I wish I could give proper credit to the players in this story, but I don't remember who they were or when the story took place. I just remember how much it impacted me.
The story goes that a father set some rules for his children to obey, so that there would be harmony in the home and Jesus would be glorified. If a violation of any one of the rules took place, the violator had to spend the night in the barn - not only for punishment, but to have that person think about how good it was to not be separated from the rest of the family. At the time, belonging to a family unit was a very important thing, so being an outcast (even for a short time) hurt.
After one of the children was sent to the barn for a violation that had occurred during the day, he heard - amid the strange groans and creaks encountered in a loft late at night - a particularly clear presence of someone else in the barn. As he cowered in fear, awaiting the intruder to make himself known, his father's face appeared at the ladder. As he entered the loft with a pillow and blanket in hand, he said something like this. "I had to follow through with giving you the consequences you earned, so I couldn't let you in the house; but that doesn't stop me from coming out here to spend the night with you so you won't be afraid."
As a father, have you ever given of yourself even when strong discipline is deserved by one of your children? Has there ever been a big dose of love accompanying it? As it says in the Word, our Father disciplines us for our own good. Do you do the same?
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