Guffaw the Goat and “The Prodigal Son” for Children

I wrote this story for Vacation Bible School at First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee where I served as pastor. I loved telling my story to the children as much as I enjoyed writing it. In fact, I have enjoyed writing Gospel stories and typically use animals to draw the children into the unfolding drama. Take a seat on the floor, then, and listen now to one story in a series of parables and little animals.

Children, do you know how much God our Heavenly Father loves you and wants you to love him too?  How much are you worth to God? Have you thought about that?   If someone doesn’t know God or has stopped obeying Him or does not even want His love, Jesus shows us in three Bible stories just how much God the Father loves us and wants his children to love Him.

In the Bible, we can find three stories that Jesus told his disciples about God’s love for his children – especially lost children.  In the book of Luke, you can find a story about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and finally a story about a lost son.

Now, which do you think has the most value:  a lost sheep, a lost coin or lost child? Right you are!  A lost son or daughter would be the most valuable and Jesus tells his story to really get our attention and to show how much He loves you.

Now before I get to that Bible story, I want to tell you my story about a little goat named Guffaw.

Guffaw was a little boy goat. Goats are called kid, so this was a kid named Guffaw. Well, Guffaw lived on a farm with wonderful parents, a kind owner named Danny who loved him and took good care of him every day.

Danny made sure that Guffaw ate very well and fed him tasty oats (sometimes laced with black strap molasses).  And every now and then, Guffaw would stretch his neck over the farm gate to the garden and would bite into some wonderful azalea bushes. Oh, that was a treat!

But do you know what children?  One day after a tasty bite of azalea leaves, Guffaw stood looking over the fence beyond the farm gate. And do you know what he saw? Guffaw saw some cats—mean, ugly, scary cats; cats that I call “crafty cats” because they are so crafty and sneaky! Now, then, these weren’t ordinary crafty cats, but very crafty cats, as in really bad crafty cats; quite mysterious crafty cats. And these crafty cats had a bad attitude! Have you ever seen a crafty cat with a bad attitude? That is one bad crafty cat, I’ll tell you!

Guffaw watched two crafty cats, one black and one grey, named Grimy and Grumbler. They had escaped from their homes and were just ambling about the countryside the way crafty cats do. Guffaw thought that they looked so free, so happy. “If only I could be like those crafty cats,” thought Guffaw. “Then I could be a free and happy crafty kid!”

Now remember what I told you about Guffaw:  he had a wonderful life on the farm: nice parents (who let him stay up late on special occasions), a nice owner (who fed him all the oats he wanted- sometimes laced with black strap molasses), and a nice shed to sleep in. But he kept thinking: if only I could be like Grimy and Grumbler…they look so free!

Well, one-day, Guffaw could not stand it any longer and he jumped that fence, leaving behind his parents and his home! His father, Grinner Goat, and his mother, Granola Goat, saw Guffaw leaving, but they couldn’t stop him. They wept as they watched Guffaw jump that fence. It was a pitiful sight to see! His mother cried, “Oh, my little kid! We may never see him again!” But Grinner held his wife, Granola, tightly in his grown up goat arms and said, “We will wait here for our little boy.  We will always wait for our kid. One day perhaps our Guffaw will come home.”

That afternoon, when Danny came with his oats and black strap molasses for Guffaw, he too saw that he had jumped the fence.  He cried,   “What will become of Guffaw?” Danny looked for Guffaw but couldn’t find him. He sat down and cried. But he also prayed, “Lord, bring Guffaw home.”

Well, the day Guffaw’s parents wept and the day that Danny wept was also the day that Guffaw’s crafty adventure began. Yes, he followed those bad crafty cats around. He tried to keep up with them as they climbed trees ( but a goat cannot climb a tree). He tried to keep up with them as they slept in the windowsill of a farmer’s house (but a kid can’t get up into a windowsill). Pretty soon, all of the “fun” didn’t seem so fun anymore.  Guffaw just wanted to go back home.

But here was the problem:  following the two crafty cats got him lost; he had no idea how to get back home to the farm. So, he continued to follow Grimy and Grumbler deeper into the woods where he saw all the other crafty cats gather to howl under the moon, making wild cat sounds. Ohhhhh!  That scared Guffaw. Back on the farm, he had never heard such a noise.  Then the cats gathered to eat their favorite foods: fried vulture feathers. Have you ever eaten a fried vulture feather? Crafty cats love them. And they ate them right out there in the moonlight in the woods making those screaming noises that wild crafty cats make. Not only did all of that frighten Guffaw, but he could not bring himself to eat fried vulture feathers. He thought about the tasty oats, sometimes laced with black strap molasses and the occasional azalea bush, when he could stretch his neck that far. Guffaw got terribly hungry. So he ate…you guessed it….fried vultures feathers. Yuk! Well, that it for him. The life of a crafty cat was not the life for a good little goat and right then and there he wanted nothing more than to simply go home.

But how could he ever do that? His owner Danny would surely not take him back. His mother, Granola, might whip him severely. And his father, Grinner—well, Guffaw just couldn’t bear to see his father again. “What would my father think of me now?” He hung his little goat head in shame. His happy contented life was over.

Ahah! He thought! Guffaw had an idea:  I will work like a donkey for my owner! I will pull his wagon! I will plow his field! I will be his new donkey. And my father…well, I will just act like I am not his son, not his kid.

So, Guffaw began his long adventure to find his way out of the woods and back to the farm. He could still hear the howling sounds of the crafty cats in the woods, but soon their screams were replaced by another sound…could it be? Yes! It was Danny’s voice! Danny his owner was calling for him: “He-e-re Guffaw! He-e-re little goat!” Guffaw let out a kid yell. How do you think he sounded? What did he holler out? (Bah—–). Right! Well, Danny started out after Guffaw, following the sound of his voice. And Guffaw heard him running and started running towards Danny. But just then: an amazing thing happened: he saw that Danny was holding his father, Grinner. And Grinner broke the leash that Danny had on him and ran at his son! Would he whip Guffaw? Would he scold his kid for running away like he did? No-o-o-o-o-o—o-o-! He licked Guffaw all over and told him, “O my little kid, I love you and I have been waiting for you to come home. I am glad you are my kid.”

Guffaw went back to the farm where his mother, Granola, also licked him all over and nuzzled him. Danny fed Guffaw lots of good oats laced with some of that thick, sweet black strap molasses. And the Azaleas were just beginning to bloom.

Did you like my story about Guffaw?  Remember that I told you about Jesus story about—not a goat—but a boy. And that boy wanted to leave his parents and home and go to a far country. He took his allowance and left home. He spent all of his money with bad, crafty people in that far away land. But then bad times came. And Jesus said that he had to take care of some pigs!   For a Jewish boy, cleaning a pigsty was about as bad as it gets. But it got worse for this boy: he even had to eat pig food because he was so poor.

But, suddenly, just like Guffaw, he thought to himself:  my father’s servants have it better than I do. I will return and be a servant to my father!  As he went back home, though, he saw a beautiful sight. He saw his father. And his father was running to meet him with open arms. He had been waiting for him. He would not even listen to him talk about being a servant. Instead, he called him, “My son.”

Now Jesus tells this story to show us just how much God loves us – even when we go far away from Him. And He also wanted us to see that He wants us to come to Him, not as servants, but as sons and daughters, something much better than we could ever hope for.

Have you come home to Jesus in your heart? Turn from staying away from him, turn from sin, and turn towards

Jesus and trust Him by faith. Jesus will always forgive you. But even more than that, like the good father, Jesus will come searching for you. Maybe He is doing that right now. Come home.

About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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