The young man looked glum as he walked through the door.
His host, an old elder, had helped him before,
So he cast himself down in a chair by the fire
Saying “How did I slip and fall into this mire?”
His counsellor waited, so patient and kind
For his friend to unburden and open his mind.
Though he had so much promise, a leader-to-be;
Deep roots are still needed to grow a strong tree.
The young man he mumbled, his head in his hands:
“I am weary and worn by life’s ceaseless demands.
I thought there was nothing that I could not do.
Where is the heavenly joy I once knew?
Strength I once found in the joy of the Lord,
And all of my strength in His service I poured.
I once had a passion, a fire within;
A love for my Saviour, and lost souls to win.
I once had a hunger for God’s Holy Word.
The Apocalypse now merely seems so absurd.
I faithfully read it each morning, each night.
It no longer has meaning nor sheds me new light.
When I prayed, then it seemed like the clouds tore apart
As His presence came down and then flooded my heart!
Now I pray on my knees, on my feet, on my head,
But it’s vain repetition. My heart feels like lead.
Once like a high flying eagle I soared.
So then why do I feel (I must say it) plain bored?
O counsellor, you’re like a father to me.
Please show me the path back to reality!”
The wise old man smiled and then silently rose
And reached with his tongs where the fire hottest glows.
A fiery white ember he pulled from the blaze
And held it before his young visitor’s gaze.
He placed the hot coal near the tools and the bellows
On the cold stony hearth well away from its fellows.
As the guest watched and wondered, he noticed, dismayed
That the glowing coal started to yellow and fade
From yellow to orange, to brown, to dull grey;
Now shrivelled and useless, to be just thrown away.
The young man cried “What does this mime signify?
Am I this black coal? Am I destined to die?”
Then, still without speaking, the old man took hold
Of that dark piece of carbon, forlorn and so cold.
With the tongs carefully dropped it in its former place
And then he sat back with a smile on his face.
As he watched, fascinated, the young man beheld
That the coal, once so lifeless, soon brightened and swelled;
Drawing heat from its fellows and life from the flames,
It glowed with new brilliance and joined in their games.
Not a word of good counsel was said nor advice,
But the guest got the message in less than a trice.
With a grateful, firm handshake and hope in his heart
He went off in the night, soon to make a new start.
Career and his studies had pulled him aside
From his fam’ly and friends. “But no longer!” he cried.
He sought out his friends who first showed him the Way
And is fervently serving the Lord to this day.
Based on a story told by Rev. Nicky Gumbel, Holy Trinity, Brompton, UK during an Alpha course.
Copyright © 2007
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