The sun slips below the horizon and families head indoors to relax for the evening. One by one the stars appear and begin to twinkle down on the peaceful neighborhood. The moon bathes the houses in the little community in a glow of soft light. It’s a comfortable-looking neighborhood, the kind with neat rows of up-to-date homes and well-manicured lawns. Inside each house the families gather for their evening meal, and the warm, cozy light spilling from their windows is rapturous and inviting. They are all rich, increased in goods, and have need of nothing. Eventually, the last light goes out in a large house on the far end of the street. It’s so quiet that if you listened really closely, you could hear snores from several homes. Even the dogs are resting noiselessly, curled up in their secure, fenced yards. Yet, a strange eeriness steals into the atmosphere. Maybe it has something to do with the thin, dark clouds that are snaking their way across the sky, blocking out the moon, and enshrouding the neighborhood in flickering shadows. Something is moving, away off down the street by the largest house…. It must have just been a shadow. No, there it is again! Creeping up to the house is a black figure, barely noticeable in the murky darkness. Suddenly the stillness of the night is broken by the shattering of glass, the baying of dogs, and screams of alarm. Where there was once peace and safety, there is now a sword. For the thief in the night has taken them unawares.
* * * * *
It’s been a long day… a hard day… and the day isn’t even over yet. It began earlier in the morning for the young mother with some discomfort. It was a sign, a little warning, that the newest member of their family was getting ready to make his appearance. She had known this day was coming–nine months can only last so long, even though it often felt like an eternity. Especially when the due date came and went. Then it had been a little worrisome wondering just how long they would have to wait. Now the wait was over… well, not exactly. Just at exactly what this little infant would enter this world was yet a mystery. But it would be soon… all the signs pointed to it. There was no peacefully slumbering while they waited, though. Anxious family members in another room lifted every thought in prayer, sometimes grouping together to pray aloud. Friends and family far away hovered near their telephones, waiting expectantly for the exciting phone call. Nurses hustled and bustled through the delivery room. The father-to-be gripped his wife’s hand and spoke soothingly to her as her moans and groans filled the air. Sure she was going through the hard part now, but just think! Soon and oh so soon it would all be over and she would have a little one to hold and love. If she could just make it through each wave of pain–if only this one was the last one. But then that one would subside, and she knew she would have to hold out for just a little while longer. The labor pains were now only moments apart–a sign that it would be only moments more…. Oh, would it never end!… And then it was all over. The pain was gone, and all that remained was the happiness, the joy, and the marvel of new life. They hadn’t been given an exact time when their little one would arrive, but they were given signs and clues, and in the end, it was well worth the wait.
* * * * *
What do these two analogies have in common? What are the differences? What do you think these two stories are depicting? Give me your best guesses, and if you know the answer, share how you know! Which story would you rather be a part of?