The Intrepid Traveler: An Allegory

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If you are friends with me on Facebook, then you are aware of my latest series of mini posts on analogies written by high school students. The analogies list, entitled “The 56 Best/Worst Analogies Written by High School Students” originated, as best as I can tell, with a 2007 blog1, though that now is a broken link. A list of 25 winning entries exists elsewhere as the “Worst Analogies ever written in a High School Essay Contest” in the Washington Post Style Invitational found on The English Teachers Network.2

Most of these analogies are quite funny, some are just plain odd, while others illicit hilariously disturbing Gary Larsonesque images. And while the Nightmare on Analogy Street officially reached “viral” status some years ago, it nevertheless underscores something so vital to our psyche that it must be hidden in one of the gazillion yet to be discovered genetic codes comprising our human existence – the deep yearning for laughter and, hence, joy.

I believe the need for joy stems from an inner desire we all are born with to be at peace and at rest. Remember when you were a child, how easily you turned on tears of joy, or laughter, as if there existed somewhere on your childhood physique invisible buttons with which to do so? Okay, maybe I’m the only one on the planet who played with melodrama as a child, but I am willing to wager otherwise. And before you lay your bets with me, allow me to humbly point out that my own husband is in need of a bank loan to repay all the lost wagers he made with me over the years.

My secret?

Never bet unless it is a sure thing. But I digress.

Children are natural born actors. Does this by extrapolation mean that professional actors are people who failed to grow up? Not really, although some might argue that point. Simply put, actors are people who either have mastered “the fake” or are those who never forgot where the invisible buttons are hid.

So what does all this have to do with the Intrepid Traveler?

Quite a lot, actually, because right next to the invisible Tears of Joy Switch and Laughter Button is a lever called Everlasting Joy and Peace. The unique quality of this lever is that it can only be opened through a Divine exchange. But when the valve opens, it produces rest and contentment, joy and peace.

Watch out if all three activate simultaneously! The Laughter Movement of the 1990s demonstrates what may result. Secular psychologists and psychiatrists of the day labeled the behavior in this movement psychotic and irrational. Why?

Because it defied the dignity of the norm.

Secular psychologists, psychiatrists and those who consider themselves intellectuals do not understand the Laughter Movement because for them, life is all about control. And that, my friends, is where our story begins…

The Intrepid Traveler

An Allegory

By Érin Elise 

Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (Wanderer above the Sea of Fog) by Caspar David Friedrich, 1818, oil on canvas, 94.8 x 74.8 cm, Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Deutschland. Public Domain.

Somewhere, somehow, on our journey into adulthood, most of us forget.

We forget how to be childlike.

It begins with the Tears of Joy switch which deactivates when we master holding our feelings inside. The Laughter switch then spikes, for a delicate balance must be maintained between the two switches. If left unchecked, its fuse will burn out, rendering Laughter a useless function. Oh, we might fake it out of pride to cover our malfunction, but there you have it. A series of other events may lead to Laughter failure, but when the switch defaults and after we have faked it long enough, we enter the wilderness of Forgetfulness.

Photo courtesy of Jon Sullivan. Public Domain.

The wilderness of Forgetfulness is a vast desert covering an entire continent. It is dotted with lush oases, and connecting these to each other is the road of Distractions. A desert possesses many attractive qualities, not the least of which is the feeling of time standing still, for this is the one place which naturally prevents the use of a compass.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Csörföly, Budapest, Hungary. Public Domain.

It is the universal magnetic attraction of the place, however, that prevents the compass from functioning in the first place. And it is this feature alone which draws the Traveler to seek out Distractions as a means of reaching different oases, for the lack of a moral compass acts like a drug in the system and blurs consequences in the minds of Travelers.

Desert Oasis. Public Domain.

Some Travelers live their entire life in forgetful bliss at one such oasis.

Desert Traveler. Public Domain.

Other Travelers, those who find the thrill in adventure, pursue what is beyond the horizon in a never ending exploration. These are the ones who ask “Is this all there is to life?”

Emergency Phone Roadside Sign. Public Domain.

They recognize that in Forgetfulness any relief they initially felt was, in fact, nothing but a mirage. But rather than go back to the beginning for an accurate compass reading, the Travelers push onward until profoundly lost, disencumbering self of Being, in favor of Doing. And Being?

It is unwittingly tossed aside on a road called Unrest, an artery that inevitably leads into the land of Sorrows.

Photo courtesy Joseph Beatty / CC By SA 3.0

Once in Sorrows, we discover to our dismay that any vestige of rest or peace once possessed is gone. In its place now is a general sense of unease, for we do not remember how we landed in the country, only that we now are in Sorrows. And we have no idea how to leave.

Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil. Public Domain.

In our efforts to regain the glimpse of utopia once experienced as children, we wander down the boulevards of Hurt, Hardship, Unfulfilled Expectations, or Unrequited Love.

Knowledge of such childhood utopia is today more and more unheard of and, in the land of Sorrows, children only read about it in the increasingly rare book.

Photo copyright 2011, Érin Elise 

Sad to say, none of these boulevards bring us any closer to the desired Everlasting Joy and Peace.

