Dédié à ma meilleure amie d’enfance.
Three years ago, my boys started disappearing from the house for hours at a time. For all practical purposes, it looked like they were playing in the woods at the back of our property; but when questioned about their location, they claimed that they had been in a far-away place called “Mossedonia”. It seemed that somehow they were the “king” and “prince” of this magical place, where they ruled over strange-looking creatures, fought entire wars, hunted food, made peace, and even had their own castle. Their good friend, a girl down the street, began spending a lot of time back there, too. Apparently she was the “queen” of Mossedonia, and our Golden Retriever was the “princess”. We were told that Mossedonia was hundreds and thousands of miles away, and that they had to “warp” there, using their tire swing. Maybe that’s why whenever my wife and I wandered back to this particular set of woods, all we ever saw were trees and rocks!
My wife told me that this “magical land” had come into being just after they had read the book, “Bridge to Terabithia”, as part of their home school routine; but it wasn’t until I watched the movie version of this same book at our local theatre last week, that it all made sense. You see, this story has the ability to sweep you out of your present world. In the case of my boys, it was the motivator they needed to start up their own magical land. For me, watching the film swept me back to my youth, back to the days when I and my childhood best friend used to play together, and tears flooded my eyes as I thought of that precious girl who had so influenced my early years.
Although she was two years younger than I was, we were brought up as brother and sister and we were virtually inseparable. Whatever she did, I did. Whatever I did, she did. We were like twins, and the force of our combined imaginations fueled us on to far away, unheard of places.
We had no name for our imaginary world, but this didn’t stop it from being real to us. There we were assaulted by the enemy, and we bravely fought off line upon line of tin soldiers with rubber bands that we propelled from the end of a ruler. The soldiers often suffered heavy casualties as we fought to the bitter end, but interestingly, the good side always seemed to win. What a welcome relief!
I remember working undercover one time to retrieve secret documents from the enemy. We had to be extremely careful as we slid ourselves around the walls of my grandmother’s garage, trying hard to avoid invisible laser beams (thread) that would trigger alarm systems.
Our adventures together created a strong bond, and even through high school we were always there for each other. We never condemned each other; instead, we constantly lifted each other up to face any hardship that came our way. Together we were invincible, and we were even determined to die for one another, if it came to that. We had no idea where our future bridges would lead us. In fact, these “bridges to the unknown” didn’t scare us at all, because we knew we would face them together!
Then the fatal day came where our bond would be forever broken. She met a guy, and to my horror, she quickly succumbed to his advances. It wasn’t jealousy that motivated me. Our friendship had always remained innocent, and we cared too much for each other to let anything like romance come between us. In fact, I would have been very excited if she had told me she had met the guy of her dreams, if she had introduced me to her future fiancé. But this man was married, and he obviously didn’t have her best interest at heart.
Although I wasn’t a Christian at the time, I knew of God, and I knew that adultery would lead to a life of sorrows. We spent an entire day together, discussing this situation. I tried to talk her out of it, to change her mind, to help her see that it was wrong, that she was headed for sure catastrophe, one that would forever change her life. I tried to show her the potential dangers of such a relationship. However, it appeared that his advances had completely mesmerized her, and she was unable to break free. Then she left to rendez-vous with this stranger. But she couldn’t hide the tears in her eyes as she turned to go.
Just like the boy, Jess, from Bridge to Terabithia, when he heard that his best friend had drowned, I collapsed on the floor in tears. I knew then that things would never be the same between us, a fact that only became more obvious the next time she came to see me. I could tell that her heart was held captive by other thoughts, thoughts that would grow with hurricane strength, driving a wedge ever deeper between us. Although I still cared for her as a brother, our relationship would never be the same.
The affair didn’t last long, but it put a permanent mark on my dear friend. Often when we would walk along the streets of our hometown, I would see her becoming very pensive. Then she would point out a good-looking man on the street and wonder aloud if this one could be the “passion” of her life. Now, years later, my childhood best friend has spent most of her life looking for the “right one”. She has known many men, and though at the moment each relationship looked like paradise to her, she has never found any of these relationships to be fulfilling.
I now live on another continent and I don’t get to see my friend very often. She flew over for a visit a few years ago, and it was evident that the happiness she has so endlessly searched for continues to cruelly elude her. She had experienced God a couple of times in her life, and while she was visiting, she came very close to giving her life to the One who could truly fill her with love, with real inner peace and purpose. Unfortunately, the snares of her illusionary life continued to keep her at bay. When she left to fly back home, she promised to stay in touch and to study the Bible via the Internet; but the stress and rush of life made her quickly forget these promises.
As her childhood friend, I refuse to give up on her. I try to keep my promise to her by always being there for her, and I will continue to pray that she will eventually meet the One whom she can call “Beloved Savior”. When she does, her search for true happiness will come to a happy end.
Because our God is a God of hope and happiness. The light of His presence is there, beckoning to fill her, and anyone who hasn’t yet found Him, with true peace and love like none that could possibly be experienced on this earth. Happiness is at your grasp, my dear friend! Come with me across that “bridge to the unknown”, and step into the Light! Do it now before it is forever too late!
“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.” (Gal 5:19-21 from the Message)
“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” (Rom 15:13 from the Message)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt 11:28-30 from the Message)