The Sufi poet Hafiz tells the story of how a Perfect One called one of his close ones and said to him:
“There is a slave loose not far from us.
He escaped today from a cruel master.
His hands are still bound behind his back.
His feet are also shackled ….”
He sends the close one to bring the slave to him but not say a word to him. And when the runaway is brought to the Perfect One, the Perfect One will untie his body and tend his wounds.
But when the close one finds the slave, the slave is terrified. And though the close one tries to show him that he is there to help, the slave cannot believe it.
In response, the close one subdues him, carries him on his horse, and begins to travel back. The slave fights and kicks the whole way, all while the close one seeks to communicate “an unbelievable hope … soon, soon, you will be free.”
The good news our faith brings us is that we all find ourselves bound. We all find ourselves trying to escape a cruel master. And God has sent people to us who bring us to God. From a Christian perspective, we especially believe that it is Jesus who brings us to God. Jesus shows us the way of love. Jesus shows us the way of justice. Jesus shows us the way of grace and freedom.
And often we are kicking and screaming. We cannot believe that freedom might be for us. We cannot believe that forgiveness and love might be for us.
But God is patient with us. God still comes.
No matter what fears hold you back, no matter what from your present or your past binds you, God comes to you. God comes to us and tells us of an unbelievable hope: soon, soon, we will be free.
And even more … we already are.