Saturday, November 21, 2009

Like Sophie's Choice

AFTER A FEW OF THE USUAL SUNDAY EVENING HYMNS,

THE CHURCH'S PASTOR SLOWLY STOOD UP,

WALKED OVER TO THE PULPIT AND,

BEFORE HE GAVE HIS SERMON FOR THE EVENING,

HE BRIEFLY INTRODUCED A GUEST MINISTER

WHO WAS IN THE SERVICE THAT EVENING.




IN THE INTRODUCTION, THE PASTOR TOLD THE

CONGREGATION THAT THE GUEST MINISTER WAS

ONE OF HIS DEAREST CHILDHOOD FRIENDS AND

THAT HE WANTED HIM TO HAVE A FEW MOMENTS

TO GREET THE CHURCH AND SHARE WHATEVER

HE FELT WOULD BE APPROPRIATE FOR THE SERVICE..





WITH THAT, AN ELDERLY MAN STEPPED UP TO THE

PULPIT AND BEGAN TO SPEAK.




'A FATHER, HIS SON, AND A FRIEND OF HIS SON WERE
SAILING OFF THE PACIFIC COAST ' HE BEGAN.
'WHEN A FAST APPROACHING STORM BLOCKED ANY
ATTEMPT TO GET BACK TO THE SHORE.




THE WAVES WERE SO HIGH, THAT EVEN THOUGH THE
FATHER WAS AN EXPERIENCED SAILOR, HE COULD NOT
KEEP THE BOAT UPRIGHT AND THE THREE WERE SWEPT
INTO THE OCEAN AS THE BOAT CAPSIZED.'




THE OLD MAN HESITATED FOR A MOMENT,
MAKING EYE CONTACT WITH TWO TEENAGERS WHO WERE,
FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE SERVICE BEGAN,
LOOKING SOMEWHAT INTERESTED IN HIS STORY.




THE AGED MINISTER CONTINUED WITH HIS STORY,
'GRABBING A RESCUE LINE, THE FATHER HAD TO MAKE THE
MOST EXCRUCIATING DECISION OF HIS LIFE: TO WHICH BOY WOULD HE THROW THE
OTHER END OF THE LIFE LINE.
HE ONLY HAD SECONDS TO MAKE THE DECISION.
THE FATHER KNEW THAT HIS SON WAS A CHRISTIAN AND HE
, ALSO, KNEW THAT HIS SON'S FRIEND WAS NOT.
THE AGONY OF HIS DECISION COULD NOT BE MATCHED BY
THE TORRENT OF WAVES.



AS THE FATHER YELLED OUT, 'I LOVE YOU, SON!'
HE THREW OUT THE LIFE LINE TO HIS S ON 'S FRIEND.
BY THE TIME THE FATHER HAD PULLED THE FRIEND BACK TO
THE CAPSIZED BOAT, HIS SON HAD DISAPPEARED BENEATH THE RAGING SWELLS INTO
THE BLACK OF NIGHT.


HIS BODY WAS NEVER RECOVERED.



BY THIS TIME, THE TWO TEENAGERS WERE SITTING UP
STRAIGHT IN THE PEW, ANXIOUSLY WAITING FOR THE NEXT
WORDS TO COME OUT OF THE OLD MINISTER'S MOUTH.


'THE FATHER,' HE CONTINUED, 'KNEW HIS SON WOULD
STEP INTO ETERNITY WITH JESUS AND HE COULD NOT
BEAR THE THOUGHT OF HIS SON'S FRIEND STEPPING INTO
AN ETERNITY WITHOUT JESUS.. THEREFORE, HE SACRIFICED HIS SON TO SAVE THE
SON'S FRIEND. ' !


HOW GREAT IS THE LOVE OF GOD THAT HE SHOULD DO THE
SAME FOR US. OUR HEAVENLY FATHER SACRIFICED HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON THAT WE
COULD BE SAVED. I URGE YOU TO ACCEPT HIS OFFER TO RESCUE YOU AND TAKE A HOLD
OF THE LIFE LINE HE IS THROWING OUT TO YOU IN THIS SERVICE.'

W ITH THAT, THE OLD MAN TURNED AND SAT BACK DOWN IN
HIS CHAIR AS SILENCE FILLED THE ROOM.

THE PASTOR AGAIN WALKED SLOWLY TO THE PULPIT AND
DELIVERED A BRIEF SERMON WITH AN INVITATION AT THE
END. HOWEVER, NO ONE RESPONDED TO THE APPEAL.




WITHIN MINUTES AFTER THE SERVICE ENDED, THE TWO
TEENAGERS WERE AT THE OLD MAN'S SIDE.


'THAT WAS A NICE STORY,' POLITELY STATED ONE OF
THEM, 'BUT I DON'T THINK IT WAS VERY REALISTIC FOR A
FATHER TO GIVE UP HIS ONLY SON'S LIFE IN HOPES THAT THE OTHER BOY WOULD
BECOME A CHRISTIAN.'


'WELL, YOU'VE GOT A POINT THERE,' THE OLD MAN
REPLIED,
GLANCING DOWN AT HIS WORN BIBLE. A BIG SMILE
BROADENED HIS NARROW FACE. HE ONCE AGAIN LOOKED UP AT THE BOYS AND SAID, 'IT
SURE ISN'T VERY REALISTIC, IS IT? BUT, I'M STANDING HERE TODAY TO TELL YOU
THAT STORY GIVES ME A GLIMPSE OF WHAT IT MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE FOR GOD T O
GIVE UP HIS SON FOR ME.


YOU SEE...


I WAS THAT FATHER AND YOUR PASTOR IS MY SON'S
FRIEND.'

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