Prologue

Reed Martin wrote vigorously in his journal. The pages, tear-stained yet treasured, told the story of a man shaken by the presence of God. He could not claim perfection, but he would not admit defeat. His pencil skipped about joyously as it recorded the reflections of an ardent soul. He was poetic when he wrote about God; believing that meticulously crafting every statement gave due reverence to the truth it contained.

Reed often spoke aloud when he wrote. Sometimes, as a child, he would wander around the house reciting and writing. If a human soul listened to his deepest thoughts they would've considered him an eccentric believer. Their evaluation would've been fair.

"It is not in the quietness of the night, swallowed by starlight that God's face is seen." Reed whispered, "It is not at high altitudes that finite man attains God's infinite glory. It is not after scaling mountain peaks that man reaches God. Beautiful as they are, these could never bridge the gap between a perfect God and imperfect man. A satisfactory payment had to be made." A weighty sigh escaped from Reed's chest. The reality of that sacrifice gripped his swirling thoughts.

Reed gently closed his journal, placing it tenderly in the grass beside him. His numb hands grasped another precious book. He fumbled to the fifth chapter of Romans where he read aloud the verses that had begun his night of meditation.

"Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation;" Reed read in hushed passion, "even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."

"It is only by the blood." Reed stated as he snatched his journal from its dewy bed. "Only the crimson sacrifice of a perfect lamb could bridge the gap between my sinful soul and God's perfection. Justice required perfection! Perfection I could not obtain!" He trembled beneath a frigid gust. "Jesus Christ marched obediently to the cross for such a sinner as I." Setting the journal aside Reed devoted his attention again to the tattered pages of Scripture.

"That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." The wind tore at the frail pages of the small leather Bible. Reed pulled it swiftly to his chest. "Even so might grace reign through righteousness into eternal life," He emphatically echoed, "by Jesus Christ our Lord."

Reed tucked the Bible into his thick, woolly poncho and opened his journal once more. His pencil found the page, but his mind strained for the words. How could he more succinctly state what God had already said? Every time he would form a thought it'd unravel before coming to completion. Struggling, he set his gaze on the milky, black horizon.

On that precipice Reed could see majestic mountain crests. In the distance stood rugged outcroppings hugged by thin fog and set aglow by moonlight. His weak eyes beheld a beautifully orchestrated scene. Looking out, he could see the menagerie of earth's beauty, but looking down he could see the one who crafted it all. He found Christ more beautiful. He couldn't find the words to declare it though.

Softly, he closed his journal, drawing it close to his chest. From that wet bed of soft earth he departed for the night. It had been bedded down by frequent visits yet eager for another night of meditation. He would return after the sun had disappeared. He always did. Taking a turn from the frigid comfort of that place, Reed grinned.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" Reed quoted, "Not of works, lest any man should boast." He paused slightly as he crept over a large boulder in his path. "Now that is beauty. God, you have created such a beautiful earth, but you've crafted a more breathtaking history."