This past week, a book I’m currently reading, “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver (thanks Debbie!), introduced a story to me that I’ve never heard, but it stopped me in my tracks and really made me think. The story is one of those parable kind of stories (by Rosemarie Kowalski) and while it is a bit long for my blog, I think it might spark some interesting thoughts in you too. I’m going to post it here in 2 segments and then put some thoughts on the end of it. I hope you’ll respond with how this story struck you! Here’s the first part of the story:
The story is told of a man who met God in a lovely valley one day. “How are you this morning?” God asked the fellow. “I’m fine, thank you,” the man replied. “Is there anything I can do for you today?”
“Yes, there is,” God said. “I have a wagon with three stones in it, and I need someone to pull it up the hill for me. Are you willing?
“Yes I’d love to do something for you. Those stones don’t look very heavy, and the wagon’s in good shape. I’d be happy to do that. Where would you like me to take it?”
God gave the man specific instructions, sketching a map in the dust at the side of the road. “Go through the woods and up the road that winds up the side of the hill. Once you get to the top, just leave the wagon there. Thank you for your willingness to help me today.”
“No problem!” the man replied and set off cheerfully. The wagon pulled a bit behind him, but the burden was an easy one. He began to whistle as he walked quickly through the forest. The sun peeked through the trees and warmed his back. What a joy to be able to help the Lord, he thought, enjoying the beautiful day.
Just around the third bend, he walked into a small village. People smiled and greeted him. Then, at the last house, a man stopped him and asked, “How are you this morning? What a nice wagon you have. Where are you off to?”
“Well, God gave me a job this morning, I’m delivering these three stones to the top of the hill.”
“My goodness! Can you believe it? I was just praying this morning about how I was going to get this rock I have up to the top of the mountains,” the man told him with great excitement. “You don’t suppose you could take it up there for me? It would be such an answer to prayer.”
The man with the wagon smiled and said, “Of course. I don’t suppose God would mind. Just put it behind the other three stones.” Then he set off with three stones and a rock rolling behind him.
The wagon seemed a bit heavier. He could feel the jolt of each bump, and the wagon seemed to pull to one side a bit. The man stopped to adjust the load as he sang a hymn of praise, pleased to be helping out a brother as he served God. Then he set off again and soon reached another small village at the side of the road. A good friend lived there and offered him a glass of cider.
“You’re going to the top of the hill?” his oldest friend asked.
“Yes! I am so excited. Can you imagine, God gave me something to do!”
“Hey!” said his friend. “I need this bag of pebbles taken up. I’ve been so worried that it might not get taken care of since I haven’t any time to do it myself. But you could fit it in right between the three stones here in the middle.” With that, he placed his burden in the wagon.
“Shouldn’t be a problem,” the man said. “I think I can handle it.” He finished the cider, then stood up and brushed his hands on his overalls before gripping the handle of the wagon. He waved good-bye and began to pull the wagon back onto the road.
The wagon was definitely tugging on his arm now, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. As he started up the incline, he began to feel the weight of the three stones, the rock, and the pebbles. Still, it felt good to help a friend. Surely God would be proud of how energetic and helpful he’d been.
One little stop followed another, and the wagon grew fuller and fuller. The sun was hot above the man pulling it, and his shoulders ached with the strain. The songs of praise and thanksgiving that had filled his heart had long since left his lips as resentment began to build inside. Surely this wasn’t what he had signed up for that morning. God had given him a burden heavier than he could bear….(to be continued).