[written on 112812, with additions on 12812, Jeremiah 9:23-24, Revelation 7: 14b-17]
There is a cave that leads to Paradise. 7 men went in, hoping to come out on the other side.
One man, a coward, left the cave soon after entering, too paralyzed by his worries of the unknown to continue.
In the cave, the 6 found an abundance of the rarest mushroom delicacies in the world, and one man couldn’t help but start eating them. Upon gorging himself, he grew an unnatural smile and sank to the floor, as the mushrooms had intoxicated him. As the 5 moved through the cave they came to a wall with a small opening at the bottom. If they were to continue they would be forced to crawl under it to get to the other side. Unfortunately, the fat man was too dazed at that point to continue with them. The group tried pulling him under the wall with them, but he just couldn’t fit and had to be left behind, though they doubted how much further he would have made it even if he could have fit. But he told them he’d meet up with them in Paradise (though he acted like he was in paradise right now) after he slimmed down in size (as he popped another mushroom in).
Once the 5 all made it under the wall, they found themselves in a tunnel, with what sounded like flirtatious giggling echoing in the distance. They followed the tunnel towards the noises and turned around a corner to find a band of extremely attractive, nude women. The 5 moved awkwardly through their midst, trying to ignore eye contact. But one man couldn’t help at least looking. He caught eyes with one of them, and soon after was in conversation with her. The tunnel opened up into a large cavern, but the lecher stayed behind, already being caressed by the women, saying that he would follow them shortly.
The 4 saw the flickering of light bouncing off the cave ceilings up ahead and entered into an elaborate treasure room. After being amazed by the vast treasure, the group continued, coming to a small ledge that they had to climb over. But one man shouted “Paradise indeed!” and, finding a treasure chest, filled it with as much gold as he could and planned to follow them out the other side. However, the rich man could barely drag his heavy chest, and certainly couldn’t lift it over the wall. They figured he’d figure out the futility of his plight and soon follow them. He never did.
It looked like whoever had owned the treasure room also had an armor room. The 3 stepped into a room lined with great, metal armor and powerful weapons. They thought this would prepare them for whatever lay ahead in the other rooms, so they suited up and grabbed one big weapon each. However, the only exit they could find was a small, dimly-lit hole towards the top of the far wall. As they tried climbing the wall, they soon realized how difficult it was to climb with all of their heavy accessories. 2 men, giving up on trying to juggle the weapons in their hand while climbing, threw them to the ground and were able to climb much easier after that. However, once they reached the hole, they couldn’t fit through with their armor and were forced to jettison it. Meanwhile the strong man below was still struggling to even climb on the wall, not willing to give up his means of power.
The 2 fell with a crash down into another room, much lower than the previous one had been, and were bruised. After a few minutes of recovering, they noticed a hole in the ground. While light made their current room at least dimly visible, this hole below was pitch black. As the one man sat on the edge preparing to climb down, the other man blasted him. “What! Are you crazy? You saw how far that last drop was, and that was through a dimly-lit hole. This hole has no light at all!” “Well, it’s our only shot of reaching Paradise.” “Well, who really said this cave leads to Paradise in the first place? I’m starting to think it was all made up.” “Believe what you want; I’m going for it.” “You fool!” said the smart man. “It’s common science that if there’s no light then there’s no other exit down there! You’ll fall to your death or get stuck with no one to save you! This was fun and all, but it’s time to go back. Was the life we had so bad anyways? Not even paradise is worth this.”
“Say what you will. I’d rather die trying to get to Paradise than be stuck in the Hell we were in before.”
With that, the last man slipped into the black, bracing himself for whatever lay below. In the darkness he hit a rock which rolled him into another rock which rolled him into another rock and there he lay, in the darkness, in the silence. After coming to, and somewhat in pain from the fall, he balanced himself to his feet. There was darkness all around him as he felt around the cavern room for anything. He thought that maybe the 2nd man had been right. Then his eye caught a tiny beam of light coming out of a small hole in the wall, only the size of a needle’s eye. The light danced around with wild colors, and as he pressed his eye up to the hole he could see glimpses of Paradise on the other side — green pastures and still waters — accompanied by cheerful voices and laughter. Prying himself away from the hole and its bliss, he began frantically feeling the wall for a door or some kind of exit, as if his separation from Paradise had set him on fire. He felt nothing. The room around the hole was completely bare, with no ledge or anything to climb on. With fury did he pound his fists at the hole, trying to break it open to the other side. Futile. Finally, he dropped back into the darkness to his knees, helpless. There in the dark silence he could hear weeping and gnashing of teeth from his former companions in the previous chambers above, held in bondage by their lusts.
Yet here was this righteous man, who forsook all those temptations in pursuit of God and still couldn’t make it. He was no better off than they. In his depravity, the self-righteous man cried out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
Suddenly there was a crash, and the needle-sized hole broke open, filling the room with phantasmagoric light. Another crash against the wall and the hole opened more. Then, with a 3rd crash, a sheep from the pasture burst through the rock, bruised and bloody from the struggle, and collapsed, dead at his feet.
It would be the easiest door he’d gone through of the hole experience. But it was even easier than that. He didn’t even get the chance to step forward before he was escorted out by a shepherd from the other side. He had seen the sheep rush over, hearing the man’s crying from within the cave. But the shepherd was content to have this new man take its place in his flock, saying to him, “I will guide you to springs of the water of life: and God will wipe every tear from your eyes.”
Which part of the cave are you stuck in?