there was a beautiful land ruled by the King and His Son. The country was free from famine, fear, and doubt, although evil lurked in the mountains far to the west. The King guarded his people wisely, caring for them as a father to his son. He loved them.
When pestilence came to a distant land, the King opened his arms wide to accept the battered strangers. They poured in by the thousands – torn, tired, and ragged. One in particular, a shabby orphan girl, caught the Prince’s attention. She was not beautiful; her clothes were mere rags. But the Prince loved her and waited for the right time to show her His affection. She was foreign without the typical light complexion and gentle smile of the Kingdom’s citizens. Lines creased her forehead and her hair was matted down her back. Despite her appearance, the Prince waited, yearning for her to return his warmth, his love.
But she didn’t.
The girl was brought into the village, fed, clothed, and cared for. Without parents to guard her, she was vulnerable. Thus, the King showed her special favor, watching out for her tenderly. But the feelings were not mutual.
As enemies from the west stormed into the country, the maiden exchanged grace for treason. She joined the enemy and gave them vital information to the castle’s security. Her heart turned black and twisted.
Who could trust one like her? As the King and his Son once again returned peace to the nation, the enemy carried her away to the west. They mistreated her. They beat her without mercy. They tore her heart and trampled her soul. And finally she was left in a dark dungeon as her life blood poured out onto the ground. Her eyes closed, her breath became shallow. But worse than that was the horror and scars. She had betrayed a friend and received her due.
But as the sun set one last time on her horizon, her swollen lips opened with a final plea.
It wasn’t a demand for justice. As a babe reaching out to her father, her heart yearned for someone she could trust. Someone who would love her. Tears raced down her blood-stained cheeks.
The words echoed through the dungeon, mocking her as she sank back against the cold stones. Her strength was gone. The color faded from her cheeks as the moon rose high above the defensive castle walls. There were no stars to lighten the darkness of night.
But her words were not lost. They traveled on the wind past the western mountains. Still they carried on, until a Prince in a castle far away heard them.
He heard them. And the plea touched his heart.
The Prince mounted his white charger and prepared to leave His perfect kingdom. As the portcullis was raised for His departure, His Father touched His hand.
“Do you want to bring the army?”
The Prince pushed away a lock of golden hair, and the King could see the worry in his eyes.
“No.” He turned to face the western mountains. “This is my mission. She is broken, and I alone hear her plea.”
The King nodded. “Then ride in My power.” His voice grew raspy as He whispered a final farewell. “Bring hope to the hopeless, My Son.”
Heels dug into the horse’s side. The Prince left the security of the castle and entered a war-ridden country. As his stallion galloped across the plains, his fists tightened on the reigns. The moon was high above, casting silvery shadows on his path. But only one thought lingered in his mind.
The plains slowly turned rugged as grass turned into hills. Mountains rose steep around him like battalions of enemy soldiers preparing for attack. Still he pressed on, ignoring the danger.
And there it was. The dark fortress stood against the sky with impending doom. Sentries cried out, peering into the shadows to discover who the rider was. As the Prince reached the impenetrable walls, he dismounted. His horse nuzzled him as if in farewell.
He drew his sword, the sound piercing through the hearts of all who heard. Gazing at it longingly one last time, he cast it aside.
All were silent as he raised his voice in victory.
“I have come to free the maiden. I am her ransom.”
In the dungeon below, the girl heard footsteps. She trembled, unable to defend herself from what torture might ensue. Keys clanged. A shadow fell across her. She was dragged to her feet and pulled up rough steps. As the outside air wrapped around her, the guards let go, and her legs crumbled. The sky was now pink with a tinge of orange gracing the view. But her eyes fell on the One who loved her, his dazzling robes now torn and covered in filth.
He took her hand, gazing into her haggard face.
“You are forgiven.”
She dropped her gaze, unable to take in the love that echoed from his voice. But he touched her chin and lifted it. His brown eyes shone like the sun.
The words meant so much more. She longed to grab them, to treasure them. But how?
Before she could ask, the enemies tore him away. They struck him with a rod until he staggered to the cobblestones. Vile soldiers spat in his face. Kicks and blows rained down. A whip came down once. Twice. Evil laughter filled the courtyard.
She couldn’t say anything. Tears fell again as the One who loved her was torn apart. Again and again his blood was spilled. He weakened and collapsed. Still they pressed on, enjoying the torment they caused. As they pulled the whip back for another flogging, the Prince raised his voice.
“Father, forgive them.”
The girl buried her face in her hands. She couldn’t stand to watch. The evil around her filled the air.
“It is finished.” His voice, still strong, rang through the air. The enemies paused, power triumphing over evil in that split second.
