“Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:35 (NIV)
I am sure most if you have heard this parable before, but let me “Play it again!”
“An old Cherokee teaches his grandson about life. “A fight is going on the inside of me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, thankfulness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
The same fight is going on inside of you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Let’s make sure that we spiritually feed ourselves food that will nourish our souls.”
And another – There is a simple story about parents and their two young boys. One boy was about six and the other was just an infant. Apparently, the boy, who was six, had some feelings of jealousy when the infant boy was born, and there was some quarreling going on between the two of them. One day, the older boy came up to his mom and dad and said that he had something he wished to discuss in private with his young brother (who was still a little baby). The parents were a little bit suspicious; they were not sure if he was up to something mischievous or not, but they let him go into the bedroom, while they hung around the door to listen. What they heard was astonishing, and I think you will agree. The six year-old got down into the crib, laid his head on the infant’s tummy and said, “Tell me, Tommy . . . tell me about God. You see, I’m starting to forget.”
I love that story. I think, as young children, we all knew about God. As we got older, we started to forget. By the time we got through school, finished our education, and had families and serious jobs in the world, having that experience of God became more and more difficult for our busy, adult human mind. Plus, we often may have gotten scorned for our beliefs, so we just shut them away; yet we long to remember. We feel a great deal of love for that young boy and for his predicament.
We live on a planet with millions of species of life-forms. We can travel from the Swiss mountains to the Australian surf within twenty-four hours. We have more different kinds of food and entertainment choices than at any other time in the history of man. We can enjoy ourselves with visits to theaters, art galleries, concerts, cinemas, restaurants, or can sit by ourselves on a hill and be alone with the butterflies and the birds within just a few hours time
There is enough space here for us to be alone in this world; yet at the same time it would be difficult to be lonely with so many people in this world. What a great deal life is. Yet, many still feel a sense of lack. We have never had a guarantee or promise that any of us would have a certain kind of life; it never said that life is supposed to be easy or pleasant. It never guaranteed that once we went to school we would get a perfect job. It never guaranteed that our children would grow up to be the model citizens we always wanted them to be. In fact, there is not even a guarantee that we can have children at all. There is no guarantee that the sun will stay out for a beautiful day for us.
There is no guarantee that it won’t rain on our parade. We were never promised “a rose garden.” But, we live our lives in faith that there is something greater. God is our help in every need. God is always with us, even when we don’t realize it. The truth of the matter is what we have comes to us as a gift from God. This is the Grace of God.
The great sage, Lao Tzu, in his great scripture said, “Be content with what you have. Rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
Some of us live our lives as if someday in the future our real life is going to start. Have you ever felt that way? Somehow, it is so easy to focus on what is missing, on the lack in our lives. When a person forgets about God, it is easy to focus on the emptiness and the things that are missing.
The author of The Peter Principle said, “The good life starts only when you stop wanting a better one.”
Every situation that challenges us has within it the seed of its own cure. The problem is not what is happening to us, but how we think about it and how we feel about it. The world is not the way it is; it is the way we are. The world is the way we think about it. We say what it will be to us. The challenge to us is not to let feelings of lack and fear that come up in us when things seem to go wrong, contaminate the gifts God has already given us.
God’s gifts are all around us.
I’m sure you’ve heard this story, and it may be true. A lady was sitting with three of her friends in the cafeteria. Three of them were expounding on a subject of how much they wanted to have a relationship in their lives. They felt that having a loving relationship in their lives would bring about the perfect life, the contented life. They talked on and on about their dreams and visions of the perfect relationship. They were all stating that they couldn’t find happiness until they found that perfect relationship. Really??
What you or another may say you need before the good life can begin, somebody else in the room will say, “I have that, and it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. It’s not that.” It seems as if every situation that challenges us in our lives, brings us to the false realization that life is not as good as it should be. However, in that and every situation, exists the remedy for what’s tormenting us. In every situation there exists the cure.
If we find ourselves at a point where we are in a limbo state in our lives, there is then the opportunity to do some things we only dreamed about when working full-time or busy with our kids. Gardening, reading a book, writing letters to friends, visiting friends, doing all kinds of things that we never dreamed we could do. Enjoy the time , every minute because a new day will come, and we will be spiritually ready for it, instead of exhausted.
If your car won’t run, and you are can’t get it fixed, you have a chance to consider what really needs to be done today – to relax, to be less busy in your life.
If you do not feel well, if you are having a physical challenge of some kind, that’s an opportunity to relax, to pay attention to yourself, to see what your body and most probably, your soul is trying to tell you.
