Let me tell you a love story. Once, a long time ago, there was a man. He was strong and self-sufficient and very good. He had everything he needed, yet still He felt a desire for something more. He had infinite capacity for love, but He didn’t have anyone to give that love to. His love was like the deepest reservoir full to the brim, but without an outlet. And He had no one who would love Him in return.
So the man set out to find Someone to love, and He found his soul-mate! He wooed her and won her heart. They were so happy. They spent every day together, and talked about anything and everything and nothing. Neither could imagine ever falling out of love or being apart.
Then one day a stranger approached the woman. He seduced her with beguiling words and stole her innocence. But the subtle stranger didn’t love the woman. He didn’t even really want her. He only wanted to steal her away from the hero of our story. You see, the stranger and our hero were once very close, but the stranger betrayed our hero. They fought, and our hero beat him. But now the stranger had found a way to strike back at him, by stealing away the woman he loved.
The stranger kidnapped her and took her far away. He locked her away. He beat her and abused her. He plied her with drugs and alcohol until she became an addict reliant on him for her next fix. He bombarded her with music that glorified violence and sensuality and greed in an attempt to brainwash her. He kept her so busy slaving away she had no time to think or question.
Months and years passed, and the kidnapper’s efforts began to take effect. Over time his captive all but forgot the man she had once loved. Despite her captor’s abuse, she began to believe that he really did care about her. He convinced her that only he could satisfy her craving for love and acceptance, but somehow she was never really satisfied. Her captor kept promising her happiness if she would just do a little more for him. If she would just try the next new drug or drink. If she would dress the way he wanted her to and act just like he said. She did it all but still felt empty. Still, she plastered on a smile. He gave her fancy clothes and jewelry, but they didn’t fill the hole inside her.
Her life grew darker and darker. She became depressed, angry, and suicidal. She wondered what was wrong with her. Why wasn’t her lover and all he offered her enough? She could no longer remember a time when she was innocent and loved and happy. She just wanted it all to end.
Then one day a stranger came to their door. The woman overheard him talking to her lover. The man at the door was begging her lover to let her go.
She was puzzled. “Let her go?” Was she a prisoner? She had been here so long, wasn’t this where she belonged?
“Take me in her place.” The man at the door was practically in tears. “Do whatever you want with me, just let her go.”
The woman listened in shock. Surely her lover would never trade her for this stranger! Didn’t he love her?
But her lover laughed in glee. “Promise me!” he demanded, and the stranger promised. Her lover turned to her, face twisted. “You’re free to go.” He jerked a hand toward the door.
She stood stock still.
He laughed again, looking at the stranger. “You fool! See? She’s bound to me now. She’ll never choose to leave. Now I have you both!” To her horror, her lover began beating the man viciously.
As blows rained down on him, the stranger raised his head to look at her. “Please go,” he said between gasps of pain. “I’m doing this to set you free. Go now! Don’t look back, don’t worry about me. Just run.”
She stared at him. It had been so long, but she caught the ghost of a memory. Yes! She remembered those kind eyes. That loving smile. Could it be?
She remembered! She was happy once. With him! Before the Dark One came and seduced her away. She remembered!
Turning, she ran from her captor’s prison, leaving everything behind. Behind her she heard a cry of agony, but she couldn’t look back. Couldn’t go back. He had said to run. She had to break free!
Three days later he somehow found her. She ran to him and tenderly took his wounded hands. She took in the wounds in his feet and his side, the scars on his forehead.
“What did he do to you?” she cried.
“His worst,” Jesus said and took her in his arms. “But you were worth it.”
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