One day a young boy committed a very serious offense. When the boy’s strict father heard about it, he said to the boy, “Son, no one can commit such an act and still sleep under my roof. You must spend the night in the barn.” The boy knew that arguing with his father was no use, and so he gathered up a few things to make a crude bed in the hayloft and went to the barn.
His crude bed proved to be plenty soft enough for the boy to get a good night’s rest, but he just couldn’t sleep. Over and over again he tossed and turned. His problem was the guilt he was feeling over not only committing the offense but also grieving his father so badly.
It was sometime along about midnight when the boy heard the sound of someone climbing up the ladder to the hayloft. He was frightened by the dark outline of the shadowy figure until he realized that the intruder was none other than his father. The father asked him, “Are you sleeping?” The boy answered, “No.” “Well, I can’t sleep either,” said the father, “so I thought I’d come out here and join you.” Then he added, “Now, don’t think I’m changing my mind about your punishment. As I said, anyone who does what you did can’t sleep under my roof. But I didn’t say that I couldn’t sleep with you. So, move over, son. Put your head on my arm, and let’s get some sleep.”
This story beautifully illustrates what God did for us. The human race had fallen into sin, and God couldn’t just ignore that fact. Punishment had to follow, and follow it did as Adam and Eve were banished from their home in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:22-24) and left to produce a race of descendants who would each be born spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). But God, in the form of Jesus Christ, left heaven, joined the human race by actually becoming human Himself, lived among humans in the “barn” of this world, and ultimately died on the cross as the potential payment for all the sins the human race had ever and would ever commit. So now anyone who places saving belief in Jesus does not have to suffer the eternal punishment that comes as the result of his or her sins (John 3:16-18).
Oh, and by the way, that story about the father who joined his boy in the barn is true. It was one of the stories that F.B. Meyer used to tell about his childhood. And who was F.B. Meyer? He was only one of the most legendary preachers who ever lived. He was an English Baptist pastor and evangelist in the late 1800s and early 1900s who pastored several churches in England, made successful ministry trips to the United States and Canada, wrote dozens of books and commentaries, and fought so hard against drunkenness and prostitution that he is purported to have been responsible for the closing of hundreds of saloons and brothels.
All that causes me to ask, “If we had more fathers who were strict enough to inflict punishment when it was deserved, but loving enough to join their children in the punishment, would we be producing more F.B. Meyers today?” Maybe. One thing is for sure: it definitely couldn’t hurt.