This was a sample of some of the amazing wisdom and coaching I am looking for along my journey. I was very encouraged by this post by Katherine Reay. I believe you too will find it extremely helpful.
Basically, what you should do is click on my “James Dean Stone” link above. I actually created this blog exclusively for the writing world that I am trying to break into.
This is a bit of flash fiction I wrote a few weeks back as an introduction to a sermon. The message was that our level of personal sanctification will be in direct proportion to our view of Jesus Christ. When we don’t take the time to know and understand the fullness of who Jesus Christ is, we cheat ourselves.
One day an old gentleman of means and reputation was traveling through the forest on horseback to visit with his daughter, son-in-law, and their strikingly-handsome, newborn son when a terrible storm began to arise. Thick, ominous clouds moved in, enveloping the dense forest in a shroud of darkness. Thunder began to roll across the sky in dreadful moans. With a blinding flash, lightning reached down through the night-like sky and violently struck a tree directly in the path of the already skittish and leery horse. A deafening clap of thunder immediately following the lightning frightened the horse and sent him high upon his hind legs, spilling the old man to the ground. As the steed ran away at a full gallop, the old gentleman’s yells could not be heard above the noise of the storm.
Realizing he could not sit there in the rain, the old gentleman gathered himself and continued through the forest. He pulled at his cloak as the fierce winds threatened to rip it from his grasp. Several times he lost his footing and slipped, falling to the rain soaked floor of the forest. Once, the wind ripped a branch from a tree overhead, sending it careening through the air, missing the old man’s head by just a few inches, snagging and ripping his cloak before it continued down the path behind him. The skies grew darker, but finally, ahead in the distance, he saw a faint light beckoning from inside some sort of edifice. With hopes of shelter from the storm, the old gentleman increased his gait. As he drew nearer to the light, he realized it was coming from inside a cottage. His spirit brightened at the thought of sipping a warm mug of cider next to a cozy fireside.
By now, the driving rain was coming down in sheets and pelting the old man in the face, blinding him so that he did not even see the slough before him. In he tumbled. Choking, gagging and fighting against the thick, murky liquid, he flailed and kicked, struggling to keep his chin above the watery grave.
“I am on my way to see my first grandchild” the old man thought. “To die here, in a stranger’s yard and to be swallowed into the abyss by a slough will not do.”
In a final, desperate struggle for life, he reached the edge of the precipice and with all the strength he could muster, he pulled himself out of the sloppy, muddy, murky, pit and made a quick dash to the shelter of the front porch of the cottage.
Anxious to be relieved of his misfortune, he frantically beat upon the door, knowing that inside were the promises of a roof, warmth and hospitality.
The door slowly opened as those within could not imagine why anyone would be out tonight or why they would be calling upon them. As soon as the lady of the house saw the wet, filthy, bedraggled, shriveled up, old man she let out a shriek that brought her husband running to the door with a quirt. Without even giving the old man the opportunity to speak, the young man shoved him off his porch and sent him flying back into the mud. “Get out of here you filthy beggar. Times are hard everywhere. We don’t have anything for you.”
The old man feebly cried out, “I only seek shelter and warmth. Can I not come in and get warm and dry?”
“What? And have you bring your filth into my home? I think not.”
“I can pay you” the old man cried.
The young man sneered at him. “What will you pay me with, old man, your stink and your dirt? Get out of my yard. You don’t have anything to offer me. Hurry up and scat before some of my neighbors and friends see you on my property and think I actually invited you.”
When the old man didn’t make an effort to move, the young man stepped forward with his quirt and gave the old man a contemptuous whack across his back. The old man cried out in pain, but crawled away and finally stood erect in the rain. He eyed the young man, lifted his jaw, turned and headed back to the forest.
The sun rose upon that little cottage the following day bringing prisms to life as glistening rain drops rested upon blades of grass. Spiders were busy rebuilding while birds chirped and checked on their young. Butterflies danced at their newness of life, and the day was full of promise.
From inside, the young man’s wife heard the sound of hoof beats upon the earth and roused her slumbering husband. “Husband, husband,” she said sleepily, “someone comes to call.”
The young man rolled over to meet the day and welcome his company when suddenly pieces of the front door went flying through the cottage as royal soldiers of the king burst through. Without a word, iron clad hands seized the young man and his wife and led them outside.
A soldier still sitting astride his mount gave the order, “Burn it!”
“Wait! No!” The young man pleaded while his wife looked on in mute horror. “This is all a mistake! I promise! You have the wrong man. You have the wrong house. You have the wrong family. We are nobody! Why are you doing this? What have we done?”
“Sir”, asked the royal guard, “last night, did you not beat a man with a quirt, refuse him shelter from the storm and send him back into the forest?”
The young man began to tremble, “Yes, but it was just a beggar, a dirty, filthy old man who wanted to bring his filth into my home. He was nobody. He was just a beggar.”
“Sir, did he not offer to pay you?”
The young man was beginning to regret his rash behavior, his condemning spirit and his condescending attitude. “Yes,” he said, a little quieter this time. “But he didn’t look like he could pay. I told him I didn’t want what he had.”
