Saturday, July 22, 2006

A parable

For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good. Thus you shall say to them: "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens."Jeremiah 10:3, 5, 11

We love him, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Once there was a young lady who fell in love with a young man. She fell in love with him because he was the man of her dreams. He was everything she could have wanted. Since she was a little girl and once had been rescued from an uncomfortable situation in a public park by a friendly policeman who happened to be nearby, she had always wanted to marry a policeman. When she became a teenager, she and her girlfriends would talk about their future marriages, and she would envision exactly what she wanted in a man. She had a mental picture of an extremely tall man, with brilliant platinum blonde hair, and light blue eyes. He would be gentle and kind, and loved horseback riding and reading books about ancient history, just like her daddy did. He would sing in the church choir, his favorite food was peanut butter jelly sandwiches, and--even though she didn't admit this to her girlfriends--he would have a really odd, loud laugh like her older brother.

When this young lady went to college, her friends started looking for husbands, but she didn't know if she would ever find a gentleman who was like what she wanted. After all, she was kind of particular...But one day, she went to choir rehearsal, and as the director told a silly joke she was startled to hear a loud and rather annoying laugh coming from the back of the classroom. Her eyes grew big when she turned to find a tall, platinum blonde boy with pale blue eyes. On the way out of class, she made an effort to leave the classroom with him, and out of courtesy introduced herself and asked his name and what he was studying.

"Law enforcement," he said.

Since it was lunchtime, she invited him to join her with her friends at the cafeteria. He ate nothing but two peanut butter jelly sandwiches. As the conversation progressed, it was discovered that his favorite hobbies were horseback riding and reading books about ancient history. She was happy; she had found her man.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. Or does. The unhappy ending for the young woman is that this gentleman had absolutely no interest in her. In fact, a few months later he was seen holding hands with another girl from Finland.

There was also another young man, 21 years old, who lived in a large metropolitan area. He had just reached the age where he could drink legally, and was definitely taking advantage of that opportunity to barhop with his older friends. He was very attractive and learned that bars were excellent places to find women who were more drunk than he, and were perfectly willing to go home with him. In his large apartment (which his parents paid for), his living room was transformed into a home theater. He went to school every day to become a banker, and was expecting to do extremely well financially. He lived alone, but he was not often lonely, because as soon as he came home from school, he would take a drink, watch TV, and head out with his friends to the bar. It was fun, he was happy; he had found his life.

Does the young man's story end there? Probably not. Because the young woman in love and the young man who loved his life both faced the same problem--That which they loved did not return their love. The people in Jeremiah's time, in ancient days, longed for the idols of the surrounding nations; gods of wood and stone. They found happiness in the symbols they worshipped. But the gods did not love them in return, so all of their happiness was completely useless. Today, people's devotions might be directed to somewhat different types of idols--pleasures, entertainment, ambitions for riches and fame. But no matter how much happiness these things may bring us at the time they are received, they will not love us in return. And if they don't return our love, our devotion is useless.

God alone has given us a promise that cannot be broken. "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, [saying], Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." (Jer. 31:3) "For God so loved the world...." (John 3:16) We can be assured that this is one relationship where our love can be returned. That's the only useful kind of devotion in the universe.


Asia'D said...

is this story real or just an example?

Stephanie said...

The stories of these two people aren't totally real, but based on the experiences of people I've known. When I thought about their experiences, I found parallels which seemed to illustrate our relationship with a loving God rather than unloving ones.