Posts Tagged ‘Wide Road’

Matthew 7:13 – 14 – PRISON DIARY – A Parable

My dementia lifted today like mist from a mountain. The haze that has been my life has cleared enough for me to look in the mirror and see that I have grown old. Very old. As to where I am or how I got here, I cannot tell you. But the diary I hold in my hands claims my name on the cover.

DIARY ENTRY – DAY 1- I am able to walk with the help of a walking device. A Care Worker attended to me today, and when I asked her where I was, she said “You are in a safe place. Don’t worry about anything. You can eat, drink and enjoy life while you have the opportunity without having to think about tomorrow.”

When I began to object another attendant took me aside and assured me that she knows what is best for me. She placed her hand on my shoulder and in a rather autocratic, controlling, patronising tone of voice said “Please don’t complain. You have a beautiful place to live and everything is done for you!”

DAY 2 – Despite constant reassurances to the contrary, I have concluded that I am in a prison! The guards interrogate my family and me for information constantly, keeping records everyday. It is not for my eyes, but it must be a fascinating file, because so much time is spent writing in it. I can’t go to the toilet without it being noted. This seems like an extraordinary invasion of privacy.

What crime have I committed? I asked a guard if he could check my records and see the length of my sentence and my release date, but he sat me down to watch television. Perhaps, like many around here, he is hard of hearing. What bothers me is that it will take several tries for me to get out of this chair again.

DAY 3 – I have exchanged my friends and family with inmates and guards. The inmates are all very old. The guards all very young. Different generation, different cultures, paid to be friendly. I still shudder to think that young women take me to the toilet and shower and dress me in the morning. My son says I have no choice.

Day 4 – My family has visiting rights occasionally, but it seems they think I deserve a life sentence and have abandoned trying to advocate for my release. Today I cried when they left. I learned that my beautiful four bedroom home where I have lived for the last 30 years is being sold by my son. Somewhere down the line I exchanged my home, spacious gardens, and a tennis court for a one room cell with photos. This hardly seems like a fair exchange. Life wasting.

I hear the family say “Is he asleep? He might as well be dead.” I still have my hearing. I am a burden to my family. Inheritance draining. Thoughts of suicide today. Escape seems impossible. I would not get very far, even with my walking frame.

DAY 5 – Discovered today that I have no money to spend. A successful business, millions earned over a lifetime, money to burn in the bank but I am broke. My son told me that he is now my power of attorney and he will pay for everything. Enforced poverty.

I said somewhat foolishly “Have more respect! Don’t you realise who I am?” Has he forgotten? Have I forgotten who I am? A doctor, an army officer, Prisoner of war, a Businessman, a Mayor! Was I the Mayor? Who am I? No-one seems to care who I am anymore. I am just a grain of sand on the beach, a tiny ripple in an ocean. “Don’t laugh at me!”

DAY 6 – Drugged everyday. Surviving but not living. I have been issued a walker to get around, but there is nowhere to go, no challenges to face, no future to plan, no contribution to make, nothing truly meaningful that I can do in terms of work. Closed doors. Imposed routines. I have come to consider a cup of coffee as one of the most important events in life.

DAY 7 – I was so pleased when one guard said she would take me home today, but she simply proceeded to take me back to my one room prison cell. Is she mad! Am I mad!

DAY 8 – Insecure. Guards are there to serve and protect me, men and women armed with their paperwork who are always planning strategies to keep me from experiencing any real challenges in life. Nothing dangerous or risky. Nothing to fear, no mountains to climb, no real difficulties to overcome. Biggest challenge today – going to breakfast! I have to look both ways just to walk down the hallway. If I fall, a monstrous piece of machinery turns up to pluck me from the floor and place me on the bed. It seems the worst enemy around here is gravity.

DAY 9 – Devotions. Lumped together with people of different faiths. Might as well go as it’s all that I have got to express my faith. Jesus loves me. This I know. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

DAY 10 – Chaplain says God doesn’t have a band-aid for the wounds I have on the inside, or a drawer full of pills to help me cope, but God does offer His total healing, forgiveness, friendship and direction in life and in eternity. He can be trusted to keep His promises. He will never leave me or forsake me. He can set me free on the inside.

The Chaplain read from Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT) which says “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” That’d be right. Even the road to heaven is too narrow for wheelchair access and dangerous. Better take my walker and hope for the best.

Seriously though, perhaps it’s not that I am in a prison. It is that the prison is in me. In John 10:10 (NIV) Jesus says “… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” His death on the Cross for my sins has set me free. Thought about this all day.

DAY 11 – So I have swapped the wide road with it’s wheelchair access, lack of obstacles and easy smooth path and chose to embark on the adventure of faith, with it’s challenges and potholes and narrow roads. My faith is still a bit bumpy and it is a challenge everyday. But today I choose life.

DAY 12 – My dementia descends today like mist on a mountain. The haze that has been my life has cleared enough for me to look in the mirror but not to recognise the old man who stares back at me. As to who I am or how I got here, I cannot tell you. All I have is this diary and my faith. O God, You who promised never to leave me or forsake me, …help me today….

Pastor Ross

Chaplain of Shalom

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Matthew 7:13 – 14 – DESERT DIARY – A Parable

U-Turn permitted.

