Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Awe Factor of God

This is one video that has made me really stop and think. In fact, I'm still thinking. . . .

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Tyranny of the Urgent

The urgent . . .
That's where I am right now.

On Tuesday, I will get observed for the second and final time. My teacher will come to my class and watch me interact with the children. She's a good teacher, a very nice lady, and I love the children. But I have so many assignments to complete between now and then!

Yesterday I spent most of the day on these assignments, forgetting to finish the laundry. Granted, I did still have my Quiet Time with the Lord - although my heart wasn't really in it. I did stop to fix lunch since Mom was away, managing the gift shop at the battlefield. At the end of the day, I did set my schoolwork aside to play several hands of Rook with Caleb, Jedidiah, and Caleb's college friend Dave who spent the weekend with us. But the first long part of the day was a frenetic effort to check off as many assignments as possible.

And now as my mind looks forward past this sweet gift of Sabbath rest celebrating Jesus' resurrection and almost wants to waste that gift in worry over the next 36 hours - what if I can't get everything done? - I take a deep breath and tell my mind to rest in God, thinking of the wise words of Charles Hummel in his pamphlet, "The Tyranny of the Urgent." I just read it a few minutes ago, for the first time ever, and, wow - it is just what I needed! Thank You, Father! =)

To give a little idea of what Mr. Hummel has to say, think of all the unfinished projects you have around your house and on your to-do list. Think of the all the projects you would love to do and think you need to do, but have never even started. Think of all the things you know other people want you to do, but you aren't doing them and don't know when you'll be able to. Overwhelmed?

Now consider this: toward the end of Jesus' life, He said "I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do" (John 17:4). How could that be possible? How can anyone truly finish their work? Jesus did. Yet there was so much He didn't do. He didn't heal every sick person in Israel. He didn't evangelize every lost Jew. There were urgent needs He left unmet, but He did everything that was important. How did He know the difference? Through prayer (Mark 1:35).

To quote directly,

P.T. Forsyth once said, "The worst sin is prayerlessness." We usually think of murder, adultery, or theft as among the worst. But the root of all sin is self-sufficiency---independence from God. When we fail to wait prayerfully for God’s guidance and strength we are saying, with our actions, if not our lips, that we do not need Him. How much of our service is characterized by "going it alone?"

The opposite of such independence is prayer in which we acknowledge our need for God’s instruction and supply. . . . Prayerful waiting on God is indispensable to effective service. Like the time-out in a football game, it enables us to catch our breath and fix new strategy. As we wait for directions, the Lord frees us from the tyranny of the urgent. He shows us the truth about Himself, ourselves, and our tasks. He impresses on our minds the assignments He want us to undertake. The need itself is not the call; the call must come form the God who knows our limitation. “The Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14). It is not God who loads us until we bend or crack with an ulcer, nervous breakdown, heart attack, or stroke. These come from our inner compulsions coupled with the pressure of circumstances.

So tomorrow morning, I'll be getting up a few minutes early and asking God for guidance. I know I'm going to need it! And then, even if I'm unable to complete everything urgent, by God's grace I can rest in His arms knowing everything important was finished.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Homemade Playdough

2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar
food coloring

Directions: Mix first five ingredients. Stir over low heat until dough thickens, pulls away from sides, and clumps in the middle. Continue stirring and cooking a little longer, until it's dry and feels playdoughish. Remove pan from heat and allow dough to cool slightly.

Turn dough out onto a clean counter and knead vigorously until it becomes silky-smooth. Divide the dough into balls for coloring. Make a divot in the center of the ball, and drop some food coloring in. Fold the dough over, working the food color through the body of the playdough, trying to keep the raw dye away from your hands and the counter. Store playdough in an air-tight container.

