The boy stood motionless, soundlessly repeating the words his mother had just spoken. “God with us. God with us.”
Turning to the woman he whispered, “But Mother, that name should be given to the Promised One, the Savior foretold by the prophets.”
The woman lifted her hand and stroked the boy’s head. “It has been, my son.”
Realization crept across the child’s face. “Me?” he asked breathlessly. “I am the Promised One?”
His mother nodded. “You are the Son of God, the Saviour of mankind.”
Kim stood to his feet. “The Son of God is just a boy? He’s not any older than I am! ” He looked over at Tony. “I’m supposed to believe that this kid became the great man I’ve heard you talk about? He didn’t even go to school like everybody else! Look at him. He’s just . . . just a kid!”
Tony spread his hands apart in a gesture of helplessness. “Hey, I don’t make this stuff up. You’re looking at reality, something that really happened.”
The boy turned to his mother. “Wait. If I am Jesus, the one the prophet Isaiah called the Lamb, then–” His voice caught in His throat. “Then I must–”
“Jeshua, I didn’t mean for this to happen. It was not my wish. But God has placed you in this world for the purpose of saving a lost people. You are His Son as much as you are mine. No one else can claim such a miracle.
“You have been given a very important work to do. But first, you must learn to know your Heavenly Father. That’s what I’ve been preparing you for. When you believe in Him with all your heart, He will guide you and be with you, no matter what happens.”
“But, Mother,” the boy protested, “I don’t want to be the Lamb. Don’t you remember what Isaiah said would happen to Him?”
The woman closed her eyes as she spoke. “You are the Son of God. He will stand by you. And I . . . I will always love you.”
Jeshua pressed close to his mother. “I am frightened. I don’t want to be God’s Son.”
The woman lovingly stroked his hair. “It’s not a choice you can make. You are the Promised One.” She looked into her son’s face. “But how you live your life is up to You. You can turn your back on your Heavenly Father and your mission. You can choose not to follow what you know to be your purpose in life. It’s up to you, my son. There will be no one to take your place.”
Tony spoke, his words almost a whisper. “It’s too much to ask of a young boy. If he says yes, he will someday fulfill the prophecy. If he says no, sin will rule the world forever.”
“What prophecy?” Kim asked. “What does the prophecy say?”
“It says the Lamb of God will be slaughtered.”
Tie Li walked toward the couple, her eyes not leaving the face of the boy. “I’m sorry,” she said, even though she knew no one heard. “I’m sorry you have to do this. I understand if you say no. I understand if you run away and hide.
A signal sounded from Tony’s watch. “Our time is up,” he reported. “We have to get back to Voyager.”
Kim hesitated. “But what’s the kid going to do?”
“We’ll have to find out later. Come on,” Tony urged. “Let’s go!”
The three made their way back down the hill. Kim walked in silence until they reached the machine. “It’s not fair to ask a kid to be something he doesn’t want to be. I mean, who would choose to end up being a sacrifice? I know I wouldn’t.”
“I know I wouldn’t, either,” Tony agreed, pulling the plastic cover off his invention. “But there’s more to it than what we see. It’s the same with us, I guess. Our decisions affect more than just ourselves. Sometimes we have to do something we don’t want to do because it will help someone else. True, it’s not fair. It just is.”
Kim looked back up the hill. “I don’t know. When you told me about Creation back at the cabin, I could believe that because it explained a lot of stuff I wondered about. The serpent, sin, evil–I can believe that, too. But this . . .” The boy pointed toward the crest of the hill. “How can a kid be the Son of God?”
Tony entered the machine and motioned for the others to follow. “I guess we’ll find out later.” As an afterthought he added, “Maybe we kids can do more than we think we can.”
Soon, Voyager flashed white and disappeared, leaving the pasture empty and still. On the crest of the hill, two figures stood silhouetted against the sky. The world waited for a Savior.
* * *
Kim awoke with a start. Someone was knocking on his door. Rubbing his eyes, he sat up and peered into the darkness. “Who is it?” he called, his voice rough from slumber.
“It me, Tie Li.”
“What do you want?”
