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The Legend of the Mountain People

There was a tribe whose true Home was a beautiful land beyond a great mountain range. They had left their home and traveled across the mountains to fulfill a promise. There they labored for many, many years.

When their task was finally completed they began to prepare for the journey Home. They were cautious, even a little afraid, for the mountains were wild. There were steep cliffs, loose rocks and landslides, and many other dangers. There was a Goat whose trails wove around the mountains in a confusing maze. These were to be avoided, else the unwary traveler might find himself led in circles or trapped in a dead end with the trail crumbling behind him.

Their journey called for wisdom in choosing a path. Sometimes the trail split to detour a boulder or a tree and then rejoined. At other times a fork was the beginning of a road too dangerous to follow, or even one of the Goat's trails.

But provision had been made for the dangers of their return trip Home. They had been given a Guidebook which told of the Safe Way to follow. It showed how to recognize the trails of the Goat. The Guidebook helped them understand which choices on the trail were safe and which could be fatal.

However, they did not all understand the Guidebook exactly alike. Some who had their parents' or grandparents' copy were unsure how to use it. Some had become confused by thinking too much of the roads in the valley where they had been laboring. Some had studied only their favorite parts of the Guidebook, leaving other parts unread or misunderstood. Some tried to mix the Safe Way of the Guidebook with their own common sense and trailcraft.
So disagreements and bitter arguments, and even angry fights began to occur. Some were heard to say, "Well, go fall off the mountain, then!" or to accuse anyone who disagreed with them of following the Goat. There were teachers who had carefully studied the Guidebook and could have helped others to understand it better. But some teachers had become so harsh in their attitudes that few were willing to listen to them.

This was terribly sad, since no one really wanted to fall from the mountains or become lost on the Goat's trails. It was during a particularly heated discussion that an older man stood and addressed the people for the last time before walking with his family and friends into the mountains.

"People of my tribe, I have listened carefully as you have spoken of the Guidebook. I have also told of my understanding of the Safe Way as best I can. Some of you have heard me and agreed; some have not. Some of you have chosen paths which I am persuaded are deadly, and I fear for your lives. My family and I cannot walk those paths with you. Yet I make you these promises. As we travel on the Way, we will keep you in our hearts. If we meet you on the Way, we will welcome you to walk with us. And even if you should not, we will hope against hope to see you again when we arrive Home."

Some thought he was mad. Some thought he was senile. But a few others — even among those who had first disagreed with him — were seen to slip from the crowd and walk with his family as they entered the mountains. Read Joshua 24.

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward