(Click Photo above to watch dance)
LIGHT of Messiah.
The sun streams in, steady rays, colors burst in from everywhere and fills the atmosphere with radiant light.
You’re awake, and you are alive….*
*any characters in the story below are fictional until the end when reality sets in.
Above you, there is a beautiful forest with trees almost as tall as the sky itself. all around you, the sound of birds singing their hearts out to different musical melodies fills your ears & the atmosphere…
other sounds are before & behind you: a stream. more like a river for its size. It wraps around a large, wide, serpent-like pattern; weaving in & out of the trees of the vast forest…
The river is huge; The sound of the water rushes over rocks & fills the air;
it seems a place like this wouldn’t seem to have a worldly care…
All of a sudden, you hear something strange; you quickly turn & look back behind your back; and with eyes wide open, you see what makes your heart pound out of your chest and the blood in your veins want to run dry…
The river is drying up. as fast as a plane, train, or a speeding car in a sped up film; winter is coming… with all its icy, white, harsh barrenness. The trees turn their leaves & change into a pale gray, hazelnut similar color.
They shrink back into themselves & shrivel into almost nothing as their branches droop and start crumbling down, like debris falling from a demolished building.
Even the leaves shrivel and fall to the ground at such pace, you can barely watch the colors turn with grace: green to yellow to orange, then red & brown… its as though death seems to be spreading everywhere.
It quickly reaches the ground where you stand, & you watch with horror, as all the ground below you almost turns to sinking sand.
You feel the urge to run, but where to? All around you, there is nothing but death, decay & ruin.
You now can hear it. Screams; the sound of others suffering, falling to the power of it’s ice death-like grip;
it has many names in our world: depression, suicide, substance abuse, hopelessless, doubt, pornography, abortion, addiction, none of sin’s conviction…
You could cry out too, but who can hear you from this distance? All your friends are miles away.
You whirl around and look back at the direction you were first standing; That’s when you see it: a tree. So tall and round in diameter, it doesn’t look phased by the drought coming up on it.
In fact, it barely looks harmed by the summer rains leaving at all.
You run to the tree and jump up to the nearest branch; you barely reach the first secure span that continues up to heaven.
The ground under you dries & burns up like a scorched leaf.
The water is gone, there isn’t a drop to be seen as far as your eyesight now.
You quickly climb another branch as the devastation of the forest settles in. The sky is turning a hazy orange-black, clouds roll in fast as if a storm is brewing, but rain never comes.
The wind does.
The heights you’ve reached in the tree now are of such proportion, that the very branch you stand on threatens to snap in two. You observe the sad scenery with terror in your heart and future thoughts of impending devastation come into mind;
The sun is nowhere viewable; clouds have darkened even more overhead, thunder shakes the ground & sky as if a volcano was erupting underneath your feet. All signs of life on the ground are gone except for… the tree. The one tree in the forest that has a little life is the one you’re standing in.
Others seem to have caught on to your idea; they too have climbed the trees as well, but their trees are not strong enough to stand the drought; the forest floor bursts into a ball of fire, fierce, undying, unquenchable flames. Unable to be held back from the drought and its undeniable damage.
Branches crumble from the death of the roots underground and the wind overhead. People scream deafening cries for help as the branches they stand on crumble and fall underneath them. To no avail.
The earth swallows them up like quicksand. With no one to save them; they fall to their demise below.*
All this time, you are clinging to the only solid rock in this sinking sand: the trunk of the tree.
The wind picks up more strength, & you are threatened to be blown off your very feet, even while hanging on for your very life. You gaze overhead briefly to catch even a glimpse of relief; that’s when as you are staring into the unknown sky, something strange occurs…
the wind dies down; almost completely, then, it happens: a dead stop.
Almost as quickly as it came, the forest stops swaying their terrible branches and comes to a complete halt and stillness that seems almost peaceful again stills the storm like when the savior stopped the winds & the waves.
Still shaking with uncontrollable force, so thankful that the worst is past, you start to begin a slow descent back to the earthy ground. What you don’t know at that moment, was that you were believing a wonderful lie; your brain was screaming nothing could be further from the truth.
Glancing overhead again hoping to see the coming clearing of clouds and sunlight pouring through again, you catch a glimpse of another intriguing sight:
Vultures beginning to swarm the overhead until the sky is black because of them.
Assuming they are after the bodies that had fallen to the earth, You begin again to cling fast to the tree and wait for their impending descent.
It never comes. Even now you are unaware of the terrible truth.
They began to circle the sky overhead in a large pattern. A spinning motion going faster as more vultures joined. The inner circle flying faster than the outer. More speed picked up as the birds continued their heavenly gathering and soon they were flying which such centrifugal force you can barely distinguish their shapes & features.
Your breath is completely stolen away as you understand now what their motive is: Whirlwinds. You have heard of them in stories, & seen them in nightmares and horror films, but never in real life.
The wind and sounds are picking up again, except this time it was easily three times louder than before, almost deafening to where you can barely hear your own shouting.
SMACK! the first touches down just 200 yards from where you stand, then another, & another until the forest was no longer a forest, but a graveyard for wood, dirt & debris. The sky is totally grey & turning into a black almost feel able to your skin.
