Wounded in the Woods – A Parable of the Dilemma of the Modern Day Church

There once was a city that became so evil, so destructive, so influenced by its evil prince who was fascinated by death, the only right response for citizens seeking life, was to move to the forest.

Life in the forest was hard. No one could do it alone, but living in community was challenging for those accustomed to living only for themselves, the way they had in the city. Sometimes there was conflict, but forest-dwellers were committed to life, and the forest was conducive to life, so they worked through their disagreements.

Though it was hard, the forest was beautiful, full of joy, and life there was more as their King had envisioned life, than what passed as life in the city.

Unfortunately, they were not alone, and the forest was not without dangers. The King promised there would be a time to come when that wouldn’t be so, but this was not then.

Sometimes forest-people who were new to forest living were unintentionally destructive. But, if they listened to more experienced forest-dwellers, they matured and came to thrive on forest living. They weren’t as big a danger as infiltrators.

City-dwellers often infiltrated the forest, influenced by their evil prince. They’d set snares and traps for the forest-people. They took joy in the pain they caused and sought to frighten them all back to the evil city to embrace the culture that celebrated death.

One day, a young forest-dweller was caught in a steel trap set by one of the infiltrators disguised as a forest-dweller. Her injury was severe and her wound deep.

Other forest-people freed her from the trap and tried to bind her wounds, but in her pain and fear, she ran from them. She ran until she reached the edge of the forest.

There, she encountered a beautiful shining angel with skin like bronze, who beckoned her toward the city gates. “Come home, my child,” said the angel. “The forest is no place to dwell. The people there are uninformed, lacking in creativity, and they have hard ways no one can bear. Return to the city where you’ll be free, and your wounds will no longer concern you. Most city-dwellers embrace their wounds.”

The young forest-dweller winced with fresh pain. She had come to the forest seeking life. She knew that death reigned in the city, but maybe, she thought, death is more beautiful than she remembered. She took a step away from the forest, but a wizened old woman with skin the color of mahogany stepped into her path.

“Consider your ways, loved one,” she said quietly.

“Why do you call me loved one?” the wounded one asked, “Look at these wounds, do I look loved to you?”

The older woman bowed at the sight of her wound, moved by her pain. “I call you loved because you are. The King loves you and He understands about wounds. He was wounded for you. He has overcome pain and death. If you remain here in the forest, you will find the only path to life.”

“No,” she protested, “I’m not going back there. The forest is no safe place to be. Life in the city was comfortable and there, I was free to live at ease. I had some pain, but comforts also abounded there that helped me escape that pain. Do you have that here in the forest?”

“We do not,” said she. “We have found, though, that facing our pain, rather than escaping it, brings true healing to wounds the wise men of the city said would never go away. Life is hard here, there are challenges, and we have an enemy who sets traps, but this is the only place where there is life.”

For a moment, she was torn. She looked from the beckoning angel to the straight-backed old woman. “Perhaps if you would be willing to change the forest, for me. Allow me to go to the city and bring back some comforts to carry along the way. And some devices for protection. In the city, I could purchase armor and then when I return here, I will have all I need to keep me safe. Yes, that’s it. We could bring some of the city-ways here to the forest, and then, I will fear no more.”

Now, the shining angel spoke, “You’re wasting your breath on the old fool. The forest will not change for you. They never care about their wounded. Hurry along with me. We have places designed to look just like the forest, without the hardship. The dark is coming. There’s better light in the city.”

The old woman placed a hand on her arm. It was gentle and strong. “We do care for our wounded,” said she, “but we don’t decide how to live based on fear and pain. That’s the way of the city. We live by the word of the King, because that’s the way to life. I care about your wounds and if you come, we’ll help you rest and heal. But, if we allow the culture of death a foothold in the forest, it will only become an annex of the city.”

“But, the angel says there are places there just like the forest!” said the wounded one. “What is the harm of me going there?”

The old woman held out two handfuls of berries. “In one of my hands are blueberries, tasty and nourishing. In the other hand is a berry very much like the blueberry, yes? But, it is nightshade. If you choose one, you will live. You choose the other, that is just like it, you will suffer and die.”

The wounded one frowned. “You aren’t listening to me. You don’t respect my wound. My wound happened in the forest. I cannot return there.”

She took the bronze-skinned angel by the hand, and walked toward the city, clutching her wound.

The old woman sighed. From his tower, she heard the evil prince laugh, laugh until he fell into a spasm of coughs. “Your time is near,” she muttered, as she slipped back into the woods, inhaled deeply of the cool night air, and walked under the stars.

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1 Comment

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  1. I could name names. And it breaks my heart. Keep writing, Lori. Your message is needed and God has give you a powerful voice. God bless.