Tie Li opened the door and stuck her head into the room. “It’s time for you to get up. Today you go to new school.”
Kim blinked, trying to ward off the bright light shining through the open door. “But it’s still night,” he protested. “Come back when the sun’s up.” He fell back against his pillow.
Tie Li opened the door wider and entered the room. “It not night. It school morning. The sun never gets up before us. It must be sleepyhead like you.”
Kim mumbled and turned over, covering his head with a blanket. Tie Li continued her attack. “It is time to rise and glow. Don’t you smell breakfast cooking? We going to have eggs and pancakes with good stuff on top. You like pancakes?”
“Don’t you want to go to school? They have nice teachers, fun games at recess, and really cute girls.”
Kim stirred. “Girls? What girls?”
“Tony told me to say that.”
Kim pulled the covers from his face. “What do you know about boys and girls?”
“I know everything.”
“I know boys don’t like girls and girls don’t like boys.”
Tie Li turned to leave. “Come on, Kim. Get up now. I’ll sit beside you on bus if you want.”
“But I’m a boy,” Kim yawned. “What will everyone say?”
“You not a boy. You my brother. Now, get up!”
Tie Li slipped out of the room and ran down the attic stairs. Kim lay in bed listening to her footsteps as she skipped the length of the hall and stopped at Tony’s door. “Come on, Tony,” he heard her say. “If you don’t hurry, I will eat all your pancakes.”
Kim slowly sat up in bed. How cheerful his sister’s voice sounded. It was one of the things he had missed most when he thought she was . . .
He shook his head and yawned again. The covers felt so warm, the world so cold. Pulling back the curtains hanging over the window by his bed, he peered into the darkness. A faint blush of morning tinged the eastern sky. The trees beyond the pasture stood stark and foreboding, like sentinels waiting to defend the night against the creeping approach of day.
Kim rested his chin on the sill. School. What would it be like in this strange land? He had always enjoyed his studies. The government-operated learning centers had not been the most modern in the world, but the teachers always encouraged him to work hard, especially in English class. “Language of tomorrow” they called it. He found mastering this strange dialect challenging, but rewarding. It seemed that “tomorrow” had arrived.
The boy slipped out of bed and fumbled for his robe. Shivering, he slowly made his way down the attic stairs and headed for the bathroom. Maybe a hot shower would wake him up.
“Good morning!” Tony’s voice carried through the open door of his bedroom. “I see you’ve been ‘Tie Li’ed’ too.”
Kim nodded. It seemed his sister served a dual purpose in the Parks’ estate. She disposed of most of the food, especially chocolate-chip cookies, and also provided regular wake-up service to the occupants of the big yellow house.
As the warm water splashed over his face, Kim let his mind drift back to the hilltop outside Nazareth. He thought of the Boy and His mother, of the choices He faced.
Why were there always decisions to be made? Why couldn’t life be simple? Then, he thought of Tie Li. She depended on the decisions other people made. All children did. Everything that happened to her, good or bad, was the result of someone, or some government making a choice, a decision. The enemy soldiers, the commanding officers, Sister Martinez, Mr. and Mrs. Parks, Tony, all had made decisions for or against Tie Li. And she had to live with the results of those choices.
Kim lathered shampoo into his hair. What power there was in making choices–what tremendous power.
The family had already started eating when Kim entered the kitchen. “Here are your pancakes,” Tie Li called. “I saved them for you.”
Kim took his place at the table. Mrs. Parks spooned a steaming pile of scrambled eggs onto his dish and poured creamy white milk into his glass.
The boy looked about the table. Warm smiles and happy talk filtered through the kitchen along with the smell of fresh bread. He listened for a while, then suddenly stood to his feet. All talking stopped.
Walking around the table, Kim knelt beside Tie Li’s chair, put his arms around his sister, and gave her a long, gentle hug.
Tie Li was taken by surprise. “Why, Kim? Why you give me such a nice hug?”
Kim looked into her eyes and smiled. “I don’t know,” he said. “Just something I chose to do.”
He returned to his chair, and began eating breakfast. He felt happy inside–happier than he’d been for a long, long time.