Illustrated by Jenna Compton
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved his father and longed to be just like him. And even if it was only in the young boy’s eyes, his father was all-powerful, all wise, all good. The father always helped his son, told him what to do and which decisions were for the best.
The boy, he grew, and his childhood was glorious and serene. Whenever he faced a difficult decision, he’d run to his father who would hug him tightly and tell him just which road to take. The boy found such comfort, knowing that he could trust his father with every decision he faced.
At night, the boy would sit with his father by the fire and recount the difficult questions that had confronted him through the day. He would tell his father his thoughts and hopes, but would always end the same way: “That’s what I want father, but whatever you decide is best.” He was glad to trust his father with the answers for his life, to place them in the hands of one who knew far better.
When the boy became a man, his father grew ill. And for the first time, fear assaulted him; it struck him to the core. “I am lost without my father! How can I make a single decision without his clear direction?” And in that moment came the most devastating revelation of all: he was nothing like his father. He was neither wise, nor good, nor powerful.
The father recovered but the son never did.
Once upon a time there was another boy; who loved his father and longed to be just like him. And even if it was only in the young boy’s eyes, his father was all-powerful, all wise, all good. The son expected his father to give him the answers to life, yet the father never did.
The boy, he grew frustrated. It was difficult to understand why his father acted as he did. When he would ask (and I admit, sometimes he demanded) for the best path to take, the best road to choose, the father would simply smile and say “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Day after day, the boy would come to him with a decision, a crossroads in his life, and the father would simply say “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” And the boy felt unacknowledged and hurt.
He would go to his mother in exasperation, yet she would simply read him a passage from the book. The book that told of his father’s acts so very long ago. And sullen, he would say, “I don’t want to know what my father did; I want to know what I should do right now!”
But in bed at night, when the house was still, the boy would read the book again and again. Though he loved the stories, he never quite found the simple answers he sought. He would slam it shut in disgust and say, “I’ll just have to make my own decision.” And so he did.
When the boy became a man, his father grew ill. And fear assaulted him; it struck him to the core. He stood at his father’s bedside. “Before you go, I need to know one thing. Why did you never tell me what to do? Why did you never answer me clearly? Why did you give me nothing when I needed your direction most?”
His father replied, “Nothing? I gave you exactly what you needed. To simply have given you each answer would have robbed you of the gift of the struggle. It is struggle that matures. To be like me, my son, is to be willing to suffer."
The son considered this, and asked his father, “But why did you take the risk? I could have made all the wrong decisions!”
His father answered sternly, “Did you not read the book? You know who your father is. I will always be with you, even to the end of the age. The balance between Love and Power does not stop you from making mistakes, it redeems them.”
And then the son understood. His resentment melted away and was replaced by inestimable gratitude.
The father recovered and remained with the son, even to the end of the age.
Jared Byas is a pastor, professor of Philosophy & Biblical Studies, and a communications adviser. He is the author of Genesis for Normal People (2012) & dozens of impromptu short stories so his kids will go to sleep. He lives in VA with his wife Sarah and three sleep-hating kids, Augustine, Tov, & Elletheia. You can find him on Twitter @jbyas.
Jenna Compton is a creative in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She likes drawing, coffee, and making other people happy. You can see more of her work at jennacompton.com.
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