"My kids" love this! I only use it with a few of them at a time, however, so I can keep a close eye on them. Even though it's non-toxic, the salty taste I'm sure it must have is not to their liking and I'd rather them never put it in their mouths than chew and spit out or chew and like and keep eating. =) That said, it makes a great activity for the end of the day when there are only a few children left who are getting bored with their toys and starting to feel pretty homesick for "Mom-mom" and "Dad-dad." Let's see . . . what can we make today?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rescue (A Fairy Tale)

Once upon a time, King Alroy planted a beautiful garden. In it he fashioned pink and white rosebushes, purple violets and chicory, yellow buttercups and goldenrod and sunflowers, red and orange marigolds, and fruit trees of every variety.

In the center of the garden, the king built a grand stone castle, surrounded by a blue river that flowed into fountains, pools, and streams. Deer, monkeys, lions, elephants, horses, goats, and rabbits all quenched their thirst with its cool liquid, and a lovely enchantment overshadowed them so that not one bared a tooth or lifted a hoof against another. Both native and exotic birds prepared nests in the trees, from which they sang their daily songs of joy.

The castle itself King Alroy furnished with the richest of tapestries, the softest beds, and the most exquisite doors and windows.

When the garden looked perfect, King Alroy formed a pair of lovers, Romulo and Emberlynn, to inhabit, tend, and rule the estate. The king’s son, Palti, daily visited the lovers, and all three delighted in their friendship. The merry feasts, the peaceful walks, the deep conversations – all touched each heart that partook.

But one day, Zimitrok the evil dragon disguised himself in suave allure, crept silently into the orchard, and convinced Romulo and Emberlynn to dine with him. Zimitrok prepared a feast of exotic foods the lovers had never tasted, and wines they had never drunk. The pleasures of that evening were new and strange. Romulo and Emberlynn became drunk with the new wines and fell into a deep sleep.

When they awoke the next morning just before dawn, they looked around, bewildered. Their surroundings reminded them of their old home. The room had the same shape, but the furniture had an old, worn look and a musty smell. The mattress felt hard beneath them. Cobwebs hung in the corners; and one of the windowpanes was shattered, the shards lying about on the floor below.

Romulo and Emberlynn rose and walked downstairs and outdoors into the still-dark, hazy world and looked around at the once-noble trees now dropping their leaves. The grass had turned brown. In the distance, a lion roared and a hyena laughed. Vultures circled ominously.

Emberlynn looked down through tears and smiled at the few delicate roses yet clinging to the bushes beside the castle. Reaching down to pluck one, she gasped and quickly withdrew her white fingers now wet with drops of blood. What were those painful prickly things? Romulo shook his head mournfully.

The two left the threshold, walking out a few paces. A little beyond lay the enormous, hideous black body of the dragon. Turning, they beheld their beloved castle. Oh! Look at it now! Stones crumbling, overgrown with moss, full of broken windows. How had this happened?

“It’s your fault!” Rage suddenly filled Romulo’s face. “If you hadn’t listened to Zimitrok-“

“But I didn’t know! He deceived me! How could I have known?”

The lovers stared at each other, then turned and walked silently back into the castle, where they lived under the sway of the dragon the rest of their days.


Emberlynn gave birth to several daughters, beautiful daughters of whom the dragon painted large portraits, which he posted in neighboring kingdoms.

Knights, having seen these pictures, rode day and night, mile after mile to see the young girls; and, once they saw them, to kiss and use the girls as suited their desires. Before they left, the knights filled the dragon’s paws with gold and promised to return.

Peasants came, too, but had no money to pay the dragon; so he kept them in a small room of the castle, some to produce more little girls and some to sell to the knights who came calling and kissing.

Generation after generation of girls were born in the ruins of the castle, and generation after generation of knights came to kiss and hit and destroy them. Sometimes the dragon dug his claws into the girls’ backs, and sometimes he kissed them himself, and every night he counted his gold and laughed at his own ingenuity.

From the beginning, King Alroy also put out advertisements. Many brave knights responded to them, riding day and night and mile after mile to rescue the girls. However, upon reaching the land of the ruined gardens, many could not find either dragon or castle through the dense, overgrown forest. Some were able to cut through and find their object, but feared the enchanting eyes and sharp claws of the dragon they beheld. Some courageous men climbed the hill and fought the dragon, only to retreat wounded and defeated.