Hardest of all is witnessing those few who do find their way to Everlasting Joy and Peace. We want it. Oh, how we want it! But unwilling to humble ourselves and return to what it is like to be a child, we are unable to participate in the Divine Exchange.

 

 

Castle drawbridge. Public Domain.

And this is the only way to fill the Void, a birth defect in all hearts and a prerequisite to flipping the lever which lowers the draw bridge to Everlasting Joy and Peace, for this realm has but one entrance. Like a prize unattainable, the knowledge of the Void only makes matters worse, so we deny its existence.

When the Traveler realizes, if only for a fleeting moment, that were he to participate in the Divine Exchange, he would not only find Everlasting Joy and Peace but also rediscover his Laughter and Tears of Joy switches, he does not do the expected. You see, many Travelers at this point, rather than embracing the heart of a child, choose instead to relocate to the hub city of Bitter Envy.

Mabuse, from the 1927 German Silent Film, Metropolis. Public Domain.

All roads lead to the metropolis of Bitter Envy, but of those thoroughfares, only two are toll roads, and these are the turnpikes of Disappointment and Cynicism.

“Spaghetti Bowl” interchange. Public Domain.

The interchange of Unforgiveness connects them all in asphalt, a spaghetti bowl of exits and turns, functioning much like a grotesque spider’s web. The main arteries of the Unforgiveness interchange branch off all roads, for the purposes of funneling traffic onto the turnpikes of Disappointment and Cynicism, and ultimately, into Bitter Envy.

Night in the City. Public Domain.

The megalopolis, Bitter Envy, is the city that never sleeps.

It is the capital of the our world, Hardness of Heart. This world is unique, in that only one road leads away from its terraced, luxury pavilions. So sure are its residents that the wayfarer will not want to leave, once its cobblestone pleasures are experienced, that they pretend the original road never existed. Proof of this time-tested conviction lies in the fact that Hardness of Heart in recent times has witnessed a great migration. New home construction booms while laborers scramble to provide for the population explosion.

But the vastly ignored solitary exit route remains the last unimproved dirt road in all the land. It is more of a path, really, for grass now grows across the tracks of the King’s Highway. Long forgotten and little used, not many today know of its existence, for a duplicate freeway built long ago bears the same name.

Photo courtesy of Alex Needham. Public Domain.

This second King’s Highway is a much traveled route which directs traffic in Hardness of Heart to each of its gilded cathedrals,

Photo courtesy of Luca Galuzzi / CC By SA 2.5 / http://www.galuzzi.it/

where the residents worship each Saturday and Sunday, and most nights of the week.

 

 

Photo courtesy of “Whiteafrican” on Flickr / CC By Sa 2.0

No one intentionally moves away from Rest for such a new world order, not at first, anyway. But after venturing down the road of Forgetfulness, it seems to be the thing to do. If the Traveler could go back in time with hindsight, he would find ample evidence of the virus, Worldly Cares. Insidiousness and virulence are hallmarks of this virus, which perpetually mutates until it slips through a tiny chink in the Traveler’s armor.

Painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c.1526. Public Domain.

Once lodged inside, it lies dormant for many years, until a trigger of some kind awakens it. Then it quietly replicates until, by sheer size and brute force, it is able to wear down its host, overload his immune system and devour him from the inside out. It likes to attach itself to young teen Travelers when Pride and Worldly Knowledge are first discovered.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Beatty / CC By SA 3.0

And for a period of time, it appears to enable the Traveler to carry his own burdens, thus leading to a general misunderstanding of its apparent usefulness. But like all lies, the virus, Worldy Cares, finds its strength in deception.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Beatty / CC By SA 3.0

The Traveler tackles greater and greater responsibilities in life and the loads and expectations from others increase until one day, he awakens to the pain of unrelenting fear, ulcers, high blood pressure, angina, or a host of other stress related ailments.

Bridge photo courtesy of Tony Emptage / CC By SA 2.0

Some of us, fellow Travelers, participate in the Divine Exchange early on in our lives then stumble through Rocky Roads, where Worldly Cares choke out what we once possessed of Everlasting Joy and Peace. The unique thing about Everlasting Joy and Peace, however, is that it is by nature everlasting. Feelings have nothing to do with it. But when we lose those feelings, we lose our way, for our eyes turn down Inward highways.

The all consuming habit of focusing Inward can happen a number of different ways, not the least of which are the previously mentioned inroads, Hurt, Hardship, Unfulfilled Expectations, or Unrequited Love, all which lead to Sorrows.

Photo layering by J.D. Fischer, 2011 from originals, courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service, Public Domain.

But inroads are not the only way.

We might happen upon Imposters foraging through the realm of Everlasting Joy and Peace,

 

 

Photo courtesy of Anna Cervova. Public Domain.

 

or upon Wounded Travelers who, through Forgetfulness, have lost their own way.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Beatty / CC By SA 3.0

If we allow the experiences of Imposters or fellow Wounded Travelers to adversely influence us, we may ourselves fall into the ruins of Delusion, thinking we never left Everlasting Joy and Peace, when in actuality we moved lock, stock and barrel into in its slums, Spirit of Fear,

Photo courtesy of HaHaStop.com. Public Domain.

