A young man in his twenties hangs his head as if in prayer. Sitting in a camp chair at his church's fall retreat he tightens his grasp on the book in his hands. A beautiful glow from the bonfire casts a deceptive shadow behind him preventing everyone except his closest peers from knowing the tempest that stirs inside. Some can see the form of a strong young man with an athletic build who appears as if he could conquer anything. The shadow shares both a truth and a lie. On one hand it is very true because the man loves to work outdoors. He finds strength and pleasure just being around God's creation and for this reason he enjoys taking pride in his tasks. History has proven that in many cases it would seem whenever he sets his heart and mind on something, he really could conquer anything set before him.
On the other hand, the shadow is offering a great deception. In reality, the very heart and soul of this man withers away with each mistake and selfish notion. He ultimately searches to find God's fulfillment in his life, yet only his closest and dearest friends who gather near him tonight truly know his heart aches in turmoil struggling to find answers. There have just been too many recent occasions of shame and suffering he's endured the last few months for him to relax and enjoy the fellowship around him. Although he doesn't realize it yet, much of this man's misfortune was unnecessary. Sadly, most instances were prompted by poor choices despite both friends and family trying to prevent him from making such a choice. Between the constant emotional and financial stress now taking its heavy toll, he sits broken before the Lord - mindlessly staring at the earth beneath his feet. Most of the others nearby cannot see or feel his anguish as he wonders about tomorrow - his eyes dazed by the flicker of fire light dancing across the ground.
He has his health and for that he is thankful, but he has not appreciated that gift enough. Now he grows more frail in both physical form and inner strength as he continues to spiral downward into the abyss of his own wandering negative thoughts - frustrated by his selfish choices. He longs for God to intervene and give him a push in the right direction. Thoughts of one day finding the answers - God's purpose for his life - swirl inside his mind and tear at his innermost being. He desires to see the future of hope, but is still at a loss as to where God intends his life to go from here.
As he wrestles with finding direction, he finally humbles himself enough to pray. Muttering silently under his breath, he asks the Lord for forgiveness, peace, and fulfillment. "How can I get back on track living a life that is worthy of your calling, Lord?", he ponders to himself as he lets out a long sigh. His lips whisper softly, "I want to live for you now - and you alone, Lord." Broken and completely humbled, the man remains still for a moment before God - waiting and hoping to somehow hear His voice.
Crackles of burning embers and the night song of happy crickets fill his ears while voices of laughter drift away in the background nearby. The soft leather Bible he had clutched on his lap, now lays open before him. He prays and seeks for hope and inspiration to one day feel fulfilled in the Lord and know His life's purpose. Unfortunately this Bible which once went with him everywhere had lost its place in the young man's priorities and had become almost forgotten. He now boldly begins to read it once again. Page after page he scans in the dim orange light, then pauses. Opening his heart and mind to God's word, he soon finds he is now at peace. Praying to the Lord once more in thanks for not giving up on him, he quietly rests his thoughts in meditation. His eyes stop on some verses and he trusts the Lord for encouragement.
Time passes and the young man stares into the night sky as God's starry masterpiece sparkles and shines. Slowly, it's being revealed to him that all things are possible with God. Just then, his lips begin to curl a bit at the edges, and it almost appears to be forming a smile. Recalling the verses of Psalm 57:2-3 that his wise pastor once shared with him many years ago, he turns to those pages and begins to read out loud: "I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; God sends his love and his faithfulness."
The young man's friends now quickly turn toward him, gladdened by his sudden break of silence and depression. They've all known each other a long time. No words were necessarily needed to comfort. Just being there with him and praying for him during this time of struggle is all he could have ever asked. He stands up slowly - gently placing his Bible down on his seat and smiling at it. It is going to forever be a priceless treasure to him now, as he plans on reading through God's wisdom daily. His peers join him to rejoice as he is warmly greeted and hugged by all.
Surrounded by the joyful tears and thankful hearts, the young man now knows God was always by his side through every circumstance. He realizes a great truth - the friends and people in our lives that God brings our way in His name are His blessings to help guide and protect us. God's purpose and vision were available to him all along, the young man just forgot where to look. His friends tried to share with him that God's words of the Bible are freely given as a gift and road map for our lives to help us find that purpose and fulfillment we each search for. He now knows they were right all along. The love and devotion of God's people shall continue to be an influence on the young man's future steps, but he will always remember to seek God's wisdom first in the Good Book. The young man bent down by his seat and carefully lifted up his prized possession - the Bible. This fulfilling treasure of God's loving promises that is now something he can never live without.
Rebecca Harmon at Love2EncourageYou http://love2encourageyou.com