During the hustle and bustle of this season, it’s easy to forget the true reason of Christmas. My friend, Elana, shared this story with me last year, and I love it! So I wanted to share it with all of you!
The Rock, the Match, and the Candle
Many years ago a farmer gave each of his three songs a bag of gold and and sent them into the world to choose a gift for him. The gift was to represent the knowledge and wisdom that each son had gained from his father.
The first son walked along a dusty road and met a man with a wagon load of wheat. He thought to himself, “I will use my gold to buy all this wheat. Then we will never worry about going hungry during the winter.” So he gave his bag of gold to the man with the wheat and hurried home to his father. On his arrival, the father greeted him and asked, “My son, you have returned so quickly. What have you brought?” The eldest son proudly showed his father the bags of wheat and answered, “Father we will not worry about going hungry for many years.” The Father was very happy an helped his son unload the wheat into the barn. When they had finished, the wheat filled one whole corner of the barn.
The second son also walked along a dusty road in a different direction, and on his way met a man with a load of hay. The second son said to himself, “If I buy this wagon load of hay, father will never have to worry about the animals this winter and the farm will prosper”. So he gave the man his bag of gold and took the wagon load of hay. Again, the father was waiting for his son and upon his arrival, asked, “My son, what have you brought back?” The son happily showed his supply of hay and said “Father, the animals will be well-fed this winter and the farm will prosper.” The father was pleased with the second son as well.
The third and youngest son pondered the responsibility of buying a wonderful gift for his father with his bag of gold. As he walked along the road, he thought of the many things he had learned in his life and wondered what he could buy his father that would show how wise and careful his youngest son had grown.
As he walked, he say a young boy playing happily and running. The boy was tossing a rock up in the air and catching it as one would catch a ball. The road was rocky and filled with thistles but the boy was barefoot. “Where are your shoes?” the son asked the little boy. The boy replied, “Haven’t got any. Doesn’t matter. I can still run pretty good without any!” The son walked into town with the young boy and took him into a shoemaker’s shop. “Fit this boy with the warmest and sturdiest pair of boots that you have,” declared the son, as he took out some of his gold coins. As he left the shop, the boy ran after him and said, “Sir, why did you do that?” “You need them,” was his reply. “I have nothing to repay you with,” said the boy, “but, please take my favorite rock as a gift.” The youngest son smiled and put the rock into his bag of gold.
Walking through town he noticed a mother standing on the corner, with three youngsters around her. She was selling matches. “Dear lady,” said the young man, “why aren’t you home with your little ones? They look hungry and cold.” “Well, I must sell these matches first,” she replied. “so that I may buy a loaf of bread to feed them.” The young man thought his heart would break and so he went into a store and bought two bags full of food and returned to the mother on the corner. “Here you are. Now take your little ones home and rest today.” he said as he turned away. “Stop, I have nothing to repay you with, but please take one of my matches.” the young mother said with tears in her eyes. The third son smiled and and placed the match in his bag.
Still he worried about a gift for his father. Continuing on his way, he noticed an elderly man through the window of a building, trying to warm his hands over the flame of a candle. The man had only a thin shirt on. The third son thought of his aged father and pictured him cold and alone. He ran into a shop and with the gold in his bag, purchased a warm coat. Rushing back, he knocked on the window and got the old man’s attention. When the old man opened the door, the third son handed him the coat and said, “I see that you are cold. Please make use of this coat.” The old man was overwhelmed and replied, “I have nothing to give you in return except…here…take this candle. I won’t need it any more tonight. The young man smiled and placed the candle in his bag and went on his way.
After while, he decided to check his bag of gold to see how much money he had, but to his dismay, the bag was depleted of all of its gold. He hung his head and began the long walk home. As he approached his home his father met him asking, “what have you brought back, my son? Come into the barn and see the wheat that fills one whole corner which your eldest brother has brought! And see the hay in the other corner of the barn which your other brother has brought. Now come and let us see the gift that you have brought.”
The young man quietly told the story of the barefoot little boy, the mother with her young children, and the elderly man without a coat. At last he declared that he had brought back nothing of value. The father reached into the bag and drew out the rock, the match and the candle. And striking the match against the rock, he lit the candle. The glow of the candle fill not one corner to two, but the whole barn with light and warmth. “Do you see my son?” the father gently asked, “you have brought back the greatest gift of all. You have brought us the pure love of Christ.”
“In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” ~ Matthew 25:40
I’ve shared this with many different people this holiday, when I brought them the story, I included a baggy of goodies that went hand-in-hand with the story.