Carving Away

Deuteronomy 1: 17. Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man for judgment belongs to God.
Matthew 7:1-2 Our Lord Jesus says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
Judgment. Hmmm A judgment , usually false, says more about us than it does the other person. It is like when we point at someone, three fingers are pointing back at us. We can learn a lot about false judgment when looking back at history.

A six-year-old lad came home from school with a note from his teacher. The
teacher had judged the little boy and decided he should be taken out of school. She thought he was no good. He was too stupid to learn. That boy was Thomas Edison.

Alfred Tennyson’s grandfather gave him 10 shillings for writing a eulogy for his grandmother. Handing it to the lad, the old man said, “Well, from what I can judge from your writing, this is the first money you have ever made for your poetry and it will certainly be the last.”

Benjamin Franklin’s mother-in-law hesitated to let her daughter marry a printer. There were already two printing offices in the United States and she judged that the country might not be able to support a third one.

In 1933, a book was published which contained one of the biggest misjudgments in history. In this book, Dorothy Thompson related that it took her just 50 seconds to size up Adolph Hitler. She said he would never become the dictator of Germany. “He is a nobody, and will never amount to anything,” she said.

It is unbelievable how we, as individuals and as a society, have misjudged in the past. In many public speeches, Daniel Webster expressed his doubt concerning the ultimate success of American railroads. He wrote down his judgment that a train would never get moving on rails. If it did move, and if there were frost on the tracks, it could never come to a stop.

In 1939, China banned “Alice in Wonderland.” They judged that animals
should not use human language. “It is disastrous,” they said, “to put animals and human beings on the same level.”

We could give examples like this for hours, but . . . . When we judge another person, when we make a false judgment of someone and then hold that judgment throughout our life, we say the same thing. We say, “Mine is the only opinion that counts.” Many politicians feel this way, unfortunately.

We are going to be brave enough to go inside our own minds and look anew as if for the first time. Rediscovering that some of these verdicts we have handed down on people and situations may be wrong, we become willing to turn those around today.

I love this surprising poem that C.R. Hembry wrote:

I Dreamed of Heaven

I dreamed death came the other night
And heaven’s gates swung wide.
With kindly grace, an angel ushered me inside.
And there to my astonishment
Stood folks that I had known on earth.
Some I judged unfit, of little worth.
Indignant words rose to my lips
But never were set free.
For every face showed stunned surprise.
No one had expected me.

Michelangelo went to a rock quarry looking for a certain big piece of rock. He got it, but the person who owned the quarry said, “No, you don’t want that piece of rock; it’s no good. It is not worth anything.”

Michelangelo said, “Well, if that is the case, I want a discount.” He got the discount.

When he took the rock home, those he passed said, “You can’t do anything with that piece of stone.” He said, “You judged wrong. There is an angel trapped in that stone.”

They looked at it and walked around it. They said, “There is no angel in there; that is a piece of rock.” He said, “You wait and see.” He brought the angel forth from the stone
that no one else wanted.

I think about that a lot when I am tempted to judge someone I might not like in the moment. I see that person and in my mind, I walk around them and I say, “You know, this is just an old piece of rock.”

Then the voice inside of me says, “Oh no, there is an angel trapped in there.” I may be the only one who can let her out IF I so choose to carve away the little bits of stone.  If I do, inside my mind, there will be a masterpiece.

I want to share a story that Richard Regan wrote. This is his story but in  my words. He wrote this story at a time when he was sitting in a restaurant with a lot of his friends. There was good conversation, everyone was happy. The restaurant was right on the town square. Everything was fine, until they looked out the window and saw a bum come into town with a knapsack and all his worldly belongings on his back. He was holding a sign that read, “I will work for food.”

All of the people in the restaurant looked out the window and said, “What is this? This man is up to no good. We ought to call the sheriff. After all, he doesn’t belong here.”

They sat around and even the ones who were members of a church group sat there, and the conversation shifted 100% to judging this man that they didn’t even know, who was outside the window in the town square.

Just last Sunday, the preacher had talked about judging. Richard decided maybe the preacher was right. As he went out of the restaurant and got into his car, he had a nagging feeling.

“Have you ever had God give you a nagging feeling that you should do something?

“The minister said if we would just look into people a bit more, if we would question in our own minds, we would find something to love, if we took the time. If we just carved away a little bit, we might find an angel.

Richard decided he was going to go beyond what he had done all his life. He went over and talked to this stranger. He was hesitant because he still judged the man. He thought perhaps this man would harm him. He found the man where he was standing on the stone steps of the church on the town square. He talked to the gentleman. He said, “Are you looking for the pastor?”

The man said, “No, not really, just resting for a moment.” Richard said, “Have you eaten, today?” The Man said, “Oh yes, I ate something this morning.” Richard said, “Would you like to have lunch with me?”

The man said, “Do you have some work for me to do? I would be glad to work
for my lunch. I’ll do anything.”

“No work,” Richard replied. “Just come with me. I would like to get to know you.” So they went together into the restaurant where the people had judged this man so harshly just a few minutes before. They sat down at a table and it was as if every ear was listening to the conversation to see if they could find out what this stranger was about.