Still others scorned the posters and the girls, telling each other that those people got themselves into this mess and were responsible to get their filthy selves out of it. Of course, King Alroy could not have put up the posters; perhaps one of the dragon’s henchmen had done it to seduce them into filling his bulging coffers.


One night, King Alroy and Prince Palti watched from their palace as another baby girl was born in the broken-down castle they had built so long ago. “Must it continue, Father?” Palti asked in pain. “Must it go on and on? Our knights are no match for the dragon, and the girls remain trapped in misery.”

“You are right, my son. Enough is enough.”

“Then what shall we do? May I not go and rescue them? I am stronger than Zimitrok, and my sword is sharp enough to pierce his scaly hide in one blow.”

“This is true, my son. But our poor people will not be lifted to the royal birthright of their fathers by the slaying of the dragon. They chose an alliance with him, and their hearts are now black like his skin. We must rescue them entirely.”

“What must we do?”

“It will be difficult for you, my son. Since they rebelled against me, and chose slavery to the dragon instead, they must die. To rescue them, you must give your life in their stead. You must let Zimitrok slay you.”

“I will go, Father.”


The next day, Prince Palti set out on his journey. He chose a common horse and dressed himself in the clothes of his serfs. Along the way, dust from the roads flew up, clinging to his feet and clothes and entering his mouth and eyes. Other travelers, more richly dressed, mistook him for the peasant he appeared to be and mocked him or bade him stop and haul water for them at wells by the roadside.

That night, Prince Palti arrived in the town below the forest and tied his horse to the hitching post in front of the single local tavern. He had never felt so hot, tired, dirty, itchy, hungry, or thirsty. Entering the tavern, he inquired, “Do you have any rooms available?”

“No, sir, we’re full to the brim.”

No rooms! So Prince Palti turned and walked back outside, where he walked his horse into the woods, drank from the stream, washed his face, plucked cherries and walnuts from the trees, and sat down with his back against a large oak to think.

All night, he read and reread the letter his father had given him, and his spirit communed with his father. Strength coursed through his veins, and before the sun rose over the eastern mountains he had cut his way through half the tangled underbrush of what was now known to the locals as the Dragon’s Forest. The day grew warm, and sweat poured down Prince Palti’s back as he chopped through stems and branches with his ax. As he walked, he thought with bittersweet remembrance of the walks he used to enjoy with Romulo and Emberlynn so many years ago. Each cut he made was for them, and for their children!

Coming out the other side, he looked up at the brown grass, the weedy gardens, the low murky river, the kudzu-covered castle, and – there he was – the huge ugly Zimitrok, that evil murderer, the age-old enemy of King Alroy. Prince Palti advanced with boldness to slay the dragon.

Zimitrok had sensed the prince’s approach and prepared himself for a good fight. He had made the forest denser than usual, and expanded his body to look even fiercer, and now he breathed out fireballs bigger than any he had released before.

But Prince Palti’s response bewildered the dragon. The prince approached in peasant’s clothes, armed with an ax – no sword? And he came forward in a gentle manner, not speaking, no anger in his face. What could he be doing? The dragon’s eyes narrowed; some kind of trickery must be afoot, and Zimitrok had not intentions of falling to some clever ruse.

Prince Palti drew closer, and Zimitrok rose silently into a crouch. Still Prince Palti came nearer, and nearer, and nearer - in a flash, Zimitrok was upon him. He roared, shrieked, and blew fire in the prince’s fair face. He threw back his head and laughed a throaty, detestable laugh. “You are MINE!” he shouted. “Mine! I will finish you off forever. What were you thinking, coming to me alone like this? Where is your daddy? Did you think you could take my lair from me?” And he laughed again.

Zimitrok clawed Prince Palti’s body until his clothes hung in shreds and the blood ran thick. He yanked out fistfuls of the prince’s hair, and spit into his face. Finally, he dragged the prince’s now-weak body to a nearby tree and wrapped himself around the prince and the tree with his long, slimy black tail.

