The gate was large and magnificent. It’s shining, gold-bronze arches at the top had a regal design that seemed Heavenly. For David and Meghan, it was almost frightening to walk through. What if they weren’t worthy? What if they were burned by fire upon entrance?
It had started with a map, but not just any map. Meghan and David had been neighbors as children, and when the time called for quarantining at home, Meghan had returned. She’d only lived at the large home for three years from ages 8-11. But she and David had been best friends, always riding bikes and scooters together, going on imaginary adventures, writing stories together, and sword-fighting in the backyard. She also remembered folks saying her house was haunted.
Maybe that’s why they left after only three years. She couldn’t remember anything strange happening off the top of her head but she was also just a kid. Nevertheless, her family owned the property, as it had been in their possession for centuries. They had never sold it to an outsider, which Meghan thought strange. Why was it so special?
It didn’t matter though. Meghan figured if she was going to be forced to stay inside for an indefinite amount of time, she might as well do it somewhere memorable. Of course, the house came to mind right away. She had packed her bags, jumped on a plane, and made her way to sunny and peaceful Texas. She hadn’t been back since being 11.
David had always lived next door but in Texas, that could mean a solid 10-minute walk, at least. Meghan was surprised to find that her favorite childhood friend had also returned to be at home with his family during these uncertain times. She hadn’t gone looking for him but he had shown up at her door, curious as to who could possibly be staying at the estate after it’d been empty all these years. She greeted him with a pleasant surprise and he hugged her equally as pleasantly. It was going to be fun to catch up.
Not to mention, David was cute! He’d grown up to be quite the man and little did Meghan know, that David thought she looked just as beautiful. Fortunately, for them, both were single at the time. Meghan invited David to stay over if he wanted, as there was plenty of space for the multitudes. He obliged to stay for a few nights and they decided what better way to waste time than look for treasure!
Meghan’s mom had stopped the kids from ravaging around the house when they were younger, as “The house had Noble history not to be tampered with,” in her words. Consequently, the two had mainly played outside but were also forbidden from journeying deep into the woods that surrounded the home. Now, they were going to do both!
Day three seemed to be the magical day, as, after hours and hours of investigating the house, David found something unusual: a large, old, crumply-folded piece of paper. It was blank though! But Meghan knew there was something about that piece of paper, as it’d been discovered in a hidden spot. In the movies, they would hold the paper up to fire to reveal secret messages. And it actually worked!
Day 4, they followed the mysterious map all the way out to the woods behind the house. And this, my friends, is where our story begins. A whole other story of a whole other world but let me not get ahead of myself!
Meghan and David stared dramatically at the top of the incredible, double-doored gate that stood mighty and tall. It was breathtakingly beautiful and yet, otherworldly.
“Meg, are you seeing this?!”
“With both my eyes.”
“How is this possible?”
“I don’t think it is.”
The map had led the two, old friends to the deep, center of the dark woods and had pointed specifically to two, slender but incredibly tall, trees. Trees that had strange markings on them and seemed in surprisingly good shape to be so ancient.
When they had approached the trees, close enough to touch them, suddenly a blinding-bright gate appeared out of nowhere, right in between the trees! This was impossible.
“The map,” Meghan repeated, “Turn it over.”
On the back, there were riddles and phrases that they didn’t quite understand.
Meghan continued, “It says: “To the worthy, come through.””
David looked at the map. “It also says: “The Chosen hold the map but now is no time to nap. Go forward before you can go back.””
“Are we worthy?” Meghan asked.
David gulped, “I guess there is only one way to find out.”
As he approached the gate, the entryway flashed back and forth between intimidating flames of fire and a sheetlike, translucent, wavering light.
He looked back at Meghan, “Pray I am worthy!” And he stepped through.
“David! No!” But he was gone.
Great, thought Meghan. I was beginning to remember why I liked David so much as a kid. Now I’ve lost him again, unless…
But could she? Could she find the courage to step through the gate too? What if he was gone forever and she would be too? But what if he was simply on the other side, waiting for her?
“The map says to go forward; it led us here. It chose us. We have to be worthy.” With a deep breath, she neared the entryway.
She stuck her hand through the portal and nothing happened. Well, okay, that’s a good sign. She then put one foot through the portal and no pain. She looked up and saw the fire disappear and the translucent light shimmering in front of her. Guess I’m worthy.
“David!” She called before she realized what she was looking at. She quickly turned around but the portal gate was gone! In front of her appeared to be a city, a very large one at that. But not just any city, it was, it was, it was splendid! Sparkling, tall buildings that appeared to radiantly shine in the bright sun were scattered throughout. People walked all around her and they all appeared to be smiling. The roads were paved in, was that, gold?! Animals of all kinds of colors, that she’d never seen before, leaped about joyfully. And the colors, yes the colors, everything seemed so pretty!
She pinched herself. Am I alive? She slowly took one step forward and paused to watch a bright, lavender bird bounce across the path in front of her whistling a delightful melody. The bird seemed almost... human. She looked up in the fluffy, proud green trees and they seemed to almost wave at her in the gentle breeze.
