Joshua Shepherd did not believe in fairies until he met one.
He was sitting just a stone’s throw from the edge of the village. The light was just beginning to lift the night’s veil of darkness, and the woody smell of breakfast fires permeated the air.
Joshua’s bible was open on the grass beside him when the fairy appeared. There was a puff of yellow smoke, and standing on a rock beside a path stood a man no larger than a hand’s span, dressed in purple, with a large feather standing to attention in the brim of his cap.
“Well, aren’t you the luckiest person ever?” announced the fairy.
“I am?” Joshua blinked his eyes in surprise.
“Do you know that you are the five million millionth person to sit down to pray to God since the last five million millionth person? As a special reward I have a unique offer just for you.” The fairy skipped on the rock, jubilantly clapping his hands. “You get one prayer that is absolutely guaranteed to be answered.”
“God always answers prayer,” said Joshua, “So what makes this a unique offer?”
“Hmm…there’s a thing, eh? God always answers prayer? Yes, but sometimes that answer is “No” or “Wait a while”. This chance is for a definite “Yes” and “Right Now!” What ever you pray for right now, you will receive before the end of the day.” The fairy did a small but rather complicated twisting somersault landing neatly back on the rock. “Whatever you want – you get it – today!”
Joshua thought of all the things that were needed, his mind was overloading with images of people who were ill, or who had lost their jobs or their homes in the recent war.
“Oh…just to let you know,” the fairy interrupted Joshua’s thoughts, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men is not an option. God has got that one in the pipe line…but anything else…go for it…hit me with it…”
So many things. Joshua felt like a child in a toy shop, surrounded by everything a boy could ever want. Holding one toy in his hand, another would catch his eye. Which to choose?
“How about…” The fairy, desperate to fulfil his task, began to make suggestions, “a praise band for the church? All the instruments…drums, guitars, keyboard…the lot...and the best sound system. I’ll even throw in a projector and screen so you can do cool things in your worship meeting! Hey, if you just want to stick with an organ – that’s OK with me.”
“We actually meet just over there.” Joshua pointed to a wide open space, framed on one side by a row of trees. “We don’t have a building.”
“Perfect! What about a building then? Stained glass windows…heated in the winter, of course. We could go for something quite modern…a thought provoking sculpture beside the entrance.” The fairy ticked off all the features he could think of on the tiny fingers of one of his hands.
“No buildings. Nature provides our church for us. Can God be contained in four walls?”
“OK…I know…I’ve got it…a video and tape ministry, launch a television network. You could broadcast your meetings all over the world. You could become a prominent speaker at mass rallies.”
Joshua could picture all of this in his mind and he had to admit that there was a spark igniting, and he could feel his excitement rising. Suddenly the answer was clear. He knew exactly what it was he needed.
“A cooking pot. That is what I want. A large cooking pot. The ones with three legs that you can stand directly over a fire.”
Joshua thought of all the times he had wished he could extend hospitality to his flock. Some of them walked many miles to reach the meeting. Encouraged by the worship and the word, late in the afternoon, they would set off on their walk home, having eaten nothing. If only he could cook a meal, in a large pot, they could extend their fellowship for just a little bit longer. He could meet not just the spiritual needs, but the physical needs too of so many people, who had so little. That would be a real answer to prayer.
Joshua looked up at the fairy, fully expecting ridiculous censure for such an unimportant request. With an exuberant smile, the fairy disappeared.
* * * * *
“Joshua?” Someone was shouting his name.
“It’s the postman! He needs you to sign for a big parcel.”
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