Fantasticoe 2004

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Joe Lentner

Burnt Lamb

 

     "Father, what would you do if God told you kill your son?" Bill asked softly to the opening inside the confessional.

     The voice from the other side of the booth responded "You mean like Abraham?"

     "Yes, exactly like Abraham."

     "Well, I'm not exactly sure. Why do you ask?"

     "If the voice of God came to you, and you were absolutely certain that it was the voice of God, and he told you to sacrifice your only son, would you do it?"

     "I would have to be absolutely certain that it was the voice of God. I don't know. I don't really know what it's like to have a son."

     "I have a son. He's my only child. Before my wife died, she told me that God spoke to her and told her that he wanted me to have a son." Bill's voice began to weaken. "God gave me a son to replace my wife."

     "You have to be careful when you speak of God's will. We cannot always understand what he does or the reasons for it."

     "If God told me to kill my son I would do it. I would do it because God told my wife that he wanted me to have a son. God gave me a son, so he would not let me go through with it. He would stop me just before I could do it."

     "Well, it is good that your devotion to God is strong. However, you should be careful not to confuse your faith with reason."

     The conversation between Bill and Father Pierce continued for some time before Bill left the church. He gave the priest's words careful consideration, and made his way home to his son Charlie. Upon arrival Bill found the nurse, who took care of Charlie during the day, sitting in the living room watching TV like she usually did.

     "Are you home already?"

     "Yes, I took the day off work. Why don't you go ahead and head home. I can take care of things here."

     "That sounds good to me." The words were barely out of her mouth before she was out the door.

     Bill left the living room and entered Charlie's room. Charlie lay on his bed attached to too many pieces of medical equipment to count. Charlie had been born with several congenital defects. He had been some what active in his earlier childhood. His health began to severely deteriorate around his sixth birthday, a year prior. The decline of Charlie's health had almost reached its zenith a week ago, and now he was in a coma. Bill refused to let him die inside a hospital like his mother.

     Standing in the doorway to Charlie's room, the message delivered to Bill, from God, echoed in his head. The severity of the request rattled Bill's soul. How does a person come to grips with God's demand to kill your son?

     Bill spent the majority of the night sitting on the floor outside Charlie's room trying to make his decision. Perhaps this was the miracle that he and Charlie had been waiting for; the miracle that would restore Charlie to his old vibrant self. This is what Bill tried to tell himself, despite the doubt that slowly but surely began to dominate his thoughts. Bill began to imagine the arduous process of making this decision as a battle for his soul. He imagined God and Satan fighting it out over who would gain control over Bill's eternal resting place.

     His train of thought drifted away from divine battle. Bill began to rationalize the situation, forgetting what his priest had told him. The fact of the matter was that Charlie was going to die, whether it was because of God's command or because of his deteriorating health. If it were to be done God's way than perhaps there would be at least a chance for a miracle. Besides, God couldn't let Bill go through with it. God is infallible, and as such God could not possibly let Bill kill Charlie, because this would break God's promise. This thought cemented the decision in Bill's mind.

     Bill stood up and entered the room. The blinking lights on the life support equipment and the hum of a hundred tiny electric motors gave the room all the warmth of a power plant. He began to slowly disconnect Charlie from the medical apparatus that littered the room. Bill carried Charlie outside, and placed him on an old desk that he had placed in the back yard.

     "Charlie, God spoke to me last night. He told me that I should sacrifice you to him. Don't worry though; I know that he won't take you from me because he promised you to me. God can make anything possible," Bill said as he finished binding Charlie to the desk. The confidence in Bill's voice was uncanny. "You don't have anything to worry about. God promised me a son, your mother knew that. I wish you could have met your mother. Every son should know their mother. But that's why God wouldn't take you from me. He took my wife and gave me you. How could he take both?" Bill nodded as if he had convinced himself.

     Bill wandered into the kitchen and rummaged through the drawers. He removed several knives from a drawer and inspected them closely, as if he were waiting for something. He carefully selected an instrument and returned to his son's side. Bill raised the knife in his hand high above Charlie's chest. Bill imagined the knife penetrating his son's chest for just a moment before he struck Charlie's sternum splitting it almost directly in half. Bill removed the knife and set fire to the make shift altar.

     The warmth from the fire was Bill's only solace. Bill sat in front of the fire all night. He sat immersed in the stench of burning flesh until the nurse returned the next day. The nurse's scream of horror shook Bill from the obliviousness he had been caught in. The sudden rush of reality forced Bill to realize the severity of his situation.

     He began trying to figure out what had gone wrong. A thousand thoughts ran through his head simultaneously, but there was only one that Bill paid any attention to. "Why didn't God keep his promise?" Just as the words left Bill's mouth, he was reminded of his conversation with Father Pierce.

     "You have to remember that Abraham was planning on killing Isaac. He never believed that God was going to stop him," explained Father Pierce.

     "But God promised Isaac to Abraham, and that Isaac would be the start of many generations. If Abraham believed that promise then how could he sacrifice Isaac?"

     "Abraham believed in God's promise despite Isaac's death."

     "But that's absurd. Isaac couldn't be a father if he were dead."

     "That was the strength in Abraham's faith. He believed it despite the contradiction. Reason and faith are contradictory. If Abraham were to reason that God would not let him kill Isaac because of the promise that God made to Abraham, then Abraham would be betraying his faith. Sacrificing Isaac was not the test of faith. The test was whether or not Abraham could believe the promise God made, despite the fact that Abraham was going to kill Isaac. Only in true faith can one believe in a paradox. It is important to remember that in God all things are possible."