An hour of taunting, fireballs, and spitballs filled the dragon with freakish pleasure. Zimitrok slowly worked himself up into a frenzy of evil until he culminated his tortures with a bite and rip of the prince’s neck. Drawing back, he panted from his exertions and delighted in the sight of his kill. It was almost too good to be true – the son of his archenemy, killed in an afternoon. What luck was this? Zimitrok laughed again, and withdrew, letting the body fall to the ground with a thud. What fun it would be to watch it rot over the coming days and weeks!

Night fell, and Zimitrok counted his gold. By this time, he had developed an intricate system of inventory. Several rooms in his cave were full of heavy bags and chests, each containing a precise number of gold pieces. Tonight he entered the nearest room and deposited the day’s wages in an open bag. A good day, this! Peering into the other rooms filled to the ceiling with golden chests, he licked his fangy lips and departed into the back room, plush with the furnishings he had stolen centuries ago from Romulo and Emberlynn’s bedroom and settled down for a deep sleep on their still-soft mattress.


The next day, all was as before, except for the added pleasure of a view of a man’s rotting body at the edge of the forest. Zimitrok felt overjoyed in his invincibility and supreme rule.

Another morning dawned bright and clear. Zimitrok opened the door and gazed out on the murky beauty of his kingdom. A toothy smile added to the ugliness of his face; and he made his way, blindly confident, to the castle to toy with his little girls.

Meanwhile, a certain decaying body raised itself up by some magical touch of King Alroy. The dirt and spit washed away, and clean radiance shown forth from an alert face. Royal garments clothed Prince Palti, and his own sword hung at his side. Death had matured him, and he strode forth determinedly to complete the task for which he had come.

Zimitrok opened the door to the bedroom of the youngest girls, calling, “Rise and shine, sweethearts! Time to play.” The girls woke and sat up, cowering before him. But then, they looked behind him and their eyes filled with peace. Zimitrok turned quickly – what?

Prince Palti struck quickly, driving his sword through Zimitrok’s scales until it came out the other side. With a hiss, the dragon’s body fell to the ground. Prince Palti carried the body outside and threw it far, beyond the mountains.

Then he called to the girls. “Come, all who are weak and heavily-burdened, and I will give you rest. Come, all who are thirsty, and I will quench your thirst. Come, all who are hungry for love, and I will love you.”

The littlest girls came slowly, fearfully out to him and looked up into his kind face. He hugged them and smiled at them, and they smiled back. More and more girls came out to him. When they ceased coming, he called to the girls still in the castle, girls who stayed because they doubted his integrity or feared the unknown. “There is still room. Will you come?”

But no more came. So he led the girls standing near him to a clearing about an acre beyond the castle. Here he cleared the debris from the fountain, weeded the flower garden, hacked away the overgrown underbrush in the woods, and pruned the extra branches of the trees. A feast of oranges, peaches, apples, bananas, cherries, nuts, and cool fountain water refreshed the girls.

Then, while the prince erected a small shelter for the girls, they bathed in the stream and came out clean, clothed in the garments of a princess. They fixed each other’s hair and wove flower garlands and crowns.

After another feast, the prince gathered the girls around him and talked with them. He told them the story of their first parents, Romulo and Emberlynn, and the girls wondered at the royal blood they never knew was in them. Prince Palti told them of their tasks from King Alroy, to tend and rule the garden, and to love the poor girls still in the castle. The slaves were welcome in the pure meadow if they renounced their servitude to Zimitrok and gave themselves to King Alroy. Prince Palti’s death had redeemed all of them, and his heart had love enough for all of them.

He rose and walked with his girls until sunset, and then led them toward the trees. “I will be back,” he promised. “My father and I will build a new castle, grander than the first. When it is completed, we will return to restore this garden and live with you forever. But every day I will come here to walk and talk with you. And if you need me for any reason, call to me, and I will come. I love you.”

And so the girls lived in their meadow and drank in the beauty around them and healed from the wounds of the dragon. Every morning they read the letters the king sent, every afternoon they carried fruit and water to the girls in the castle and nursed their wounds and talk to them about Prince Palti, and every evening they shared a feast and a long walk with their beloved prince. Every day their love for him grew, and every day they longed more for the day when he would come to stay. They are there to this day, still waiting, and the day quickly approaches when their hope will come to pass.

