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.”