Most people Susanna knew had several uncles and aunts. But not Susanna herself. She had one uncle because Nathaniel was her mom’s only brother, and her dad was an only child.
Nathaniel had kids of his own, but he seemed to realize that with Susanna having no sisters or brothers, she felt lonely sometimes. He and Aunt Ellen brought the cousins over to play on a regular basis. He could have left it at that, but Uncle Nathaniel asked her how she was doing, how she was coping in Portuguese class with that cranky teacher, how her collection of plush unicorns was coming along. He even remembered the names of the unicorns.
After reviewing many biblical examples of faith, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
In the Parable of the Footrace, the runner represents each of us, and the track he ran is our personal path, and even the plan that God has for each of His children. The race organizer represents God Himself. In a sense, we might say we’re thrown into the race before we really realize what has happened—the starting pistol has fired, and here we are with our spirits housed in our bodies and living life while we try to figure out how we ended up here in the first place.
A certain nation, among the smallest in the world, was entirely enclosed by a larger nation. The two had a friendly relationship, with the government of the larger having helped the native ethnic group of the smaller to establish their own country and to develop some autonomy.
Inside the smaller nation lived a particular man who pursued a profession as a social worker. He obtained a license from the government and practiced for several years. However, among his own people, opportunities to build His clientele seemed limited. He decided to move to the larger country to improve his prospects.
The Parable of the Best Chocolate represents the trap we can fall into when making an offering to Heavenly Father. He makes some not insignificant requests of us. From the time of Adam until Jesus fulfilled the law of Moses, the firstling of the flock was to be dedicated to the Lord and offered in sacrifice as an atonement for sin (Moses 5:5, 20). It had to be without blemish of any sort. Giving a flawless firstling required faith that there would be more to come.
I wrote this parable about the time I realized that in a particular aspect of my life, I was not giving God the best. (I won’t pretend that it’s the only aspect.) During the work week, I aim to go to bed around 9:30pm so I can get about eight hours of sleep before I get up and fit in everything I want to do before going to work. I have small children who wake up anywhere between 5:45 and 7:00 in the morning, and an adult needs to be conscious. It works out fine because the majority of the time, I’m already awake by the time they wake up.
Upon her marriage, Sandra received a glistening silver pitcher. It came from her mother with a card indicating that the pitcher was on permanent loan to Sandra, and she could return it at any time when it suited her, such as perhaps when she had accumulated enough of her own things that the pitcher no longer fit with her décor. Her only condition was that Sandra take care of it and return it in the same condition.
Sandra prized the gift above all the others. She had admired it as she grew up. For the first several years of her marriage, it stood visibly in the front room with the newlyweds’ few other quality items that they wanted guests to see. She filled it sometimes with decorative synthetic flowers and other times with crafts she made herself. She kept it polished and always handled it with care.