Religious Spirit, Legalism,

Photo courtesy of Joseph Beatty / CC By SA 3.0

or into its sister borough, Worldly Pursuits.

Every Traveler experiences what it is like to on occasion be sidetracked, even derailed, for that is the nature of life on earth. Good intentions often have a way of being thwarted. Some Travelers know from experience what it is like to visit the slums of Religious Spirit, Legalism, or Worldly Pursuits and, miraculously, stumble back onto the original King’s Highway, thereby finding their way home to Everlasting Joy and Peace. But it is the exception, rather than the norm.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense. Public Domain.

A great host, an army of warriors from Hardness of Heart guards its entrance, so that few ever find it.

 

 

 

But the good news is, some do. They discover the key so simple most cannot believe it will work – die to self and simply ask. One touch of the Master’s Hand renders the Traveler’s armor impervious and invisible to the darts from the enemy host. And when The Master whispers His heart in the Traveler’s ears, he is whisked back to childhood days with renewed Tears of Joy and Laughter. And what was it The Master whispered from His heart of Grace to the weary Traveler?

 

 

 

 

 

Five simple truths:

You are loved.

You are accepted.

You are secure.

You are significant.

You are free.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Beatty / CC By SA 3.0

And the Traveler is no longer alone, for when the Master’s Hand touches the Traveler’s heart, He sends His Comforter to be his lifelong teacher and companion on the road of life.

The greatest reward awaits the Traveler in the end, when he kneels before The Prince of Peace and receives his crown in Glory.

But in the meantime?

Photo courtesy Joseph Beatty / CC By SA 3.0

The Traveler, so overjoyed is he by the Comforter, so compelled by His encouragement and the words of The Master, that he shares The Good News with anyone who will listen, knowing in his heart that this was how he himself discovered the Master’s Hand and the entrance to Everlasting Joy and Peace, on his journey to Glory.

Photograph courtesy of Lauri Kosonen, Savonlinna, Finland / CC By SA 3.0

Conclusion

My hope is that all of you, my fellow travelers, discover the key to everlasting joy and peace. Some call it “the believers’ Sabbath rest.”

Photo courtesy of Graham Bould. Public Domain

Many of my life’s years passed before I understood what the believer’s Sabbath rest truly meant, even though I experienced the Master’s Touch as a young child. You see, we by nature tend to muck up the simplicity of the gospel. It is simple, but for most of us it is not easy. The reason for this is that in our heart of hearts, we carry one or two deeply felt beliefs. The first is the knowledge of our unworthiness, and the second is a resentment that we cannot receive any of the credit for our “saving.”

Out of these two beliefs most religions of the world are formed.

But Christianity is different.

Christianity is founded on an intimate relationship with our Creator through the only perfect man, Jesus. But what the world does not understand is that, when Jesus’ blood covers our sins, it does not magically remove our character imperfections. What Jesus’ blood does do is eradicate sin from our spirit. When we realize experientially that we can never atone for our mistakes, it leaves us free to be like Mary, to sit at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to conform the rest of our flesh into His image.

So it is this that I offer to you, though I cannot give it, only Jesus,

for only Jesus is The Prince of Peace.

~

 This is not the end… this is only the beginning.

Photo courtesy of NASA. Public Domain.

 1THEREFORE, WHILE the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [to distrust it], lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of [reaching] it.

2For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it; neither were they united in faith with the ones [Joshua and Caleb] who heard (did believe).

3For we who have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on God) do enter that rest, in accordance with His declaration that those [who did not believe] should not enter when He said, As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest; and this He said although [His] works had been completed and prepared [and waiting for all who would believe] from the foundation of the world.

4For in a certain place He has said this about the seventh day: And God rested on the seventh day from all His works.

5And [they forfeited their part in it, for] in this [passage] He said, They shall not enter My rest.

6Seeing then that the promise remains over [from past times] for some to enter that rest, and that those who formerly were given the good news about it and the opportunity, failed to appropriate it and did not enter because of disobedience,

7Again He sets a definite day, [a new] Today, [and gives another opportunity of securing that rest] saying through David after so long a time in the words already quoted, Today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts.

8[This mention of a rest was not a reference to their entering into Canaan.] For if Joshua had given them rest, He [God] would not speak afterward about another day.

9So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God;

10For he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors peculiarly His own.

11Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell].

12For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

13And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.

14Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him].

15For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.

16Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].3

 ____________________________

1 “The 56 Best/Worst Analogies of High School Students.” 19 June, 2007. The Lost Eyeball. http://www.losteyeball.com/index.php/2007/06/19/56-worstbest-analogies-of-high-school-students/ (Accessed 8 December 2011.)
2“Worst Analogies ever written in a High School Essay Contest.” Washington Post Style Invitational. The English Teachers Network. http://www.etni.org.il/farside/analogies.htm. (Accessed 8 December 2011.)
3Hebrews 4:1-16. Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958,  1962,  1964,  1965,  1987, by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)

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