Yesterday I called on us all to stay the course and do the job to which we were called. I believe in that with all my heart. But today I acknowledge that there will come a time when being faithful to our calling will force hard choices on us. In that day, I pray that we will each – and all – be led by faithfulness.
The story I am about to tell you is true, though the people in the story are entirely fictitious.
There once was a set of ambitious twins who were born to a hard-working, modestly wealthy family. The twins believed that they were set to inherit the aging couples small fortune and an ancient book passed down to them through the generations. To the aging parents, the fortune was of less importance than the book.
The twins were not content to inherit together and divide the fortune. Instead, each claimed the entire fortune, arguing that the other was not the rightful child of their parents, though they were conceived, formed and reared together. At the heart of the argument was the battered old book on the family’s kitchen table.
One of the twins was devoted to the parents’ values. This heir thought like, lived like, dreamed like and worked like the aging parents had in their youth. The parents were deeply proud of this twin, and saw themselves moving into the future in this twin’s life. This twin cherished the book on the table as a rule for right-conduct and modeled their lives around it. The book, this twin argued, held power born of timeless truth.
The other twin moved forward in ways that concerned the parents. This heir dreamed of moving in a different direction. Rejecting many of the parents’ deeply held convictions, this twin nursed entrepreneurial dreams and cutting edge political visions. This twin saw the old book as a spring-board toward (and occasionally an obstacle on the path to) enlightenment. It was an excellent resource for understanding the past and had some considerable wisdom to speak to the future, but it was, after all, an old book – not something innately powerful.
One day, each of the twins mused, the parents would die, and there would be a pitched battle for the proper use of the family fortune. The trouble was that the parents simply refused to die, and while they lived, they sided with the first twin. On and on the battle raged, upsetting and unsettling every effort toward growth and normalcy.
And there was another kink in the plans of each of the twins…
Late in their lives, the parents had given the twins a little sister. She was a sweet little thing: strong, kind and obedient. She adored her parents and doted on her older siblings. When they spoke, she followed them about, drinking in all they had to say. They often ignored her, considering her more of a pet than an heir. This was their grave mistake, because they failed to see the depth of their little sister’s wisdom, grace and power.
As the parents waned in strength, the twins fought over the fortune. Their houses and lands, investments and liquid assets were the topic of continuous conflict. Their neighbors were sometimes appalled and sometimes amused at the unseemly display, but the twins didn’t seem to care. The parents were almost past caring, but the little sister was rising, and she was deeply disturbed.
One day the little sister said to the twins, “Give me the book, and do what you wish with the fortune. When our parents started their journey, they had no fortune but the book. In those days their hearts were pure and their faith was strong. They were willing to let go of every treasure to keep faith with the book and its Author. All that you see – all that you struggle to control – is the product of living into the truth in the book.”
So the twins, focused as they were on their fortune, surrendered the book into the hands of their little sister. The parents, grieving for the book, weakened and passed away. The fortune, divorced from the book, melted in the hands of the twins, and the two were reduced to nothing.
The little sister looked at her impoverished siblings and said “If you will honor the book and live according to its principles, you can come and live in my house.”
The second twin was insulted and turned, instead, to serve the political machine. Better, the second twin reasoned, to live on the street in front of the machine than to be bound to a house that lives in the past. This twin arrogantly departed alone.
The first twin, deeply ashamed now of attachment to the perishing fortune, thanked the little sister for her gracious invitation, and humbly accepted her charity. Hungry, cold and alone, this one moved through the doors of the rising house that was built by the truth of the battered old book. On the wall was a portrait of their parents, painted in bright colors by the hands of the little sister. The first twin was amazed at the likeness she had captured. It had been years since their faces had looked so bright, alive and peaceful.
This morning, as I sit in my office with my cup of coffee and my morning dose of truth from the battered old book, I am waiting for the little sister to rise and build her house. She loves the book. When she finds her true voice, I will go live in her house – bringing with me any who are seeking spiritual shelter – because she is the true heir. Everything else is perishing.
People, pray for the little sister to rise. As you pray, work with diligence. And be patient. She will rise.
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?2 Corinthians 6:14 New American Standard Bible