[Begin with part 1 here.]
Three days later, he heard the king’s voice again, this time early in the morning as he was folding up his simple sleeping pad in the hut where they now stayed. His wife was outside, getting fresh water from the nearby spring and, when she returned, she found him face down on the floor.
“You heard the king’s voice,” she said quietly. He was struck by her calmness as she explained, “I have been hearing him more and more lately. Soon it will be time for me to ride to him.”
“What about me?”
“I don’t know. What did the king say?”
“He just called my name.”
She nodded. “Wait. Wait for his voice.”
So they waited. Their days were filled with mediation, study, vigorous exercise, and hikes through the surrounding countryside. Sometimes his wife would check to make sure her garments and travel supplies were ready. Their evenings were filled with long talks by the fireside, their nights with tenderness.
In the meantime, his mind filled with questions he dared not ask.
Spring came. One morning a beautiful white stallion appeared in the clearing outside their door. His wife greeted it like a long lost friend, throwing her arms around the horse’s neck in an embrace, kissing it between the ears, and then flinging herself on its back before galloping off.
It was the first time he had seen her ride. He didn’t even know if she had ever been on a horse before in her life, but now she looked as if she was finally doing what she had been born to do.
His heart ached.
She returned an hour later, her face radiant and her hair gloriously windswept. When had her grey strands turned to silver? he wondered. Surely not during her ride…
“I leave tomorrow at sunup,” she announced.
He couldn’t answer.
“I have never loved you as much as now, but I love the king more. Besides, he’s the one I serve. I’ve waited my entire life for this. He’s calling me — can you imagine? me! — and I get to go.”
Again, he couldn’t answer.
Later, they both wept. They spent the night in each other’s arms.
After a hurried pre-dawn breakfast the next morning, she put on her travel garments. He had never seen such clothing, and he was filled with wonder. She wore a flowing white dress, far more beautiful than the one she wore at their wedding and, over this extraordinary dress, she wore armor. When he asked her about her armor, shield, and sword, she answered somberly, “I thought you understood. It’s not just a journey. The king will be leading us into battle.”
Finally he couldn’t take it any more. “Do you think the king will ever call for me?” he asked desperately, feeling as if his heart was about to break irrevocably. “I’ve followed your example. I’ve given up everything. I sold our home and my business, and I gave away everything I couldn’t sell. I’ve meditated; I’ve exercised; I’ve walked countless miles through what seemed like endless forests and deserts. I’ve read and studied and learned everything I could. I’ve waited. I’ve listened. I don’t know what else to do!” Putting his hand on her shoulder, he cried, “I’ve given up everything, lost everything — and now I’m losing you too!” He forced himself to choke back the sobs. “I have nothing left.”
“Nothing but the king,” she reminded him gently. “And he’s all that matters anyway. Everything else was futile and worthless compared to him. It’s as if we spent it all to buy the greatest treasure there is. Wasn’t it worth giving it all up just to hear his voice?”
“Yes,” he paused, only to go on, “but now that I’ve heard it, how can I possibly be content staying here? I want to go to him! I want to ride with him!”
They clung to each other and wept yet again. He urged her, “Please give a message to the king. Tell him…tell him that I would consider it the highest honor if he would call me to be his servant.” She wiped his tears, kissed him one last time, and mounted her horse, shouting, “Wait for the king! Listen for his voice!” He watched her ride off, and he knew that he would never behold a more beautiful sight than this fierce warrior bride on her white steed, her banner wafting high above her head in the breeze.
She was gone. He whispered, “Nothing but the king”, fell to his knees, put his face down in the dirt, and wept as he had never wept before. He wondered if he would keep weeping until he died.
And then he heard hoofbeats.
It couldn’t be. Please don’t choose me over the king, he wanted to scream at the same time that he hoped beyond hope that he would see his wife when he lifted his tear-stained face from the dirt.
Unbelievably, she had returned, this time leading another horse. “It seems the king thinks you’re ready,” she said. “He left you this horse with everything you need for the journey.”
The entire time he rushed about washing his face, dressing in his travel garments, putting on his armor, and preparing to leave, words and tears tumbled out of both of them. It was as if two dams had burst suddenly, and everything gushed out everywhere in wild torrents. They sang with exuberant joy, laughed with delight, cried with thanksgiving, and even shouted with excitement.
“Can you believe we get to ride together?”
He was ready. They hugged and kissed, and mounted their horses. Then they heard it together — the voice of their king, calling them both by name, calling them to ride, calling them to the journey, calling them to their great adventure, calling them to battle, calling them to die, calling them to him. They lifted their banners high and shouted, “To the king! Let’s ride!”
And they rode.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44