One bright morning a young man walked through the noisy streets of his hometown, his feelings of happiness mingled with confusion.
In the sunlit dusk of the previous evening he had stumbled across the startling fact that he owned a very precious gem. So valuable was this jewel that he was perplexed about what he should do with it.
This gem had belonged to him all his life, yet he had never realized it. Beautiful rays of a rich hue glowed from deep within the precious stone, but until that evening it had gone completely unnoticed.
When the young man eventually rediscovered the gem its beauty had taken him by complete surprise and made his face alight with tremendous joy. But he soon began to realize that a gem like this was in great demand, and not always by the kindest folk. He knew that if he kept it to himself it would be stolen. He decided to embark on a journey to London to find a bank where he could invest the gem and live off the interest it would earn him.
Waiting for the Train
As the young man stood on the station platform, he was approached by complete strangers who could see the sparkling rays from the gem he thought he had tried to conceal. To his surprise, he found he could not hide such a precious object.
One stranger offered him a straight swap—the sparkling gem for a piece of faded jewelry. But the young man judged the proffered jewelry had seen better days and declined the offer.
The young man became quite worried as yet another stranger approached him and tried to persuade him that he could invest the gem on the stock market and gain a great fortune. However, its young owner recognized that such an investment was a risky business, so again he refused to part with the gem.
Trains came and went as the young man awaited his train. Suddenly a tall man swiftly and silently approached him from behind. Without warning he grabbed the young man by the throat. “Give me your gem or I’ll kill you!” he snarled.
The panic-stricken young man yelled for help.
Just as the stranger was about to extract the gem by force, a young woman called from the waiting room: “Satan, leave the boy alone! You know who my Boss is, and what will happen if you don’t leave him alone.”
With that the stranger released the young man and fled the platform. The young man, overwhelmed at what had just occurred, knew for certain he must find a bank. When he had composed himself, he turned to thank the woman, but she, too, had vanished.
What is this gem I possess? he wondered. And why do so many desire it, even at the cost of my own life? The thought that free will is a precious gift, as valuable as any gem, gently crossed his mind. But at this point his train entered the station and with a sigh of relief he stepped inside.
The carriage was crowded and once again he began to feel unsafe. Many eyes glared at him, with the exception of one old man who sat by a window watching the passing scenery. The old man moved his luggage from the seat beside him, implying that the young man should sit there. Sensing a calming presence from the old man, he sat down, and on the journey he slept.
As the train pulled into the Liverpool Street station, the old man awoke the youngster with the instruction that he lose no time completing his mission. “Pay no attention to buyers or sellers until you find the bank you need,” he urged. At this, the young man thanked the old man and left the station.
Safe and Secure
Arriving in the financial heart of the city, the young man was bewildered at the vast array of different banks. They were all overpowering in size, and most were constructed of glass, which he knew could easily shatter. For hours he wandered in and out of various banks.
“Try this account, sir!”
“Consider this investment, young man!”
Bombarded with so many choices, he became more confused by the minute. But through his confusion he discerned that the managers were not so much interested in him as in gaining his priceless gem for their own greedy ends.
Feeling lost and dejected, the young man wended his way back to the station. As he walked along, he noticed a sign above a large, old door that read, “We invest in you, not you in us.” Hoping this to be an honest statement he decided to enter.
“Hello, sir,” spoke a soothing voice. “We’ve been expecting you. We were informed of your problems at the station and we are very pleased to see you.” At once his fear evaporated and he recalled his joy at finding the gem. “The Manager has set aside an appointment especially for you. He’ll be available shortly. Please take a seat and relax,” he was instructed.
While he waited the young man observed other clients arriving and leaving through the main entrance. They appeared to be established customers of the bank, for they were on first-name terms with the bank Manager and withdrew what seemed to be quite large amounts of freedom.
Eventually the door to the Manager’s office opened wide. With the words, “You can go in now, sir,” the young man confidently crossed the threshold.
Upon entering the room the young man noticed a large cedar desk with meticulous carving. Seated behind it was an old but young looking man with white hair, a neatly trimmed white beard, and the kindest eyes he had ever seen. His face beamed with serenity. On his desk was a nameplate “Lord of All.”
What Do You Think?
1. Which is more valuable: salvation or having the freedom to choose salvation?
2. The power of choice always carries with it great risks. Why did God take that risk when the security of the entire universe was at stake?
3. How easy is it to give others the freedome to choose their own destinies? What's the opposite of freedom in that case?
4. In heaven we will have perfect freedom. Do you agree or disagree with that statement? Why?
The young man took out his gem and carefully placed it on the desk. The Manager responded: “I’m happy to meet you. I’ve been waiting patiently for some time; but the important thing is that now you’re here.”
“How do you know about me?” asked the young man.
“We’re the bank that presented you with your gift in the first place, and we’ve been waiting for you to come and seek advice on its best possible investment. If you invest here you’ll never be shortchanged, for how could I shortchange what I’ve already given?”
At this the young man slid the gem across the desk and said, “Here, take it. I know for certain it’s safer in your hands than in mine. Where do I sign?”
“That won’t be necessary,” said the Manager. “A signature has already been placed on file on your behalf. Take a look at the old wooden cross above the door on your way out, and you’ll see by whom and why it was signed.”
“Thank you very much,” said the young man as he stood. “I feel much safer knowing that my gift is in your care.”
As he left the office, the young man stood and marveled at the wooden cross above the entrance.
To this very day the bank is still in business, helping young people find true prosperity in freedom of choice.
Julian A. Lines writes from Stanborough Park, Watford, Hertfordshire, England. This article was published November 18, 2010.