Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Parable

This story is fantastic. It was in another book as well, but I can't remember the title or author. I hope I'm not leaving out anyone who deserves credit.

(From: “In The Eye of the Storm” by Max Lucado)

A Parable

Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was
envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure.
A horse like this had never been seen before – such was its splendor, its majesty, its

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused.
“This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you
sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man
was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came
to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed. “We told you that someone would steal your
horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. Your are so poor. How could you
ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold
him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been
too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not
in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgement. If I’ve been cursed or not, how
can you know? How can you judge?”

The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be
philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is
gone is a curse.”

The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse
is gone. The rest I do not know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we
can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”

The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They
had always thought that he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and
lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man and still cutting
firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the
misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away in
the forest. Not only had he returned, he brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once
again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you
were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please
forgive us.”

The old man responded, “Once again you go too far. Say only that the horse is
back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you
know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the
whole story, how can you judge. You read only a page of a book. Can you judge the
whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire

“Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have
is a fragment! Don’t say this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I
know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But
down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild
horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be
broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild
horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once
again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgements.
“You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses
were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in
your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”
The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so
far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who know if it is a blessing or a curse? No
one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a
neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army.
Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the
people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had
been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong,
and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it.
Your son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you.
Our sons are gone forever.”

The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk to you. You always draw
conclusions. No one knows. Say only this. Your sons had to go to war, and mine did
not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only

God knows.”

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