“What do you mean by coming back? You left with the understanding you would not be welcome here again! I am embarrassed you were ever known as my son! You have brought utter shame to our family and our name by joining that band of Bible-quoting, Waldensian heretics! Now get out of my sight and return no more! Do you hear me? Never!”
Luke stared at the red-faced, blazing-eyed man who was raging against him with unbridled hostility. In contrast, he caught a glimpse of his mother, pale, sad-eyed, and silent; standing in the shadows behind his father, with hands clasped before her as if in prayer.
The heavy wooden door then slammed shut in the youth’s face with such furious force that the very ground trembled. Luke stumbled from the dwelling and began to run down the narrow, winding, cobblestone street of their ancient Swiss village.
Neighbors who had heard the ruckus poked their heads out of doors and windows, while a knot of gossiping old women across the way pointed at him with gnarled fingers and clucked their tongues in disapproval. A man passing by hurled spittle on him and muttered, “Devil worshipper!” under his breath.
As Luke neared the corner by the neighborhood baker’s home, a large rock sailed through the air and hit him squarely on the head. Crimson rivulets of blood began to trickle down the side of his face, mingling with the tears of despair already flowing.
He fled to the town’s edge and plunged into the nearby forest, escaping into the midst of its green, leafy embrace. I had so hoped that father would listen to me for a moment and allow me to see my dear mother. The wound to his spirit sliced much deeper than the fleshly one, and his anguish found expression in wrenching groans that arose from his being’s sorrowing core. Branches whipped viciously at his face and arms, but he pushed forward until he tripped over an obstructing tree root, falling face-first to the ground. Luke was too exhausted in body and soul to move so lay there sobbing until he fell asleep.
Sometime later, an elderly man, another of the brave believers who followed Peter Waldo’s teachings, came upon the prostrate youth. At first Andrew feared that the unmoving form with bruised and blood-caked face must be dead, but he gently shook the boy. To his joyous surprise, Luke roused; and Andrew helped him to a nearby stream to wash his wounds and hear his tale.
Luke’s dark eyes reflected hopelessness as he shared his painful encounter in the village and concluded by stating, “ My father despises me and says I have brought shame to my family. He no longer considers me his son, thus I am now as an orphan.”
“My boy, your Father loves you very much and is so proud of you.”
Luke gazed at him in disbelief and sputtered, “What do you mean? You weren’t there! He was angrier than I have ever known him to be, and he said…”
“Wait, lad,” gently interrupted Andrew, glancing upward through tree boughs to the patch of sky overhead. “I was speaking of your Father above. Our Lord promises, ‘Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.’ Furthermore, He says that everyone who has left home and family and fields for His sake will be greatly blessed and will inherit life everlasting. Do not feel abandoned, Luke. The heavenly Father won’t leave you desolate. You will always have a home with Him.”
Wise words comforted Luke’s grieving spirit, and the two soon rose to continue up the path leading to the secluded habitations of those resolute men and women who were willing to sacrifice all on the altar of their love for God and His Word.
Andrew placed his hand on Luke’s shoulder and flashed a smile of encouragement, “ We will pray fervently for your father to develop a hunger and thirst for truth. He may someday come to recognize that you are a son in whom he can be proud. Nothing is impossible for God, you know!”
The companions strode on, repeating aloud together the godly counsel committed to memory, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you...Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
A clear, steady light crept back into Luke’s eyes, and hope again found a home in his heart.
Direct Scripture quotations, in order, taken from Matthew 10:32 & Luke 6:27, 28, 36 (NIV)
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