Daniel’s Dilemma


If the root be holy, so are the branches (Rom. 11:16).

“It sure takes a long time to wait a few minutes!” Daniel muttered to himself, glancing at the schoolroom clock. Just thinking about picking apples after school with Grandpa made him feel like jumping up and down and hollering. Even hard work with Grandpa was fun.

“Class!” Mrs. Webb waited until everyone was quiet. “Your assignment for language arts is to write a story about an ancestor. Remember that every story must have a dilemma—a problem to solve. Any questions?”

Daniel’s heart sank. I’m tired of hearing about ancestors, he thought. I don’t care a scrap about mine. How can I? I’m adopted! And I don’t even have to hunt for a dilemma—I am one!

It seemed lately that every talk in church and every Primary lesson was about ancestors. “I can’t write any names on this chart,” he had told his Primary teacher. “I don’t even know who my real parents are, let alone my grandparents.”

“But you’ve been sealed to your mom and dad and legally adopted,” she said. “In the eyes of the Lord, your mom and dad are your real parents, and their ancestors are yours.”

“I guess I just feel that that’s not fair or honest. I wish I knew who I really am.”

Daniel’s memories were interrupted by the final school bell, and he plodded sadly off to Grandpa’s house. Even the cookie-and-milk snack he got there didn’t cheer him up. When Grandpa asked, “Why the sad face?” Daniel burst into tears.

Grandpa sat on the rocking chair and pulled Daniel onto his lap. “Trouble at school? Hurtin’ someplace? Why not tell your old grandpap all about it?”

Never before had Daniel mentioned his worries about being adopted. Now he blurted out the whole sad story. Grandpa listened quietly. “Oh, Grandpa, I’m sorry,” Daniel said. “A big fourth-grade guy shouldn’t be bawling like this.”

“Well, he should if he needs to. Even old men sometimes do.”

“I bet you never did.”

“Oh yes I have! I’ve even shed happy tears.”

“How can anyone cry about being happy?”

“I can remember being pretty weepy when I first saw you. I was grateful that you were going to be part of my family. Your parents had been awfully sad because they had no children. You were an answer to all our prayers.”

Daniel and Grandpa walked to the orchard and began to pick apples. One happy idea led to others, and they were soon talking about family fun and activities. Then Daniel suddenly stopped working. He stood thoughtfully, holding an apple in each hand. “Hey, how did this happen? These were both growing on the same tree, but they aren’t alike at all. They’re even different colors.”

Grandpa explained about grafting—how a branch from one tree can be joined to another, how it can become so much a part of the tree that it’s hard to tell that it was ever separate. “The whole tree is supported and fed by the same roots,” Grandpa said. “It’s really quite a miracle.”

“Why, Grandpa, that’s just like me, isn’t it? And now I’m growing on your family tree. That would make a good story for me to write, don’t you think?”

“Yes, I surely do—a story with a very happy ending.”

“I’m glad I found out about grafting. And, Grandpa, you must be the very best root in the whole world.”

“And no family tree has a better branch than you,” Grandpa said, giving Daniel a grandpa-sized hug.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Scott Greer