Once, a little boy awoke from a deep sleep and saw that he was lost in an evil forest. He found himself in front of a grimy, damp cave. He had no idea how he had gotten there. It was raining. He crawled into the cave, pulled his legs under his chin and began to cry in confusion and despair.
Then suddenly he felt a sting at his side, and he leapt up with a cry of terror and pain. The cave was suddenly bathed with a dull, greenish glow. The little boy looked around quickly for what had stung him, and his heart leapt to his throat when he spotted a very short, sly looking man studying him. It was a dwarf, about only a foot and a half in height.
'Welcome to my home,' the dwarf said in a raspy voice. 'I generally prefer to live in the dark, but I wanted us to see each other. You are now my slave and you will do whatever I tell you to. You should know that no one can escape once he enters my cave. As for your duties, you see how small I am' - here the dwarf spread his arms – 'so your primary duty is to nurse me until I become the giant I am meant to be. Now sit and tell me the miserable things that have happened in your life.' The dwarf sat on a rock and looked at the boy.
'I-I-I just woke up and found myself alone here,' the boy stammered in utter confusion. 'I am confused; I don't know where I am or even who I am.'
'That's very sad,' the dwarf said in a tearful voice. 'I admire your fortitude at not attempting suicide. From what you've told me, it's obvious that you have no father and mother – none to care for you. That's so sad!' The dwarf broke into tears, and then continued in a broken voice,
'I pity you little boy – pity yourself! See how much you suffer; see how you shiver from the cold. And yet a fool will come and tell you to trust in God – you abandoned, forsaken, suffering, innocent little boy. Ah! Will it ever be well with you?'
The little boy wept despairingly at the dwarfs words. But as he wept, he chanced a glance at the dwarf through his tears and for a moment thought his eyes deceived him: the dwarf had grown almost as big as himself. His shocked mind was still trying to make sense of this strange occurrence when a strong solemn voice carried into the cave from outside. The voice called repeatedly, 'son, son, where are you son?'
The little boy saw the dwarf's face contort with rage at the sound of that voice, but transform into an insincere smile when he saw he was being watched.
'That's the fool I told you about,' the dwarf said urgently. 'A big deceiver! You are on no account to believe whatever he tells you. He will tell you to hope for things in the future. Now, when he sets that snare for you, you are to tell him that he either gives you those things now or you will continue with me, your understanding and compassionate master. Now look, he comes boldly nearer.'
The little boy looked with curiosity toward the entrance to the cave just in time to see an old man peer in.
'Son?' the old man called.
'Who are you, sir?' the little boy asked.
'I am the one you should keep company with,' the old man said with uncanny assurance. 'Come with me.'
'Why should I, sir,' the little boy said, 'I don't even know who you are.'
'You shouldn't be here,' the old man said, looking about the cave with great displeasure. 'You should be on the Way to heaven and not in this evil cave. I am meant to guide you there. Come let us go.'
The little boy saw that he trusted the kind looking old man despite himself and was considering following him when the dwarf asked,
'Boy, have you ever in your life heard that heaven has been scientifically proven to exist?'
'No...' the boy started to say.
'Then it's ridiculous to follow the mad old man. Heaven? Heavens! What can he mean by that? This magnificent forest is all there is of existence and this is the safest place you can be. Now don't be foolish. Ask the man to leave.'
The little boy saw that there were facts in what the dwarf said. Why, he had just believed the old man's smooth talk and was about following him to who knows where. He was considering telling the old man to leave when the old man asked him what he wore about his neck.
'It's a little book,' the boy said turning the book over in his hands with great surprise and curiosity. 'How come I never noticed it?'
'Open it,' the old man said. 'What does it say?'
'It's filled with written words but I can't make them out – it's so dark in here!' the boy said squinting at the book.
'Close it, and then open it again and read to me anything you see.' The old man said.
The little boy did so and then read aloud, 'the just shall live by faith.'
The dwarf, his face a mask of anger and shame pretended to be in a hurry to get something from the caves end.
'So you see,' the old man said, 'you are to be by me. Come let us go from this place.'
'Are you faith?' the boy asked, amazed.
'Only God is good,' the old man replied. 'Come let us go from this place.'
The old man then took the boys hand and led him outside. But just as they were passing through the mouth of the cave, the dwarf suddenly ran and seized the boy by the shirt.
'Where do you think you're going?' the dwarf inquired angrily. 'No, don't bother I'll tell you. You are leaving the security and comfort of this cave and entering into the dangerous forest with only an old man for a guide and a guard. Do you know what dangers are out there? Of course you don't. I'll tell you. There are many dragons, monstrous vampire bats, banshees and saber toothed tigers. Those are the prey of the creatures that will confront you.' The dwarf stopped and laughed. 'You won't stand a chance with this old man. As soon as he sees what he is up against, he'll abandon you and flee, and you'll be torn to pieces.'
'The just shall live by faith,' the old man told the boy.
'I believe.' the boy said.
'Very well,' said the dwarf returning deeper into the cave for his tool bag, 'since you are too foolish to see the danger you're walking into, I'll have to go with you to guide you in the best way I can and hopefully bring you back to safety.'
'You are not to entertain him, okay,' the old man said to the boy once the dwarf had disappeared. 'No matter what he tells you and no matter what you may come across as we go, always stay by my side and do what I tell you.'
Then they began their journey with the boy walking beside the old man and the dwarf just behind the boy. Now the front parts of the dwarf's boots were lined with sharp little spikes, and he kept kicking at the boy's heel causing him a lot of discomfort. Each time the boy turned around to give the dwarf a warning glare, the dwarf whispered, 'let's go back now it's still safe.'
The dwarf did this for so long that the boy actually began to consider going back if only for relief from the torment. It was about this moment, just as they were crossing through some bushes that a large green snake slid out from behind some rocks and blocked their paths. Then it raised itself to its attack pose and gazed balefully at the intruders, ready to spit venom. Four other snakes slid out from the dense undergrowth and took up similar sinister positions.
The dwarf shrieked in terror and jumped on the back of the little boy. 'Run, run, to the cave, run!' it screamed in his ears, pulling wildly at his hair as though he were a horse. Instead of running as he would no doubt have done, the boy found himself repeating words he had read from his book: 'I shall trample down lions and snakes.' When he had repeated this for a moment, he opened his eyes and looked at the snakes. They looked somewhat disconcerted, and when he put a foot forward, they scattered into the undergrowth. He shouted triumphantly and was going to chase the snakes, but the old man restrained him.
'That's enough, we've done what we ought to do.'
They resumed their journey and after a moment branched into a narrow golden path. As they walked along the path, the dwarf gradually became smaller and smaller until it eventually vanished.
'Look!' the boy cried, 'the grasses and flowers form words similar to those in my book.'
'Yes son,' the old man said, 'we are now in the Way.'
As the boy looked on a gentle wind blew and the pattern of the grasses changed again. The boy read the one nearest him: 'to all who received Him, He gave them power to become sons of God.'
'Who is God?' the boy questioned.
'God is the creator of everything you can see,' the old man spread his arms expansively, 'and those you cannot see.'
'Where is He?' the boy asked. The old man looked down at the question and the boy followed his gaze. The grasses and the flowers had changed yet again forming the word 'here'.
'Here?' the boy whispered looking all about. He was about telling the old man he saw no one when he heard a great voice call his name, 'Samuel'. (He somehow knew it was his name.) He looked up and saw a man behind him with outstretched arms. Then he was enveloped in such a wonderful hug that he wept with pure joy. And he felt like you would no doubt feel if you were in heaven.