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When God Makes Our Bed Uncomfortable

In his recent book Timothy Keller recalls the following:

Years ago, I read an old fairy tale about a wicked witch who lived in a remote cottage in the deep forest. When travelers came through looking for lodging, she offered them a meal and a bed. It was the most wonderfully comfortable bed any of them had ever felt. But it was a bed full of deep magic, and if you were asleep in it when the sun came up you would turn to stone. Then you became a figure in the witch’s statuary, trapped until the end of time. The witch forced a young girl to serve her, and though she had no power to resist the witch, the girl had become more and more filled with pity for her victims.

One day a young man came looking for bed and board and was taken in. The servant girl could not bear to see him turned to stone. So she threw sticks, stones, and thistles into his bed. It made the bed horribly uncomfortable. Every time he turned he felt a new painful object under him. Though he cast each one out, there was always a new one to dig into his flesh. He slept only fitfully and rose feeling weary and worn, long before dawn. As he walked out the front door, the servant girl met him, and he berated her cruelly. “How could you give a traveler such a terrible bed full of sticks and stones?” He cried and went on his way. “Ah,” she said under her breath, “the misery you know now is nothing like the infinitely greater misery a comfortable sleep would have brought upon you! Those were my sticks and stones of love.”

Keller continues: God puts sticks and stones of love in our beds to wake us up, to bring us to rely on him, lest the end of history or of life overtake us without the Lord in our heart, and we be turned to stone.

Timothy Keller, “The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy,” (Viking, 2018), pages 143-145

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