The BackDoor Bible Series
The Journey - Lesson 9
(The Tree that Loved the Prodigal Son)
Once upon a time in a country far away there lived a huge oak tree named Sheldon. Now Sheldon got his name because he lived on a large farm built up in some hills that surrounded a large valley in which there was a big city. At the edge of the farm there were some big rocks and ledges that overlooked the valley below and Sheldon grew on one them. From where he stood, Sheldon had a great view of both the farm and the city below. You see, the name Sheldon means "from the farm on the ledge" and Sheldon's name fit him just perfectly.
Now the farm was owned by a man who had two sons. He was very wealthy man and had a large home with many rooms in it for his family and many servants to live in. He also had two large barns where he stored his crops and kept all his animals. Everyone who lived on the farm had plenty to eat and the owner was very good to them. He was especially good to his two sons for he loved them very much.
One of them, the younger one was named Jed and it was he who had given Sheldon his name. You see when Jed was growing up on the farm his favorite thing to do was climb way up in Sheldon's branches so he could see the city below. Of course this was Sheldon's favorite thing too for all trees love to have children climb their branches. As you can imagine, Jed and Sheldon spent lots of time together when Jed was growing up. Sheldon missed Jed a lot for He hadn't seen him for over a year. Like all children, Jed had grown up into a young man and about a year ago he left the farm and moved to the city below.
Now the only person who even came near Sheldon was Jeds father but he never climbed up into Sheldon branches. Adults just don't do those sort of things Sheldon figured. Nevertheless, Sheldon did appreciate the company even if all the father did was sit in Sheldons shade and gaze quietly out over the city below. The father used to come often. In fact he used to come almost every day. He never stayed long though, just long enough to take a long look down at the city below and the road that led to it. He always seemed very sad. Sheldon wondered if he missed Jed as much as he did.
One day when the father came out to the ledge, his older son was with him. Sheldon did not know the older son well for he seldom came out on the ledges. He always seemed to be too busy working around the farm. When the father and the older son got close to Sheldon they stopped, sat down in Sheldon's shade and began to talk. What Sheldon overheard that day made his heart very, very sad.
Sheldon had never known exactly what happened when Jed had left, but today he learned that Jed had decided he no longer wanted to lbe his fathers son and had demanded his father give him his inheritance so he could go live in the city where they were lots party's and other kinds of wild sinful living. The older son wanted the father to stop being sad that Jed was gone and just forget about him. After all, he had been very mean to his father.
No wonder the father was so sad. Jed had not just moved away, but he had rejected his father and was now living a life that made his father very sad. As the father and older son got up and left that day, the father said he appreciated his sons encouragement, but he could not forget about Jed. For despite what he had done, he loved Jed very much. Sheldon felt the same way. He had always hoped he would see Jed again but now his hope began to fade.
Now that very same evening, unknown to Sheldon or the father, something was happening to Jed. You see, Jed had not faired so well this last year in the city. He had spent his inheritance, (you know all the money his father had given him) on wild living and was now broke. To make matters worse the city was having a food shortage because there hadn't been much rain that year and nobody would share their food with Jed. In order to survive he took a job feeding pigs on a small farm in near the city. It didn't pay much and Jed got so hungry that he even tried eating the pigs food.
On that very night Jed came to a startling conclusion. It was as though he suddenly regained his senses. He knew that he had given up being his fathers son when he left. But he realized that his fathers hired servants had a much better life than he did. Maybe if he went back and apologized to his father, he might hire him as a servant. That night, Jed left the pig sty and began to walk back to his fathers farm.
The next afternoon Jeds father came out to the ledge near Sheldon. He sat down as he usually did and looked out across the valley towards the city below. After staring for a few minutes not seeing anything new, he got up to leave. As he did he took one more look back across the valley, but this time something caught his eye. Sheldon immediately looked out where the father was looking and he too saw a little speck moving on the road coming towards them from the city.
Sheldon turned back to see what the father was doing, but the father was already gone. As Sheldon looked back down the road, there he saw the father running towards the little speck on the road as fast as he could. Could it be he thought, his heart began to jump inside of him. Could it be .. Jed?
Well it was Jed and even at a great distance the father recognized his lost son. When he reached him, Jed began his well rehearsed apology, but his father almost knocked him over as he threw his arms around him and kissed him. On arriving back at the farm house, the father yelled to his servants. He told one to get his best robe and put it on Jed. Then he had another put a gold ring on Jed's finger and finally he told everyone to prepare a great feast for he wanted to celebrate Jed's return. As everyone gathered in front of the great farmhouse that night, Jeds father offered a toast. He said. This is my son whom I love. He was lost but now he is found! Everyone cheered for not only was Jed back, but the father was now very happy.
As Sheldon watched from a distance, he too tried to cheer, but of course as you know trees can't talk, so no one heard Sheldon's cheer. As Sheldon fell asleep that night, he but he wondered if Jed remembered him. He wanted to be happy Jed was back with his family but no matter how hard he tried all he couldn’t think of was that Jed had not stopped by to see him . Well why should he?, Sheldon thought. After all I am just a tree. And with that he fell asleep.
When the sun came up over the valley the next morning Sheldon was awakened by a strange tugging at his lower branches. The feeling seemed vaguely familiar but in his sleepy condition he didn't recognize it. He pushed the feeling away and tried to drift back to sleep. As he did he started to dream. He dreamt about when Jed was small and used to climb way up into his branches and look out over the city. A few minutes later, Sheldons dream ended and he woke up. As he woke he realized that someone was sitting on one of his upper branchs and it was not a child. No, a young man was sitting there and he was not looking out over the ledge at the city. Instead the man was looking intently back at the farm and smiling. Sheldon's heart jumped within him for Jed had come back.
* by David C Klem - Copyright 1998 *
Kids, just as the father loved his son so much that he welcomed him back, Jesus loves you and I the same way. Even when we sin or start to ignore him. Jesus loves us. If we do sin or ignore him in our life, it does make him sad. But just like the father in the story he always is looking for us to return to him.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:38-39 (NIV).