Nothing is Free

I watched the boy walk mindfully on the city sidewalks. People shuffled all around him, towering over his small body. But he had his chin high and purpose in his eyes. He strode forward and then stopped short when someone called to him from a nearby store. He turned curiously and saw a tall scrawny man leaning forward—beckoning for the little boy to come see something marvelous.

I sat up with interest. Would the boy keep walking or be swayed by this rather ugly fellow?

The boy was swayed. I sighed with disappointment.

The child stepped forward timidly, and then became a little more relaxed as the tall man began to explain some obscure contraption he had invented.

“It will change your life,” I read his lips from afar. “It’s the best thing you’ll ever have, and it won’t cost you a penny! It’s free!” The slender man’s arms spread wide in excitement. I was hardly entertained. 

But the boy, why his eyes were wide with amazement. He was about to speak, about to receive his gift, but instead he surprisingly turned to my direction. His eyes locked on with mine, and my heart leap inside me. 

Could I possibly communicate without words?

I simply shook my head no, and the boy seemed to understand. 

He turned back to the thin giant and shook his head.

“Why not? It’s free!” The man was shocked. I smiled.

“Because,” the boy said thoughtfully, “nothing is free. Someone has to pay for it.” He looked around. “And who does? Me, obviously. But not with money. I pay with time. Whenever someone gains something, they lose something. If I were to acquire your product, I’d be losing energy and time otherwise spent productively on work or relationships.”

I sat back bewildered. Who was this child? 

“Furthermore,” the boy continued. “By attempting to give me your product, you’re smacking my life on the face and saying it’s not worthy or good enough. How dare you? By declining your flimsy invention, I am reenforcing my commitment to what may seem like a mundane life to you, but a gift from God to me.”

“A gift from God, eh?” The man sneered. “You said nothing was free. What did you pay for that, then?”

The boy seemed to grow a few inches along with his confidence.

“It was paid for me by his Son. And it was most certainly not free. I’m beyond grateful for that.” The boy glanced at where he was traveling toward moments before and looked back at the slender man. “Good day sir.”

And with that, he strolled off to his home.

I was stunned. Who was this child? I stood up and walked outside the coffee shop. At that moment I knew I had to speak to him.

But when I walked out, he was gone.


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