An excerpt from
The Journey of Sanctification*
It had been several weeks since Christian had climbed through the boulders of trial. The only reminders of his painful climb were the scars where his cuts and scrapes had healed. The bump on his head had completely disappeared.
The journey since that climb had been easy and enjoyable. There had been warm sunshine, a bubbling brook to rest beside, and other traveling friends to talk with. Christian was getting used to all the goodness around him.
That’s when he saw it looming in front of him- a tall hill. Christian shrugged. “It’s just a hill,” he thought. “Last time, it was sharp towering boulders. This should be easy.” He tightened the straps of his backpack and rubbed his shoulders. The pack was sure getting heavy lately.
The slope was slight at first – not too steep. The view was simply gorgeous. Bees buzzed and hovered above fluttering flowers. Birds sang loud and clear in the surrounding trees.
Christian took a deep breath of fresh air. It felt good. He gulped another, but a pain in his shoulder made the breath stick in his throat before he could finish. He slowly let it out through winced teeth and readjusted his backpack. Why was this thing so heavy?
As he continued on his way, the hill began to get more and more steep. It wasn’t rocky. There were no cliffs to climb. But the pack on his back kept digging into his shoulders. He was tired and breathless. The extra weight was wearing him out.
Halfway up the hill, Christian sat under a tree to rest. “Maybe,” he thought, “I should just take off my pack and leave it behind.” He slipped it off his shoulders and plopped it in front of him. Should he go on without it?
He touched the zipper and shivered. He knew he shouldn’t open it. That if he did, he would regret it, but the pull was so hard, he couldn’t help it. Slowly, he slid the zipper. Before it opened even an inch, bubbles came pouring out and floated around him. Dark bubbles filled with dark memories.
Christian reached out and grabbed a bubble. He held it gently in his hand and watched the memory inside like a movie on TV. He saw himself as a five year old boy talking to his older brother.
“Please give it back,” he had said. “It’s mine, and Dad said you have to leave it alone.” His older brother had only laughed as he held Christian’s favorite stuffed bear above his head.
“Please!!” Christian begged.
His older brother sneered, “You can have it back when I’m done with it.” Then he ripped off the bears arms, legs, and head. He dropped the pieces at Christian’s feet and ran away.
Just seeing this memory play inside the dark bubble made Christian angry. “He was my older brother!” he said out loud. Older brothers are supposed to take care of their younger ones. They’re supposed to love them and help them, not hurt them.
Christian reached out for another bubble. He held it in his hand and watched the memory. He was seven in this one, standing in the middle of the broken pieces of his mom’s favorite vase. His mom was yelling at him. “Why did you do this?! That was my favorite vase. Ugh! I am so mad!!” Christian had tried to tell her that he didn’t do it. That the cat had jumped up on the table and knocked it off, but his mom was too mad to listen.
“It wasn’t my fault!” Christian yelled as he threw the bubble away from him. He grabbed another and another. One after the other, until he was so mad he could hardly stand it. He could hear his heart beating hard and fast. His face felt hot. He was clinching his teeth so hard, his jaw hurt.
He gathered up his bubbles, stuffed them back in, threw his pack onto his back and started to run up the hill. “I am so mad!” he thought. “There’s no way I’d leave this pack behind. I need these memories, so when I see these people again, I can show them their bubble and how much they hurt me.”
It wasn’t long until the angry energy ran out, and Christian collapsed in exhaustion. He pulled his knees up to his chin, put his head down, and cried a long cry. It just all hurt so much. How could these people do that to him?
Christian felt a hand on his shoulder. “What’s wrong, my friend?”
He looked up. Another boy stood beside him. He looked at Christian with love and concern. “Can you tell me why you’re crying?” the boy asked again, as he sat down beside Christian.
“It’s this pack” Christian blurted. “I hate it! It’s so heavy and it hurts my shoulders.”
“What’s in it?” the boy asked.
Christian looked down and quietly answered, “Bubbles.”
“What kind of bubbles?”
Christian shivered. “Dark ones. Heavy ones.”
The boy put his arm around him. “I had a pack full of dark bubbles too. The memories inside were too heavy to carry. I also fell to the ground in tears.”
For the first time, Christian realized the boy did not have a pack. “What happened? What did you do with your backpack?”
The boy smiled. “I said two powerful words and let it go.”
Christian stared at him in disbelief. “Didn’t you want to keep the bubbles to show to the people who hurt you?”
“I thought I did,” the boy replied. “But then I decided to show them to God first. I wanted Him to see how much they had hurt me. I wanted Him to punish them. But He told me to let the bubbles go and say the two powerful words.”
“Did you?” Christian asked.
“It was hard.” the boy admitted. “After He told me to let them go, I started gathering up my bubbles and stuffing them back in my pack. I didn’t want to let them go. But as I was stuffing them in, I realized that these bubbles only made my pack heavy. It made it hard to climb the hill. And for what? All those bubbles only made me sad and angry. Why do I need them?”
“So what did you do?” Christian asked.
“I said the words, dropped my pack, and watched it roll down the hill.”
Christian slowly began to take off his backpack. “What were the powerful words?” he whispered.
“I forgive,” the boy whispered back.
Christian held his pack out in front of himself. He studied it for a while. Then he whispered, “I forgive.” Then again, louder this time, “I forgive.” He dropped his pack to the ground and watched it roll down the hill. “I FORGIVE!” he shouted.
I thought of using Pilgrim's Progess as our basis, but it would have taken much longer than 6 weeks and was also quite a bit above a kindergarten and second grade level.