Your head started spinning as the tornadoes touched down & do their unthinkable damage. Killing everything left in its path. You start to almost black out & did felt that the end was near as the Whirlwinds grew closer and surrounded every side of the tree.
Suddenly underneath you get the sensation that you are being pulled. you glance downward, strength almost faded, at your feet and the ground and realize a vine is twisting around your ankle. Already beyond fearful of the storms overhead, you try to fearfully shake the vine off your body, but no such luck. It’s strong vine continues wrapping in fast motion until your feet, hands and entire body is covered in the thick vines crawling its way up the tree.
You panic and surrender your fate in YHWH’s hand as you realize this could very well be the end. You feel yourself being taken down somewhat roughly into the very mouth of the earth itself. Inches turned to feet and feet to yards as the vine quickly descended your frame faster and quicker than free fall.
The very ground under me gave way as the ground became closer in your eyes as you close them for what you know would be the last time. you do not fear death but what would occur afterward as you spiral into the great unknown of the after-world. Putting your teeth on edge, you wait for the final blow of the earth to take you away from itself once and for all.
It never arrived.
The next event I remember faintly now, was a dark middle-sized room, circular shaped with roots all around me; some large, others small,
I tried sitting up with no strength left I found this impossible. As my body lay there adjusting to the surroundings and lighting I realized I was not on my own. I looked, and there was one of the most beautiful living being I had ever laid eyes on.
It was a woman dressed in white with a covering on her head that looked like the black background of the night sky and stars and the northern lights were Going off everywhere. All in her hair. Her dress was white but something didn’t look quite right. I realized it was if an entire moving picture of white sands was moving and then the waves of the ocean crashed over it and receded as quickly as they had appeared. She drew closer to me almost silently and looked straight into my eyes.
To me, it was like she looked straight into my soul. I couldn’t let her see what I couldn’t control, so I glanced away, unable to look into her gaze for long. I was shocked when I realized after I glanced back that galaxies were swirling slowly around in her iris, with an did light quite like I’d never seen before in them. She felt my forehead, exclaimed I needed to drink and vanished, then reappeared with a golden flask filled with something clear.
Water. It seemed like months had passed or was it just hours before all this pain, death & decay had occurred? Where was I? Heaven? a Dream? a….
“Drink this” she insisted, putting the goblet close to my lips while with her other hand slowly raising my almost lifeless frame.
I took a slight sip, then more as I felt the cool refreshing waters like drinking an ocean in the desert flooded my stomach, blood veins and finally, my mind. I was able to think more clearly as I finished and looked again into her almost dark blue ocean like eyes, again, not being able to stare at them for long without a piercing sensation of shame; but, it was almost as if, as I stared, something was healing inside of me, burning away the dry, dead parts of my mind, body & soul and making me feel once again whole.
I can’t explain it in words, it can only be felt, and I was feeling every second of the healing, like a poison being withdrawn from a wound or a knife death-blow being reversed after puncturing the skin, I don’t even know to describe it or even begin to ask her why: all I knew is: I was looking for answers so I had to try to gaze on her to ask her:
Her gaze shifted away from me, as if she was thinking of a past event, then responded quickly: “Once I was like you, alone, helpless, without life. I thought God had abandoned me and friends were nowhere to be found.”
But in my spirit, deep down, I knew something wasn’t right. It was… she hesitated, as if afraid to go on but afraid to turn back… “What is it?” I asked.
She turned back and looked directly into my face: “Flat” she said, it was all flat, dull, a solid line like what you see on a heartbeat reading before they attempt CPR. Dead. Lifeless. Nothing, just… void. Her gaze shifted away again as she put one of her hands on her face, and almost began to cry, almost sobbing, but no tears came, just, laughter. A sad laughter, like when you begin to laugh so hard, you start to almost weep.
I didn’t understand, so I waited for a brief moment, then asked again: “Where am I?”
laughing / crying, straightened her dress, pulled her hair back that had fallen on her frail face, then exclaimed:
Many walk through, few experience what you have done, even fewer will see what you are about to see with your eyes.”
She turned and looked at me, walked almost uncomfortably close to me, then, almost giggling like bursting at the seams with laughter said: “This is where things that were once dead are reborn into life again.”
I couldn’t make an inch of progress as to what she meant, and I almost didn’t want to ask, but I questioned her:
“Who are you?”
She almost bit her lip, looked to her right, then exclaimed: “I had a name like you once, before the re-birthing of all things”, now they just call me: “Vale La Pena” looking back into my face as she proclaimed it.
“I don’t know what that means” looking again away to my left.
“It means… she inched closer until she was leaning over me and whispered into my ear… “It simply means… It’s worth all the pain.”
I still couldn’t comprehend any of this, so I just looked back at her and watched her eyes again… so lovely, it was almost as if… I had seen them before.
