Chapter Nine
Altogether Lovely


The humbler I am in myself,
The more shall I be capable of seeing
The enchanting beauties of Christ.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon


While bounding along behind the Master very much enjoying the sound of her own singing, she heard a voice ahead suggest,

"My Love, you must begin to have more confidence in yourself. Try to walk the path without looking at me so intently. Look at me from the corner of your eye, instead. You are now ready to make yourself stronger to face the tests that are ahead of us."

That seemed like a good strategy. After all, if she depended on him too much, she would become weak, but something deep down inside her was confused. This instruction went counter to what the Master had been so painfully teaching her on the path thus far, though the plan seemed familiar and comfortable. Depending on herself, as the voice suggested, seemed to be the natural thing to do. It was the thing she had done all her life; she was good at it.

I've become so mature in his Spirit; maybe it's time for me to exercise some of my newly transformed will, she decided, practicing her flying step, while looking at the Master from only the corner of her eye and looking directly at the path instead. She did not notice that she was not stepping into his imprints as well as she had been, or maybe she did not want to notice.

She could not help but notice, however, that where there had been only darkness a moment before, the sky, and then the path began to brighten around them, as if the sun was just under the rim of the earth. Now there was enough light to see that they had climbed the western slope of quite a high mountain in the night, as they followed the narrow path straight to the East.

So, that's why it's been feeling so much cooler.

The path appeared much steeper to her eye than she had thought it had been when all was in darkness but ignoring her weariness and the twinge she was beginning to feel in her broken leg, she told herself she was stronger now, since she was more mature. She was ready to handle anything the path might throw at her.

At daybreak a magnificent view opened a short way from the path's edge in the middle of a jumbled heap of craggy boulders as if thrown by a giant hand. Beyond this gap she glimpsed range upon majestic range of snowy peaks marching into the misty blue. Nearby exquisite blossoms with delicate scale-thin petals of iridescent ruby, cadmium and topaz sparkling with dewy diamonds, sprouted from the stony soil. It seemed to her that their merry faces beamed, and their emerald leaves clapped for joy to see her new strong mature self.

"Oh! How magically beautiful!" she praised the charm all around her. She could not see why a short excursion from that dull straight and all too narrow path would not give her a needed breath of fresh air. It was sure to help her mind.

And right next to the path was an easy to reach crutch-like stick, which fit her perfectly. It must have been put there by the Master himself to help her get around with her broken leg.

How very considerate of him, she smiled to herself.

Staggering through the pebble-strewn flower beds caused her broken leg to ache a great deal, but she was determined to crutch the short distance to the gap between the giant rocks no matter what, her breath chilled into white puffs as she gasped with the pain. At least the great striding leaps required by the path were not needed here and she did not have to match the Master's steps.

Halfway she stooped to collect some glassy pebbles and a few of the gemlike flowers to pocket as souvenirs.

With more grunts and gasps she struggled to climb into the space she had seen between the boulders, steadying herself by wedging the foot of her good leg into a rock crevice and centering her weight upon it. Finally, there before her in all their early morning glory shimmered the pastels of the many ranges fading into an amethyst haze far away.

Then she looked down.

She was barely holding onto the huge rock forming the jagged edge of a towering precipice, her hair blowing in the brisk wind that parted the cottony clouds far below. Between the clouds she could see a green country that looked much like her old home.

She was straining her eyes to recognize land forms or rivers or maybe even trees, when her mind began to grasp just how high up on the mountain she was. Wooziness washed over her as the sensation of a great magnet somewhere down there, pulling her into the depths - down away from the path and the Master - began to seize her. And from somewhere down there, the echo of diabolical laughter rose to strike her full on, mocking her for trying to make the trip to the Father's country.

She must see the Master now!

If she could only see him, she would be whole again, but had she not wandered too far and disobeyed too willfully to see him? She had to reach the path as soon as she could but her sandaled foot jammed into the crevice was stuck. The same old grinding pain was steadily increasing in her other leg – the broken one. She was falling forward but just before she blacked out, she screamed in desperation,

"Master!"

He appeared out of nowhere, straddling the boulders between her and utter destruction. He had placed himself just where she could see him and, as she looked at him, she began to feel stronger.

There she was, a pitiable sight, hanging onto the rocks for dear life with her foot stuck and her flying hair stuck fast to her cheeks in wind-dried tears. He looked on her kindly, but she was filled with shame for him to see her like this.

"I'm sorry; I'm so sorry!" was all she could manage to whisper.

He held out his nail-scarred hand for her to grab hold of, but she was too afraid to lose her hold on the rocks.

"I will uphold you with my righteous right hand," he promised, and then in an even gentler voice, "You are altogether lovely."