The weather couldn’t be more perfect and the animals seemed to agree. Peculiar looking creatures, almost like teddy bears mixed with squirrels, seemed to giggle in the trees as she walked by. Was this real life? No matter, I have to find David, she thought.
She found him staring up in amazement at the grand city unfolded in front of them, at yet another gate, equally as dazzling. “Meghan,” he said without even looking at her, “Where are we?”
“If we were dead, I’d say Heaven but we aren’t dead, are we?”
“I’ve never felt so alive!” He exclaimed and grabbed her hand. “Come on, let’s go!” He sounded as playful and free as a child.
Meghan couldn’t help but laugh, as she realized how happy she herself felt. This felt like perfection, at its finest.
The two skipped down the gold road, which turned into silver, and then rainbow, and then like stars sparkling in the night sky. They were headed towards the tallest, most bedazzling building that they could see, the Castle!
As they approached the snowy-white Castle, they began to hear the most enchanting, angelic sound they’d ever heard, like angels singing in another octave all around them! It felt like a dream come true and Disney World was nothing compared to this.
Meghan knocked on the front doors of the Castle. Immediately, they opened, and tall men dressed almost like British soldiers in those tall, fluffy hats (or perhaps more like Nutcrackers dressed in white and sparkling silver uniforms), opened the doors smiling.
“Welcome to the Home of the High King!” They proudly announced.
Meghan and David looked at each other in amazement and smiled. This was awesome! Suddenly, a short, chubby little man scurried up to them. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here!” He cheerfully exclaimed. “Come on, this way! The King will be so happy to meet you!”
He led them around the fancily decorated hallways, as people of all ages, sizes, shapes, and colors looked onward and cheered.
“Why are they so happy?” Meghan asked.
“Well, you are our newest arrivals of course! We love visitors!”
The kind man led the two up turning hallways that were like ramps taking them higher, all around the Castle to the very center, middle of the entire place. “One second,” he said, and just as fast, he was back with two, white, regal-looking, cushioned chairs.
“Have a seat and the King will be right with you.”
And he was right, just as soon as the two had a seat, there was the King, even more radiant than all they’d seen so far, seeming to smile at them straight through his Emerald eyes.
“Hello.” His voice seemed to boom and echo throughout the whole room and beyond. He stood up and he was tall, like the men outside, but he was dressed in all white, except for golden slippers and a gold crown that seemed to shimmer perfectly.
There was a glow about him that seemed not of this world. Meghan and David just stared in amazement, once more. He was the most beautiful, living being they had ever seen and yet he felt more powerful too, beyond anything they’d ever experienced.
The two had also found themselves suddenly standing straight up, as he had walked in the room, without even realizing they had done that. “Please friends, do have a seat,” he smiled so big.
They snapped out of it and plopped back down in the chairs. “What is this place?” David asked.
The King laughed with a chuckle so deep and sudden, the whole Castle seemed to respond.
“Come, let me show you.” The King walked closer and extended his hand. The two slowly rose and as if in slow-motion, approached the King, never taking their eyes off of him and his glory.
Meghan touched his hand and a wave of something shot through her body and seemed to wake up her senses. David touched him and suddenly felt light as a feather, like he could float away.
“Whoa, what was that?” Meghan exclaimed.
“I’m the King of Heaven,” the wonderful man gently responded, almost in a whisper.
“This is...is...is Heaven?” asked David.
Laughing, the King responded simply, “It is.”
“Are we dead then?” Meghan asked.
Still chuckling, the King said, “No, only in a different place.”
“But how?” asked David.
The King sat down on the step leading up to his glorious, majestic throne. The two sat right beside him like curious children.
“David McEntire and Meghan Carter,” he gazed intently at each of them, “Your families are important to me.”
“Your ancestors lived to know me and trust me. I did incredible and magnificent things through their lives. They were my friends and now they get to live here with me, in my Royal Kingdom, forever.”
“Our families are here?”
“Oh, indeed. And one day, if you find my words pleasing and acceptable, you will join them here in Paradise when the time comes.”
“I would like that,” said Meghan.
“Yeah,” agreed David, “Me too! This place is AMAZING.”
“I hope we can get to know each other better,” The King said with a pure warmth and tenderness in his eyes Meghan had never seen.
“Not to seem weird,” she began, “But I, I feel like I know you.”
“I know you,” said the King, “And I have great plans for the both of you.”
“I do. You found the map in your home, a home filled with my angels and dedicated to my work, long ago.”
“Wow…” said David.
“You were chosen, both of you, for such a time as this. Your ancestors prayed bold prayers and now you are reaping the benefits. It is no accident you are here, my children.”
The two looked at each other and smiled.
“Now, please let me have your hands. I will place them in my bowl of anointed oil and show you things you have never seen. You will see the future and you will know what you must do when you return.”
And so, our story goes on...