Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Parable of the Frozen Pond: Part 3

"How?  How can I break this ice?  It must be several feet thick!  I would need some kind of a mechanical drill to get through it. Or a flamethrower," you add on sardonically. The little you chuckles.  "You can't just break this ice.  We are so inclined to thinking of 'quick fixes' these days.  It takes time to freeze water, doesn't it?  Remember when we would fill the ice tray with Sprite in the summer, and how it seemed to take forever for it to freeze?"
 You nod, although a little perturbed at the reminder that you are both the same person.
 "It's the same with hearts!"exclaims little you. "They don't just turn to stone.  It is a process.  Day by day, thought by thought, sin by sin.  When subjected to enough trial, pain, and heartbreak, even the most stalwart hearts can harden, merely to protect ourselves from all the pain we experience in this life.
 "Just as the spring sunrise will thaw an icy pond, so will turning to the Son bring you a 'broken heart and a contrite spirit'. You have been in the dark too long, you have allowed your heart to harden, and grow cold.

 "First, let me ask: why would you want to change?  Why does the Lord "require the heart"?  What's the big deal with hearts, anyway?"
  The question hangs in the air.  You are thinking. 
  Why IS the heart such a big deal?  Why do the scriptures always talk about the heart?  Didn't they know it's the BRAIN that controls everything?  The heart is just a bunch of muscle!  In fact, it's probably good to have a hard heart.  That just means it's healthy and strong, right? You reflect inwardly.  But that can't be right; the Lord tells us time and time again that "heardheartedness" is a sin. 
 "Well," you respond, finally, "our hearts reflect what we desire, right?  I mean, anything with hearts is usually referring to love and stuff.  So the Lord says He 'requires' our hearts because He just wants us to love Him, right?" you venture hopefully.

 "Well, kind of." replies little you. "The Lord does command us to love Him, first and foremost.  But what then does He command us to do?"
 Suddenly a primary song from your childhood seems to ring in your ears.  As I have loved you, love one another....
 "Love our neighbors!" you almost shout with excitement. "The Lord commands us to love everyone, as ourselves!"
 "Right! You are officially caught up to Primary level.  That's good a start."
 Your face burns as little you continues, "Jesus doesn't so much ask us to love Him, but to love each other as He does. You see, almost all people are selfish and prideful by nature.  Love just doesn't come naturally, although some people have more proficiency at it than others.  Love takes work.  Love takes effort.  Love sometimes means opening ourselves up to pain, and giving selflessly to others."
 "We learn from the sermon on the mount that we should not only 'love our neighbors', but our enemies as well. For even the sinners love those who love them back.  Christ asks us to love everyone, regardless of how they treat you."
 "But that's impossible!" you blurt out, thinking of a coworker who has given you a particularly bad time. "How can we be expected to love people who are just so....unloveable?!"
 The little you looks at you, sadly.  "No one is unloveable.  That's what Christ teaches us.  When we see others as He does, infirmities, weaknesses, hopes, dreams, and all, it's impossible not to love someone.
 "Take Bob for example," little you continues, referring to the coworker whose memory had just incited you to anger, "he seems like an impossible person, right?  Constantly on your back, making fun of your haircut, quick to point out your mistakes and your flaws in your work. Loud, crude, obnoxious, arrogant, prideful, the laundry list of bad traits goes on. He doesn't care about anyone's feelings about himself, right?"
 "...Right." you answer after a short pause, not quite sure if you are being tricked or not.
 "Well let me tell you a few things you don't know about Bob.  He was born in a broken family; a family of five children who were supported only by his mother.  As the oldest, Bob got a job as soon as he was able, to help support the struggling family.  He was fourteen when he first got a job working as a farmhand.  He would work all day after school until sundown, every day.  By the time he got to high school, his mom became terminally ill with cancer.  She slowly passed away, leaving Bob to take care of his one brother and three sisters. He had to drop out of high school to work full time, allowing his siblings to go continue getting an education. Two of his sisters are teachers, one is a lawyer, while his younger brother is in school to be a heart surgeon."
 "Bob works with you at the grocery store because that is the best job he will probably ever be able to attain."

 The little you pauses, and you are surprised to feel tears again running down your cheeks.  That's not all, either, as you realize you are standing in several inches of water, up past your shoe.  The water, however, was not freezing, but warm and soothing, like a bubble bath.  You look around and see that the pond has started to thaw in select spot, steaming slightly in the soft sunlight.  You suddenly realize that sun is starting to peek through the clouds over the trees as well! Suddenly a ray shines on you, and you feel an upwelling of emotion.  Not of fear, irritation, or anger, but of love and understanding for Bob Rudger.
 The light becomes blinding, and suddenly you start to phase out of consciousness.  You hear little you's voice, growing steadily more distant, say, "this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also."

 You open your eyes with the sun shining in the window on your face. You smile. It's going to be a good day.

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