There was once a man who by a long journey came to visit the temple of the God of the Jews. He stood in the chattering and the hustle and bustle of the court of the Gentiles. For that is what he was; an outsider, not of the people of God, born of a corrupt bloodline. He wore a t-shirt and blue jeans, and endured some strange looks because of it. He did not care. Having only one thought and one purpose, he moved silently through the crowd and approached the Gate.

Startled looks followed him and some men began shouting, “Stop him!” but they could not stop him. He passed into the court of women and moved hurriedly among them, keeping his destination in mind. As he approached the steps before the next gate, others had taken notice of the commotion and moved to bar his way. But they also could not stop him, for they had neither the authority nor the power. He suddenly found himself before the bloody altar, and hesitated briefly, his heart almost overcome at the sight of the familiar blood.

He moved again, around the altar and past the onlookers, stunned in mid-sacrifice. He ran quickly ahead and burst into the holy place, almost knocking into the altar of incense. The aroma filled his senses, causing his heart to beat and his mind to soar. He was close, so close! The priests who had been busy at work were shocked to stillness. Never had they seen such sacrilege! Never in their lifetimes had they witnessed such defilement of the holy place!

But they could not move to stop him. They stood in deathly silence. He ran on. Not hesitating at the curtain, he pushed it aside and forced his way into the most dangerous place in the whole of creation. The priests all gasped and finally moved to intervene, but one of them spoke, “Let him be! Surely he has come to his destruction now. We will cleanse this place after God has judged him.” They stopped and waited, straining their ears. They heard no sound of wrath, and felt no heat of flame, but through the quiet came a voice.

All were aghast and mortified at what they heard. Many of them tore their robes. Some ran from the holy place in terror at the surely coming fury. For what they heard was something that had never entered the farthest fringe of their thoughts and hearts. Something either too terrible to imagine or too wonderful to be true. They heard only one word spoken as if through sobs. Spoken with a tenderness born of kinship. Spoken from the voice of the outsider, and echoing long off the walls of the Most Holy Place. “Abba!”

How often I have preferred the couch to the prayer closet, the television to the Scripture, the computer to worship. I see a welcoming hand held out to me. It is a hand large enough to hold an ocean and small enough to have been pierced by a nail. It is too wonderful to be true! But I have preferred the scraps of refuse offered by the world. God save us from banality! Praise God that by His Spirit my heart cries “Abba!” I would be with him. Everything else is ashes.

By Matt Brouillet

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