Summary: The idea for this series comes from Max Lucado’s book 6 hours One Friday. It is part of a series leading up to Easter.
In a small town in 19th Century, England there was a Christmas day tradition. There would be a village party and all the children would receive gifts. Bright smiles, children playing happily, very joyful event, as they would gather around the tree in the center of the village. Lights, colorful packages, singing, very festive.
In the town there was a young man, very gentle, childlike demeanor, slow, yet because he was labeled retarded he was the butt of many cruel jokes. The trick played on him this day was the cruelest of all. As the mountain of gifts got smaller, his face got longer. He is too old for a gift, but he does not know that, his childlike heart is heavy as he watches the other children open their presents. Then some boys come to him with a gift, a brightly wrapped box, it was the last one under the tree. His eyes dance as he looks at the brightly wrapped package, in his excitement he tears at the wrapping paper and the ribbons, he opens the box and his heart sinks. The box is empty. The package attractive, the ribbons are colorful, the outside was enough to get him inside, but when he got to the inside, the box was empty. Have you ever been there? Many of us have.
A young woman weeps silently into her pillow. All her life she dreamed of being married. “If only I could have a husband and a home I would be happy.” She is now married; the honeymoon has long been over. She dug out of one prison and landed in another. Her Land of Oz has become a land of dirty diapers, car pools, and bills.
He should be happy, he sits in his plush office, and he has a German sports car in the garage waiting for him. He is dressed in Armani, has gold rings on his fingers, his name on a brass plate on the door, a walnut desk, his name is well known among the Fortune 500. He possesses the very package he set out to get when he started at the bottom of the ladder looking up. Now that he has what he wants, he does not want it. Now that he is at the top of the ladder, he realizes it is leaning against the wrong building.
He left his bride in the dust of his ambition to climb to the top, his children no longer call him dad, they call someone else dad now. Although he has “everything” that success has to offer, he would trade it in a heartbeat to have a home to go to tonight.
I have counted the holes in the ceiling tile a hundred times. The voice shook in spite of an attempt to sound stable. They say I will be in a cast for 8 weeks, they also say I am lucky to be alive. His voice is barely audible through the oxygen mask; the skin on his face is badly scraped. They keep asking me what I remember. I don’t remember getting into that car let alone drive it. I never tried crack before, I guess I did too much, but I just wanted to fit in. I think I won’t be doing that again. I think a lot now; I guess I really don’t want to fit in that group again.
It is not games, noise, or flashing lights that keep you up at night. Your dreams have come true but instead of letting you sleep, they keep you awake. What do you do now when the parade stops? Where do you go? Our failures suck the sandy foundation of our future out from under us. Now what do we do?
We can blame the world; in fact, I believe the prodigal son did. He looked at his face in the muddy water, he may have wondered, “is that really me?” The flame in his eyes diminished, the smirk gone, his devil-may-care attitude had been sobered up. He tumbled along and fell face first. He, who was once the life of the party, is now all alone.
He is broke, had to pawn his ring, his coat, maybe even his shoes. The long hours walking the streets did not break him, the lonely nights in the bunkhouse or the days of lugging pig slop did not break him. Pride is made of stone, hard knocks may chip away at it, but it takes a jackhammer to break it. His was beginning to crack...
His first few days were steamy with resentment. Ha, friends, ha, friends like those who needs enemies. How come my brother doesn’t come down and bail me out of this mess? This boss should feed me better, Dad should not have let me go, etc, etc, etc.