The Danger within Us
French author Victor Hugo has a short story titled, "93." In the midst of this tale a ship at sea is caught in a terrific storm. Buffeted by the waves, the boat rocks to and fro, when suddenly the crew hears an awesome crashing sound below deck. They know what it is. A cannon they are carrying has broken loose and is smashing into the ship's sides with every list of the ship. Two brave sailors, at the risk of their lives, manage to go below and fasten it again, for they know that the heavy cannon on the inside of their ship is more dangerous to them than the storm on the outside.
So it is with people. Problems within are often much more destructive to us than the problems without.
Chip It Away!
Let me tell you a story about a man who had a huge boulder in his front yard. He grew weary of this big, unattractive stone in the center of his lawn, so he decided to take advantage of it and turn it into an object of art. He went to work on it with hammer and chisel, and chipped away at the huge boulder until it became a beautiful stone elephant. When he finished, it was gorgeous, breath-taking.
A neighbor asked, "How did you ever carve such a marvelous likeness of an elephant?"
The man answered, "I just chipped away everything that didn't look like an elephant!"
If you have anything in your life right now that doesn't look like love, then, with the help of God, chip it away… !
The great spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, wrote a story describing the truth that there is a limit to what we can do by means of our natural abilities, but there is no limit to what God can do in and through us if we trust him and surrender ourselves to his will.
Once upon a time there was a little river that said, "I can become a big river." It worked hard to get big, but in the process, encountered a huge rock. "I won't let this rock stop me," the river said. And the little river pushed and pushed and pushed until it finally made its way around the rock. Next the river encountered a mountain. "I won't let this mountain stop me," the river said. And the little river pushed and pushed until it finally carved a canyon through the mountain.
The river, now large and powerful, finally arrived at the edge of a vast desert. "I won't let this desert stop me," the river said. But as the river pushed and pushed its way across the desert, the hot sand began soaking up its water until only a few puddles remained. The river was quiet. Then the river heard a voice from above. "My child, stop pushing. It's time to surrender. Let me lift you up. Let me take over."
The river said, "Here I am." The sun then lifted the river up and turned it into a huge cloud. And the wind carried the river across the desert and let it rain down on the hills and valleys of the faraway fields, making them fruitful and rich.
If we stay focused on Christ, have more faith in him than in ourselves, and obey his will even when it's hard, no obstacle will be too much for us, and he will make our lives more fruitful than we could ever imagine.
We are like clay vessels
A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay vessels. It was like someone had rolled balls of clay and left them out in the sun to bake.
They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.
He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone!
Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay vessels. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of pesos worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him.
He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of pesos in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!
It's like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn't look like much from the outside. It isn't always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it.
We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.
There is a treasure in each one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.
May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay.