Once upon a time there was a boy who loved his father and longed to be just like him. His father seemed all-powerful, all wise, all good. And the father always helped his son, told him what to do and which decisions were for the best.
The boy, he grew, and his childhood was glorious and serene. Whenever he faced a difficult decision, he’d run to his father who would hug him tightly and tell him just which road to take. The boy found such comfort, knowing that he could trust his father with every decision he faced.
At night, the boy would sit with his father by the fire and recount the difficult questions that had confronted him through the day. He’d tell his father his thoughts and hopes, but would always end the same way: “That’s what I want father, but just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” He was glad to trust his father with the answers for his life, to place them in the hands of one who knew far better.
When the boy became a man, his father grew ill. And for the first time, fear assaulted him; it struck him to the core. “I am lost without my father! How can I make a single decision without his clear direction?” And in that moment came the most devastating revelation of all: he was nothing like his father. He was neither wise, nor good, nor powerful.
The father recovered but the son never did.
Once upon a time there was another boy who loved his father and longed to be just like him. His father seemed all-powerful, all wise, all good. And the father never seemed to help his son, rarely told him what to do and which decisions were for the best.
The boy grew frustrated. When he would ask (and I admit, sometimes he demanded) the best path to take, the best road to choose, the father would simply smile and say “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Day after day, the boy would come to him with a decision, a crossroads in his life, and the father would simply say “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The boy felt unacknowledged. Hurt.
He would go to his mother in exasperation, yet she would simply open the book and read ancient tales about the father. Sullen and confused, he would say, “I don’t want to know what my father did; I want to know what I should do right now!”
But in bed at night, when the house was still, the boy would find himself reading the book again and again. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t find clear answers to the problems he faced. He would slam it shut in disgust and say, “I’ll just have to make my own decision.” And so he did.
When the boy became a man, his father grew ill. He stood at his father’s bedside. “Before you go, I need to know one thing. Why did you never tell me what to do? Why did you never answer me clearly? Why did you give me nothing when I needed your direction most?”
His father replied, “Nothing? I gave you everything you needed. Giving you answers is taking; it is to rob you of the gift of the struggle. To be like me requires struggle. The struggle matures.”
The son considered this, and asked his father, “But why did you take the risk? I could have made all the wrong decisions!”
His father answered sternly, “Did you not listen to what I did tell you? Did you not read the book? You know who I am. I will always be with you, even to the end of the age.”
And then the son understood. His resentment melted away and was replaced by inestimable gratitude.
The father recovered and remained with the son, even to the end of the age.