After the usual Ward business, the Bishop slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit and briefly introduced a guest who was in the congregation that day. In the introduction, the Bishop told the Ward members that the guest was one of his dearest childhood friends and that he wanted him to have a few moments to greet the congregation to share whatever he felt would be appropriate.
With that, an elderly man walked up to the pulpit and began to speak.
“A father and his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific coast,” he began. “When a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to the shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized.”
The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the meeting began, looking somewhat interested in his story.
The aged man continued with his story, “grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: To which boy would he throw the other end of the life line? He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son had a firm testimony of Christ, and he also knew that his son’s friend did not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves.
As the father yelled out, ‘I love you, son!’ he threw out the lifeline to his son’s friend. By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered.”
By this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old man’s mouth.
“The father,” he continued, “knew his son would step into eternity as part of an eternal family, and he could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into an eternity without knowledge of the gospel. Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save the son’s friend.
How great is the love of God that he should do the same for us. Our Heavenly Father sacrificed his only begotten son that we could return to him. I urge you to accept His offer to rescue you and take a hold of the life line He is throwing out to you.”
With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair, as silence filled the room. The Bishop again walked slowly to the pulpit and delivered a few closing comments.
Within minutes after the meeting ended, the two teenagers were at the old man’s side. “That was a nice story,” politely stated one of them, “but I don’t think it was very realistic for a father to give up his only son’s life in hopes that the other boy would accept the gospel.”
“Well, you’ve got a point there,” the old man replied glancing down at his worn scriptures. A big smile broadened his narrow face. He once again looked up at the boys and said, “It sure isn’t very realistic, is it? But I’m standing here today to tell you that story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His son for me. You see. I was that father and your Bishop is my son’s friend.”