🎄 The Throne and the King (Honorable Mention)
The Throne and the King
by Zach Fox
And the day had started with such promise.
Bradley jiggled his leg as he sat scowling at his assignment. He was a bright boy, earning top marks in every subject. He loved his little Christian school, sporting a pressed uniform and cardigan, but most of all he loved Bible class. He hoped to be a minister like his grandfather.
“Over prepare,” Grandfather said. “Then you’ll never be surprised.”
His teacher’s assignment was to write a report on a Christmas-story character of her choosing. The author of the best piece was to speak at the Christmas banquet. Bradley had researched the key players in the Christmas story, but was startled when he unfolded the slip Ms. Butterfield handed him. “The manger!”
Ms. Butterfield grinned. “You’ll think of something.”
When Grandfather picked him up from school Bradley unloaded the day’s drama, “I prepared for every possible character! It’s not fair.”
Grandfather smiled. “’A man makes his plans, but the Lord directs his steps.’ Maybe, God has something for you in this little assignment.”
“It seems silly. If He’s a king, why would God be in a meager manger?”
“Makes me wonder what kind of a throne Jesus is looking for.”
Bradley scoffed. “I’d have a golden throne with diamonds and rubies.”
Grandfather chuckled. “Jesus is different than us. He chose to live in us, and we’re more like the manger, than we are your golden throne.”
Bradley’s eyes widened. “Not me! I ace my Scripture tests. I never lie and someday I’ll be a pastor, like you.”
“Oh?” Grandfather nodded. “And who do you know as unworthy as that manger?”
Bradley turned to the window, staring at the half melted snow mucking up the countryside. Fresh fallen snow was beautiful, but when it melted it made everything ugly. He exhaled and his breath fogged the window. He bit his lip and drew the figure eight that symbolized infinity on the window.
“My dad said he’d love me forever, but he left.” Bradley clenched his eyes shut as tears spilled hot onto his cheeks. “I hate him.”
Grandfather’s fingers, calloused and hard as plastic wrapped around his. A tear dropped from Grandfather’s eye, getting lost in wrinkles patterned organic as tree bark. “My dad was a lot like yours. I was mad for a long time.” Grandfather drew a slow breath. “You see, that pain you feel was put there by him.” Tears fell unchecked down Bradley’s face until a little pool dangled from his chin. “But that hate. . . that unforgiveness belongs to you.”
Bradley’s lip quivered.
“‘All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ Unforgiveness is no different. Bradley, you, me, your dad; we’re all that meager manger. And Jesus chose to make us His throne.”
Bradley laid his head against Grandfather’s arm, “I miss Mom!”
“Me too, buddy. And your dad does too.”
“I miss him.” Bradley had found one of those rare moments where one can suddenly say what they’ve been feeling for a long time. “I want to forgive him, but I can’t.”
“Pray about it. No one is stronger at forgiving than Jesus.”
“‘While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,'” Bradley whispered.
“You know the wild thing? Forgiveness, sacrifice… it wasn’t plan-B. He’s ‘the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world.'”
Bradley shot up and looked back at the window. He breathed on the glass until the infinity symbol reappeared.
“Would you take me to my dad’s?”
Grandfather’s eyes misted. “Yeah.”
* * *
Bradley stood on stage sporting a pressed uniform and cardigan, paper trembling like a wind-whipped leaf in his fingers. His breath echoed softly from the speakers, like falling snow, as he stared into the crowd, looking at anyone but his dad.
He breathed deep and began- “A historian once said, ‘History wasn’t made for Jesus.’ History has a ready pen for stories of the rich and famous. But Jesus was the son of a peasant carpenter. And perhaps the most obscure character, at the birth of this carpenter’s son, was the manger he came to rest in.
“What an unworthy throne for the King of kings. But consider this; dying for our sins, wasn’t plan-B. The Bible says he is ‘the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world.’ It wasn’t a mistake. Isaiah wrote, ‘He makes known the end from the beginning.’ Jesus chose Mary and Joseph. He chose Bethlehem like he chose the cross. He chose to make that meager manger his throne.
“What kind of a King would leave his throne for a trough? The same kind that chose you and I for vessels. The same King that walked the courts of heaven longs to occupy the courts of your heart.
“We are all that manger, meager and unworthy. Maybe you, right now feel like you’re too unworthy. Know this, you are why Jesus left heaven. You are the manger he chose, ‘for the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which is lost.’ Are you lost? Jesus came for you. Are you unworthy? Jesus came for you.
“Jesus said, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and sup with him.’ Is he knocking now?
“Perhaps that historian was right. But Jesus didn’t come for the historian’s records. He came to a lowly manger. Will you let Jesus rest in you today?”
Bradley glanced at his dad after he finished. He was leaning against Grandfather sobbing. His dad heard the knocking of the King, and opened the door. He was a manger and throne all the same.
While they sat, eating ham and dressing, Bradley’s dad handed him a present. The card read—I’ll love you forever. Dad
Bradley ripped the paper away to find a watch and ten extra batteries. His dad grabbed the watch and flipped it over. On the back, was engraved a sideways figure-eight.
His dad whispered in his ear, “Forever.”
Author: Zach Fox
Zach Fox lives in Floyd, Iowa with his charming wife, Beka, and four kids. He spent two years in Master’s Commission discipleship training, in Kansas City, and is ordained through the FCA. He specializes in writing short stories, and enjoys jogging and basketball recreationally.