What can we do about improving our sense of God’s gifts? It can only be done by practicing them. We can read scripture or poetry, we can spend time in prayer and meditation, we can count our blessings, and we can take a spiritual view from the top.
“There was an English couple visiting New York City for the first time. They were rather afraid of New York City. They thought it had a sordid reputation – full of crime. Their host, however, was a wise person. He took them to the top of one of the tallest buildings in New York City to an observation deck. They went up there and took a look from the top. It was a clear day and they could seemingly see forever. They were most impressed with the beauty of New York City. The vista, the buildings, everything about it was just spectacular.
All during the rest of the week, as they traveled around town, they could not keep the vision of that view out of their minds. They wrote, later, to their host that it was the greatest experience they had ever had in traveling around the world. They loved New York City. They thought it was one of the loveliest and friendliest of cities. All of that because of a view from the top.”
The view that we take in prayer is so important to how we see things; it is a view from the top.
What kind of a view do we have of our lives? Are we focused on the things that are going wrong? Are we focused on the lack? Or are we focused, instead, on the things that are going right, on the good things in our lives? Before we react in negativity or have a strong feeling or reaction to the people and conditions in our lives, we need to lift up our eyes to the hills and contemplate all the changes that are taking place in our lives from the highest point of view.
In John 4:33-38, there is a story that takes place right after the experience of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. The disciples came up to Jesus, knowing that He was hungry, and offered to bring him food. Jesus said He had food to eat that they knew not of. Then, He looked out at the barren fields and said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest?’ I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest.”
At this time, the fields had just been planted. They were not ready to harvest. But from Jesus’ vision, He could tell that all was well and that the harvest was absolutely guaranteed.
What is this field? This field is the seeds of Spirit that have already been sown. There is not something to be done; there is not something we must seek. It’s always present, already here, waiting. White, of course, means pure or complete as in having all the colors of the rainbow. And harvest means a time ripe for gathering. It is the period that arrives in our soul, when our consciousness is ready to claim those seeds planted by God.
So ‘the fields are already white for harvest’ means that, right now, in our lives, whatever is taking place is there to bless us, if we only see the opportunity that exists to rise up within us. The fields are already white for harvest. The view from the top sees things that we were blind to when viewing from the bottom of life. We are able to see from the end to where we wish to go.
There is also a statement that comes right after this, when Jesus said to the disciples, “I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor.” To me this means that God’s gifts come to us, not through our own efforts, but by Grace.
The gifts are simply HERE already.
For all of our expertise in robotics, we do not know how to make one human mind work. It is a miracle for us to think, to feel, to make a heart beat, to make cells grow, to plant seeds in the earth, and to have a harvest at all. These are miracles.
God’s gifts are everywhere in our lives. We have to take them, accept them. Could it be true that the best things in life are free? The blossoms on the bough? Sun-dappled wood? The warmth of love? The celebration of success? And even the lessons of failure, contain the knowledge, the seeds of future success?
Everything is a God blessing to us, but we have to focus on those blessings, not on what is missing or lacking, not that we need more money, more success, more of something seemingly missing in our lives. Even the things that challenge us have a great blessing to offer us if we take the view from the top.
I would like to close with a prayer that I think is quite cute and also very poignant to the today. It is called “A Candid Prayer.” You may have heard it, but think about its meaning as you go into prayer today.
There was once a farmer who had three sons: Jim, John, and Sam. No one in this family had ever attended church, or had time for God.
The pastor of the church tried for years to interest the family in the things of God, to no avail. One day, a rattlesnake bit Sam. The doctor was called, and he did all he could to help Sam, but the outlook for Sam’s recovery was very dim. The pastor was called and apprised of the situation. The pastor arrived and began to pray as follows:
“O wise and righteous Father, we thank Thee that in Thine wisdom Thou didst send this rattlesnake to bite Sam. He has never been inside the church. It is doubtful that he has, in all this time, ever prayed or even acknowledged Thine existence. Now, we trust that this experience will be a valuable lesson to him and will lead to his genuine repentance. And now, O Father, will Thou send another rattlesnake to bite Jim and another to bite John and another really big one to bite the old man? For years we have done everything we know to get them to turn to Thee, but all in vain. It seems, therefore, that what all our combined efforts could not do, this rattlesnake has done. We thus conclude that the only thing that will do this family any real good is a rattlesnake. So, Lord, please, send us bigger and better rattlesnakes. Amen.”
My friends, challenges when they cause us to remember God can be a gift, because remembering the Divine gift, is the gift itself.