So there’s this bird in a cage, a beautifully made, realistically nature-like, expensive cage. It’s grand and spacious, but not quite large enough for her to fly around in and completely stretch out her wings. She has plenty of fresh water and delicious foods to eat. She’s got toys, plants, stunning living flowers, swings, and everything she needs to live a great life. It looks like a pretty perfect life. She sings gorgeously conducted haunting melodies and smiles every time someone passes by. From a distance, she looks happy and mighty content.
The problem is that she’s really not happy, nor content. If someone really took the time to look closely and thoroughly enough, they’d see this sorrow in her eyes. They’d see the build-up of a lifetime of pain and brokenness, hopelessness, and desperation. They'd see she's insufferably lonely, and so gravely depressed. Her cage is fantastic and can sustain her throughout her whole life in a more than comfortable manor, and she’d live well. So what’s her problem? She doesn’t really have anything to be sad about. What on earth could be wrong?
Well, she can see clearly outside the window by which her cage sits. She can’t see the whole world, but she can see other birds flying free. She watches with envy as they soar through air, flying from tree to tree, landing confidently on branches that comfortably support their delicate little bodies. Oh, how she wishes to be free. How she yearns to know what truly flying feels like. So day after day, all she can do is stare grimly out the window and watch those who are free do everything that she can’t.
Then one day she sees smoke writhing and inching its way towards her. Within seconds she hears the roaring crackle of flames that are engulfing the walls on the other side of the room. Her heart is aflutter! She feels fear like she’s never felt before. She is trapped inside of this beautiful cage with her world burning down around her. As the flames slowly get closer she feels more and more terror. The smoke is so thick now she can hardly see out the window, or even through the bars of her cage. Her lungs are heavy and burning with the thick, black smoke. She feels pain so horrifying that she cannot define it. Her mind is racing in every which way, but she cannot stop the tumultuous rollercoaster on a single thought. She’s frozen. Stupefied. Conclusively crippled. She can see the brightly colored ominous flames growing in size in a slothful, indolent motion. And all she can do is remain paralyzed in an inexplicable fear watching them idly creep towards her.
She turns her back to the flames, and stares vacantly through the inconsistently swaying smoke. As it dances around, almost ceremoniously, she gets brief glimpses of the world outside her window and of the birds who fly so freely. They look so lovely… so happy… so peaceful… and so free. Oh how she yearns to know how that peace feels. And freedom. What she would give to feel the refreshing bliss of real freedom and instead of the weight of her prison pressing down on her. What is she to do? Where is her master, her teacher? The one who taught her to sing? The one who cared so much to give her this beautiful life? She feels so utterly abandoned and trapped inside this prison. If only she could get beyond her cage. If she could just find a way out, all her troubles would be just a memory.
Still paralyzed in her fear, she ponders the many things in this life she never did, and will never do. She can feel the icy hand of Death, the barbarously callous entity that is physically extracting her very breath. He whispers softly that he can make it all better. He can take her misery away. He can save her from this life. She trusts Him, and slowly lets go. Her life force listlessly fading. She suddenly feels herself outside of her body, outside of her cage, like a gaper who is nonchalantly watching her very own life diminish. She can see her light fading, growing dimmer, being snuffed. But she can’t do a damn thing to stop it. She can feel Death’s grip on her, clenching tighter with each throb of her heart, hell bent on not letting her go.
As her breath escapes her tiny, weakened frame for the last time, her thrashing panicked heart slows to a stand still, faintly letting out one last beat. Her mind races no more. Her fear has overtaken her. Forsaken her. Death releases His appallingly deceptive grip on her as her tiny body falls down to the bottom of the cage, where the door lay opened. Her Master’s hand awaited on the other side of the door for her to meet Him. But she was so caught up in her fear and watching the world outside her window that she couldn’t look around and see the one thing she wanted and needed most: His outstretched hand.
Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I AM the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."