It happened more than 30 years ago, yet I still recollect the front-page headline of a newspaper from another state. The story involved a young family. Maybe it was because Annie and John Scott were both about the ages of the child and I was a mother. No doubt that is the reason the story has stayed with me all these years.
A little boy had been kidnapped in Seattle, Wash. The lead story of this particular newspaper included the picture of a climax to the kidnapping. The story goes that the distraught parents had spent several horrifying and traumatic hours since the kidnapper nabbed their young son from a neighborhood street. For several days, they lived in agony not knowing where their 5-year-old son was or if he even was alive.
Then miraculously a deal with the kidnapper had been negotiated. The kidnapper insisted in the arrangement that the father alone meet the child at a remote area. The agreement was that the kidnapper was allowed time to escape. Yet, police and photographers with zoom lens were stationed several hundred feet away from the exchange site.
The father walked to the designated area alone, waiting anxiously to see his boy. Then suddenly the little boy darted out from behind some bushes. The kidnapper had released him! One photographer snapped the picture of the reunion just as the Daddy and the young son were reunited. The photograph was quite moving. This newspaper reporter had caught the magnificent and emotional drama; the daddy was grabbing his son and the son had his little arms around his daddy’s neck!
Consequently the headline of the front page was a direct reflection on the picture. The headline atop the picture read: “Daddy, Daddy! Son, Son!” What a heart wrenching experience with a happy ending!
I focused on that picture. The relationship of child to parent was the most meaningful one in the little boy’s life and for a few days, the insanity of a desperate man caused this family to hang in the balances of uncertainty. For the parents, the relationship and safety of their son meant more than life itself. He was their son!
Not all stories have such a happy ending. Still I have often thought of that child and where he might be today. He is now a man. If the kidnapping ordeal had not ended as it did, how different his life could have been. He might have been murdered. He might have lived a life with indignity and abuse.
Specifically it reminded me of the prodigal son of the Bible (Luke 15:11). The boy was not kidnapped, but the son left his father’s house to pursue his own desires. When all the glamour and hype of spending and buying had dimmed and money was gone, the Bible says that the wayward son came to his senses one day when he found himself living in a pig pen with pigs.
When the wayward son decided to come home, his father held nothing against him and welcomed him back with total forgiveness, love and acceptance. His father took him back into the security of his love. He was resorted to the position of honor in being called his father’s son. How different his life was then.
The ultimate relationship with any of us is the relationship that we have with Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Father. Jesus stands just like both these fathers with arms opened wide ready to embrace us. He offers acceptance, forgiveness and security. Then how different our lives will be when we rest in our Father’s love! But even more important, that difference is not just for our earthly lives but for eternity.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org