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I woke up. I felt disorientated. I had no idea where I was, and from the second I awoke, I knew it wasn’t my bedroom. The most obvious clue was the damp grass on which I lay. I stood and took a deep breath of the cool, wet air. That was when I noticed where I was. I was standing on a small patch of grass. Before me was a fork in the road. From that fork branched two paths, and at the beginning of each path was a gate.
I began to observe the two paths that were before me. I noticed that the gate to my left was huge, very wide, but very short. The gate to my right was narrow, and so tall that the top was hidden amongst the white fluffiness of the clouds above.
As I stood there trying to decide by which path I should travel, I began to notice little details about each gate, that my quick glance did not provide before. The wide gate had chains that draped over it’s rusted iron bars. The chains themselves were also rusted and falling apart, link by link. A padlock, corroded from age, was hanging, half opened, from a rusted link of chain.
Behind the chains and rusted old bars, a plain dirt path, rugged and trampled by use was visible. The few trees there, were blackened and charred. The grass was like ashes…grey and lifeless. A thick fog slithered in the air, as if its presence would help to hide what secrets lay beyond.
The path was silent. No birds trilled, no crickets chirped. The darkness surrounding the gate seemed to have choked out all life. When the wind was brave enough to blow through the barrenness of the land along this path, the silent, death-like feel crackled to life silencing it before it got too far.
The more I looked on this gate the more my skin started to crawl. Shivering I turned to examine the gate to my right, the narrow gate. Chains were draped over the golden bars, but unlike the wide gate’s chains, these were pure. Pure, new, and strong. The padlock that secured the gate shut was solid, shining silver.
Once I was able to drag my eyes away from the majesty of the chains, I noticed the path beyond. To my amazement it was paved in solid gold. It stretched along the countryside until it took a sharp dip and vanished into a blinding white light.
The many beautiful trees that grew alongside of the path, were lush and green. Their branches were lithe and seemed to dance in the breeze. The flowers that dotted the luxuriant grass, blossomed with such a brilliance of varying colors, my head started to spin.
As I listened for the sounds of birds that I knew must surely be there, I found myself awed to find that it was not the singing of birds that greeted my ears, but a chorusing of such beauty and clarity I knew it must be nothing more than angels.
That was when I first realized I was not alone. Two figures stood on either side of the gate. They were in everyway magnificent. One had short curly blonde hair, the other had short curly brown hair. Both were garbed in a crystal white robe. Their waists were girded with a long silver cord, and on their feet they wore plain brown sandals. Folded behind them, elegant feathers, formed a pair of intricately delicate wings. A sword was sheathed at their sides, but even in the sheath, it whispered of it’s beauty.
The two angels--for surely that’s what they were--stood tall, as if waiting for the next one that should be allowed entrance.
That was when I noticed him out of the corner of my eye. One the wide gate’s pathway, through the never-ending fog, emerged another being. His face and features were abstract and undecipherable. He was dressed in a flowing black cloak, that obscured even the smallest amount of skin. His face--what could be made out from the darkness--was gnarled and death-like, but well hidden among the many folds of the cloak.
As he approached, the angels at the narrow gate, unsheathed their blades and crossed them over the gate, adding an extra assurance against this mysterious being.
As the being approached, I noticed that he was speaking. His voice was crackly, withered, almost ancient. I strained to hear his muttered words. Finally I managed to make them out. “Come to me. Come…to…me…” Even though his voice was strained, it held a smile. Soon it become stronger, louder. It evolved into the voice of a young, handsome man. As he came nearer, he started to change. Instead of the hunched, limping figure he once was, he stood tall and strong.
The cloak fell away from his face to reveal the most beautiful face I had ever seen. Curly blonde hair fell in long locks down his shoulders. Clear blue eyes smiled from an unblemished face. His skin was peaches and cream complected, and I found it increasingly harder to remove my eyes from his face.
I felt compelled to move closer. To investigate this beautiful new stranger and the mysterious path from which he emerged. I glanced back at the narrow gate--I couldn’t get into it anyway…
The man at the wide gate held out his hand for me. “That’s it. Come child. Come.” I took a few unsteady steps toward him. His smile grew bigger. “That’s good. You’re almost here. Wouldn’t you like to come closer? Come, child. Come.”
I was almost to the gate and the beautifully mysterious stranger when I heard my name from behind. “Anna.” I froze. The voice beckoning to me was simple, sweet, and strangely familiar. I turned towards the source and saw a man standing in a pure white light. A light that radiated perfectness. He stood at the entrance to the narrow gate…alone. The two angels that once guarded it with such intensity had vanished.
His features were not clear through all of the blinding light, but he seemed so familiar….like I knew him. “Anna.” He held out his hand. Immediately I saw the hole in its center. I started to walk toward him, the man behind me forgotten.
I had not walked more than three steps before the man behind me began to growl. It was an awful, ear splitting noise. Once again he seemed to transform from the beautiful young man into the being that had walked down the path. He grabbed my arm and yanked me backward. His hands were dry and cracked. I tried to fight against his hold, but he was too strong. I screamed and tried to fight my way back towards the man that seemed so very familiar to me, but he drug me backwards…back towards the beaten path, the road of darkness.
Then He was there. Gently he pulled me away. “Not this one.” He said. “Not today.” The man in the cloak covered his face and slunk back down the darkened path as if the light from the man that now held me caused him physical pain. He continued down the path muttering unintelligible words with every step.
We turned away from him and approached the now opened narrow gate. The man at my side turned to me and smiled. “I am so glad you have chosen Me.” I smiled back at him. “The wider path always seems so much better at first. Satan compels and pulls others in with promises of things he has no intention of later fulfilling.” “Is that why the path is so worn? Is that who that man was?” He smiled at me once again. “Yes, Anna.” “Not many pay as much attention to detail as what you do.” “But I still looked to him first.” I felt disappointed in myself as I realized this truth. “This gate seemed too inaccessible.” Jesus smiled. “It seems that way to many at first, but once they walk closer to him they see the darkness that lies beyond.” “Thank you,” I said as we entered the gateway. “for saving me.”
As we walked down the golden path together I heard the gate close behind us, and even though I didn’t look back, I knew what as happening. The angels had retaken their posts. The gate had been relocked. Satan had started his long walk back up the hill to try and drag another poor soul down the wider path, the path that would ultimately lead them to their own destruction.