They listened as he was questioned. “Where are you headed?” “St. Louis,” was the answer. “Where are you from?” “Oh, all over, but mainly from Florida.” “How long have you been walking?”

Everyone in the restaurant listened. “Fourteen years,” was the answer.

Richard sat there and stared at the man. He realized he had met someone very special. Someone he did not expect to meet; someone his eyes had not told him about.

Then the man unbuttoned his coat and on his red tee-shirt was printed, “God the never-ending story.”

Daniel’s story began to unfold. He told about how he had been walking for 14 years for God, and how he had stopped in Daytona Beach 14 years earlier. He was a drunk, a drug addict, and an outcast of society. He saw some people raising a tent. He thought it was a circus, so he went over and said, “Can I have some work?”

They said, “Sure. We’ll put you to work.” It ended up being a tent revival. During the evenings, he would listen. He wouldn’t want to, but he would listen, anyway. He listened and started to realize his life wasn’t working. He decided to give his will over to God. He became a new man.

He said, “God what do you want me to do with my life?” God said, “Keep walking. Keep walking and find people to help. Say an encouraging word. Give them a Bible.”

He concluded, “That is my story.”

As the entire restaurant listened, they were quite shocked by the incredible, articulate eloquence that flowed out of the man’s mouth and the wisdom and deepness of his soul. They also noticed beyond what their eyes told them in the beginning. There was energy coming from this man. It was a love that just filled the whole place that everyone could sense. They wanted to be close to this man.

So they ate lunch and the whole restaurant enjoyed his company. Then the question was asked where he was going now. He said he had been told in his prayer it was time to go to St. Louis. Someone there needs a Bible. He will meet them on the road because God will arrange the meeting.

Richard said to the man, “Would you like a Bible to add to your backpack? I’ll get you a Bible if you would like.”

The man said, “That would be very nice. I can always use an extra Bible.”

They went into a bookstore and found just the small type of Bible that the man liked to carry and give away. Then the time came for the man to depart. They stood there on the town square and it had started to rain.

Richard realized his life had been profoundly changed in the two-hour time. There was a presence that radiated from this man and the mission he realized, sensed, and loved. He said to the man, “How long has it been since anyone gave you a hug?”

The man said, “It has been a long time.” Richard said, “Would you be threatened if I hugged you?” They embraced on the town square like brothers departing.

The man said, “I love you.”

Richard said, “I love you, too.”

As they were departing, the man turned around, waved, and said, “God bless
you.”

Richard shouted, “God bless you, too.”

The man walked a little bit further, turned again, and said, “If you ever think of me, will you pray for me?” Richard said, “Oh yes, I will. I promise.”

Richard went on to work and when he left work at 5 o’clock that evening, he noticed it was starting to get dark. He noticed there was a cold wave that had blown into town and there was a brisk breeze. He opened the car door and as he sat down in the seat and moved it back, he looked down at the emergency brake to release it, and he noticed two old worn work gloves in his car. He thought about how cold it was and he hoped the man could keep his hands warm some way.

Then he realized this was a prize gift. He thought, “If I found something of this man or about this man, every time I look at it, I will pray for him.” That was 23 years ago. Richard now keeps those gloves on his desk. Every time he sees those gloves, he will remember about the touch of one person and what it does in a person’s life. And also, something much more important: it is a reminder to him and it is his active prayer that he will never judge with a snap judgment again. He will give the benefit of the doubt to everyone. He will take the time to get to know someone and take the time to love them.
He took the time to carve through the rock and find the angel.

Matthew 7:1-2, Jesus says. “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”

We know God is love. God is not sitting here with a tally sheet on you. God is loving you. So what judged you in the moment? When you judge another, you say more about you than you do about the person you judge.

Who was really judged, the people in the restaurant or the man in the town square? It was not the man in the town square; it was their concept of the man in the town square, and that was completely different from him, because they did not know him. They had not taken the time to know him, yet they knew themselves and they voiced that knowledge. Instead of becoming the light of the world, they became the darkness in the moment.

Jesus continues talking: “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbors eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)

This is saying the same thing. It is saying the problem is with the one who judges, not the one being judged. When you are not using righteous judgment, you have not taken the time; you have just come to a fast conclusion.

I labourisly carved though the rock and found the angel in each of you. Take your time; carve your rock, and find the angel within it. Thank you for carving.

Join me in a closing prayer.
Let us pray –
Today, dear God, I ask for Your help. I know I am under Your law of Divine justice.
Your law of Divine judgment always works to perfectly equalize, to harmonize,
and to establish equality and order for all.

I hold firm to my faith in your power, God, and in Your justice. I have a deep and
abiding feeling of peace and well being. God, I am under Your law of
Divine justice and everything in my life proves the working of this law.
Thank you. I place You first, God. I place love first in my life.  Dear God, help me to carve through the rocks to find the angels.

Thank You, God.
In Jesus Christ’s name … Amen.

God bless you!

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