Monday, September 27, 2010

You Never Know...

And (Jesus) said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself...’” (Mark 4:26-28a).

During my seminary years, I directed a summer day camp for the YMCA. Most of the boys and girls in the camp were from families well below the poverty line and were underprivileged in many ways.
They came from the so-called “Trinity Bottoms” and lived in shacks down by the river.

Each morning I began the day with a brief story in which I tried to incorporate some element of the gospel. One of stories I told was about a moose that wanted to be a horse. The moose had seen a herd of wild horses, thought them elegant creatures and wanted to be like them. So, he taught himself to walk like a horse, talk like a horse, eat like a horse, etc. However, he was never accepted as a horse because he was...well, he was a moose.

How can a moose become a horse? By being born a horse, of course. And then I explained how we can all be born again.

It was an odd story and I probably wouldn’t use it these days, understanding as I do now, that children find it difficult to understand metaphors; they’re literalists, pure and simple. I know of no child who was drawn to Jesus through the story, but, you never know.

One summer I had a staff counselor (Let’s call him Henry) who was not a Christian, in fact was very hostile to the faith and who opposed my efforts to bring the good news to these children. I could do nothing but love him and pray for him, but he left at the end of the summer to go back to college, unfriendly to me and hardened in unbelief, or so I thought. That was more than fifty years ago.

A couple of years ago I received a letter from Henry. I saw his name on the return address and remembering our conflict marveled that he would write. I tore open the envelope and read the first sentence: "I write to tell you that I have been born again. I am now, at last, a horse."

Augustine, in one of his sermons to pastors wrote,"For what man can judge rightly concerning another? Our whole daily life is filled with rash judgments. He of whom we had despaired is converted suddenly and becomes very good" (Augustine Sermon 46:24-25, 27).

There is life in the seed. Sow, and in time the seed will sprout and grow, “for the earth yields crops by itself...”

You never know.

DHR

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