Dear Friends, in the Steadfast Series books, I’ve tried to weave into the storyline the exact answer to a purposeful life: living for God. There are no shortcuts to trusting in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and believing that God moves in our lives for a spiritual rebirth. Here’s an allegorical short story that you may want to share with others who are wondering about the journey of life and the Eternal City. See you on the next page!—David Telbat
The Only Gate
by D.I. Telbat
Nev Rentyr was a filthy traveler whose clothes had never been washed. He’d never bathed, nor brushed his teeth, nor saw any reason to bathe or brush. His hair was knotted and shaggy, and his skin crawled with bugs from years of sleeping in crippling sin and sloth, complacency and corruption. And he loved every bit of the stench.
And yet, Nev Rentyr was a traveler on the highway of life. He’d been a traveler as long as he could remember. And as long as he could remember, he had seen the Eternal City from a great distance. The city’s great spires of crystal and glass shined in the light of the sun during the days, and sparkled in the shimmer of the moon during the nights. The Eternal City seemed like a wonderful place, and as Nev Rentyr aged and came closer to the end of his journey, he began to consider the possibility of entering the city himself.
One day, near a fruit tree alongside the highway, Nev Rentyr noticed a Messenger walking toward him.
“Hello, Friend!” Nev Rentyr called out.
“How may I help you, sir?” the Messenger asked. His clothing was so white, he was almost shining.
“I’m coming near the end of my journey.” Nev Rentyr pointed to the Eternal City, which could be seen over the distant hills. “I would like to enter that fine place. I think I may have a good time there. Do you know the way?”
“Yes, I do know the way. My name is Messenger Ivan Otis, and I travel this highway, seeking to give notice to all people who may want to know the way into the Eternal City.”
“Well, you must tell me the way!” Nev Rentyr scratched at his arm. The bugs in his skin always irritated him more when he became excited. “Since my journey is almost finished, I wish to retire in a place of comfort and happiness.”
“Of course,” Ivan Otis said, “many want to enjoy the Eternal City’s riches, but I have a notice for you: not many want to enter by the only gate available.”
“Only one gate into a city that size?” Nev Rentyr cursed and scratched at his beard mites. “Surely, there must be more than one way to enter the Eternal City. It is so magnificent, and there are so many traveling toward it!”
“No, there is only one entrance into the Eternal City.” Ivan Otis gestured to Nev Rentyr’s clothing. “For one, you must be thoroughly cleansed. The gatekeeper won’t open the gate to anyone who hasn’t been given a change of clothing from the King Himself.”
“New clothing?” Nev Rentyr shook his head and crossed his arms. “No way. I love these clothes. Everything I’m wearing is symbolic of wonderful memories of dreadful deeds and crippling crimes. I can’t let go of them. Sometimes I think these clothes even represent my own soul.”
“Traveler, I do not doubt that your clothes are very dear to you, but you must receive a new wardrobe before the gate will be opened to you. And another thing: you must be adopted by the King Himself. The Messenger at the gate will not allow entrance into the Eternal City unless you are born into the King’s family.”
“Preposterous!” Nev Rentyr scowled at Ivan Otis. “Even if it were possible to change families, I like the identity I was born into. I’m not experiencing a new birth for anyone!”
“Very well, Nev Rentyr.” Ivan Otis shrugged. “But as you continue your journey, please remember that I gave you notice of the conditions to enter the city. You must have a change of clothes and a change of family. You can believe in the King to provide these for you.”
Nev Rentyr elbowed Messenger Ivan Otis aside, and continued on his journey. Mumbling to himself, he couldn’t believe the Eternal City was filled only with those who had been born into the King’s family.
Near a mountain pass, he came upon another Messenger walking toward him. This man also wore white.
“My name is Messenger Morin Elps,” the man said once Nev Rentyr pulled him to the side of the highway. “I offer help to anyone on their life journey.”
“And the Eternal City?” Nev Rentyr scratched his shoulder. “Can you tell me how to enter without passing through the gate?”
“No, there’s no way into the city except through the only gate.”
“But the walls of the city cannot be too high.” Nev Rentyr frowned. “I will build a ladder and climb over the wall. Whatever high walls the city may have, I will go higher.”
“Impossible.” Morin Elps waved his hand in front of him. “The walls of the city are too high for any ladder. It is impossible to go higher than the standard of perfection required inside the city, which is filled with the presence of the King’s holiness.”
“No, no, no!” Nev Rentyr shook his fist at the Messenger. “Don’t start talking about impossibilities! I’ve heard the King is loving and gracious. He won’t care about me entering his city. So tell me this: how may I slip under the wall if I cannot go over it?”
