New Season Ministries Poetry
Stories & Poetry
Lost in the Woods
'We will find our way out of this God forsaken forest......trust me,' said Bob irritably.
'We're lost aren't we?' his wife asked timidly, hoping that he wouldn't shout at her again, and so begin another argument.
Everywhere she looked, all she could see were trees and more trees, and tangled undergrowth, just waiting to trip her up, which it did regularly. The nettles stung. The thorns from the briers tore at the flesh on her bare legs up to where her short skirt stopped. The smell of damp decaying mouldy undergrowth stinging her nostrils.
They were being bitten by mosquitoes and gnats, hungry, thirsty and thoroughly miserable. Kit was ready to burst into tears at any moment, any thought of seeing her young family again fast diminishing as the sun was now low in the sky, besides, she was sure they had seen that heart carved on the old oak before, at least three times.
She began to hear a low laugh coming from behind, which made her turn round fast, hoping to see someone who could help them. But no-one was there and Bob was so far out in front that she was not a little uneasy.
'Bob!' she yelled out in fright as she heard it again, only in front of her this time. 'Bob, are you playing silly beggars with me? Well don't.'
No, Bob wasn't playing silly anything with her, because there he was in front of her, his usually flushed face, white as if he was looking at a ghost, his dark short cropped hair, looking uncharacteristically dishevelled, his firm chin opened in astonishment, his brown eyes fixed on something or someone taller than him, which at 6 foot 7 was difficult.
Although Kit was afraid, her curiosity was stronger, as she cautiously crept to his transfixed body to see what had spooked her usually controlled husband.
As she looked in his direction, she saw to her astonishment a rather formidable looking character, a tall rotund man, seven foot at least, a big white beard almost down to his waist, framing a large smiling mouth, his ankle length, heavy red overcoat opened to reveal a dark green waist coat, with gold buttons, and tucked into the gold buckled black belt was a white clay pipe. The coat had a capped hood, and it was all trimmed with white fur, intermingling with his white hair, which was wild and bushy, poking out from the sides of the loose hood. His big black knee length boots were also trimmed with gold, his red trousers tucked into them. If she hadn't known better she would have said she was standing face to face with Father Christmas. For a second it occurred to her that he was a little over dressed for the time of year, a mid-summer evening.
Suddenly she felt cold, and as she looked around her, in that short time, they had been transported into another world, to what seemed to be the middle of winter. Snow surrounded them, and a warm glow of light from a small cottage window stood invitingly a little way off. The big man was beckoning them to follow him. His blue eyes sparkled and laughed, she wasnít quite sure whether it was at them, or with them, but even so they were kind eyes and hard to resist; so despite the fact that her head and her common sense was telling her, to run as fast as she could in the opposite direction, her feet did not take any notice and followed what her heart was saying. She was glad of the lit lantern which he held high in his right hand, as it was now dark and without it they would they would have been stumbling, trying to find their way. He leaned heavily upon the gold staff in his left hand, as if old age was beginning to creep up on him. Yet either despite this or because of it, there was an inner strength that shone from him and around him.
What met them as they entered the little cottage took their breath away. In a large open hearth on the right-hand side wall, a roaring log fire was burning and at either side, two very large, comfortable, red armchairs, big enough to snuggle up in to a round ball and go to sleep. Laid out on a big table in the middle of the room, was a huge feast, like something out of the ancient Britons: big loaves of black bread, a small pig roasting on a spit over another even bigger open fire built into the facing wall, big bowls of onions and leeks, a board full of different types of cheeses, a big churn of milk, and two flagons, one of beer and one of mead were poured ready to drink, almost as if they were expected; venison stew was in a large cauldron also keeping hot on the larger fire, with just a few vegetables. The sight and delicious aroma that was coming from the table was out of this world to two very hungry and desperate people in need of comfort, love and guidance.
'Come in, come in do,' he spoke for the first time, a deep yet kind voice, encouraging and reassuring. He seemed somehow to have shrunk, and be more in keeping with their size, 'Eat and drink, and be warmed by the fire.
They saw two large wooden bowls and served themselves all the food they wanted, as in a dream which they didn't want to wake up from, because in it they felt secure and loved, as if small children again, being looked after by a kindly grandfather.
