A Parable

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, January 3, 2018 0 comments

by David Odegard

There was once an old man who lived in an arid land. He had a long white beard and sharp blue eyes. He looked like Merlin in a loin cloth. His muscles had that hard but sinewy look like he was carved out of hickory. The deep tone of his skin went clear to the bone from layers of sunburns laid on top of each other for decades. He is an ancient man, from an ancient land.

He did begin life wanting to live in a place where he may see an inch of rainfall in a month. It is hard to grow enough food in a place like that. But stronger men took the best places first, pushing our guy further and further out into a place where life is as hard as the dry cracked ground.

Ole’ hickory limbs had a family. They numbered nearly a hundred. His children and their mates and their children, and a few stragglers here and there, comprised a rabble band that looked to him for leadership and provision. Now this being an arid land, there was never enough water to go around. When it did rain, it was like manna from heaven! But the rain was gone too quickly and the cracks in the ground reasserted themselves quickly.

One day, after a rain, he noticed that the water drips for much longer from a rock formation nearby. It would drip sometimes for half a day after the rain had stopped. Soon he noticed other places where this happened too.

He immediately saw the potential.

If he could capture this water and store it, he would have that water to produce crops. He puzzled over how to capture it, how to collect it, and how to store it. Suddenly—huzzah! He had a flash of inspiration. He realized that if he hollowed out a pumpkin, he could use it to carry water.

He recognized that potentiality necessitates innovation.

That is to say, any potential thing requires innovation to bring it into reality. So, loincloth Merlin, Ole’ hickory limbs himself, hollowed out a bunch of pumpkins and sets them out under known drippy spots. Then he waited anxiously for the rain to fall and eventually it did. He watched with giddy apprehension as his pumpkins filled up to the brim and began to spill over the side. It really worked! He had never seen so much water since he was a small boy.

The man carried the pumpkins—my goodness they were heavy—near his plantings. He soon ran out of water, but he had tripled the amount of water. Soon, he found more drippy spots and captured every trickle he could. Every old pumpkin was hollowed out and turned into a bucket. And he faithfully, diligently would move the pumpkins around during the rain and fill up everything he could. He was exhausted. Be that as it may, it was working. The tribe had seen a small boost in production in the garden. Several of the other members of the tribe saw the connection and began to help out. The rest just showed up with their empty pumpkins.

Even so, the old man was happy. He discovered the potential of the water. Then he innovated a way to capture the water. But he was discovering the third aspect of potentiality.

Potentiality requires innovation, and innovation requires LABOR to bring it into reality.

Loincloth Merlin had another flash of inspiration. If they had a big holding tank near the garden—by this time the crops were doing well and everyone had plenty of food—they wouldn’t have to have so many pumpkins, besides they didn’t last forever. He had his band of 20 hardy fellows. They were able to keep the pumpkins moved around and full every time it rained. He had another flash of inspiration: if everyone pitched in, they could fill a great big tank and each person would only have to fill a small gourd—no one would even have to carry a big pumpkin filled with water.

So he went around and he talked to everyone. He explained the potentiality—which got everyone excited. He explained the innovations—which impressed everyone. He explained the need for an investment of labor—their labor. Well, at first they didn’t really like this—most of them sought some kind of exemption, after all they had been getting food and water without any labor, so why chip in now.

He explained how so much of the burden fell on so few, and that it is only fair that everyone puts in work for the good of the tribe. Eventually, most of the people bought in. Everyone started donating a minimum of 10% of their time. The results were amazing. The rain didn’t fall any more often, but there was so much food and water—even in that dry place.

They had so much that they were bathing in it! And the people surrounding this little tribe began to notice it too. All of the desperate vagabonds who lived around this tribe begged for food and water. “What must we do to be saved from starvation and despair?” they cried.

The people of the tribe answered them with the words of Isaiah 55:1:

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.”

There is PLENTY! Come and be filled up!

The old hickory man himself, loincloth Merlin, looked out with great satisfaction and with great joy. And it wasn’t just because his people were well fed, the most numerous, and the happiest people in all the land. Partly it was because they had transformed the desert into a garden—and it was theirs.

Isaiah 41:18: “I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.”

[See next week's blog post for the explanation of this parable.]

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