“That man, sir”, explained the sentry, “is the brother of your King. He lives on the other side of the forest beyond the palace, and was on his way to visit his daughter and grandson.”
As the soldier unfolded the events which led up to the royal brother’s arrival at the cottage, the young man began to quake in fear, “Please, I didn’t know. I didn’t know. How could I have known?”
“Silence!” commanded the Royal Soldier. “You and your wife will henceforth be brought to the judgment hall of the King to be tried. But before you go, you should know that the King delegates all the business and authority of the courts in to the hands of his brother.”
A couple sit weeping in disbelief as their child is sentenced in a court of law for a crime they never would have guessed their boy or girl was capable of committing.
A father, suspicious that his son might be using drugs because of a sudden change of friends and behavior, finds a bag of marijuana and some Ecstasy hidden in his bedroom.
Parents, searching within themselves for the proper response to the gut wrenching announcement from their 15 year old daughter that she is pregnant, can only think of the shattered dreams they had for their little girl.
A mother weeps at her bedside begging God to set her son back on the right path. She raised him in church but now he is eighteen years old and determined to do things his way.
Many parents hope and pray they will never find themselves in any of the situations played out above. New moms and dads reading this will undoubtedly determine within themselves to never let these things happen to them and their children. They will do whatever it takes, make whatever sacrifices need to be made, and pay whatever price needs to be paid to make sure their children succeed in life.
But just as sure as I am sitting here typing this article, I am positive there are parents reading this who did determine to protect their children from the steely knives of the world. They did make sacrifices, and they did pay dearly to make sure their son or daughter turned out right only to have them rip their heart out, toss it to the ground, step all over it, pick it back up and hand it back to them. Some parents reading this are all too familiar with the plethora of emotions the parents in the above situations are feeling because the same thing or something similar has happened to them.
Parents of those children who have train wrecked their own lives by making really bad choices in spite of a good childhood and proper upbringing have something in common. They blame themselves. They wonder where they went wrong as a parent. They spend countless sleepless nights trying to figure out what they could have done differently to keep their child from ending up on this path of self-destruction. I wonder if there are any parents out there who have raised their children to adulthood who, at one time or another, haven’t felt like a failure.
As I was reading in the Gospel of Luke the other day, I came across the story of a man who evidently was raised by God-fearing parents, but somewhere down the line this man, in adulthood, decided to forsake the instruction of his parents and follow a path that led him to death row where he was ultimately executed for his crimes. I’m sure that many who witnessed the execution from a distance wrongly judged his parents for his wretched circumstance, placing the blame on an ungodly dad or unrighteous mom. But had they been standing at the foot of the cross, they might have heard the entire conversation between Jesus Christ and the thieves on either side of him. If they could have heard the exchange, they would have realized that his parents weren’t to blame. Listen to that conversation.
Luke 23:39-40 records, “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?” This second thief did not wind up on a cross because he feared God. The reverential fear of God in a person will cause him to do the right thing. I can’t prove it because this is the only record we have of this thief, but it’s very likely this man was taught from the time he was a child to revere and respect the things of God. Somewhere, sometime, he callused his heart toward God and lost that healthy and holy fear for him.
We further read in verse 41, “And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” Here is a man who knew what he had done was wrong and wasn’t trying to blame everyone else for his demise. He was willing to accept responsibility for his actions and believed his punishment suited the crime. This kind of character doesn’t come from growing up in gangs and running the streets all hours of the night without parental supervision or accountability. Character of this nature doesn’t spring out of nowhere. Although it appears to have surfaced a little too late, it is nevertheless character that was ingrained in him as a child through a lifetime of teaching and modeling. We don’t know what caused him to subdue that kind of character, but one thing is obvious; knowing what was right and wrong, he chose wrong.
And then finally, we read in verse 42, “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” This was not a simple Bible story he had learned and remembered from his youth. This was Messianic prophecy! This man knew the Scriptures! Where and when did he learn that? We have no indication of his age, but whether he learned this in the synagogues as an adult or at his father’s knee as a child, this is all the proof we need to conclude that his parents weren’t to blame for his being executed on a cross. They steered him in the right direction and placed him on a path toward success. I’m sure it took them awhile, but I hope that in time they were able to lay their heads down at night knowing they did everything they could to ensure a happy and healthy adulthood for him. I hope they didn’t beat themselves up over his poor decisions. I hope they realized that in the end, the choice was ultimately his to make.
The lesson that God taught me through this passage of Scripture, and the message I hope to convey to every parent reading this is to simply do our best in raising our children. Make time for them. Teach them to reverence God. Help them to know right from wrong. Instill in them godly character which guides them to accept personal responsibility for their actions. Teach them the Scriptures. There is no such thing as a perfect family unit and there is a measure of dysfunction in every home. But when we as parents follow the recipe that God laid out for us in regard to raising our children, then, if they choose to forsake our life long guidance and instruction, we will naturally be broken hearted, yes, but we can lay our head down with the comfort and assurance of knowing that we as parents were not to blame.