Once upon a time, there was a land called The Past. It was a dark island full of lurking shadows waiting to swallow you up. As you walked across the ground, you realized the land was made of pebbles of memories, regrets, and lost dreams. Each pebble had a name, and the longer you lived in The Past, the more pebbles you accumulated.

When I first entered The Past, it was just a small island with one small pebble and one dark shadow. But the shadow, although scary, was also familiar and strangely comforting. It enfolded me in its arms, whispered into my ears, told me this was home, and gave me my own name—Unworthy. So I stayed. Day after day, I added more pebbles to my collection and the once small island became my own private resort filled with pebbles of regret, memories, pain, and sorrow.

Yet, the bigger the island became, the more places there were for dark shadows to hide. I tried to leave a few times. But each time, the shadow tightened and the whisper came, “Your name is Unworthy.” “It was your fault.” “You are not strong enough.” “You’ll never make it.”

The island I came to visit for only a short time had become my home. My name was Unworthy. When I was a child, I spent hours building my dreams in the sand, but I had never imagined a life like this.

Then one day, I heard a whisper much like a spring breeze through the trees. It was not one of the shadow whispers, but one with the music of home and dreams and life and things too gloriously, heartbreakingly beautiful to describe.

For the first time in a long while, I thought of the dreams I had as a child. What were the things I used to dream of and build? Slowly, I started building a door out of sand. I knew exactly how to craft it because I remembered it so well! My door had bright paint, a small window, and a shiny doorknocker for visitors.

After I finished, I sat and stared at my door for days. It was the first glimpse of {HOPE} I had seen in so long, yet it made me sadder than I was before. If only it were a real door! If it were real, I would walk through it and run from the dark shadows that lived in The Past.

I began to cry. Suddenly, I heard the voice. It was loud and bold, yet at the same time, it was so gentle. “My child.” I crouched down, fearful, but the voice spoke again, “Do not fear, my child. I know you have been searching for the way home for a very long time.” And then the voice spoke my name—not Unworthy, not Unwanted—but the voice called me by my true name.

I looked at the pebble I had clenched in my fist—the pebble labeled “Unworthy”—and because of the voice, I knew it lied. Angrily, I threw it as hard as I could. Then, something amazing happened. The pebble burst into a million pieces of gold, something even more beautiful than the sand I played with as a child.

Tears streamed down my face and I could not speak. “This land called The Past was never meant to be your home,” the voice said. “I have always been here, calling to you, waiting for you. Are you ready to come home? To the home full of the dreams you had as a child and to even greater dreams than that?”

I was trembling with sorrow, fear, and even more regret than I had ever known, but there was something that drew me to the voice. “YES!” I screamed.

The voice spoke once again, “The door that stands before you is the door to me. If you knock, you will find me. If you ask, I will enter your heart, and together we will break every pebble and turn them into something beautiful.”

I ran to the door I had built out of the sand and knocked as hard as I could. The door burst open and light blazed from behind it, banishing the shadows and shattering hundreds of pebbles beneath my feet into finest gold. There were no more shadows, only an entire island filled with treasure.

I ran as fast as I could toward the voice and I heard him say, “My child, are you ready to go on an adventure with me? There are many people stranded on pebble islands like you were. Since you have found your way through the door of grace….you can now help me show others the way too.”

I took His hand and a New Chapter of Life began.