'Now, how can I help you?' he asked as they sat down to eat, making themselves comfortable and feeling totally relaxed.
'We are lost and need to find our way home,' demanded Bob with a mouth full of food, taking over as usual. Efficient in his private life, as he was in business.
As per-usual Bob was attempting to manage and manipulate the situation to his own advantage, expecting this old man, like everyone else did when he spoke, to jump to his orders, and guide them back to safety. But instead he told them a story, which on first reflection seemed to them at least, to be totally irrelevant.
Once, a long time ago in the place of the ancient Middle east, lived a man named Isaac, who had married a beautiful young girl called Rebecca.
For a number of years Rebecca remained barren, until Isaac got on his knees and begged God to heal her, and open up her womb. Soon after this she conceived, but it was not a happy pregnancy, because fighting was fierce within her. So she asked the Lord, 'What is going on Lord? If this is what it's like, I'd rather not bother,'
'You have two nations within you,' He answered, 'They are vying for position, and will be divided, but the younger will be ruler of the older, and the older will serve the younger.
Isaac too heard this prophecy. When the two boys were born, Jacob, the younger brother was holding the heel of Esau, his elder brother which denoted that the prophecy would be as God had said. But Isaac's favourite was Esau and Rebecca's favourite was Jacob.
Esau grew into a big hairy bear of a man, yet feckless and feeble minded. Whereas Jacob was smooth skinned and level headed, which at his best meant that he was reliable and trustworthy, but at his worst.. a cool and formidable character, not good to have as an enemy. As the boys grew up, Esau learnt how to win his father's affections through his stomach. Esau was a hunter and knew how to cook the type of spiced food that his father loved. Isaac was a greedy man. Jacob was a farmer and grew all his own vegetables, and had simple tastes.
One day, Esau, who had been out hunting, came home ravenously hungry. He saw that his brother was cooking something that looked good, and so asked him for a bit. But his brother would not give him any unless he sold him his birthright. It was the right of the older child to be given the larger share of the land, and after the father had died, be the head of the family.
'What does it matter, when I'm dying of starvation, it's yours, just give me some of that lentil stew,' Esau answered exasperatedly, as he grossly exaggerated his state of health.
Thus Esau so despised his own birthright, he sold it for a meal, but Jacob was very coolly manipulating his weak brother.
Let's go back now to the parents. Although Rebecca knew the blessing that God had promised Jacob, she didn't trust God enough to leave it in His hands, so she resolved to help Jacob. And as for Isaac, well he wanted Esau to have the blessing, so he decided, as he realized he was coming to the end of his life, to try to influence God's hand, by giving Esau the blessing - which smacked more of magic than of faith.
No-one knows whether Isaac knew of the sale of the birthright or not, but he did know of the prophecy over Jacob.
As Isaac grew old, his eyes grew dim, and so seeing was becoming difficult for him. He told Esau to, 'Go, kill me some game, and when you bring it back, and you have cooked it how I like it, bring it to me, so I can eat it, then I'll bless you.'
So Esau went off to hunt for game, for his father's blessing.
But Rebecca having overheard this, devised a plan to outwit her husband, giving instruction to Jacob to, 'Go, kill a couple of kids from the goats, and I will make a stew as your father likes it. When it is cooked, you take it to him.'
'Mother, don't you think he might notice that I am nothing like Esau. He is a hairy, and I have smooth skin,' He pointed out.
But his mother had it all planned. She dressed Jacob in Esauís clothes, and put the kid's skin on to his smooth hands and his neck. Giving him the food she had prepared, she sent him in. The plot was now hatched.
'Father, here I am, eat this,' said Jacob as he entered the room.
'Who are you?' asked Isaac, a little suspiciously.
'I'm your son Esau,' Jacob said beginning the lies.
'You've caught the game already, and cooked it in such a short time?' he paused, 'Are you really my son Esau?'
'Yes father, your God gave it to me,' Jacob continued.
'Come to me my son, so that I can touch you.' So Jacob drew close to his father. Isaac touched his hands and smelt his clothes, wondering at the fact that although he sounded like Jacob he felt and smelt like Esau. So he allowed himself to be deceived by the thought of the food instead of going by what his own ears and instincts told him.
