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Save the Lamb to Save the Ram

Several years ago we were kneeling on cushions around a long, low dining table in a private hotel suite in Japan. The air was seasoned with celery and leeks and unknown things.

Through a missionary interpreter, an important Japanese industrialist was addressing my husband: "I have come to this city and invited you to join our family at dinner so that I might ask you a question. During the past year my son has become a Christian. I admit that he was rebellious and hard to handle, and now he is a respectful, good boy. But as you know, Christians in Japan are a very small minority and are looked down upon as being low-class, disloyal to family and to country.

"There are so many sons in Japan. Why would this have to happen to my son—to me?"

God suddenly gave the translating missionary a parable. He said, "Suppose a shepherd wanted to take his flock to better pastures. But the way was across a raging stream, and one ram was particularly frightened and refused to budge. How would he get that dear sheep to make the trip? Why, he would take his lamb, his precious lamb, and put it on the other side first."

A tear ran down the father's cheek. "Ah, so," he said.

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