Are you a King’s Kid, or a Captive?

adapted 8/82 by Ellen Lebsock from an original story by Ruth Nelson

Once upon a time, in an ancient city, far, far away; there ruled a generous, wise and loving king. His days were spent watching over an extraordinarily vast and powerful kingdom. The magnitude of his kingdom went beyond the imagination of most common men.

The beauty of his realm was unsurpassed. Cool green forests dotted with crystal lakes and rushing rivers; deep sheer canyons, warm deserts, snow capped mountains and lush fertile plains gave untold pleasure to all who resided within the kingdom.

The king encouraged his subjects to come to him with their problems and cares. He always answered their petitions, no matter how small, with wisdom, grace and mercy. Never, in all of history had there been, nor has there been since, a more wondrous kingdom or a more loving king.

Privately the king’s peace and joy were marred with a great sadness. He had no children of his own, though children were his constant and greatest desire. One day, the king struck upon a plan. He would dispatch heralds throughout the realm, in search of homeless children. Any child found in his vast kingdom to be living without love or a proper home would be invited to live in his palace and given a new life. The king’s palace was great, with many, many rooms – rooms enough for every lonely, hungry, homeless child in the kingdom. At last the king would have his own children!

The heralds searched far and wide, and soon children began arriving at the palace. It was easy to see that each child was in great need. They came from vastly different backgrounds; although not one of them knew their real name. They were of all ages, and all personalities. In fact, the only thing these children had in common was absolute poverty, their lack of possessions and their need of love.

The children’s lives were dramatically changed upon arrival at the palace. Each one was adopted as a son or a daughter of the King and given access to all the wealth of the kingdom. Each was immediately given the King’s own name; bathed, and dressed in fine soft robes of snow white. The children only need mention their needs and desires and the king, in his love and wisdom, would attend to their wishes. Every child carried a signed letter making the limitless wealth of the kingdom available to its bearer.

Thousands of children excitedly accepted all that their new father bestowed upon them. They enjoyed the new life to its fullest, often using their position to help others in the towns and villages they came from.

The king, in his wisdom, knew how each child was responding to a new name, wealth and love. It pleased the good king that so many of his children were compassionate and loving toward others. As the children gave away the king’s gifts, more was added to their rations each day.

A few children, despite accepting the king’s invitation to live in his palace, continued to wear the tattered, dirty rags of their former life. In spite of the bountiful table the king provided, they ate only crusts of bread and leftover bits from the plates of others. Instead of sleeping in the soft, clean beds in their rooms; these children slept outside on beds of leaves or straw. They too carried the letter of authorization from the king, granting them access to the entire kingdom’s wealth, but they continued to live as though homeless, helping neither themselves nor others. Some of these unfortunate children simply did not believe the words of the king, or the tales of his goodwill told by the other adopted children. Some refused to believe in their own worth as children of the king. Others were fearful of making mistakes with the wealth of the kingdom, so they preferred to do nothing.

A few of the children had been told what to think, what to say, what to decide and believe all of their lives. Older homeless children had made every daily decision for these little ones – so they kept asking the king what to do, what to say, what to think. They were afraid to believe! When they asked, his answer was always loving and gentle.

“Now that you are my child, you have all of the answers you need for your life within. Trust my spirit!” But they could not.

Though the good king loved each child equally, it grieved him to see so many unable or unwilling to accept their new life as his sons and daughters. True, they lived at the palace, but it always seemed they were not really a part of the life within. The wise and gentle king made no effort to force these sad children to receive his gifts. Freedom, acceptance and unconditional love reigned in the king’s house, no matter what a child received or refused from his offerings.

Some children remained outside the palace, camping beyond the gates, because they thought a great deal would be demanded by the king if they entered. These children believed they would be given responsibilities beyond their abilities. Afraid to risk leaving their familiar poverty, despite its limitations, they refused to acknowledge the king’s promises. They were too comfortable in their misery to step into the home the king offered them.

So the years sped by. The children grew and new children were often adopted. But throughout all of the years, there was always room in the palace for more.

Some of the king’s adopted children lived richly rewarding lives and freely helped many, many others. Some lived lives of doubt and fear. They rationed out the kingdom’s wealth carefully, always fearful it might run short, yet they were a blessing to a few others.

To the king’s great sadness, there are always a few children who choose to reject what is rightfully theirs, and live as they did before he found them. When these sad children venture outside the palace grounds, you will know them. For while they’ll tell you they belong to the household of a king, no one recognizes them as one of the King’s own children.