The great spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, wrote a story describing the truth that there is a limit to what we can do by means of our natural abilities, but there is no limit to what God can do in and through us if we trust him and surrender ourselves to his will.
Once upon a time there was a little river that said, "I can become a big river." It worked hard to get big, but in the process, encountered a huge rock. "I won't let this rock stop me," the river said. And the little river pushed and pushed and pushed until it finally made its way around the rock. Next the river encountered a mountain. "I won't let this mountain stop me," the river said. And the little river pushed and pushed until it finally carved a canyon through the mountain.
The river, now large and powerful, finally arrived at the edge of a vast desert. "I won't let this desert stop me," the river said. But as the river pushed and pushed its way across the desert, the hot sand began soaking up its water until only a few puddles remained. The river was quiet. Then the river heard a voice from above. "My child, stop pushing. It's time to surrender. Let me lift you up. Let me take over."
The river said, "Here I am." The sun then lifted the river up and turned it into a huge cloud. And the wind carried the river across the desert and let it rain down on the hills and valleys of the faraway fields, making them fruitful and rich.
If we stay focused on Christ, have more faith in him than in ourselves, and obey his will even when it's hard, no obstacle will be too much for us, and he will make our lives more fruitful than we could ever imagine.
We are like clay vessels
A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay vessels. It was like someone had rolled balls of clay and left them out in the sun to bake.
They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.
He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone!
Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay vessels. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of pesos worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him.
He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of pesos in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!
It's like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn't look like much from the outside. It isn't always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it.
We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.
There is a treasure in each one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.
May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay.
Perseverance is the key!
As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages.
It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime can break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.
He saw a trainer nearby and asked, “Why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away?”
“Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before? You are not failed till you don’t quit. And most of the people quit when they are too close to success. Perseverance and self-faith is the Key!
How to Lead Authentically
A troubled mother one day came to Mahatma Gandhi with her daughter and explained to him that her daughter was in the habit of eating far more sweet food than was good for her.
She asked, would the Mahatma speak to the girl and persuade her to give up this harmful habit? Gandhi sat for a while in silence and then said: "Bring your daughter back in three weeks’ time, and then I will speak to her."
The mother and her daughter returned after three weeks. Gandhi quietly took the daughter aside and in a few simple words urged her to abandon the habit. Thanking Gandhi for giving her daughter such good advice, the mother then said to him in a puzzled voice, "Still, I would like to know, Mahatma, why you didn't just say these words to my daughter three weeks ago when I first brought her to you."
Explained the Mahatma in reply, "three weeks ago, I myself was still addicted to eating sweet foods.”
This story depicts a great quality of a true leader. You cannot preach effectively what you do not practice yourself. You need to inspire people with your actions, with your words. In words of Mahatma Gandhi, "You must be the change you want to see in the world. As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”
If you change yourself you will change your world. If you change how you think then you will change how you feel and what actions you take. And so the world around you will change. Not only because you are now viewing your environment through new lenses of thoughts and emotions but also because the change within can allow you to take action in ways you wouldn’t have – or maybe even have thought about – while stuck in your old NEGATIVE thought patterns.