“My name on earth is a mystery” she continued. Leaning back and somewhat rising again from my bedside “some called me my sister, other called me the kinswoman”, others, “the woman at the well”
THE WELL? I exclaimed sitting up on the bed, being in too much pain to completely do so; you mean, you’re the woman who He met years and years ago that said he would give: “Living water”
“Yes,” she exclaimed, rejoicing with her eyes looking back at me, “And He gave me more than I could ever have imagined and much more so”, after I drank just a portion of that water that never dies. “Eternal youth you find after drinking it, and you’re never the same… you… change”
“Is that what you just gave me to drink?” “Is this where living water comes from?”
“Indeed, it does” “He only doesn’t give it himself because it isn’t your time to pass from this earth just yet. He gives to all who will freely receive”
“So why even drink it? Why give it to me if I still…”
“So other can see the change in you, and wonder why…” “The light that radiates from your face will make those close to you wonder why you are what you are… the roots that are deeper than the greatest ocean come alive, and to grow upward, you must go downward first, that’s why you are here… because it isn’t how pretty the tree is, that makes it last the storm, its how strong and deep it’s roots are in Christ. That’s why you are here KYLE GREGORY, for many are called, but few are chosen. you have been chosen…”
Her voice slowly began to drift away, the room started to feel fuzzy again as when I first awoke… or died… or whatever this was… I tried yelling out for her, but she vanished just like a vapor of wind or a puff of smoke and was no more… the last words I heard from her lips as she faded into the light was: “Courage, dear heart, every tear you’ve ever cried, all the pain you’ve ever felt… everything you didn’t understand above ground… happened for a reason… what you drank from… the water… was every tear you’ve ever cried in your life… God saves them, because he cares… because you matter… because…
her voice was now a whisper and I couldn’t understand what was happening. I felt like I was traveling up, it was then I realized, I was pushing my way through the dirt, through the ceiling of the cave, into the sunlight again… I looked under me, eyes still shut but somehow being able to see… I was growing roots, from my feet came all kinds of shallow, deep and medium-sized roots coming out of me at full-speed uncontrollably.
It was then a thought entered my head that I was turning from a seed to a tree and that young woman… she had fertilized me from that flask. Before I had even time to ask: I had recalled the verse she whispered to me somehow just before I awoke that said: “
24 I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24…
I realized I was close to the surface now, I braced myself for the impact, but there was no seed, I came shooting up out of the ground, no longer a human, but as a tree.
I reached higher and higher as my roots grew deeper and I felt the water under the ground seeping up into my soul. Higher and higher I climbed, until I saw the beauty of it all.
Spring, Summer. Winter had passed, and summertime was here to last “faith and hope we’re restored, and love is what was being reborn from the months of feeling worn.”
I heard above me, or was that just my heart? I was so stunned by the sun’s dazzling rays, I had almost forgotten the past or even the young woman’s ocean like gaze.
“Kyle… Kyle…” I kept hearing louder and louder… was that coming from… who was putting their hand on my should…
I turned to the person speaking to me; it was one of my friends, someone I met long ago.
There was no forest anymore, no roots, no sunlight, no tree, just me, sitting on my hard table card chair looking somewhat dazed as I remembered where I was.
Church. We were having fellowship and had just finished eating. The air outside had started turning crisp… Fall was here… Tabernacles was just around the corner, and it was then I remembered, people were practicing a dance this week for the park gathering in about a month.
“looking back at my friend”, I said: “I’m sorry, I guess I was daydreaming.”
“We’re about to practice the “Thrive” dance by Casting Crowns.” They said; “You’d better get up if you want to be in it.” as they halfway skipped and danced away from the table to get on the practice floor a few steps beyond where I sat.
The mother of the choreographers noticed everyone getting ready to practice, and came over to me and said:
“Kyle, are you going to dance?”
“I’m not sure”
“Well, they really could use your help, I think they’re one person short”
Looking at her thoughts flashed through my mind: Really? Can I dance for God again? After all my mistakes, my mess-ups and sins I thought were beyond forgiving? Could this be an invitation from heaven itself that was OK to worship God again in dance? After all I had done?
“Um… well, I guess I could if you need me.”
“We’d really appreciate your participation.” the mother exclaimed again.
“OK, I guess I will” I exclaimed, as I rose from the table to join the guys and girls practicing.
A slight smile came across my face as I practiced with the others. For the first time in a long time, I felt alive again, revived, as if I was doing what I’ve always loved to do, which it was: Dancing again, NHD ministries was reviving, and I didn’t even know it at the time, but all because one person decided to show compassion to a once-dead spiritual soul, live began springing up again where it wasn’t and the midnight was ending. The sunrise was breaking through. God loved me again, at least that’s how I feel. there was no doubt God loved me now, this time I knew it was real.
“THRIVE” Casting Crowns is… in another person’s words “the best dance you’ve ever put together Kyle.”
My reply was: “thanks, but I didn’t choreograph it, the Brown family did.”
I was just one of the dancers. Because one person decided they saw some life in me where all I saw in myself was death.
(photo by Bethel Music, like their page here)
May all of you who have just read through, I dedicate this to you…
you’ve known part of my struggle to just survive, so be the first to enjoy THRIVE.
Kyle Perry, Founder NHD Ministries
*any characters in the storytelling are fictional until the end when reality sets in.*