Thursday, April 28, 2005

Faithful Friend

There was a pleasant woman who’s husband was heir to the king. She was living in a blessed land, full of good things and wine on the lees. But the Lord made the sky brass for a time to see if the woman would remember that it was He that made the early and the latter rains.

The woman quickly forgot. She had two vigorous boys but she was growing bitter about the weather and named her boys Sick One and Failing One. It was cruel to call boys such names but they fully lived up to her expectations.

She decided to leave the good land because she heard that it was raining on the other side of the river. When she arrived there, she found that it was true and she was happy for a time. But the husband, longing for his own land, grew weary, took ill and died. She consoled herself that her princely sons would grow to take their father’s place. She had them take wives so that children could be raised up to her but even though they were in the rainy land, these sickly boys could not produce an heir. They finally obeyed their mother’s faith, fell deathly ill and perished.

At the right time, the rains began to fall in the land across the river from which she had come and the bitter woman rose up to seek her bread in the land of her nativity. Her daughters-in-law had grown to love her and desired to return with her.

The first daughter made loud protestations about her intentions to dwell with her mother but on their way towards the river, she kept looking over her shoulder at her brother who was standing on the high places near their mount of sacrifice. Finally, the bitter mother gave her a quick blessing and bade her run home.

The second daughter was a dear friend and refused to look back at her brother and father who were also standing on the same mount. She willfully and steadfastly kept her gaze on the river or on the face of her bitter mother-in-law. The mother-in-law often looked at her to see if she was looking over her shoulder but never caught her doing so. And so she found out who was the faithful daughter.


Prov 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

In a day when glory was the right of kings there were two men whose honor lay in the work of their own two hands. The first man built homes. The second man, who was putting food on the table for his family, built houses. They began their days in a similar fashion, they ate at nearly the same time, traveled to the work site, prepared their tools and commenced the manly art of building. The first man was picky in his work and often caused his mates a bit of irritation. When measuring to nail, his men would often say, “That’s close enough.” To which he replied, “No, its not.” Before he would nail, the measurer must say, “Perfect.” After a while they got use to this little quirk of his and tried to remember not to say “good” or “close enough”, but rather, “Perfect, nail it.”

The other man also built houses but had a different attitude about what was going on. You see, he was working for his family who needed him to do keep his job to keep the bill collectors at bay. He showed up on time and was never cause enough for any serious reprimands from his boss. His mates liked him well enough. His work was tolerable. However, he did generally work a bit slow and his standards were in general a bit slack. Occasionally, he had to redo some work because he had hurried it through so he could be on time for supper. It wasn’t bad that he had hurried but he sometimes confused quickness with diligence and so made stupid mistakes.

One day, an inspector came to see the houses that were being constructed. The first man was having one of his moments with his fellow workers. They were pushing up an outer wall and he was being nitpicky about the measurement.
“That’s good,” his partner called to him, “Nail it.”
“What?” he replied, and pushed it off center just a tad.
“Not now,” his partner yelled. “Try it again, more, a little more. Ok, perfect, nail it.”
And so he did.

The second man realized it was lunch time. At his work sight, he nailed furiously to finish his last section before break. His boss had made it clear to him that he should get it done by noon. He was proud of having accomplished the task.

When the inspector measured his wall, he noticed that it was slightly off center and told the man so.
The second man replied, “Nobody will ever know. We’ll balance it out on the next section. It’s close enough.”
The inspector was not an overly picky man but he was noticeably irritated.
“Young man, do you know who I am?”
“No,” he said, and he chomped on an apple.
“I am the king’s servant. These two houses are for his summer cottage. He will sleep in one and I in the other. That man over there said his wall was perfect. I measured it and it is. Your wall is off. What do you think the king will say?”
The builder of houses took another bite of his apple and smiled as he said to the king’s servant, “Guess you’ll be sleeping in this house, eh mate?”