WHEN THE FATHER SENT THE SON – a short story

The idea for this short story came to my mother one morning recently after reading the Christmas story in the book of Luke.

After we talked about it, I began to pray for God’s direction on whether to take the story and write it out, building on the ideas Mom had been given.  As I prayed, the words were suddenly there, filling my mind.

This is what He gave to me:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Father set the letter down and closed His eyes.

Pain filled Him at the thought of what must be done.

He knew the outcome even before He summoned His Son to come to Him, but knew there was no choice.

“Yes, Father?”

The Son stood in the doorway, waiting for His Father to acknowledge His Presence.

The Father raised a hand and beckoned His Beloved to come sit next to Him.

“Son, I am afraid the people in my kingdom need help and I must send You to take care of the situation for me.”

“Of course, Father.  Whatever You need Me to do, I will do.”

“But Son, it is a very difficult thing that You will be doing.”

When He turned to meet the Son’s gaze, the Son read His Father’s pain and deep sadness there.  He reached out and laid His hand over the wrinkled one of His Father.

“What is it Father?  Please tell Me.”

The Father looked at the hand covering His own and felt tears sting His eyes.

“These people … they hate me.  They do not want me to rule them anymore.  And because they are so unhappy, they argue amongst themselves; hurt, and kill each other.  They do awful things that I do not want to discuss.”

He lifted His eyes to meet those of His Son.

“Son, I want you to go talk to them, teach them, show them that if they come to Me, I will help them.”

“Yes, Father, whatever You wish Me to do, I will do.”

“Son, they will not want You there.  They will not listen to You or accept You.  They will turn from You and say that You do not come from Me.”

“But, Father, why would they not know Me?  If they know You, surely they will know Me.”

“Because, My Son, most of them do not know Me.  They say that they do, but they do not truly know Me.  So, they will not know You, or believe that I sent You.”

“But surely, if I tell them … will they not listen to reason?”

“No, My Son, I do not think they will listen to reason.  In fact, I think that they will try to hurt You because they do not want to hear what You have to say.”

The Father’s voice broke on the pain that filled Him.  To have to send His only Beloved Son to be abused and murdered for the sake of a few filled Him with sadness.  He cleared His throat before continuing.

“They will be too sure of their places in the world, too sure of their own importance and their own beliefs to want to listen to anyone that does not agree with them.  They will be angry with You when You try to tell them they are wrong and that they need to come to Me.”

“Then why send Me?  Why not just let them live amongst themselves the way they want to live?”

“Because if they do not turn to Me, they will be separated from Us forever.  I do not want to be separated from My people forever.”  He drew in a deep breath and blew it out on a sigh.  “I love them Son and do not want any of them to be lost from Me.”  He hesitated, then said quietly, “Son, You need to do this for Me, but first You must understand all that You will suffer for their sakes.”

Not able to sit any longer, He got up and moved around the room.

“They will start out resenting You because You will prick their conscience.”  He held up a hand.  “Indeed, some will listen and believe You.  They will follow You to their own deaths eventually.  But the others …”  He lowered the raised hand and began to pace the room.  “The leaders will be ever more angry with You because they will know You are talking about them.  They will not want You to draw the people from following them.”

He stopped to looked at His Son across the room.

“Eventually, they will figure out a way to kill You.”

“But Father!  Surely there is another way.”

“No, My Son, there is no other way.  If only a few turn their hearts back to Me, then it will be worth the price.”

“Please Father, can’t You find another way to reach them?”

The Father stepped across the room, anguish filling His features.

“Oh, My Son.  A ransom must be given for their sin.  You are the Only One that can pay it.”

“Alright, Father.  Let Your will be done, and not Mine.”

The Father wrapped His arms around His Son and held Him for quiet minutes before stepping back.

“We will be together through eternity, Son.  Nothing can ever separate Us from each other.  You are My Son, in Whom I am well pleased.”

He watched, His tears falling at His feet, as His Son turned and walked away.

His Beloved, only begotten Son, sacrificing Himself for the sins of the people.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2011

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THE HOMECOMING — A Short Christmas Story

Jeremiah North stopped and leaned against the walking stick that was clenched in his left hand.  He turned to look behind him at the farm fields that ran into the hills a few miles away.  The walk through those hills had been hard, but he had been determined.

He had stayed away this long; but the need to see his family, if only from a distance, was too strong to keep him away this Christmas.  And he was going to make it just on time.

Christmas was tomorrow.

He turned back to face the town.

Drawing in a deep breath he gazed down the street in front of him.  It didn’t look much different than when he had gone off to war four years ago.

Four years ….

He blew the breath out into a long, heavy sigh that created a white cloud around his head.  Seeing the vapor reminded him of how cold he was and he could not contain a slight shiver.  He looked up at the sky, watching the first snowflakes drift down around him.

It had been summer when he had walked out of this town all those years ago; a bright, hot summer day that seemed more like four life-times ago.

He sighed again, trying to shove the memories away, but they continued to taunt him from the very depths of his being.

So much death and destruction.  So many lives wasted.  So much loss.

He lowered his head and closed his eyes, but not before his gaze caught what had now become an everyday sight for him.  The hanging, empty right sleeve of his coat covered the pinned, shortened sleeve of his shirt.  Compliments of a Confederate bullet at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

His right arm.  Gone.  Just like that.

Leaving him to learn how to manage with the other one.  The reason for his delay in returning home.

He had refused to return home less of a man than when he left.

His right arm.

