The sun beat down on Laura’s head relentlessly as she licked her parched lips. As far as she could see it was desert. Sand, beaten into a fury by the wind, reached up and choked her.

         Adjusting the heavy chain around her throat, Laura’s swollen fingers fumbled with the cutting metal. Her neck bled.

         Scanning her eyes ahead, Laura could just make out a black and shiny shape about two hundred yards away. Curiosity moved her trudging steps forward and her heart leapt at the idea of something that glimmered.

         Anything but the dull sand.

         Laura looked down. Strange it looked different from the distance. Lying at her feet, a black boulder sat on the desert floor with a note attached.

         Laura lifted the paper and read:


         Laura’s shoulders sagged and her eyes filled with liquid. How could she ever manage this huge boulder on top of the heavy chain on her neck?

         With a sigh, Laura bent her legs and wrapped her arms around the stone. Using all her strength, she hoisted the stone and began to walk.

         She breathed in ragged gasps and her back felt on fire. Soon Laura put down the boulder and stretched. A sharp pain in her neck caused her to wince and tug once again at the links of the heavy chain.

         Collapsing to the sand, Laura wept. She stayed on the sand for a long time before she took a deep breath and started to lift the boulder again.

         Was that someone calling her name? She looked around but her eyes couldn’t see anything. She felt his touch before she could see his merry, brown eyes.

         Slowly with calloused hands, he took the boulder from her arms as though it weighed nothing and hurled it to the east. The boulder disappeared from sight.

         Ever so gently, the calloused hands grasped the chain and broke it in half. The chain fell with a clank. Amazed, Laura looked around and watched the desert turn itself from sand to lush green pastures. Nearby she heard the sound of running water.

         Turning her head she saw a clear, fresh stream and the man returning with a cup in his hand. She drank deeply and when she was finished, he filled it again.

         Soon there was a table heaped with steaming soups, plump fruits and savory bread. They sat down together and ate.

         Much later Laura turned around toward the direction from where she had traveled. She held the hand of the man who had come to her aid and together they started back into the desert.


         Nowadays Laura lives tired but happy in the desert with occasional green pastures and cool drinks of water. She has helped a few folks with their chains and persuaded some more to put down their heavy rocks. It’s a good life.


     Forgiven and forgiving.

     Receiving mercy and bestowing mercy to others.

          It’s a better journey with Jesus.