I should have followed the footsteps into the wilderness long ago. But I didn’t, or wouldn’t. And a man who won’t bravely walk in the dark forest when a quiet voice says, “You must go in. The answers are only found inside;” will be dragged in by fate. The spirit inviting him—guiding him to the dark entrance, leading him to a choice beyond which all the answers are forever hidden or forever found—was simply trying to save the man from himself; merely trying to help him discover a faith that will one day save his world. One day, far from that choice, he will wander in that same wilderness, yet this time, sadly, confused as to how it was he got there. He will be lost in his own life. Trapped in a prison of his own making; unable to leave, not because the prison is too strong, but because he is too weak. Which is truly tragic, for it is shameful enough to hear a man wail and complain that fate has stuck him in prison, but it is another level of shame to hear a man wail and complain that fate has stuck him in Pittsburgh—a self-pitying, blind soul held somewhere against his will. For years, maybe forty, trapped in a wilderness he can’t even see, trapped by his own blindness, unable to serve anyone because he was served a life sentence. Eating bread alone. Surveying all his kingdoms from his high plateau, yet unable to descend the sheer cliff walls on every side. Jumping off temples and smashing onto stones, wondering why God’s angels don’t protect him; wondering why every choice after the one long ago at the edge of the forest ends in a bloody nose and a brick wall.
A man unwilling to walk into the wilderness, unwilling to follow the receding shape in the darkness, which is the receding back of his God, has already failed. He failed the trial by not even trying. He failed the entrance exam by never even entering. He doesn’t have to wonder “whom this day he has chosen to serve.” He already knows. He chose his master when he chose to pretend he didn’t hear any voice or see any dark forest. He heard the first question: “Young man, you must go in. True or false?”
And he gave his answer.
He doesn’t have to wonder, years later, who he really is the day the enemy shows up at his door. He is exactly the kind of man who waits until the enemy is at his door before answering tough questions and listening to his heart. He is exactly the kind of person who answered “false" on the first question. He lost. On that day he bends his knee to the enemy.
He chose his master without ever having the guts to confront him.
Because I never really understood whose I was, I never understood who I was.