And these girls will live happily ever after with their prince.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Bible Study Method

I've gone back and forth between willingness to write in my copy of the Scriptures and hesitancy to do so. About a month ago the pendulum swung back to willingness at the same time I started reading through Isaiah. In chapter two, it just so happens that a certain wonderful and convicting verse repeats itself, saying something to the effect of,

"The loftiness of man shall be brought low,
and the haughtiness of man shall be bowed down,
and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day."

What a verse! I underlined those two verses and read on, noticing with some surprise that the same concept seemed to keep coming up in the succeeding chapters. Through underlining repeated words and phrases, I learned a lot about what God's message through Isaiah was. Often Isaiah referred to God as "the LORD of hosts" and spoke of things that will happen "in that day." He emphasized that the events of history are purposed by God, according to His counsel; He has spoken, and thus it shall be. He encouraged his readers to wait on the LORD, and explained that often things happen "that you may know that I am the LORD." And in the second part of the book, a major theme seems to be that God made everything, and He made you and me. But the primary theme indeed seemed to be the humbling of man and the exaltation of Jehovah.

When Isaiah closed, I didn't want it to end; but I also was unsure if the same method would work again. So I began Jeremiah with the intention of keeping my eyes peeled for repeated words to pick up clues for the theme(s). Wouldn't you know it, right off the bat was a chapter with the thrice-stated phrase "forsaken Me"! Could that be the theme? Continuing to read, I found that it seems to be just that. God sent Jeremiah to the people of Judah to warn them because they had forsaken the LORD of hosts and to invite the people to return to Him.

This method of studying the Bible is so refreshing. It makes me feel like a detective, truly searching God's Word to discover His will and ways. And it has given me a better understanding of previously confusing passages by showing me how they fit into the overall message of one scroll in the library of Scripture.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chocolate Chewy Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches

I tried this recipe over the weekend and our family has been enjoying it. =)

3 cups brown sugar
2 cups margarine
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. vanilla
6 cups oats
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup cocoa
2 1/2 cups flour

Mix; drop by generous teaspoonfuls on cookie sheets and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Cream Filling:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 egg whites, beaten
1 1/2 cups shortening
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix; spread between cookies to make cookie sandwiches.

Yields two 9x13x4 tubberware containers almost full of cookies.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The River (An Allegory)

Once upon a time in a land far away, a beautiful wood enclosed a wide, spacious meadow full of life and light. In the center sprang up the source: a fountain of pure water. Through this water, the flowers sprang up and smiled sweetly in their felicity. Through it, the fauns skipped, the rabbits hopped, the bees buzzed from plant to plant, the butterflies flitted lightly, and the birds soared in heavenly melody. The fountain shone with a light of it own that illumined everything in its proximity.

Springing from the fountain, out of the meadow, down the mountain, out of the wood, and into the valley the water flowed. Anyone who desired the water freely drank and was satisfied, his thirst quenched, his body refreshed, his countenance brightened, and his mind cleared. Many a thirsty traveler, upon entering the valley, saw and tasted the river; and once anyone had a drink of this water, nothing else could compare. Many built new homes on its banks, while other stayed for a while before making canteens to fill and carry with them on their journey.

Down in the valley, nestled among the people, lay a large pond. The oldest of the village’s many inhabitants claimed its source was a gooey spring of blackness at the very bottom. Cows and pigs and alligators and hippopotamuses and mosquitoes loved the pond. The people loved it, too; its shores held large crowds day and night, crowds of people who came to swim in the middle or to dance in the shallower parts. Every few days someone would lose an arm or a foot to the alligators. Mosquito bites covered them constantly; so that whenever they weren’t drinking or playing, they were scratching.