DIARY ENTRY – MONDAY – DAY 1: It is all a MIRAGE! I can see that now. Up until now I have been travelling with this huge throng of people without even considering the inhospitable wasteland around us. We are in a DESERT! Unless we reach a waterhole soon, all of us will die!

TUESDAY – DAY 2: I know that we have plenty of provisions but our water supplies will not last forever and I am surprised that even our leaders don’t seem to know where we are going. When I ask one of them about what lies ahead, he says “Eat, drink and enjoy life while you have the opportunity and don’t think about tomorrow.” Another took me aside today and assured me that he knows what is best for us. He placed his hand on my shoulder and in a rather autocratic, controlling, patronising tone of voice said “Don’t cause any trouble or you may regret it!”

Fortunately most of our community leaders are more democratic and inclusive. I am drawn to a man who has a very charismatic, inspirational and likeable character. He is studying the mirages and has written a book on how they relate to our lives. It’s a fascinating book, but somehow I doubt that this will get us very far.

WEDNESDAY – DAY 3: We eat, sleep and travel in community and over time all kinds of leaders are emerging. I met a man today who is very task oriented, and he has achieved great success and fame by his accomplishments. Others have set the culture of our community by focusing on our values, building our worldviews through consensus over time. But still, there are no ABSOLUTES. No real direction! We are still living in this desolate place.

THURSDAY – DAY 4: At School today I was taught survival techniques for desert life, and how to be cross-culturally relevant and politically correct because all of us are on the same road. That is true. We never deviate from highway 666. The direction is set and no one questions where we are headed. Perhaps it’s because life is tough enough to bear without asking the big questions.

FRIDAY – DAY 5: No-one really wants to CHANGE! We have gifted leaders who are creative, problem solving, improvement oriented, innovative change agents, but we are still in the desert and our resources are running out. No matter how visionary they are, none of them have any really clear view of what is happening and how to get to a waterhole. We are on a highway to hell, abandoned by common sense in this austere environment. Today I saw some vultures circling above.

SATURDAY – DAY 6: I am feeling so INSECURE today. Not that we don’t have people who are here to serve and protect us. We have our own security force, armed men and women who are always planning strategies to keep wild animals away and how to deal with the riots of those who are running out of provisions.

SUNDAY – DAY 7: Some religious leaders practise meditation to empty their minds, others pray. Some organise provisions, buying and selling. Some help the poor and do good works. But it is all a MIRAGE! I have never really seen this before and I am secretly looking for a way to escape. I think about it all the time.

I think about the big picture. What will happen to us? We need to find an oasis, a way to life. Maybe if I can find it then I can show others the way. What are the signs? Is it only me that sees that we are lost in this forsaken place, travelling down a road leading to nowhere but destruction? I am so motivated to find a way out, but so few people are convinced and they think I’m strange. I met a leader today who said that if I continue to speak like I do I will be rejected and ostracised as a fanatic. I am in the minority.

MONDAY – DAY 8: Today it happened! I found the pages of an ancient book beside a creosote bush on the side of the road. I read from a book called Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT) which says “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

Just there, where I found the book, I also found footprints leading away from the road we are travelling on, indications of another path. It is barren and difficult, narrow and dangerous, but perhaps this is what I have been looking for and I have decided to leave the community and set off, following the footprints of whoever it is who has travelled the path before me. Today is the day! I am intent on my quest. Today I begin my journey.

TUESDAY – DAY 9: It involved persistence to find the trail, but leaving everything behind me today I entered a difficult narrow gorge and into the whistling canyons of the way. Somehow I know that this path will lead to life. It’s not something I would normally do. It’s just that I finally see the truth that I have been lost in the crowd, going nowhere fast. I had to do something. There is always a choice and I have found the way of life and I have chosen to take it!

WEDNESDAY – DAY 10: Today I found other pages from the ancient book as I travelled. They tell me that the footprints I follow belong to a man called Jesus. His words in John 14:6 (NLT) call to me as He says “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” In Luke 9:23 (NLT) Jesus says, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow Me” Acts 4:12 (NLT) speaks into my heart and tells me that “There is salvation in NO ONE else! God has given no other Name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

THURSDAY – DAY 11: What have I learned so far? I have discovered that to be a follower of Christ involves turning around and going against the flow. I need to follow His footprints in the sand and His Word. It doesn’t necessarily make sense to anyone else (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17). And yes it involves discipline, commitment, determination, self-control, and self-denial. It’s not always an easy road, but today it led me to an oasis! I drank for the first time the water of life, living water (John 4:10) and this wonderful adventure in life will last forever. In John 10:10 (NIV) Jesus says “… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

FRIDAY – DAY 12: My community continues to choose the wide road where there are no obstacles, plain path, easy going. The freeway is wide, many lanes, no potholes. The highway to hell is not a bumpy road, but smooth sailing. It’s easy, level ground, great to travel on. Easy to get caught in the traffic and enjoy the trip. No toll-ways, no price to pay. All traffic accepted (all philosophies, beliefs, lifestyles, all accepted). But today I am putting up SIGNS along this road. U-turns and warning signs. One sign I got from Proverbs 14:12 (NLT). It says “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”

I still carry that ancient book with me. I have all the pages now. Listen to the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT), “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Jesus is giving the same invitation to you today.

Pastor Ross