(Note: I wrote this earlier this year, and I had put it on Facebook in my Notes, but I wanted to have it in my blog as well.)
Out of Darkness
Slowly and faintly, something throbs away in the darkness. Despite the shadowy murk, it is obvious that this thing, whatever it is, is ugly. As minutes peel away a few degrees of the oblivion of the dark, the throbbing mound becomes more visible. Bloody and raw, at first it looks like something from the side of the highway, probably a slab of fresh road kill.
A closer look reveals that this is no dead animal. Rather, it is a piece of some body, an organ. Is it….a heart? The throbbing, which is growing weaker and more erratic with each passing minute, makes sense now. Another minute of inspection explains why the beating has slowed to nearly nothing: the heart is mangled and damaged almost beyond recognition, and each nearly inaudible thub, thump of the organ releases yet more of its lifeblood onto the dank cement floor, the circle of wet scarlet growing wider and wider. Gnarled scar tissue runs like knobby tree roots over almost all of the heart. Parts of it are discolored purple and almost black, revealing badly bruised tissue, accented by cruel lacerations that are gaping open. Festering sores abound all over the heart. No part of it is untouched by some form of mutilation. It looks as though this heart has been stomped on, rubbed across asphalt, hammered, and stabbed. No amount of normal wear and tear could disfigure a heart to this extreme. Something or someone must have brutally mauled this thing, because no natural cause could maim it so. Another minute of studying the heart and suddenly bile rises in the back of my throat. This heart has been here awhile. A long, long while. What was almost unperceivable at first is now an obvious layer of mold, concentrated when the rawest wounds are decaying.
The sight of this pathetic heart, nearly lifeless but still just barely beating, is revolting. It can serve no purpose, benefit no one, lying here on the cold floor. Anyone can see it would be better off in a dumpster, rotting away in an appropriate place rather than soiling the ground and repulsing everyone who sees it. I take one step closer to the heart, and thunder fills my ears. Crashing, booming, earth-shattering, knock-you-on-your back thunder. The sound washes over me and consumes the atmosphere. There is no more air in here, only thunder rolling over and around me. I sink slowly to the floor, trying to get my bearings before I think about what could be causing this magnificent, terrifying noise. Before I am on the ground, a pinprick of the brightest light I’d ever seen pierces through the heavy darkness. My eyes follow the stream of light and it leads me to look upon the most decayed, battered part of the heart, a hundred times uglier now that it is showcased in this light. I realize that the light is getting stronger, covering more of the heart and becoming brighter, if that’s even possible. Within a minute the entire heart is exposed, a revolting, quivering mass of rotted, mangled flesh more grotesque than I had ever thought possible.
I sit there, immobilized by my simultaneous awe and revulsion. The combination of fearsome thunder, exquisite light, and the ugliest sight I’d ever seen overwhelmed my senses and halted my thoughts. I’m not sure how long I was there on the ground, perhaps only moments, although hours would be just as likely. My stupor was shattered when I gradually realized that the thunder had been replaced by a voice. I could not place it, but the voice was familiar. At the same time, it was like nothing I’d ever heard before. I pondered it, listening to the timbre and cadence as the words poured out smoothly. All at once, I realized what it was. The voice was the very same that had centuries ago proclaimed “I am the way and the truth and the life.” It was the voice that had cast out demons and cried out in agony on the cross. Trembling, I listened more closely to what the voice was saying.
“My dear child, get up.”
Miraculously, the heart started to throb. It began to beat, and with each beat it became stronger and steadier. The rotted and decayed and scarred tissue fell away, the gaping wounds began to close, and the bruises faded before my eyes. Somehow, this vile thing had been reconstructed before my eyes. Where moments before had laid a lifeless, disfigured organ, now there was a strong, beautiful heart. Suddenly, the form of a girl grew around the heart. My shock increased a hundredfold as I realized the form was my body, and in that confused, amazed instant, I realized I was not watching this transformation but experiencing it. I was not sitting in the darkness, rather I was being bathed in that pool of the most splendid light. My hands covered my face, and I shook with the horrorific realization that the contemptible heart I had seen was not just any wretched organ, but my heart. I had seen the inside of myself, the darkest, vilest, most sordid parts of me. That thing was me at my most basic, and He had seen me as I truly was. Shame and fear filled me, and I scrambled away into the darkness, hoping against hope that maybe if I stayed in the dark He wouldn’t see me, and yet knowing that nothing was ever hidden from Him. Curling myself into a tight knot, I waited for punishment to come. Again, I heard the unmistakable voice, more insistent this time.
“My dear child, get up.”
I peeked through my fingers, wondering who this magnificent voice was speaking to. I was alone. It began to dawn on me that He must be speaking to me. Squinting to shield my eyes from the brightness, I gradually uncurled myself. Shading my eyes with my hands, I dared to look towards the light once again. I heard the voice call out a third time, gentle but urging. It was nearly impossible to resist. His voice was full of so much- splendor, power, beauty, grace, mercy, and love. Was it possible He was directing this to me, after what He had seen in me, laid bare and ugly in His glorious light?
“My dear child, get up.”
Hope permeated my being and faith propelled me upward. I stood, and took one step, then another. I found myself at the edge of the light. I knew this next step would be both my last and my first.
I stepped into the light.