At last we shall learn that our Father, the great Guide, leads us where flow living waters, and that he never forsakes us in time of need.
“Children,” said a faithful father, one day, to his sons and daughters, “I have a journey to take which will keep me many days, perhaps weeks, from you; and as we have no power over conditions,—such as storms, sickness, or any of the so-called accidents of life,—I may be detained long beyond my appointed time of absence. I trust, however, that you will each have confidence in me; and, should illness to myself or others detain me, that you will all trust and wait.”
“We will, father!” shouted a chorus of voices, which was music to his ears.
With a fond embrace to each, he left them. Slowly he walked down the winding path which led from his home. He heard the voices of his children on the air long after he entered the highway—voices which he might not hear, perchance, for many months. Sweeter than music to his soul were those sounds floating on the summer air. Over the hill and dale he rode till night came on, and then, before reposing, he lifted his soul to heaven for blessings on his household.
With the sun he arose and pursued his journey. The summer days went down into autumn; the emerald leaves changed their hues for gold and scarlet; ripe fruits hung in ruby and yellow clusters from their strong boughs; while over the rocks, crimson vines were trailing. Slowly the tints of autumn faded. Soon the white frosts lay on the meadows like snow-sheets; the days were shorter and the air more crisp and chill. Around the evening fire the household of the absent parent began to gather. While summer’s beauties abounded they had not missed him so much, but now they talked each to the other, and grew strangely restless at his long delay.
“Did he not tell us,” said the eldest, “that sickness or accident might delay him?”
“But he sends us no word, no sign, to make us at rest.”
“The roads may not be passable,” replied the brother, whose faith as yet was not dimmed. “Already the snow has blocked them for miles around us, and we know not what greater obstacles lie beyond. No, let us trust our father,” he added, with a depth of feeling which touched them all; and for a few days they rested in the faith that he would come and be again in their midst. But, alas! how short-lived is the trust of the human heart! how limited its vision! It cannot pierce the passing clouds, nor stretch forth its hand in darkness.
Together they sat one evening, in outer and inner darkness,—again in the shadows of distrust.
“He will never return,” said one of the group, in sad and sorrowing tones.
“My father will come,” lisped the youngest of them all,—the one on whom the others looked as but a babe in thought and feeling.