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Stef’s Riddle

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The story below comes from Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, The Voice of the Martyrs’ sister mission in the Netherlands. The story is told from the point of view of a boy in the Netherlands.

Boredom
I’m bored and not just a little bit. My sister is doing something only girls like, my dad is at work, and my mom has been cleaning the attic for hours. When I see the mess in the attic, I don’t think she will have time for me the rest of the week. But I’m going to try.

“Mom! I’m bored!” I yell. “Good!” Mom answers from behind a stack of rubbish. “You have time to think about God!”

Booklet
I must look puzzled. Mom is laughing and flipping through a booklet. Ah, that’s why cleaning takes so long.

It is a booklet about kids who say special things about God. She hands me the booklet and points to a story that tells what a dad said to a kid who was bored.

Riddle
The dad told the kid a riddle. I have heard the riddle somewhere before, but I am curious about the answer, so I read the story.

The riddle goes like this: A man on a river bank has a wolf, a lamb, and a cabbage. He wants to get them safely on the other bank. He is only allowed to take one at a time in his boat.

If he takes the wolf first, the lamb will eat the cabbage. If he takes the cabbage first, the wolf will eat the lamb. He could take the lamb first, but on the next crossing, he will have to take either the wolf or the cabbage. In both cases, one of the objects would be eaten on the other shore unless the man stayed with them to prevent it.

A girl in the book offered this solution to the riddle: “We should pray for Jesus to return, because when He does, the wolf and the lamb will be friends (Isaiah 11:6). The cabbage will be safe, too, because the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink (Romans 14:17).

I think the girl had a good answer. I read it out loud to mom.

“Indeed,” Mom says. “Hopefully it will happen soon, and then there will be no more sad things like the kidnapping of Christians in Nigeria and people put in prison in North Korea.”

Being Bored Is Good
Mom and I are quiet together. Then Mom says, “I’m glad you are bored. Now we have time to think about God together.”

Note: The answer to the riddle is as follows. On his first trip across the river, the man takes the lamb. The wolf and the cabbage stay behind. The man returns alone and takes the cabbage on his second trip across. He leaves the cabbage and puts the lamb back in his boat. He takes the lamb back, leaves it, and picks up the wolf. He leaves the wolf across the river with the cabbage, and returns and gets the lamb. Soon all three are safely with the man on the opposite shore.