A Fathers Love

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, 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. "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 LIFELINE.

 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 LIFELINE TO HIS SON'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  HOLD
OF THE LIFELINE HE IS THROWING OUT TO TODAY"

WITH 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 TO
GIVE UP HIS SON FOR ME. YOU SEE.....
I WAS THAT FATHER AND YOUR PASTOR IS MY SON'S FRIEND."