At the end of my journey, I arrived at a very old bridge. It seemed to be at least two thousand years old, and I was immediately overcome by thoughts of retreat. I had come so far. The journey had been tumultuous, but I became a stronger person each step of the way. The bridge looked to be made out of a thick, fleshy material reminiscent of papyrus, or maybe even animal hides. The walkway was sporadically missing planks and looked altogether uneven. The longer I waited to begin the trek across, the more ominous my surroundings seemed to become. There was a heavy fog obscuring what I knew to reside across the bridge: the Tree of Life. The thought of my final destination was enough to motivate me into taking my first step. I stepped abruptly, and the walkway held intact, although the bridge immediately began to swing. I took a few more steps and began to relax slightly. Then, on the fifth plank, I stepped confidently and my foot fell through the plank! I quickly pulled myself up and turned around to the safe ground. When I did this, I was stopped by a resounding voice. I was staring face to face with my guide.
At the beginning of my journey, I had been led by the leader of the local tribe, Tuhan. He had led me through the most difficult parts of the forest, but when I felt comfortable on my own, I rudely dismissed him. He must have been watching over me this whole time!
He immediately passed by me on the bridge, ever so confidently, and began to speak softly. “What did I tell you when you first asked me to accompany you on this journey, Michael? When you came to me, you were being chased by the worst kind of enemies, and I protected you; you were hungry, and I fed you. I didn’t ask for anything in return other than your faith in my guidance. I told you that you would not fear the terrors of night or the arrows that fly by day, or the sickness that roams in the dark, or the destruction that lays wake at noon. You trusted in my wisdom as long as it suited you, and you wanted to go your own way once you found an easier path than I had presented. All I wanted to do was to prepare you for this moment, and you abandoned me. I, however, never left your side, and I will guide you to your final destination safely if you will follow me.”
I didn’t know what to say, but I knew that I needed his help. How could he be so forgiving and kind? I thought I would have to grovel in order to acquire his guidance again. “I don’t have to pay you anything for you to help me again?”
“Michael, I never wanted to seek payment from you at all. You set those terms. I simply wanted a relationship with you. I wanted to guide you to the Tree because every time I make this journey with someone, I am fulfilled.”
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“That is alright. You will soon enough. Are you ready to continue?”
“I think I am.”
“You will be safe, Michael. Just follow me. I have been crossing this bridge longer than you’ve been alive.”
He began to walk at a dizzying pace considering the apprehension I felt with each step. He told me to stay on the right side of the bridge as he scampered down the left, and we had made it halfway before I could stop to look back. The fog had thickened, and I could hardly make out either end of the bridge. I immediately panicked and thought about everything I was giving up on the edge of the bridge I started at. I began to hear the ropes tighten, and I asked Tuhan if this was normal. He explained our need to speed up the pace. He urged me to continue. I hesitantly followed his lead, until I heard one of the ropes begin to crack.
“We WILL make it safely!” Tuhan exclaimed. The end of the bridge was still hardly visible.
“I have to go back!” I said.
“This will be your last chance to enter the realm of the tree, for this is the only way to get there. You must have faith in me.”
“I can’t.” I ran back to where the bridge began. It took much longer than I expected for the bridge to collapse. I stood there until it did. Then, I sat and waited for the fog to disappear. When the fog finally moved away, I finally saw the world’s greatest treasure unfold before my eyes. Now that the bridge was gone, there was no way across the abyss that lay below, and I knew that I would never reach the tree.