How was he supposed to take care of her when he only had his left arm?

He shoved away the memory of those long months of anger and bitterness; the need to drown his sorrows in a bottle of whiskey as he railed at God for taking what had amounted to his life, wishing he had died instead.

Deliberately, he sent his mind to the elderly couple that had taken him into their home and helped him regain his strength.  Then the gentle love and compassion that they had shown him, bringing him back to the Lord that they loved so dearly.

He stood still, eyes closed, and allowed the presence of God to fill him with His peace, shutting out the memories of those tormented months.

He sucked in another deep breath, feeling the cold air burn his lungs.

“Lord, I know we have had this discussion before, but please Lord, You are the only One that knows how things are going to turn out.”  He blew the breath out and finished,  “I leave this in Your Hands.  Amen.”

Still he hesitated.

She must think him dead by now.

What if she had moved on?  What if she had begun again with someone else?

In his mind’s eye, he could see the photograph that he had taken with him when he left.  It was now ripped and bloodied, but still in his pocket; beckoning him to come home to her.

But it had been so long.  What if ….

Suddenly he felt as if the Lord Himself was pushing against his back, nudging him to finish this journey that had started so long ago.

He drew in another deep breath and stepped forward, head bent against a north wind that was really starting to whine through the trees, driving the snow hard against his face.  It made him glad of the weeks’ worth of hair that grew on his jaw-line.

The cold seeped through his pant legs, making the wounded leg ache with an intensity he would never be used to.

Another bullet, this one from a Southern sympathizer that he had been unfortunate enough to meet up with in Maryland.

He lowered his chin into the collar of his coat and trudged on, wanting now to only get home.

Home.

Was it really still his home?  Or did it belong to someone else now?

The question bit into him with all the fierceness of the bitter wind, making him burrow a little deeper into the warmth of his coat.

He walked on, perhaps a hundred yards or more and stopped again, gazing at the house at the corner of the street.  It was growing dark, and the wind and blinding snow nearly filled his vision; but he could see it clearly enough.

Lights shone from the windows, smoke curled from the chimney.

His heart leapt at the shadowy figure visible through the lace that hung at the windows.  He pictured her bustling about, fixing a meal or cleaning; and found a small smile curling the corner of his mouth.

Katherine.

As he continued down the street, he thought about their first meeting; and the small smile grew wider.

It had been at the annual church picnic.  She had been visiting her brother and his wife, come all the way from Syracuse for the week.

And Jeremiah had been lost at the first glance of those blue eyes and that quick smile.

They had been married the following year, expecting a long happy life together with much laughter and joy.

But then the news came of war; and they both knew he had to go.

He lowered his head, deep into memories, trudging through the snow that now topped his boots.

Suddenly a whisper of feeling ran up his spine, sending a nudge of awareness to his heart.  He lifted his head.

And stopped.

She was standing on the front porch, hand to her throat, lips working silently.

Staring at him.

“Jeremiah?”

The words were barely whispered, but he heard them.  He took another step toward her, returning her gaze with a hunger born of four long years of separation.

“Jeremiah!”

And then she was coming toward him, mindless of the snow that was nearly to her knees.  He could hear her cries and watched in heart-shattering, breathtaking praise as she ran to him; arms outstretched in acceptance and greeting.

He dropped the stick into the snow and reached out to pull her to him.  In his mind he was lifting both arms to hold her, but knew immediately when she sensed the change in him.

She pulled back to look at the dangling sleeve.  She reached out tentative fingers to touch the cold material, then lifted anguished eyes to his.

“Oh, Jeremiah.”  She studied him for a second in silence.  Then that smile that he remembered so well filled her face, and his heart.  “You’re home.”

The whispered words filled him as he pressed his lips to hers.  Then she was wrapping him in her arms and pulling him toward the warmth of their home.

“Come inside.  You must be frozen.”

She led him into the warmth of the parlor, fingers quickly unbuttoning the coat and sliding it from his thin shoulders.  She stopped at the sight of the pinned shirtsleeve and then repeated the tentative lifting of fingers.

When her fingertips brushed the end of the material, he watched her face twist with emotion.  Then she lifted the hand and lay it on the side of his face.

Tears welled in her eyes and slipped down her cheeks.

“Is it really you?  Are you really home?”

“Do you want me home?”

Her surprise leapt into her eyes as she searched his face.

“Of course I want you home, Jeremiah.  Why would I not want you home?”

He glanced down at the empty place where his arm should be, and then felt his love for her shift inside him as she lifted both hands to cradle his face in their warmth.

“I love you.  I have been waiting for you to come home.  Don’t ever think I do not want you here with us.”

His brows rose.

“Us?”

“Didn’t you get my letters?”

“Only a few at the beginning.”  He searched her face.  “Then nothing.”

“Oh, Jeremiah.  I am sorry.”

“Us?” He repeated.

She frowned, then her face cleared and she was smiling as bright as that summer day so long ago.

“Us.”

She took his hand and led him up the stairs to the small room that had been empty when he left.  Quietly easing the door open, she stepped inside and turned to look at him.

He stepped into the room and glanced at the bed that stood against the far wall.  A tiny head of golden curls rested against a small pillow, and Jeremiah swung his gaze back to his wife.

“Her name is Faith.  She was born the winter after you left.”

Jeremiah looked down at the little face of his daughter and blinked tears from his eyes.

After all the years of death and hatred, God had finally brought him back to a place filled with life and love; and blessed him with a child on this, his Savior’s birthday.

© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2011