“The King is loving and gracious, yes, but he is also holy and just. He doesn’t ask anyone to go over or under the wall, just through the only gate he’s provided for men to enter. Your clothes must be changed and you must receive your new birth.”
“Never! I told the last Messenger that I like just who I am and what I’m wearing. But please, tell me the truth. Isn’t there a subway into the Eternal City? I simply want to enter the same way that others just like me are surely entering.”
“There is no subway and no one enters the city any other way but through the provided gate. I am here as a Messenger to offer further help to all who are traveling on the highway.”
“Away with you!” Nev Rentyr shoved the Messenger away and continued on his way.
Finally, Nev Rentyr reached the end of his journey. Exhausted and sweating from the brow, he stumbled up to the barrier of the Eternal City where a narrow, plain gate interrupted the wall. Beside the gate, another Messenger in white stood at attention.
“Please, Messenger,” Nev Rentyr said to the man in white, “let me enter this great metropolis. I have reached the end of my journey and I cannot bear the weight of passing into the unknown.”
“There is no need to pass into the unknown.” The Messenger indicated the gate. “Trust the King to provide you with new clothes and a new family, traveler, and you may pass into the known. The Eternal City is no secret and awaits all who do not reject the King. Trust in the King and the King’s Son to deliver you new, clean clothing, and welcome you into their family today.”
“Trust to receive so much?” Nev Rentyr looked down at his soiled clothing. “No, I cannot imagine giving up who I am and what I have enjoyed. These clothes have become part of me after such a long journey.”
“My name is Coar Eckter,” the Messenger said. “It is my purpose for the King to give travelers a final piece of correction, if they still reject his pleas to turn from their old ways. And so, as one who wants what the good King wants for you, I beg you to let go of your identity, and take up the identity that the King’s Son has purchased for you. He bought you a new identity with His own life. There has never been such love that has met the demands of such justice in all the kingdom.”
“I understand that there is only one gate into the Eternal City.” Nev Rentyr tapped his fingers on his chin. “Maybe I cannot find a ladder tall enough to pass higher than the walls of this city, and perhaps there is no subway by which I may pass with others just like me. But tell me, there must be sewer pipes by which I may crawl up and enter through. I do not wish to change my identity or clothing for you or the King or the King’s Son, so let me enter by way of the sewer pipes. Just tell me which way to crawl. I’ll show the King that I can enter without changing myself at all. I’m good enough for that, aren’t I?”
“You do not seem to understand the situation, Nev Rentyr,” Coar Eckter said. “You see, being born into the King’s family prepares you to live in the King’s presence in the Eternal City, and the new clothes are a departure from your old identity. If you are still loyal to your old self, then you are not fit to live in the Eternal City, no matter how you may try to creep inside these walls. Remaining loyal to your old self is a sure way to remain outside these walls. But in a moment of faith, you may depart from the Nev Rentyr who has no hope otherwise, and enter this city with the joy of the King to celebrate the death and resurrection of the King’s Son. What will be your choice, Nev Rentyr? The King’s Son has gone ahead of you and prepared the way that you may receive it by faith. You have only to turn from your unbelief, and believe. Will you?”
“No.” Nev Rentyr frowned and turned away from the gate. “I cannot change, and even if I could, I refuse to. It isn’t fair. I just want to enter the Eternal City. Where will I go now? I am at the end of my journey, and I have nowhere to go. Alone, I have walked, and now alone, I must face my end in despair.”
Nev Rentyr wandered away, rejecting the welcome of the King and His Son. And he never entered the Eternal City.
Story Character Key:
Nev Rentyr – Never Enter
Ivan Otis – I have a notice
Morin Elps – More than helps
Coar Eckter – Corrector
PRAISE! We are thankful that the Christian woman known as Asia Bibi was recently released from prison and now is cleared to leave Pakistan to join her family in another country! Pray for her and her family’s safety, as well as that of her lawyer and judges. You can read the update story here.
NOTE: Book Goodies recently posted an interview with David Telbat. He tells what inspired him to write, and how he relates to his characters. You can check it out here!
NOTE: We so appreciate you who are reading David’s novels! And thanks to those who have left reviews on Amazon! Those help readers feel comfortable in taking a chance on his writing. And we are so grateful to you who have helped make David’s books even better by sharing feedback/suggestions with us—Gayle, Karen, Sharon, and Athena. We’re so glad you are a part of the Telbat Team!
COMING UP: Join us next time for David’s Author Reflection, “The Christian Life: a Journey of Change.”