Of course, he would not let her fall.

She reached her hand to grasp his, then in one sweeping arc, he lifted her up into his arms and they were both back on the path with her trembling on his lap and him tidying her hair and drying her tears with the edge of his sleeve.

His gentle eyes calmed her and told her something she already knew; she could not lie to him as she had lied to herself.

"Master, I knew it was not you telling me to rely on myself."

"How did you know?" he asked, but she was confident he already knew what her answer would be.

"Because," she told him anyway, "what the voice said did not match anything you taught me on this path so far. Most importantly, it didn't match anything I ever read in the Guidebook."

"That's right." He had a satisfied look on his face. "And I'm pleased that you called it a Guidebook instead of a Rulebook. What made you do that?"

"Because!" Sitting upright, she looked him straight in the eye. "You aren't a set of rules – you are my Guide! You never asked me to look at a set of rules, but you wanted me to look at you! And I look at you, not because you force me to, but because…" She grasped the cloth of his robe tightly in her fists in a fruitless effort to compose herself, only managing to whisper, "Because, I must."

He was quiet for a moment, while drying her tears again. Then he raised a wounded hand to wipe a sparkle off his own cheek.

He cleared his throat before asking, half grinning, "And do you think as you look at me that you could possibly need…a crutch?"

"No, of course not. If I need a crutch, that's when you carry me." She gazed at him steadily. "I wanted to believe you gave me the crutch, so I could have my own way, though you had been teaching me something quite different."

It was her turn to be quiet for a moment, before she asked, "I failed the test, didn't I? As a matter of fact, I've failed every test you've given me so far, haven't I?"

"There will be others." He held her snugly, while smoothing her hair. "You're getting there. It takes years with some people before they begin to pass the tests. But don't focus on them, or you'll never pass them. Keep your eyes on me."

She did not know why she ever wanted to see other things, when she had him so near.

"I know where I began to go wrong," she volunteered, feeling better with each confession.

"Tell me," he encouraged her, waiting patiently for her to go on.

"I was admiring myself again, even while I was singing. That's how I lost my focus on you and obeyed a voice other than yours."

"The enemy's voice, no less," he sighed.

"I must sing with an honest heart – my new heart."

"You'll have many more chances to do that."

"There is one thing I need to know, but I'm very ashamed to ask. Why, when my foot was stuck in that rock, and I was looking so bad, did you say that I was…altogether lovely?"

"Because, you are," he declared softly.

"But, I must have looked terrible. I was about to faint, and I was crying my eyes out!"

"Oh, you were? I didn't see that. I washed you clean, put a white robe on you and made you into a new creature with a new heart birthed by my Spirit the day you met me. That's all I see."

So great was his love for her, he would never treat her with anything less than supreme dignity. He had raised her up. He had chosen her. That was her incomprehensible good fortune.

"I love you so much, I love you as my own Body," he whispered into her hair, his arms enveloping her.

"How can this be?" She was holding onto him tightly, feeling as if she was part of a puzzle with some pieces missing. "You asked me a while ago who I thought I was. I said I was a person who wanted to walk like you; but, there's more, isn't there? Please tell me who I am."

"You are my Bride." The Master said it with tender simplicity, but she felt as if a bomb had exploded to hear it.

His bride? What can he mean? And he…the groom?

"Is that why we're wearing white robes?" She remembered thinking early on the path, after she had gotten distracted by the faceted stone, that her robe looked like a wedding gown.

"Remember, I told you at the beginning that I was taking you to meet my Father."

Another explosion went off inside her as she began to understand more fully what meeting his Father really meant.

"Will he like me?" she gulped.

"You are altogether lovely," was all the Master needed to say.

How much he loved her!

The things she discovered about him each day made her love him more and more. Now she understood why back in her old country, he had waited patiently for her while putting up with her rebuffs. He had given her his Book and taught her his songs. He had forced her circumstances to finally get her to surrender to him. Most of all, he had paid his own blood to buy her, so he, as her new Master, could take her on this trip to his Father. He had even made her his own when he poured his Spirit in her as a down payment for Things to Come.

Looking again to see how her little glow was doing, she could almost see the Master's face clearly there, she had changed so much.

How much he had invested in her! She must follow him because of him. This journey was not about her. All the riches of wisdom and knowledge were found in him and she could not imagine a better place to be than the place she was in now - on his lap, being held close in his arms.

Her greatest desire was to be with him, and only him, now and for always, so she must follow him. He had said he was bringing her up the path to meet his Father, the One the Master always kept his eyes on. She would never make it to the Father's house if she did not keep her eyes on the Master, and if she did not stay on the path.

"I'll stay on this path if it kills me!" she vowed.

"That's the whole idea," he grinned.