Monday, August 15, 2005
A man traveled over many miles and days to finally reach a mountain monastery; his search was for great wisdom and the monastery was said to hold such wisdom.
Greeted by a youthful monk at the monastery entrance, the man exclaimed, "I've come great distance for great wisdom and I heard I would find it here."
The youthful monk led the man down the arched hallways to where the Master was reflecting in the monastery garden. The Master motioned the man to draw closer and asked the man, "What is it you seek?"
The man said in a slightly timid voice, "I've come great distance for great wisdom."
The Master smiled and replied, "If that is what you seek, then remember these two things: Expect great things FROM God. Attempt great things FOR God."
The man could hardly believe his ears. Was this the most profound wisdom the Master could hold?
The Master saw the man was disturbed and asked him, "Is everything all right?"
The man replied, "I came expecting earth-shattering and life-changing wisdom and this is all you share with me?"
The Master simply replied, "All great wisdom flows from these two statements. You have traveled a great distance for a great truth and this would not have been possible had you not expected that God would deliver you here safely. As well, this travel would not have been possible had you not attempted this great feat for a greater good: seeking the truth. So you see, my son, you have already begun living this great wisdom."
To expect: to believe with unwavering certainty. Barring any catastrophic or unforeseen occurrence, we expect that the sun will rise every morning. We expect the seasons to come and go in their set order. We expect our parents to love us unconditionally. And we expect a certain amount of civility from others.
We don't demand the sun to rise each morning; that would be silly. We don't command the seasons to turn in a set order; our efforts would be futile. And we don't direct others to love and care about us; that would be impossible. We expect - we come to believe in the certainty of particular elements of Life and hold fast to these beliefs... And the first step toward great wisdom is to expect - not demand, command or direct - great things from God. Of all the certainties of Life, this is the most certain and the most unchanging. People may be cruel to one another from time to time, the seasons and sunrises will eventually cease to occur, but God's affinity for doing great things will never end.
Please note that the Master's wisdom did not say "Expect great things for you from God." It simply stated, "Expect great things from God." Miracles and movements affecting an entire world, an entire Life - not just you. To expect is to believe with certainty that you will be witness to some pretty amazing and incredible miracles and movements of God. It is the first step toward great wisdom.
To attempt great things for God. To attempt; to try with all of one's strength and fortitude; to act in good faith. The second step toward great wisdom to act and walk with the faith of a child; a child that lovingly crayons a personal masterpiece for his/her Parent. To attempt great things for God does not mean that we are always successful in our efforts. It means the acknowledgement that we try our best and understand the partnership we have with God as we walk through this Life. We attempt our best in our efforts and thoughts and then let God take over to do His/Her great things.
But also note that we don't attempt our best as a condition of a quid pro quo (you do for me and I'll do for you) relationship. We attempt to be our best and do our best in our relationships and marriage because of our love for the other person. And God expects (not demands, commands or directs) nothing less from us in this relationship. We attempt because of a sense of love, not because of a fear of eternal damnation. To attempt to do great things for God is the second step toward great wisdom... and joy.
To expect and to attempt both call for a personal leap of faith. It calls for a faith that believes great things will come from the Grand Creator. It calls for a faith that believes that once we've attempted, great things will then come from the Grand Creator. The perfect partnership. The joyous journey of Life. The wisest of all wisdom.
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