Oscar Wilde wrote a story for children (and children at heart), called The Selfish Giant. The story is about a giant who returns from a visit with an ogre to find his garden (yard) overrun with children from the neighborhood. Being the selfish giant that he is, he angrily banishes them from the garden and builds a wall around it. Then he hangs a sign upon the wall which says, Trespassers will be prosecuted.
Then, two incredible things happen.
The first thing is that winter turns to spring everywhere but in the giant’s garden. Outside the garden, icicles and snow are melting, trees are budding, flowers are blooming, and birds are singing. Inside the garden it’s another matter! The giant’s cold and loveless heart has caused an eternal winter there.
Time passes and something else extraordinary occurs. One day some children sneak back into the garden through a breech in the wall. As they begin to play, it suddenly begins to turn to spring in the garden! The giant sees them playing and even his cold heart begins to thaw. He comes out of his house to welcome the children but when they see him (not knowing he has changed), they run away. The garden is vacant except for one little boy who is standing in a far corner trying (unsuccessfully) to reach the lowest branches of a tree. His repeated failures have brought tears to his eyes and blinded him to the presence of the giant.
The giant sees the child and goes over and lifts him up into the tree. The child responds by hugging the giant and giving him a kiss. Upon seeing this, the other children return to the garden and begin playing again. Now a reborn man, the giant knocks down the wall and the children come back every day to play – all except the small boy. The giant never sees him again.
Then one day, on what will be the final day of his life, the giant wakes up and looks out into his garden. There stands the boy! He dashes out of his house but as he gets closer to the child, his joy turns to rage. The boy’s hands have been pierced through and so have his feet. The boy sees the giant’s anger and says, “Don’t be mad, for these are the wounds of love. You let me play once in your garden, today you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.” And with that the giant’s life comes to an end.
Isn’t that a great story? Wilde’s tender little tale reminds us of both the wonderful things God (through Jesus) has in store for us and of the terrible price that was paid to bring them about. With the innocence and purity of a child, God seeks us out – both to live in our life and to give us His. He bore the wounds of love to see this happen.
And what marks do we bear in our lives? What are we doing about the Paradise that awaits us? What are we doing about the wounds of love He bore for us? What are we doing about all that He had done for us?
These are questions grateful people ask.