An old Chinese fable goes like this…
Many years ago six steeds decided to leave the mountainous region of China where they had lived all their lives. Desiring to find a better life elsewhere, they eventually found themselves in a forest. There was no visible path leading out so they began to discuss among themselves in which direction to head.
Suddenly, they heard a voice greeting them. Looking about, they saw a turtle crawling along on crippled legs.
“Where are you headed?” the horses asked him.
“I’ve heard there is a paradise for animals and I want to find it,” the turtle replied.
“Do you know which way to go?” one steed inquired.
“Not really, but it’s a few thousand miles away,” came the reply.
“How do you expect to get there on those legs?” taunted another horse.
“As long as I keep going I know I’ll reach it,” said the turtle.
The steeds watched the turtle limp slowly away, one determined step after another. They began to debate among themselves,
“I believe we should head south,” suggested the red horse.
But the white horse argued they should go west while the black horse figured the east was most hopeful. The rest of them couldn’t make up their minds. On and on they deliberated among themselves.
Meanwhile, the turtle carried on his way, his mind focused on the journey. Three years later, he finally reached his goal. Entering the animal paradise, he was astonished to discover none of the six steeds had arrived. Every day, he looked for them from atop a hill, but they never came.i
Moral of the story? Keep your mind ready for action and yours eyes set on the goal.
During the past couple weeks, I’ve been meditating on the meaning of the Apostle Peter’s words in I Peter 1:13,
“Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (HCSB)
In ancient times, as is true in some cultures today, men and women wore long robes. If they needed to hurry along or run, they would pull their robes up and tuck them into their belt. This enabled them to run without hindrance and focus on the task at hand. Instead of being a distraction and potential hazard the girded clothing helped them reach their goal.
I’ve been more conscious of things that distract me from what God has purposed for me to engage in day-to-day. It’s so easy to get caught up in reading novels and biographies, watching the latest episodes of my favorite TV programs and movies, re-decorating rooms after storing away Christmas memorabilia, dreaming about getting back into scrapbooking and sewing – all good things which provide much enjoyment and relaxation! But do they sidetrack me from focusing on giving God the best of my time? Sometimes they do…I want to change that.
“Change is not an event; it is a process,” so the saying goes. Change begins in my mind and this mind is ready for action.
Until next time,
**Happy Chinese New Year on January 31st!!” (Year of the Horse)
i Zhang Ciyun, Chinese Idioms and Their Stories, 1996, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, pages 15-16