(Yes, it is religious. Specifically Christian. If that isn't something you like, don't read it. I do this about twice a year . . . I'll be back to movies shortly!)
For the rest of you . . . enjoy!
He placed one scoop of clay on top of another until a form lay lifeless on the ground.
All of the Garden’s inhabitants paused to witness the event. Hawks circled in the sky, giraffes stretched their necks for a better look, butterflies paused on petals, and trees bent closer to watch.
“You will love me, nature,” said God. “I made you that way. You will obey me, universe, for you were designed to do so. You will reflect my glory, skies, for that is how you were created. But this one will be like me. This one will be able to choose.”
All were silent as the Creator reached into Himself and removed something yet unseen – a seed. The seed of choice. Creation stood in silence and gazed upon the lifeless form of clay.
An angel spoke, breaking the silence. “But, Lord,” he asked; “What if he -”
“What if he chooses not to love?” asked the Creator. “Come, I will show you.” Unbound by today, God and the angel walked into the realm of tomorrow. “Look and see,” He said, “the fruits of the seed of choice – both the sweet and the bitter.”
The angel gasped at what he saw. Spontaneous love. Voluntary devotion. Chosen tenderness. Never had he seen anything like these. He felt the love of Adam for his wife; heard the joy of Eve as she played with her daughters. He saw the food and the burdens shared; he absorbed the kindness and marveled at the warmth.
“Heaven has never seen such beauty, Lord!” he finally said. “Truly, this is your greatest creation.”
“Ah, but you have only seen the sweet,” said the Creator. “Now behold the bitter.” An unspeakable stench enveloped the pair. The angel turned in horror to God and cried out.
“What is it?” he gasped.
God answered in one word: “Selfishness.”
The angel stood speechless as they passed through centuries of corruption. Never had he seen such filth – rotten hearts, ruptured promises, and forgotten loyalties. Children of the Creator wandering blindly through lonely labyrinths of their own making. Finally he spoke.
“This is the result of choice?”
“They will forget about You?”
“They will reject You?”
“Will they ever find their way back to You?”
“Some will, most won’t,” sighed the Creator.
“What will it take to make them listen?” asked the angel.
The Creator walked forward in time, further and further into the future, until he stood by a tree. A tree that would soon be cut down and fashioned into a manger. Even then He could smell the hay that would surround Him at His birth.
With another step into the future, he paused before another tree. It stood alone, a stubborn ruler on a bald hill. The trunk was thick and the wood was strong. Soon it, too, would be cut down. Soon it would be trimmed and shaped. Soon it would be mounted on the stony brow of another hill. And soon He would be nailed to it. He could feel the wood rubbing against the wounds on a back He did not yet wear.
“You will go down there to them?” asked the angel in shock.
“I will,” He said.
“Is there no other way?”
“There is not.”
“But, God, would it not be easier to just not plant the seed? Wouldn’t it be easier not to give them the choice?” he protested.
“It would,” the Creator said slowly. “But to remove the choice is to take away the love.”
He looked around the hill they stood on and foresaw a scene. Three figures hung on three crosses, arms spread, heads drooped with exhaustion. They moaned softly as the wind blew past them. Men clad in the garb of soldiers sat on the ground near them. They played games in the dirt and laughed at the suffering.
Men clad in the garb of religion stood off to one side. They smiled; arrogant, cocky. They had protected God, they thought, by killing this false one – this deceiver.
Women clad in the garb of sorrow huddled at the foot of the hill, speechless, their faces streaked with tears, eyes downward. One of them put her arm around the eldest and tried to lead her away, but she shook it off. “No,” she said through her tears. “I will stay with Him. I will stay.”
All of heaven stood ready to fight. All nature rose to rescue. All eternity was poised to protect. But the Creator gave no command. “It must be done,” He said as He stepped back to the Garden. But as He stepped into time, he heard the echoes of the cry He would someday utter: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
The angel spoke again, very softly: “It would be less painful . . .”
The Creator interrupted him firmly. “But then it would not be love.”
They stepped into the Garden again. The Maker of all things looked earnestly at His clay creation, lying on the ground. A monsoon of love welled up within Him. He had died for his creation before He ever gave him life. God bent over the clay form and breathed softly upon it. Dust stirred on the lips. The red clay over the chest cracked, revealing the flesh beneath. The cheeks flushed. A finger moved. An eye opened.
But more incredible than the moving of the flesh was the stirring of the spirit. Those who could perceive the unseen gasped. Perhaps it was the wind that said it first. Perhaps what the star saw at that moment is what has made it wink in wonder ever since. But it was left to an angel to whisper it:
“He looks just like – he appears to be – You!”
He wasn’t speaking of the face, or the features, or the body. He was looking inside, at the soul.
“It’s – eternal!” he gasped in wonder.
Within the man, God had planted a seed taken from His very own self – a seed of choice. The God of Might had created earth’s mightiest. The One who could choose to love had created One who could love in return.
And now the choice is up to you.