remained.
From time to time a passerby would stop and offer assistance to me or one of the others caught face-down—the nerve. Couldn’t they see that I had everything under control? After all, didn’t they know that I too had once walked where they walk? Couldn’t they see that I would be fine on my own? The arrogance. Besides, I would much rather lie hidden in the dirt than have my face exposed while being pulled to my feet. Yes, the dirt suited me quite well.
Then one day everything changed. A Man approached me and stopped right in front of me. The hushed whispers of my other companions told me who it was, so instead of lifting my head, I pushed it further in the dirt. I could not allow this Man to get a glimpse of my face. After all, He made the trail. What would He think of my stumble? Certainly He was only here to push me off the trail and into the bush. And who could blame Him? All of these bodies face-down in the dirt gave the trail a very messy appearance, and wasn’t it all about appearances anyway?
I waited, expecting to feel a push or a pull, only to hear the Man ask, “Do you want a hand?” The voice was so soft and gentle that I almost couldn’t hear it. Until I heard Him ask again, a little louder this time: “Do you want a hand?”
With all of my heart, I wanted to say yes, but I still heard my muffled reply, “No, I’ll be fine.” Yet still the Man stood there.
This continued for days. The Man stood quietly with my head at His feet, and the only occasional words He would utter were, “Do you want a hand?” I would refuse, and He would again remain, only to replay the same scene the next day, and again the one that followed.
A week passed, and I still had yet to take a look at Him. After hearing so much about the Maker of the trail, I was curious, so finally I stole a quick glance up. What I saw surprised me. His demeanor was strong, yet gentle. His expression compassionate, yet not one of pity. His gaze blazing, yet open. He asked again, “Do you want a hand?”
This time, with tears running down my cheeks, turning the dirt to mud under me, I found myself whispering, “Yes.” Immediately the Man dropped to His knees and took my hands in His. Then, wrapping my arm around His strong shoulders, He lifted me quickly and swiftly. Looking at the horizon for the first time in months brought more tears to my eyes as I was captivated by the hope and beauty of the future.
The Man and I walked hand –in hand along the path, having the most wonderful conversations, until my strength returned and my steps were once again firm. He then left my side, but we continued to converse, and He shared with me the planning involved in building this trail and the joys that would come at the end.
So I continued to walk. Yes, there were times when the sun’s radiance was clouded or even times when I again found myself face-down, but He was always right there with me. Waiting with the same question—“Do you want a hand?”—and with fresh memories of my time in the dirt. I learned how to swallow my pride and say “yes.”