When people ask me if I believe in God, I ask them if they believe in Grace. Most say something on the order of "Of course!" I follow up with, "Why do you believe in Grace?" Most say something on the order of "I have experienced it in my own life!" And I say, "That's the difference between believing about God and knowing God as directly as we know Grace." And, I follow that up with, "And when you have experienced Grace, you have experienced That Which Has Always Been Called 'God.' And that is all we need to know of God, and all we can say of God." When people ask me if I believe in Jesus, or, if I have received Jesus Christ as my personal savior, I respond by holding up my right hand with my Pointer and Tall Man crossed, and say, "Jesus and I are just like that!" And follow that quickly with, "NO! Jesus and I are just like THAT!" Taking Tall Man down, leaving only Pointer standing straight in the air. At that point, there is nothing left to say.
Here is my version of the Chinese classic, “The Lost Horse Returns”:
Once there was there was a poor farm family in the high mountains of China who eked out a living on the slopes with one plow horse and much hard work. One evening the son forgot to fully close the gate of the corral and the horse wandered out and off during the night.
The next morning, the son was distraught. “Oh, Father,” he said. “We are ruined! We cannot work the farm without the horse to plow the field! We are lost, and it is all my fault!” The father replied, “We’ll see.”
The next day, their horse returned to the corral, bringing with him three wild mares and two colts. The son was ecstatic. “Father! We are blessed! Now we can work more land than we ever could before! We can sell a mare and a colt, and have money to buy new equipment! It is a wonderful day!” “We’ll see,” said the father.
The next day, as the son was training one of the mares, he was thrown from the horse and broke his leg. “Oh, Father!”, he lamented. “Now, I won’t be able to help you in the field, and you cannot do the work alone! I can’t believe how things can turn out so badly just when they were looking so perfectly wonderful!” “We’ll see,” said the father.
The next day, the Chinese army came to the house looking for conscripts to fight in its war with the barbarians. The son with the broken leg was passed over. “Oh, Father,” said the son. “If it were not for my leg, there is no telling what may have come of us! This is truly a blessed day!” “We’ll see,” said the father.
And so it goes… But. The one thing I want to make sure you do not miss is that on the day, when the lost horse returned with the mares and the colts, the father made certain that the gate to the corral was securely fastened that night,
and every night following.
It is one thing to “take things as they come,” and it is another to understand the importance of being right about what is important, and living and working in the service of what matters most through all of “the vicissitudes of time” over the full course of our life.
Get that down and you have it made. As much as you can have it made in a world where things are always coming and going, and you never know what you can count on, or what is going to happen next.
Be right about what you take seriously, and keep it to a bare minimum. And be right about what that is. He said, laughing.