the ark

The Ark
Once there was a father and mother who had a little son. He was a good boy and was their only child and they loved him very much. They played with the little boy for hours and he was the light of their life. The little boy was a naturally friendly child. From and early age the father and mother taught the boy about the importance of friendship. They modeled friendship for the boy and they trained and instructed him on what it meant to be caring and kind. They dreamed that he would grow to be a loving and caring person. They made a special point to teach the boy the importance of being a good friend to the poor and the marginalized in their town.
So that’s what the boy did.
The boy struck up friendships with some of the other little boys from the rough neighborhoods. They held sleepovers, played football and baseball and went to school together. Sometimes the little boy would tell his father and mother that his friends would pick on him. Some of the boys from the rough neighborhoods didn’t have fathers and mothers who loved them. He knew their homes were not peaceful, but often were violent and scary places to live. So he would always make up with the other little boys and try to be a good friend to them – even when they were mean and cruel. The boy’s father and mother were so proud of him for enduring the bullying and staying with his friendships. More than once the little boy came home with a black eye or bumps and bruises because of his dealings with some of these kids from the rough part of town, but he stuck it out for the most part.
As the boy grew older friendships became more difficult to navigate. Alcohol and drugs began to creep into the culture and the little boy was determined to maintain these childhood relationships, even though more than a few of his friends experimented with drugs. He resisted the drugs for years, but over time the boy became desensitized to the addictions of his friends. He began to dabbled in drugs a little bit himself. Like many other little boys who grow to adolescence, he felt a strange new alienation from his father and mother. He no longer felt like the light of their life. He didn’t feel like their little boy anymore. He was lonely. It was not long before the little boy, now a young man, fell headlong into drug addiction. He dropped out of school. Lost touch with many of his friends and soon he had runaway to live on the streets and feed his drug habit. He became embroiled in a life of petty crimes and violence anesthetized only by his drug induced haze. He could not escape from it. His addiction consumed him.
The father and mother were devastated. Their grief consumed them. They were not angry with their boy. They were simply overcome with sorrow and grief. They would search for the boy day and night and whenever they would find him they’d bring him home, clean him up and try to get him help…only to see him run away again in pursuit of his addiction. He was lost. But the father and mother remembered their son. They would tell each other stories of his childhood and innocence. The mother and father remembered how much fun their little boy was and how peaceful and happy he had been. They remembered the dreams they had for him…dreams that did not include this addiction.
Finally they resolved to do something drastic. They quit their jobs, liquidated all of their finances, sold their home and many of their belongings keeping only what they could fit in a single box moving truck. They climbed into the truck and set out to find their son. As they drove to the part of town they had found him in before, a dark rain began to fall. All through the night the rain-soaked parents poked around crack-houses and crash-pads looking for their son. After searching for days, sleeping only a few hours in the cab of the rented truck, they finally found their little boy, thin, pale and emaciated from malnutrition, squatting in a crack house in the rough neighborhoods.
They helped him stagger to the cab of the truck and just began to drive. Because of his intense addiction his detox and withdrawal sickness was severe. The family could only travel a few hours a day. Most of their time was spent in cheap motels watching their son alternate between sleeping and getting sick. For forty days and nights they floated on the waters of despair. The box truck was their ark. The only remnants of their former life crammed into the back of it. The father and mother helped their son fight for his life and finally break through to show signs of life. Slowly the boy was able to eat again. Color began to come back to his face, but there was very little conversation. Nor did the boy ask the father and mother where they were headed. They just drove.
Finally one day the boy awoke to notice that the truck had stopped. The father and mother were unloading their belongings from the back of the truck. They boy stepped out of the cab and began to help carry the family possessions inside. It was a small house, in a small town. Much smaller than the one they came from. The mother and father began to help their son re-enter a whole new life. He became a part of a new school and made new friends all under their close supervision. The parents fully entered in to their son’s new life and never let him get too far out of their sight. Everything the boy did they were a part of. Whenever he began to struggle with the demons of his past they were there to help him through, to talk him down.
The boy began to see that he was a hopeless case. He knew that he would under the waters of chaos and addiction if he were given another opportunity to do so. But he also noticed that his father and mother were always close by. They supported and encouraged him. They talked with him till the wee hours of the morning. They would tell the son of their hopes and dreams for him – hopes for a life of purpose and happiness. Dreams that their son would live a life of peace and harmony…dreams that he began to share. They would constantly remind him of how much they loved him. They kept him accountable. They fully entered in to every facet of his life.
As time went on the boy realized that he had not really changed – he was still an addict. But his life had drastically changed because of the faithfulness of his parents. Everywhere he turned they were there. No matter what he had done in his life up to that point, they had loved him. They had many more rules now, formidable barriers between the dehumanizing agents of chaos and addiction and the life of their precious boy. But he didn’t seem to mind so much. They mother and father promised their boy that they would never move again – this was their new home. They promised him that they would never abandon him. That no matter what they were going to see this second chance to fruition. They even had the old box truck parked out behind the house to remind them of the journey that had brought them to a whole new life together.
As the boy grew into a man and became more and more removed from his addiction, he would retell the story of how his parents came to rescue him; how they crammed everything from a former life into a box truck and sailed the stormy ocean together for forty days and nights. And with only the few things they could fit in that one truck they built a new life on the other side. Slowly the meaning of his own story began changed in his own mind. No longer did his drug addiction dominate the narrative of his life, but the central figure became the patience and love of his father and mother. If he felt temptation to return to his addiction, he would remember the grief and the sorrow of his father and mother. He knew that his life would have been lost were it not for them. He knew that he would have died if his parents had not entered in to his life – if they would have forgotten about him. But they remembered him. They found him. They rescued him and gave him a new life.

About Tim Suttle

Tim Suttle is a pastor, writer, and musician. He is the author of two books: Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), and An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade Books, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, The Wall Street Journal, and other magazines and journals. Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. He has planted three successful churches over the past 12 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.