Pokey, Beth's little terrier, became sick and her father said that the dog would have to be killed. This made Beth cry and scream and carry on a whole bunch.
"Why do we have to make Pokey die?" Beth asked her mother.
"Sometimes we have to do things that we don't want to do," Beth's mother answered. "Here, let me tell you a story about someone else who had to kill a loved one." And as she dried her daughter's tears, this is the story she told:
One day God talked to Abraham and told him, "Abraham, here I am! Now, take your beloved son Isaac to the land of Moriah and set him on fire for me up in the mountains."
So the next morning, Abraham got up early, put a saddle on his donkey, and took his son Isaac and two young men with him, along with wood to start a fire. After three days of riding, Abraham saw the mountain where he was supposed to set his son on fire and said to the young men, "Wait here with my donkey while my son and I go to the mountain to pray to God." Then Abraham told Isaac to gather up the firewood while he himself took a burning stick and a knife. Then they walked to the mountain together.
While they were walking, Isaac said, "Dad?"
"Yes, my son," said Abraham.
"Well," Isaac continued, "We've got wood and we've got fire, but where is the lamb that we're going to burn for God?"
"Oh," Abraham said, kind of embarrassed, "I'm sure that God will find something for us to burn."
When they got to the place that God had told Abraham about, Abraham built an altar, tied his son up, and laid him on the wood. Then Abraham reached out with the knife to kill his son."
Just then an angel appeared and said, "Abraham, Abraham."
"Yes," said Abraham.
"Don't kill your son," said the angel. "Now that God sees that you will obey him, you don't have to do it any more.
Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram with its horns stuck in a bush. So Abraham took the ram out of the bush, killed it, and set it on fire for God. Of course, he took his son off the altar first.
God was so happy that he said to Abraham, "Because you did so well, I will bless you and make sure that you have as many children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and other children as there are stars hanging from heaven, and as many as the grains of sand on the beach, and they will defeat your enemies.
So Abraham went back to the two young men, and they all went home together.
Beth thought about this for a moment. Then she smiled and hugged her mother. "So you mean that Pokey might not have to die at all?" asked Beth. "Father might change his mind at the last minute?"
Beth's mother smiled down at her, "We'll see, Dear one. We'll see."
And with her heart made light by the story, Beth helped her parents gather up Pokey and take him to the vet.
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