A few times a year a storm came, so that the pond rose a foot or two above its normal bounds. Then garbage from the nearby dump slid into the pool. The glass bottles and metal cans cut the people’s feet. Sometimes a person who couldn’t swim fell in, and of course there was no way to pull him out. If the truth were told, no one even paid attention. They were all too busy to notice their neighbors screaming as the alligators pulled off their flesh until they were caught in the whirlpool and drawn inescapably below, lost in the murky mud of the deep black pond. If the people could only have seen the pure, fresh river barely 1,000 feet away, they might have left the filth for a bath and refreshing drink. But that was just the problem: they couldn’t see.

Right from the start, the fountain wanted to bless the poor, blind people with its water, so it sent them gifts. First it stirred up strong winds to scatter the seeds of the trees and flowers so that the people of the pond could smell the meadow. Then it sent the birds to sing where the pond people could hear the meadow. They admired the beauty of these gifts, but few were awakened by them.

One man was different. A particularly violent storm swept his entire family into the deep, swirling waters,, and he found himself relatively alone. A friend waded along the edge with him to comfort him, but an alligator clamped his sharp teeth on this friend’s leg and pulled the man in. When he stepped closer to help his friend, another alligator slithered toward him. Crying out in desperation, he leaped back and scrambled up and up and far away until he finally sank down, heart pounding. He remained there, unmoving, numb, till dusk came and he felt more tired than ever before.

The fountain watched compassionately as the man sat dejectedly a few feet from the river. A gentle breeze rose up and fanned his dirty face. A bird sang softly. He laid down and rubbed his hand on the grass, noticing in surprise its extra softness here. And then he fell into a deep and peaceful slumber.

When he woke the next morning, he felt thirsty, but the thought of returning to the pond made him sick to his stomach. He stood to his feet and walked about. The ground sloped upward beneath his feet, and the sensations grew sweeter. His heart responded gladly, and he breathed deeply of the mountain air. Then a strange thing happened. Until this moment, he had assumed the world was naturally all black. But with his first breath of this air, he saw spots of color. The more he took in of it, the more he saw, until his eyes were as clear as yours and mine. Now he stopped and looked about him in great joy and amazement. It was all so new, and so richly beautiful. And there, at his feet, lay the river. He stared long and hard, then dropped slowly to his knees. It looked so fresh and good, but did he dare even touch it? Glancing down at his hands, he grimaced. Filthy.

He sadly raised his eyes and watched as a curious happenstance unfolded. A tiny sparrow, spattered with mud-spots, flew straight into the river, dipped down, flapped its wings, and drunk deeply before flying on as clean as clean could be. The river remained spotless.

The man lost no time, but plunged himself into the water, clothes and all. Rising, he saw his own reflection and knew that he was clean. He shouted and plunged in again, swam a ways, rolled over and over; and then as if just remembering his original purpose, he bent down and took a drink unlike anything he had ever tasted.


A few days’ journey up the mountain brought him to the meadow. A few days . . . and how much had changed! His other life, if he could call it that, was far behind. His whole mind and heart were full of this new life, the rier with its beauties and joys. Where did it come from? As he stepped out of the woods into the open meadow, he saw it: the fountain. It drew him near, and he watched joyfully as it gurgled and splashed and sweetened all around it. This was living! He felt as if he could stay here forever. For a while, he did stay.

One day, though, the time came from the fountain to send him to the people of the pond. He descended, always keeping to the side of the river, until he reached the bottom and looked to the distant pond. All he saw was a loud mess of muddy bodies. Not too long ago, he had been one of them.

He took a drink, filled his canteen, and walked to the pond. The stench was overpowering, and for the first time he saw the pond. He saw the blackness, the decayed bodies, the trash, the manure. How had he ever enjoyed drinking that mud?

Heartsick, he approached his old girlfriend, who failed to recognize him.

“Julie? It’s me. Don.”

“Oh, hi. You sound weird. Where’ve you been?”

“You won’t believe it, Julie! It’s the most amazing place ever - so clean, and bright, and the water was so pure.”

Julie laughed. “Sounds boring. You missed it. The last storm brought a big slide and another big board. We’ve been practicing our dives. C’mon.”

“No, thanks. Why don’t you come with me to the river?”

“What river? I don’t see any river. This might be the river right here.”