Having satisfied himself that Esau stood in front of him, he ate the food that Jacob had given him, and gave him this blessing.
He said, 'Surely, the smell of my son
Is like the smell of a field
Which the Lord has blessed.
Therefore may God give you the dew of heaven,
Of the fatness of the earth,
And plenty of grain and wine.
Let peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you.
Be master of your brethren,
And let your mother's sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
And blessed be those who bless you!
NKJV. Gen.. 27:27-29 'So although he knew the promise of God, he attempted by this blessing, to oppose God's will, and change the Lord's prophecy.
'God had meant the blessing on Jacob - Isaac had decided in his wisdom to go against God, and attempted to manipulate His hand. Rebecca knew this, she influenced her son and her husband, and tried to find her own way instead of acting on faith. In the end she lost both her sons.'
'How?' asked Kit, getting into the story, beginning to see where the old man was coming from, and recognizing Bob in this, without any thought as to whether it applied to her. Bob was beginning to squirm a little. But he could also see Kit as Rebecca, manipulating the family to be the people she wished them to be, instead of allowing them to grow to be the people they really were, not trusting God to look after them, to go before them.
Their host continued, 'When Esau came back, having caught the game, just after Jacob had left his father, he cooked his game, and went in to his father's room and said, 'Eat of my food so that you may bless me.'
'Who are you?' said Isaac.
'I am Esau, your son, your eldest!'
'I have already given my blessing to someone else,' Isaac said, trembling as he said it, realizing he had been tricked.
'Please father,' Esau begged him, 'Give me a blessing,' he cried in deep despair
'I've given it to your brother; I have made him master over you. He came to me deceitfully,' Isaac exclaimed, pain covering his face. He knew that he was defeated, and had to accept God's victory in this.
'You must have something for me. Jacob is rightly named, because he usurped me from my birthright, now my blessing too..' He cried as he clung onto his father's arm with all his might.
Then Isaac gave this blessing:
'Behold your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth,
And of the dew of heaven of the earth
[meaning day to day, and a hard grind]
By your sword you shall live.
And you shall serve your brother,
And it shall come to pass, when you become restless
That you shall break his yoke from your neck.'
NKJV. Gen.. 27:30-40.
He gave Esau the blessing of an irreligious man, the freedom to live a troubled and wild existence.
As you can imagine, Esau hated Jacob, and was determined that after his father had died, he would kill his younger brother. This got back to Rebecca, who persuaded her son that his life was in imminent danger, and that he had to leave. But how to persuade Isaac.
'Isaac,' Rebecca started, 'I do not wish Jacob to marry the local girls, as are Esau's two wives, they are wearisome to me, giving us a lot of trouble.'
Isaac thought a little about this, as he too had been wearied by them, and then called for his younger son, 'Jacob go to your uncle, your motherís brother Laban, and take for yourself a wife amongst his daughters.'
So Jacob went, because Rebecca did not want to lose her son. But she did lose him, because she never saw him again, as he did not come back until long after her death.
'But again God used Rebecca's interference to give Jacob the wife he wanted Him to have.'
Slowly Bob and Kit fell asleep, curled up in the armchairs, in front of the fire, listening to the droning of his voice.
They were woken with a start, right on the edge of the forest, within a few feet of their car. They turned to say thank-you to their host, only to find a big brown stag stuck with his antlers in the trees. After having disentangled him, a twinkle came to his eyes, and they were sure they saw a familiar smile on his lips, just before the majestic animal disappeared into the forest.
Then they frantically looked at their watch only to find that, time and day had not moved on.
Neither of them would forget the meeting with the Old Man in the woods, but they went home very changed people, although they never met him again.
At first they did wonder if it had all been a dream, but on reflection realized that both of them had the same dream, and both found golden angels, Bob in his coat pocket and Kit in her handbag. They had to think again.
If it was true, not only had the stranger shown them to safety, but also he had shown them to a new life of faith, love and trust, showing them how to let go of their own agendas and follow God's. Bob stopped attempting to influence the Church he was vicar of and allow the Holy Spirit to take control. As for Kit, she stopped attempting to organize their small children Ė she learned to discipline for awhile, but not plan their lives for them, but allow them to be the people God intended them to be.
He passed on his wisdom - Wisdom Personified?