He had had enough.
No one understood. No one supported him. He was tired of going it alone. Dead tired.
All the good changes he had tried to make. All the things he had done to help people. Everything he had stood for. It had all come to nothing. No one cared about anything he had done. No one cared what happened to him. Even God seemed far away.
He was alone. And now persons from the government were out to kill him.
So he fled with his bodyguard into the desert. Once they reached the burning sands that stretched for hundreds of miles he turned to his bodyguard, who had stuck with him through thick and thin: “Look, it’ll be better if I go it alone from here. It’s harder to track one person than two.”
The bodyguard was reluctant. “I’ve always protected you,” he said, dark sunglasses covering his eyes. “I’ve always had your back.”
The man clapped his bodyguard on the shoulder. “I know. I’m grateful. But we have to break up the partnership here and now.”
He began to walk further out into the desert. The bodyguard watched him go. Once he got behind some scrub and was out of sight the man dropped the bag carrying his food and his water bottles onto the sand. Then he carried on.
The sun hammered onto his back and shoulders. He threw off his hat and sunglasses. The heat went like nails into his skin. Sweat poured into his eyes.
“I don’t care, “ he muttered as he walked along more and more slowly. “I’ve had it. I want to die. There’s nothing left to live for. I’ve done all I can and I’ve come up short.”
He began to limp. His eyesight blurred. Staggering towards a small tree that had somehow survived the hot days and cold nights he finally collapsed. A scrap of shade covered his body and face. His head was pounding.
“It’s enough, God.” He closed his eyes. “I didn’t make a difference. I’m no better than the others who tried before me.”
He fell into a troubled sleep that he hoped would end with his dehydration and death. He began to have strange dreams. In one of them someone who burned as bright as the desert sun offered him water and food and he drank and ate. In another dream the person came back with more food and water and spoke to him: “Eat some more. Drink some more. Sleep some more. The journey is too much for you.”
The man wasn’t sure how much time had passed when he opened his eyes. There was a vivid orange dawn. He felt fit and rested. He got to his feet.
“I’ll go to the place where others say they’ve met God,” he told himself.
He set out and after a number of days found the mountain, climbed it and went into a dark cave. As he rested he thought he heard a voice: “What are you doing here?”
The man did not seem surprised to hear a voice. He was ready with a response. “Look, I’ve done everything I can for God. I’ve worked hard to change this world for the better. I’ve killed myself trying to get false gods out of people’s lives. Now they’re after my blood.”
The voice came again: “Go and stand on the mountain.”
The man sensed a growing presence of the holy like a weight pressing down on him. The air in the cave seemed to get heavier and heavier.
Now God will make it all right, he thought. Now he will come in a big way and deal with my enemies and turn this world upside down. Now he will make everything in my life brand new. And he’ll do it all like a fireworks display on the 4th of July.
A huge wind roared out of the desert and crossed the mouth of the cave but God was not in the wind. Then fire streaked out of the sky and the man said to himself, “All right, God will be in the fire, for sure,” but God was not in the fire. Puzzled, the man waited. Then he braced his hands on the walls of the cave as an earthquake shook the mountain and opened great fissures in the desert. “This is it,” he said. But it wasn’t. God was not in the earthquake either.
Where are you? he wondered.
Then he heard a small sound. He had to focus hard to hear anything. It was no more than a whisper.
But God was in the whisper.
The man stood in front of the cave and bowed his head.
“Go back to where you came from, “ God said quietly. “I have a plan for the days ahead and that plan hasn’t been completed yet. There is more for you to do and I will give you the faith and strength to do it. I know it has been rough. But listen – there are 7000 others who are fighting the fight you are fighting. You may not know them but they are on the same side you are on. You are not alone. You have never been alone. I am with you.”