Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all because 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, majesty, and strength. People offered fabulous prices for the horse but the old man always refused. "This horse is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?" The man was poor and the temptation great but he never sold the horse.
One morning, the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. "You old fool," they scoffed, "we told you someone would steal your fine horse." You are poor, it would have been better to have sold him and kept the money. Now the horse is gone and you have 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?" The people contested, "Don't make us to be fools! Great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse." The man spoke again, "All I know is that the horse is gone. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I cannot say. All we see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?"
After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn't been stolen but had run into the forest. He brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man. "Old man, you were right. What we thought was a curse was a blessing." The old man responded, "Again you go too far. Say only that the horse has returned with a dozen horses with him. How do you know if this is a blessing? Do not judge, you see only a fragment. You read only one page of a book and can you now judge the whole book on that one page? Can you understand it? Life is so vast, no one knows when all there is is a fragment. I am content with what I know and not anxious about what I do not."
"Maybe the old man is right," the villagers thought. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. The twelve wild horses could be trained and sold for a profit. A profit the old man desperately needed.
The old man had only one child, a son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days he fell from one of them and broke both his legs. Once again the villagers gathered around. "You were right," they said. "The horses were not a blessing but a curse. Your only son has broken his legs and now cannot help you in your old age. You will be poorer than ever." The old man spoke again, "You people cannot stop judging and go too far. Say only that my son has broken his legs. Who knows if that is a blessing or a curse? Life comes in fragments. Nobody knows."
It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war. All the young men of the village were called to fight the war. Only the son of the old man was excluded because of his broken legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the man, crying out for their sons who had been taken. There was little chance they would see them again. "You were right old man," they wept. "Your son's accident was a blessing for because of his broken legs he is with you now. Our sons are gone forever."
The old man once again spoke, "It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only that your sons have gone to war and mine did not. No one is wise enough to know if this is a blessing or a curse. Only God knows."
This parable, from Max Lucado's Eye of the Storm, is so appropriate in my life these days. When I "grow up" I hope to finally and fully grasp this one thing: I am small; God is big. To hold this tightly when something is a blessing; even tighter when it looks like a curse. For I do not know. Life is so many broken, misshapen shards that God is fashioning into a glittering mosaic.
Chance has not been performing well the last two months. And not for lack of trying on his part. Though not distressed when he is at rest in the paddock, he is plagued with a mysterious cough and what appears to be a blockage of sorts in his throat. He can only perform light work and often cranes his neck and does a series of jaw gyrations as if trying to dislodge something. He has an appointment with the vet for a full exam and internal scope. This visit won't be cheap (What am I talking about--they never are!!). I alternate between fear and resignation as my horse girlfriends and I laugh about the "free" horse. Yeah, free comes with a ball and chain--his name is Murphy. Of course all horses are expensive. I know 10,000 dollar animals that can hardly be kept sound. But I can't help worrying about a possible tumor/cancer/outrageously expensive terminal illness. What will we do with an unusable proud little pinto who is deeply loved by a ten-year-old girl? My mind jumps ahead, manipulating circumstances that haven't come to pass. I am cursed.
The above parable came to mind on Tuesday of this week as I lounged in the sun and watched Haley guide my gelding Tango through his gaits at her lesson. He is her horse while Chance is down. The horse I've said isn't suitable for a child. Though highly trained and well seasoned, I've feared Tango's knack for finding trouble and having a laugh (at your expense) would frustrate Haley. I felt protective of them both. But now they are having fun. He is responsive and obedient; she is relaxed and smiling. She wants to take him to a fun show this weekend.
Could all this somehow be....A blessing??
Perhaps I should stick to the facts I know and be content. Because I do not know; I do not see the complete picture in the shards of circumstance.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.--1 cor. 13:12