But as a cold breeze caught the girl’s rags and sent chills down her body, she heard it. The death blow.
The Prince’s broken body stilled.
The girl looked down on the One who had died. The One who had taken her place. He was her ransom.
She was released from the fortress and left alone in the mountains. She was free.
But what was freedom? She stumbled through the rocks. No one cared, and no one saw. Did life matter anymore? The One who had loved her – the One she had begun to love – was gone. He had died for her.
As the sun began to set once again, she sat by a stream, empty. She had betrayed a friend who had loved her. What was life? What was forgiveness?
The days passed. She didn’t want life. But his words echoed in her ears. “Live.” How did one live when he was dead?
But she failed to comprehend the King’s power.
As her bitter life begged to be ended, His might stretched across the land. It swept beyond her brokenness. More mighty than the evil that had killed the Son, it touched his battered body.
The King’s glorious power raised him, for the Prince had been an innocent sacrifice.
And as the girl lay under the early morning sun on the third day, he touched her. She sat up, her eyes sunken in her pale face. She stared at him without seeing.
“My Love.” He took her hand, drawing her to her feet. Ignoring the dirt, the blood, and the sin, he pushed back her hair. “Live.”
Her former strength crumbled. “But how, my Lord?”
“Live.” He smiled, tender. “Live in My Father’s power. Live in my love.”
Gently, he led her to His horse who had waited patiently by the stream. She mounted, and he brought her to freedom.
They didn’t speak much. They didn’t have to. His love washed away her dirt and forgave her sins. She was free. She was treasured. Her mind couldn’t comprehend him, but one thing she knew. Someone loved her. And, for the first time, she loved someone.
The miles passed away, and they entered the King’s land. There, with joy, the Prince was welcomed by all. They entered a castle with high silver walls and smiling villagers. The Prince helped her dismount and led her to the castle constable. There He was assured that she would be cared for and protected.
Satisfied, he took her to the village square, buying her garments of silk and a pearl necklace to grace her throat. She was washed and cleansed, and a nurse tended to her wounds. When the Prince saw her again, he smiled. She was indeed a princess, with her dark locks gracing her back and eyes bright and joyful.
Leading her to her new dwelling, he kissed her hand.
The maiden tensed. She grasped his arm, her fingers clutching at the hope that seemed to be vanishing. “But you? Us? When will we be together again?” Her world seemed to be returning to its past darkness. Was the light of her future vanishing?
“Beloved,” his golden hair shone in the sun as warmth swept over her. “Wait for me faithfully as my bride. I must go to my Father, but I will return. When I come back for you, my Father will defeat the enemy once and for all. And I will carry you home as my own.”
“My Lord, but why not now? Can you not take me with you today?” She blinked back tears.
His eyes shone as if he could see the future. “Ah, but the time is not yet right, Beloved. Remain. Wait. Live.” He pressed a leather-bound book into her hands and turned his steed. “I am coming soon.”
As his horse pranced down the drawbridge, the maiden watched until he disappeared into the horizon. She was alone, yet she wasn’t alone. He had left his love with her.
Her eyes traveled down the book in her hands, fingering its pages. It was a book of his promises. His love letters to her were bound together for her eyes to behold. She treasured them, reading his promises.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“I have loved you with a love that lasts forever”
He had told her to wait faithfully. And that she would.
She reentered life with a new vigor, for he loved her. That love pressed her on. She would wait faithfully, live as his pure, spotless bride, and tell others of His forgiveness. She would encourage others to honor their King and live lives worthy of their calling. She would write love letters to him, telling him of her thankfulness. She was forgiven. She was loved.
He was coming back for her.
The story was only beginning.
This is my story. I once was a sin-stained maiden deprived of hope. I, like the girl, betrayed the One who loved me. But the story didn’t stop there. I have been forgiven. Despite my vile heart, He ransomed me with His life. I am a princess, and I wait for my groom to take me home with Him. On this earth, I long to live a life honoring Him. I want to be pure and spotless. I want to tell others of His love and forgiveness and make a difference in the world.
Perhaps this is also your story. Maybe you have accepted His forgiveness and left your old ways. If so, I congratulate you, my sister in Christ! May we be an encouragement and blessing to one another, challenging each other to live radical, pure lives for our Prince.
If this is not your story, I pray that it one day will be. If you are deprived of hope, will you not turn to Him who give it freely? If you feel alone or rejected, turn to Him who offers love, grace, and forgiveness!
Perhaps I do not know you yet. Nevertheless, I love you, dear reader. I know you are a beautiful person with a unique story that He has written. I want to share my story with you and encourage you to live a life that counts.
God has given me the gift of writing. Now I want to use that gift to bless you. That’s the point of this blog. That’s why I’m here.
My friend, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.