The Fall - Max Lucado -from Tell Me the Story - A Must Read

LONG AGO IN A LAND FAR AWAY and unlike any you've ever seen, there lived a wise man named Shaddai. 

Shaddai was a large man with a tender heart. He had bright blue eyes and a long, thick beard. When He laughed, which is something He did often, His cheeks would lift until His eyes became half-moons of joy.

When He sang, which is something else He did often, everything stopped to listen. Tall aspens could bend. Squirrels, butterflies, and birds would pause. 

Even the children would turn when they heard His voice. And well they should. It was for them He sang.

And for them He built a wonderful village. It was more than any child could dream. The children plunged into the pond fed by the underwater spring. 

They shrieked as they soared high on the long swings under the thick-branched apple trees. They scampered through the grass-carpeted meadows and fruit-filled orchards. The sun never seemed to set too early, and the night sky always soothed. And, most of all, Shaddai was always near.

When Shaddai wasn't in the meadow with the children or in the orchards with the children, He was in the workshop--with the children. They loved to smell the sawdust, hear Him sing, and watch Him carve a chair out of a log or make a table out of a tree. 

They would gather around Him and take turns laying their tiny hands flat against His huge one.

Every night He would gather the children on the grassy meadow and tell them stories. Spellbound, the children would listen as long as Shaddai--or their weary eyes--allowed.

The children loved Shaddai. And Shaddai loved the children. When they called His name, He dropped whatever He was doing and turned. His giant heart had a hundred strings--each held by a different child.

That's why He built the wall. The wall was a stone fence surrounding the village. With great care Shaddai had laid each rock upon the other.

The base of the fence was wider than too of His strides. The wall rose above Shaddai, even with His hand stretched skyward. He spent days building the fence. 

And as He built, He did not sing. A deadly wilderness lay outside the village. As Shaddai built the fence, He would often pause and look into its shadows. 

Cruel thorns and savage beasts and hidden pits filled the dark forest. It was no place for children with soft skin. Certain death awaited any who would enter. "Beyond the wall is no life," He would tell the children in solemn tones.

"You were made for My village, not for the terrible land beyond. Stay with Me. It's safe here." But in His heart He knew it was only a matter of time.

The day He placed the final stone on the wall, He returned to His shop, took a long aspen branch and carved a staff, and stood it in a corner. He would be ready.

One day a boy ran into Shaddai's workshop. The sandy-haired child with searching eyes and restless energy brought the Maker both joy and concern.
"Shaddai! "

In one motion the Builder dropped His hammer and turned. "What is it, Paladin?"

The boy spoke in spurts as he gasped for air. "The wall . . . I found an . . . opening. It's a large opening, Sire." The boy's hands stretched to show the size. "Someone could crawl through it."

Shaddai pulled over a stool and sat down. "I knew it would be you, Paladin, my child. Tell me, how did you find it?"

"I was walking along the wall searching for---"
"Holes?" Paladin paused, surprised that Shaddai knew. "Yes, I was looking for holes."

"So you could see out into the forest?" "I was curious, Shaddai. I wanted to know what is so bad out there that You won't let us go."

Shaddai motioned for the boy to come. When he got close, the Maker cupped the small face in His hands and lifted it so the boy could look directly into His eyes. The urgency of the look caused Paladin's stomach to feel. hollow.

"Paladin, listen to Me. The regions beyond are not for you. They are not for Me. A journey into the wilderness will bring death. 

You were not made for those lands. Let your feet carry you to the many places you can go--not to the one place you can't. If you leave here, you will not find the way back."

Paladin spoke softly. "You will fix the hole then?" "No, Paladin, I created it." "You broke the wall? But You just said You didn't want us to leave." "I don't want you to leave. But I left the opening when I built the wall." "But unless You fix it--" "--the children might leave. I know, Paladin. But as long as the children have to stay, they aren't really here."

Paladin didn't understand, but he didn't want to ask any more questions. Uncomfortable, he turned to leave. 

As he entered the sunlight, he looked back into the shop. There sat Shaddai, leaning forward, still looking at Paladin.

Paladin was confused. Part of him wanted the safety of Shaddai's shop, while another part drew him toward the fence. 

He looked again into the shop. Shaddai was standing now--not moving, but standing. His large hand stretched out to the boy.

Paladin turned quickly away, as if not to see. He walked as fast as he could, aimlessly at first, then purposely toward the fence.

"I won't get too near," he said to himself. "I'll just peek out."

Questions came as quickly as his steps. What is this, pull I feel... this curiosity? Why would Shaddai tell me to deny an urge I feel so strongly? Is a desire to see beyond the fence so wrong?

By now he was at the hole. Without stopping to think, he lay on his stomach and squirmed through just far enough to stick his head out the other side.

"Why would a journey there bring death?" Paladin asked himself as he peered at the forbidden forest. "What is it that Shaddai is protecting me from or... keeping me from?"

As if his knees were moving on their own, Paladin crept further. Soon his body was through the hole, and he rose slowly to his feet. For several moments he didn't move. 

He wondered if something could come out of the trees to hurt him. Nothing did. He relaxed his shoulders and sighed. "It's not so bad" he spoke aloud to break the silence. "It's nice out here. What was Shaddai worried about?"

After a dozen more steps he stopped. He liked the wilderness. "Nothing to fear here." For the first time in his young life, he believed that Shaddai was wrong. "Just wait until I tell the others." And he turned to go back through the hole.

But the hole was gone!

He stopped and stared. He saw only solid wall. Paladin ran to the fence and stooped at the very spot were he'd come through. 

He knew this was the place. But there was no hole and no sign that there had ever been one. He ran a dozen steps one way and then a dozen steps the other. Nothing!!!

Suddenly he heard a strange sound in the woods behind him. He swung around, but he saw nothing. Paladin looked into the forest. 

Now it no longer seemed friendly. It was dark and threatening, as if it were about to devour him.

Desperately, Paladin searched the fence. It was too tall to climb over, too thick to break through. There was no way home.

"If you leave here, you will not find the way back." Shaddai's cords rang in his mind.

The boy's eyes were wide with fear. He sat on the ground and hugged his knees to his chest and began to cry. "Shaddai, Shaddai! I'm so sorry. Please come help me."

Paladin's plea had been heard before he spoke it. For as he left Shaddai's workshop, the Maker had watched him as long as He could. When the boy was out of sight, 

Shaddai turned, not to take up His work but to remove His apron. He hung His tools on the wall. Then He reached into the corner and took the staff, the one He'd carved after He finished the fence.

Even before Paladin had reached the fence, Shaddai had left the shop. Even before Paladin had asked for help, Shaddai was on the way to give it. Even before the hole in the fence had closed, Shaddai had opened another. 

His strong hands pulled away the rocks until He could see into the forest. With His staff at His side, Shaddai crawled through the hole. He left the village He'd made and entered the land for which He wasn't made and set out in search of His child.