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A father has 4 children, it’s Christmas, and Father is waiting in His study to greet His family and give them their presents…

The first child walks quickly up to his Father’s door, he made an appointment and mustn’t be late. He hasn’t much time as there are many other more important things he must do. There’s the worry of the local elections, and that new road they are trying to build, not to mention lunch. “I really must be quick,” he says, “I’ll be as brief as possible, after all, I don’t want to waste too much time. I wouldn’t come at all, but He does expect it of me, and He is my Father, if I don’t make the effort He will be angry with me, and may cut my allowance!”

The first child, whose name is, religion, is Haughty, arrogant, and proud.
“I deserve my present,” he thinks to himself, “after all, I haven’t missed attending church on Sunday morning for the last 20 years.”

On entering his Father’s study, he straightens his tie and strides up to his Father’s chair without even noticing how delighted his Father is to see him. Father holds out His arms inviting a hug, but religion says, “Better not, you might crease my new trousers, and I haven’t time to change.”

Father holds out the present, but religion is too busy looking at his watch, and turns to leave saying, “Well must dash, there are so many things I have to attend to. Good day Father, I’ll see You next time.”

With that, he hurriedly leaves the room without giving or receiving anything.

Father sighs…

The second child approaches his Father’s door slowly. “Am I dressed properly,” he says, “is everything as it should be,” he worries. “I mustn’t go in if anything has changed, I must know exactly what to expect. I know He can be unpredictable, but I must be in control of myself, after all, haven’t I always done it this way? I’m comfortable with things just the way they are. Now, I must knock three times, wait for 5 seconds, and then go in. It wouldn’t do to get it wrong.”

The second child is called, Tradition, he’s very like his cousin, Superstition, but he limits his traditions to his Father.

Tradition knocks three times on his Father’s door, waits for five-seconds and enters. His eyes are tightly closed in case he sees something new. He speaks constantly so as not to hear anything that may interfere with his ritualistic approach to his Father.

He takes exactly 4 steps from the door to his Father’s chair, constantly muttering the words he always mutters on such occasions.

Father holds out His arms inviting a hug, but tradition doesn’t see, it would never do to actually ‘see’ Father. “He may be too terrible for words, and may ask me to change my ways. No, better to keep things as they are, then all will be well.”

Tradition holds out his hand waiting for his present. Father has to walk round His desk to put the present in Tradition’s hand, because tradition is facing the wrong way and singing so loudly that he can’t hear his Father speaking to him.

Having grasped the present, tradition takes exactly 4 steps back towards the door, bumping into the wall because of his closed eyes. He finds the door and leaves, having received a present, but given nothing.

On the other side of the door, tradition breathes a sigh of relief.

Father sighs…

The 3rd child approaches the door in fear and trepidation. “It’s been awhile since I saw my Father,” he says, “He’s bound to be angry with me, after all, I’m just me and have no real value in His sight, I’m just not worthy of Him. I keep failing, He must be disappointed with me.”

The 3rd child is called, Unbelief, he knocks gingerly on his Father’s door and waits… Then he hears the sound he’s been dreading, “Come on in son,” says the Father, “what are you waiting for?”

Unbelief Crawls in on all fours, not daring to look his Father in the eye. He grovels as he crawls to his Father’s chair, still not looking up.

“O Father,” he moans, “I’m just no good, I don’t deserve a present, I shouldn’t even be here.”
“That’s right,” says Father, “you don’t deserve anything, that’s why I’ve given you everything.”
There are tears in Father’s eyes as he says this, but unbelief just can’t accept that Father loves him, and won’t look at his Father, so he doesn’t see the tears.

Father holds out his arms asking for a hug, but unbelief says, “No! I’m not worthy to be hugged.”

With that he turns, his head still down, and crawls out of the room whimpering.

He came in expecting nothing, and that’s exactly what he left with.

Father sobs…

The 4th child comes tearing down the hall intending to skid to a stop in front of his Father’s door. “Hurray!” he squeals as he runs. Unfortunately, he misjudges the distance and slams into Father’s door with a wallop. “Oops,” he exclaims as he hits the door, his face beaming. He gathers himself as best he can and knocks on the door. He’s much too impatient to wait for an answer and so bursts in, tripping over the mat as he does so. It makes no difference, he reaches his Father’s chair in one bound, and lands on top of his Father Who is almost helpless with laughter.

The 4th child is called, Worship, and he loves his Father very much.
Father heard the clamor at the door, and waited for the ‘entrance,’ to see if it would be something like the last effort. He was not disappointed…

By now, Worship is all over his Father, trying to tell Him all that’s happened since the last time they saw each other. Father can’t get a word in edge-ways, but He doesn’t mind. He loves it when Worship comes to visit Him.

There’s no need for Father to hold out his arms for Worship to hug Him. Worship has had a strangle-hold on Father since he came in. How they love each other!

After a few more minutes, Worship pulls a scruffy little parcel out from under his coat. It has seen better days and is somewhat crumpled by now, but he gives it to his Father Who is delighted with it.

“Happy Christmas, Father.” Says Worship.
“Happy Christmas, Worship,” says Father, as He gives Worship his present.

Worship stays as long as he can in his Father’s presence, but eventually it’s time to leave. “Bye for now ‘dad’ I’ll come again soon.”
“I’ll be waiting for you son,” says Father.

Worship leaves, and Father looks at his present, and the state of his study, and roars with joyous laughter.

“If only all My children were like Worship,” He says, “how much happier they would be.”

©1997 Colin Owen

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