Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Fragment...

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared
for those who love Him."
~ 1 Corinthians 2:9

I have a friend who is going through a fierce trial.
I have several friends who are going through a fierce trial.
And there are friends of friends who I know
that are going through a fierce trial.
Potentially cripple your faith kind of fierce.
The kind of pain that can take you out of the game.
You know. Emotionally "check out."

I heard it said that holding on to pain
can clip our wings and ground us,
and if we hold on to it for too long,
we can begin to forget we were ever created to fly in the first place.

Many years ago, just about 20 years to be exact, I first read Max Lucado share a portuguese fable that has stuck with me to this day.

Max says, "It's a simple fable, yet for those of us who try to pass judgement on life without knowing the rest of the story, the message is profound."

He tells the story like this:

"Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for 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, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. "This horse is not a horse to me," he would tell them. "It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?" The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. "You old fool," they scoffed, "we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you've 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? How can you judge?"

The people contested, "Don't make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse."

The old man spoke again, "All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don't know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can't say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?"

The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn't, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn't been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. "Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us."

The man responded, "Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses came back with him, but don't judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase? Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don't say that this is a curse, or a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don't."

"Maybe the old man is right," they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again, the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgements.

"You were right," they said. "You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever."

The old man spoke again. "You people are obsessed with judging. Don't go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments."

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

"You were right, old man," they wept. "God knows you were right. That proves it. Your son's accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever."

The old man spoke again. "It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows."

Sweet Bellas, as Max goes on to say: "the old man was right, we only have a fragment. Life's mishaps and horrors are only a page out of a grand book. We must be slow about drawing conclusions. We must reserve judgement on life's storms until we know the whole story.

Who knows where the woodcutter learned his patience. Perhaps from another woodcutter in Galilee. For it was The Carpenter who said it best: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." (Matthew 6:34)

He should know. He is the Author of our story. And He has already written the final chapter."


  1. my friend, I always feel so uplifted when ever I read your posts, or have such a wonderful way of looking at everything. While I know I have very little to do with what happens in my life and place my trust in God, I am sometimes impatient, and wonder and complain....I know I don't mean it, and I know I believe....and I know despite everything stupid and wrong I have done...God still loves me.....there were times in my life that was all I had.
    Words will never express how truly blessed I feel to have met you. Thank you for being there for all of us.
    Have a wonderful day my friend.

  2. As Chef Dennis has said above...I feel so blessed to have met you. In this world, it is so easy to lose track of the bigger picture. It is so easy to forget that we can only see fragments of a much larger picture. I know that over the past year, I've felt hopeless at times, but again and again...God shows me that His ways are far better than my own. This fable is such a fitting reminder, and I'm so glad that I fell upon it this morning. You are a beautiful person, and I'm so touched by the words you leave me, week after week. Thank you.

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  4. Ciao! I missed you & your blog posts. Glad to see you back, you haven't posted in weeks, I hope nothing is wrong. I assume maybe you were away or busy preparing for the holidays. This is so inspiring. What a coincidence, I'm going through a rough situation lately as well. I'm glad I read this. Thanks for sharing mia amica! I agree with the person above I feel blessed to have met you too & I think you are a beautiful person.

    Happy Holidays!!! ♥

  5. I love this post. After a hectic day at school, it relaxed me. It was nice to sit back and read, enamored by the story, and to know that today was just a fragment in something bigger.

  6. Beautiful post filled with love and truth my dear Bella...and the author of our story isn't finished with us. I see it as an everlasting novel...a book with no end! Have you ever enjoyed a book so much that you longed for it to last forever...the best written, colorful, captivating breath of life you've ever laid eyes on?! That's how I see our life eternal through Christ...the author of it all! Joy to you, dear friend! xo

  7. @ Dennis & Monet - you are a treasure, truly, and the feeling is mutual @ Alessandra, looking forward to it! @ Sarah amen to that @Lorraine you are spot on sweet bella, I couldn't have said it better myself xoxo

  8. Chef Dennis posted a link to this blog and I am thankful he did. It is a rough year for many of us, rough for my husband and I. So many things that are straining us in these hard times.

    But like so many things in life, this is just one small bump on the road of life. Looking too far ahead, complaining, or worrying do not help us see what is in front of us. The friends we have, the family we have. It's a gift and one that should be cherished. The bad days will get better but it's the present that should matter most.

    Thank you so much for sharing such an uplifting and inspiring story. I often struggle with my faith in God, sometimes not believing He exists, but it's posts like these that help to restore my faith.

  9. Ah Bella....the heart of a believer feels another believer's pain. That's what the link to eternity does for us. Thank you for sharing this amazing parable.

  10. Such a truthful and poignant post. Very though provoking yet comforting...
    I wish for you a beautiful Holiday Season lovely lady!

  11. What a moving and passionate post, especially at this holiday time. What we have and experience is only a fragment of our whole life. Live one day at a time.

  12. Beautiful. Thank you so much for posting this.

  13. I've given you an award, my friend. When you have a chance, head over to my site and claim it, ok?

  14. That is an excellent way of looking at the world.

  15. What a beautiful and inspiring post. Thank you for sharing:)

  16. I am so glad I found your blog and this is such a wonderful post! This is so true. I don't believe in passing judgement without knowing the whole story. It is always a big mistake to jump to conclusion without finding out the truth. Our own perception fools us most of the time!

  17. Thank you for sharing a beautiful story. It is so true, we can not determine what God has in store for us and making judgements and jumping to conclusions is something we should refrain from doing. We should take one day at a time and enjoy all of our blessings.

  18. What a beautiful story. It really reminded me to slow down a bit in the day to day pace of it all. Usually, I'm constantly trying to figure everything out and wrap my head around the fragments and things I don't understand. I'm also slowly learning that it doesn't do me much good. In the end, God takes care of it better than I ever could, whether I've spent a week worried about it or not. Sometimes you gotta just go with the flow and enjoy the present. :)

  19. You have blessed me once again.....

    Thank you!

    Merry Christmas to you! May 2011 be your best year ever.

  20. Oh wow. What a story! The fact of the matter is exactly that...we only know a fragment. We know what is here and now, but He knows what is, what was and what will be.

  21. This is such an interesting story! It just goes to show..never jump to conclusions!
    Thanks for your reply. Yes, I can remember how tiring and hectic it is, taking care of young toddlers! Hope that everything else has worked out well for you.
    Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May the new year ahead brings you a blessed year full of happiness, sunshine, good health, love and laughter all around!
    Enjoy your holidays!



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