A very wealthy man once bought a huge ranch out in Arizona, and he invited some of his closest associates out to see it. In an effort to show off his spread he took his group on an all day tour of the ranch. He explained how, on his 15,000 acres, he had cattle, horses and various other livestock grazing as far as the eye could see. He talked about the mountains and rivers and grasslands that he was now the proud owner of. At the end of the day he took the group back to his house. The house was just as spectacular as the scenery. Behind the house was the largest swimming pool you have ever seen. However, this gigantic swimming pool was filled with alligators.
The rich owner explained, “I value courage more than anything else. Courage is what made me a billionaire. In fact, I think that courage is such a powerful virtue that if anybody is courageous enough to jump in that pool, swim through those alligators and make it to the other side, I’ll give them anything they want, anything — my house, my land, my money.”
Of course, everybody laughed at the absurd challenge and proceeded to follow the owner into the house for dinner when they suddenly heard a loud splash. Turning around they saw this guy swimming for his life across the pool, thrashing at the water, as the alligators swarmed after him. After several death defying seconds, the man made it, unharmed to the other side.
The rich host was absolutely amazed at what he had just seen, but stuck to his promise. He said, “You are indeed a man of courage and I will stick to my word. What do you want? You can have anything — my house, my land, my money — just tell me what you want and it is yours.” The swimmer, breathing heavily, looked up at the host and said, “I just want to know one thing — who pushed me into that pool?”
Do you need someone to give you a little push to live the Christian life? It seems, at times, that life is like trying to swim the length of a swimming pool filled with alligators. When we try to live our lives in a way that completely leaves God out of the picture we’re just asking for trouble. Why not exert a little courage and stand up for those things that are right and get more involved? Need a little push?
The story is told of a county superintendent of education who had three applications to fill one vacancy among bus drivers. He devised a scenario for selecting the proper man for the job. The superintendent took the first applicant to a sharp curve on a steep grade along the road and asked, “How close can you drive the school bus to the edge of the road on the curve without going over the cliff with the children?” The interested driver replied, “I believe I can go within two inches and still be safe.”
The second person who had applied for the job heard the same proposition. He checked the curve and told the county official, “I believe I can drive within one inch of the edge and not go over.” When the superintendent took the third driver to the same highway and made a similar proposition to him, the applicant immediately asked, “Do you think I’m crazy? I’m not interested in seeing how close I can get to the edge with the bus. I’ll be trying to see how far I can keep away from the danger line with the bus!” He received the job.
There is a borderline between the church and the world for the Christian. The church means “the called out from the kingdom of sin.” John said, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in Him. ” (I John 2:15). One who seeks to stay just as near the world of sin as possible and still follow Christ has the wrong attitude. Our individual, as the driver, should stay as far away from the danger zone as possible. Paul wrote, “Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good ” (Romans 12:9).
Charles Darrow was out of work and as poor as a pauper during the Depression, but he kept a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eye. He didn’t want his wife, expecting their first child, to be discouraged; so every night when he returned to their little apartment after standing in the unemployment lines all day, he would tell her funny stories about the things he had seen. His temperament was the color his wife used to paint her mood. If he came home weary and irritable, her spirits fell, and her smile vanished. On the other hand, if she heard him whistling a merry tune as he climbed the many flights of stairs up to their tiny rooms, she would fling open the door and scamper out to the railing to lean over and smile at him as he wound his way up the staircase. They fed on the gift of each other’s joy.
In his younger years, Darrow had enjoyed happy family vacations in nearby Atlantic City, and he drew on those memories to keep his spirits high. He developed a little game on a square piece of cardboard. Around the edges he drew a series of “properties” named after the streets and familiar places he had visited during those pleasant childhood summers. He carved little houses and hotels out of scraps of wood, and as he and his young wife played the game each evening, they pretended to be rich, buying and selling property and “building” homes and hotels like extravagant tycoons. On those long, dark evenings, that impoverished apartment was filled with the sound of laughter.
Charles Darrow didn’t set out to become a millionaire when he developed “Monopoly”, a game that was later marketed around the world by Parker Brothers, but that’s what happened. The little gift he developed from scraps of cardboard and tiny pieces of wood he had obtained from a scrap pile was simply a way to keep his wife’s spirits up during her Depression-era pregnancy; ultimately, that gift came back to him as bountiful riches.
Monopoly is still being sold by the thousands of boxes all these years later. Darrow created a special gift of joy, shared it with the world and the gift came right back to him a thousand fold. Isn’t part of our responsibility as Christians to share the joy of knowing Christ and the salvation that comes only through Him? Let’s make sure that is what people are seeing when they look at our lives. After all, we don’t have a “Monopoly” on salvation. It’s for EVERYONE!!
A beautiful white rabbit, used in a nature class, was to be given away to one of the children in a drawing. To take part in the drawing each child had to bring a note from his or her parents saying they could keep the animal if they won it. One boy’s mother was terrified by the thought of a rabbit as a pet. She emphatically said, “NO!”, much to the disappointment of the little boy. His father, seeing the deep hurt on the boy’s face said, “I don’t think it would be such a difference around here if we had one little rabbit. Besides, what are the chances of our boy winning the rabbit with twenty-eight other students in the class?” And so they gave their permission note for the boy to take to school. That afternoon the boy rushed through the front door and excitedly announced that he was the big winner. The rabbit was his! “You mean that out of all twenty-eight students in your class you won the rabbit?” his mother asked trembling. “Well, not exactly,” said the child, “I was the only one with a note!”
Assumption can often be disastrous, leading to much worse than that above. Think of our assumption that leaves so much of the Lord’s work undone. A friend or neighbor well known to us is ignored rather than taught the Word. We assumed someone else would do it. Visitors are observed at our worship services, but we make no effort to welcome them and invite them back. They never return and we wonder why. Could it be because we assumed that someone else would make them feel welcome. Contributions fall short, Bible class attendance drops, teaching positions go unfilled, facilities are uncared for etc. etc., all because of our assumptions that someone else will meet the need. Let us never be guilty of assuming that others will fill the place we ourselves fail to fill. No one can do the work God has marked for YOU!!
A favorite fish of many hobbyists is the Japanese carp, commonly known as the koi. The fascinating thing about the koi is that if you keep it in a small fish bowl it will only grow to be two or three inches long. Place the koi in a large pond and it may get as long as a foot and a half. The size of the fish is related to the size of the pond.
What about us? Is our growth determined by the size of our world? Of course, it is not the circumference of the earth or our physical size that is important, but our spiritual growth. Are we allowing our growth to be stunted by the size of the tank we have placed ourselves in? Some people’s world revolves only around themselves, what they want, where they want to go and what they know. They remain a small fish in a very tiny fish bowl.
Let us open our minds to the vastness of God’s ocean. Let us stretch our horizons and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. But how? Well, you got to get out of that little fish bowl or as I like to refer to it — your comfort zone. You’ve got to take an interest in others and other things. There are many programs and activities that you can be involved in here at Aldersgate if you would make the effort. We are always open and looking for more and better ways to reach others with the gospel and to strengthen the members of the congregation. Our goal is to work, communicate, share, live and grow together in such a way that we become BIG fish in a BIG pond!