“But that’s just the beauty of it – your eyes will open the closer you get to the river.”

“What are you talking about? Wait. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Are you saying I’m blind? Get lost already. I’m gonna go have fun.”

Don almost followed her; his eyes did, full of the fountain’s compassion. But a wind whispered in his ear to let her go and to continue on his way. Don talked to several others, but each one gave the same response. Somewhat discouraged, he walked outside the edge of the crowd and talked to no one; instead, he merely looked at the people, covered in mud and mosquito bites, and listened to the terrible cries. O, why would they die? With the water from the fountain flowing freely so nearby, why – why would they die?

Rounding the bend, he saw an old man, skinny and shivering. “Sir! Sir, why are you sitting here all alone?”

“Young man, be grateful for your strength. The day will come when you’ll be old and feeble like me, and then you’ll die of thirst, too. You’ll be too weak to push through all the bodies. There was a time when I could do it. Not too long ago, either. But that was before . . .” And his voice trailed off as his eyes gazed, unseeing, into the far-away.

“Oh, but, sir, there is other water. Come with me, and I will lead you to drink of water like you’ve never tasted before in your life.”

“Much obliged, son, but I’m far too old.”

“Here. Get on my back, and I’ll carry you.”

“No. Thank you. But don’t trouble yourself.”

“But I mean it. Please. I would love to carry you to the river.”

After much persuading, the old man climbed onto Don’s back and the two travelled the little distance over the rough ground to the banks of the river. As they went, the old man’s senses deepened and when he finally sat beside that pure water, he breathed deeply in astonishment. Did his eyes really see what he thought they saw? He reached out a finger and watched as the water cleaned its tip instantly from the dried, caked-on mud. He slid both his feet down into the water and swung them back and forth like a little child. Laughing, he slipped down, down, down, till he was immersed in the clear, blue liquid.

The old man also travelled up the mountain. At first he could only crawl, holding to the trees and stopping often for a rest and river-drink. When he finally reached the summit and gazed upon the fountain, he knew he saw before him the answer to all his heart’s longing.

The fountain led him to rest a few days on the soft grass while the wind dropped healing leaves and flowers onto his diseased limbs. Some of his old strength returned, and he found himself ready for an adventure – a mission.

He stood slowly and turned to the fountain. “Send me. Where shall I go? Am I to return to the pond like Don?”

The rustling of the wind and the rushing of the water sounded in the old man’s ears and nudged him to the other side of the meadow. The branches of the trees pulled him and gently pushed him through the wood till he saw the open side of the hill.

The old man shaded his eyes as he watched several groups of people huddled around cisterns. Some of the cisterns were gray, dirty, rusty, and broken in a hundred pieces. Others were freshly painted, with plaster stuck in each of the cracks to stop the leaks. The people panted with thirst as they bent way down into the cisterns to sip a few drops of the rainwater inside. Some cisterns were sill half-full from the last rain, but the water was leaking fast.

The old man strode quickly to the nearest cistern and touched a man on the shoulder. “Sir, how would you like to drink from a river that will never run dry?”

“Oh, the river – isn’t it wonderful? I drank from there. The water is so good. You must be one of us.” And he smilingly clapped the old man on the back.

“But . . . if you’ve drunk from the river, why would you come live by this cistern and quench your thirst with its leaky water?”

“Oh, but this is just a hobby. I still drink from the river once a week, you know. But I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun, too. There’s nothing muddy about this water. Look how clean the cistern is.”

“But it’s not the river. You’re thirsty, son.”

“Yeah, I know. But it’ll rain soon. Just watch; you’ll see.”

The old man shook his head and walked on, often lifting his canteen to his lips and delighting in the refreshment it brought.

And so life went on for the people of Riverside (for that was the name of the country). One by one the mud dwellers slipped into the slime and jaws to rise never again. One by one the cistern drinkers emptily, thirstily wasted away under the burning sun. One by one Don and the old man led the heart-thirsty to the river of life.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”

And let him who hears say, “Come!”

And let him who thirsts come.

Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”

(Revelation 22:17)