Dear Reading Friend, my new novel, Dawn of Affliction (out in the next month), is essentially a story about self-sacrifice. Levi Caspertein treks across post-apocalyptic America to help a blind woman he once knew in his youth. Along the way, he suffers for the good of others. Below is a similar story, one that has been told many times in a variety of ways, but the spiritual implications of selflessness are obvious. (This may be a good story to share with friends during the Christmas season.) See you on the next page!–David Telbat
The Debt is Paid
by D.I. Telbat
There once was a mighty king who lived in a great wood. The king was good and just, and his son the prince ruled beside him as an equal.
Their castle overlooked a narrow valley where a village sat crowded by forest and wild animals. The king had spent a fortune providing firewood for the villagers, and protecting the people from lions and bears, but the villagers never looked up at the castle or acknowledged the king who cared so much for them. Every resource he provided them, they bartered away for earthly pleasures, incurring greater debts.
One day, the king stood at the throne room window, and with sadness, he looked down upon the village. The prince entered the throne room and asked his father what was troubling him.
“It isn’t right,” the king said, “that all these people owe a debt they can never pay. They were brought here to be my subjects, and as a welcome, I have given them wonderful lives, provisions, and safety. However, they squander what I’ve given them, never acknowledging me, even to the point of rebellion.”
“Their debts weighs heavily on them,” said the prince. “They know they have much to be thankful for, but without being able to pay the debt, they simply chase after more things and incur more debt.”
“It is a cycle that cannot go on forever.”
“Their debts need to be paid, Father, so that we can look upon them with the favor we intended to show them from the beginning. We knew this day would come. Their debts must be dealt with.”
“They can never pay their debts, nor will their rebellion be corrected by their own determination.” The king sighed. “Their determination is wrapped up in pleasing themselves, not in pleasing their king. It is a sad day for this kingdom.”
“There is one way, Father,” the prince said. “I am willing to set aside my royal privileges, my royal garments, even my riches, and pay their debts.”
“You would do that for them?” The king frowned. “It will be a thankless and pointless exercise, my son, since they won’t change even if you do pay their debts.”
“Then I will also set aside my royal throne,” the prince said, “and I will go to them and tell them what love we have for them—so much love that I have paid their debts.”
“They will reject you, my son.” The king gazed at the village. “We know their nature. Their interests are focused on self rather than their protector.”
“But some will believe.” The prince took off his outer garment, embroidered with gold, and gave it to his father. “Take from my account in the treasury the sum of the debt for all the villagers. The truth of that kind of forgiveness is certain to be powerful enough to convince some to believe.”
“You are sacrificing much, my son,” the king whispered. “But your sacrifice will provide a way for the villagers to live debt-free.”
“More than that, Father.” The prince took off his royal sandals. “I also give up my throne for them. No longer will I be your only, unique son. Hereafter, I will be your first son—among many children. They will be debt-free and you may adopt them as family. It is a right that you have to give, once their debt is paid.”
“If they accept by faith that kind of mercy and grace, my son,” the kind said, “they will be most welcome here.”
The prince left the castle at the appointed time and entered the village as one of the villagers. Because he had no royal apparel, no one recognized him as the king’s son. And since he walked barefoot, he was ignored more than noticed, as if he were a beggar.
When the prince opened his mouth and began to tell the villagers about their debts being paid for by himself, the king’s son, many of the villagers laughed. Some even threw mud from the street gutter at him.
“Our debts can never be paid!” one man yelled, and spit in the face of the prince. “We’ve learned to live in this misery!”
“But this misery isn’t necessary!” the prince called louder to the gathering crowd. He didn’t bother wiping off the mud since they only threw more. “Listen to me. I’ve paid off all your debts! Your burdens are no more. The king will welcome you into the castle if only you follow me home. Won’t you believe that I am your only way?”
“Follow you?” a woman sneered. “Why would we follow a filthy vagrant like yourself?”
“I became like you, my sister,” the prince said, offering the woman his hand, “so you could become like me. Will you receive the king’s promise of royalty?”
For an instant, the woman’s face twisted for a vicious retort, but then she studied the prince’s hand.
“No one in this village has ever offered their hand to me—not in kindness, anyway.” Her eyes softened. “This is real? You are the king’s true son?”
“I am. Will you join me in the castle one day soon? Your debt has been paid.”
A moment passed, then the woman’s eyes filled with tears.
“I believe you,” she said, and accepted his hand.
Immediately, the other villagers included the woman as a target for the mud, so that she was ridiculed as much as the prince.
“Don’t hate them or respond with the same malice,” the prince said as he led the woman away from the crowd. “The king loves them, and I have loved them enough to give up my privileges in the castle. Pray that my words, and now your words as well, will reach their stubborn hearts.”
For many days, the prince walked through the village, sharing the good news of the forgiven debt, as well as the offer to become an adopted child of the king. A few more believed—those whose hearts were desperate and moved by their great need for debt forgiveness. But most of the villagers mocked the prince, and anyone who followed his ideas were treated with the same disdain.
Then, the day came when the prince called out to his few followers and told them that he was taking them home, where they would enjoy the full privileges of the royal family.
“I’m just happy that my debt has been forgiven,” the first follower said, “but you’ve promised more than I can even imagine!”
The prince led his small crowd of followers from the village and into the castle. It was there that the king, before all the servants in the castle, acknowledged the glory of the prince—triumphant in his quest to gain loyal villagers from those who had been debtors and rebels.
Next, the prince clothed his followers in white robes, and each was given a room in the castle and a place at the king’s table. They were now royalty, as was promised. They were now family.
After seven days of celebrating, the king and his son stood in the throne room at the window once again, looking down at the village.
“They don’t even realize what we’ve done for them,” the king said, his hand on his son’s shoulder. “We didn’t give them what they deserved, and instead, you gave them what they didn’t deserve.”
“Not everyone wanted to believe it, Father.” The prince shook his head. “They don’t even realize that the people who left them and followed me will now be living in the castle, never again to be separated from us.”
“Their rebellion in the village was bad when you were there, but now it’s getting worse.” The king pointed at the village square. “See how the villagers have set up new thrones to make kings and rulers for themselves? I am no longer in their minds. Their greater rebellion makes the consequences of their rebellion that much more severe.”
“We have done everything for them, Father. We gave them a life, safety, provision, and even debt forgiveness and a royal seat. But they have placed their trust in other people and things now.”
“They have made their choices.” The king clenched his fist. “The extended royal family has much to enjoy here, but the rebellion in the village must be wiped out. Will you lead the judgment? The villagers will see that you told the truth when you were among them.”
“Yes, I will lead the charge, Father. I’ll call out the horsemen.”
The prince turned to leave.
“It’s a bitter-sweet day, my son,” the king said, “but we cannot make the villagers submit. They cannot be forced.”
“I know, Father. We invited all who would believe in what I did for them. Those who received their forgiveness are our prize and trophy.”
“Well said, my son.” The king set his firm gaze on the village. “Give the villagers what they apparently want—a final separation from joy, family, peace, and the life I could give them through your sacrifice. Then, we will sit on the throne and enjoy the extended family you bought for us.”
NOTE-1: Our website/blog, Telbat’s Tablet, has been included in Feedspot’s Top 100 Fiction Blogs & Websites for Fiction Book Readers & Authors in 2018! Click the link to check it out, and find other blogs you might like to read!
NOVEL UPDATE: Dawn of Affliction will be in the hands of David next week for his final proofread and tweaks. Then it will be sent to our Beta Readers for input, and then it’ll be out for you! Watch our Novel News Page!
COMING UP: Join us next time for background on a real ghost town in, “A Ghost Town Comes Alive in Dawn of Affliction.”