Archive for June, 2005

Flash Fact

In a certain city in the USA, the highest rate of deaths on the road is caused by television sets thrown out of apartment windows.

How ironic. How perfectly ironic.

Today i was reminded of a story that i was told a long time ago. To me, it speaks of what we are and what we are made out to be.

Three trees stood on a hill one day, talking to each other. The first tree said “I want to be a a priceless container, used only for the greatest of kings, to store their valuables and treasures. I want to be carved into fashionable designs and beautiful artworks so that the people will know that what i hold belongs only to the king.”

The second tree said, “I want to be a great ship, so that i can sail the seas and explore unknown lands. I can bring back people who will announce tidings of new discoveries and countries.”

The third tree said, “Unlike you two, i’m quite happy with what i am and where i stand. I’d most definitely like to stand here for as long as i can, hopefully until i die, and remain strong and tall.”

Along came three woodcutters one day, each looking for their own tree. The first woodcutter came around and said, “i’m making a container of sorts, and i need to find a tree which can be designed into what i wish it to be.” Hearing this, the first tree stood as tall as it possibly could. That did the trick and thus the woddcutter cut the first tree down.

The second woodcutter said “i’m going to make a sea vessel out of my tree – i need something solid and sturdy.” Hearing this, the second tree puffed out its chest (or trunk) and looked the most impressive of the two remaining trees to the woodcutter, not that it would have made a difference because the third and last tree was in no hurry to be cut down at all. And so the second woodcutter cut the second tree down.

As both trees were being happily carried away, the third tree overheard the woodcutter mumble to himself: “I don’t really need any particular kind of tree – as long as i can find one that’ll do.” And so despite the third tree’s best efforts to look limp, weak and as undesireable as possible, he was cut down and carried away amidst screams of protests that the other trees wept upon hearing it.

None of the trees got their wishes though – the first tree was made into a trough – used only for feeding the animals that were reared in a manger. No fancy designs, no detailed carvings.

The second tree was shaped into a fishing boat, and gave up his dreams of travelling the seven seas, resigned to his fate of sitting in a lake of fish and carrying a few men who hardly paid heed to him.

The third tree was de-branched and shaped into long poles, and sadly left alone, forgotten by the people for a long while more.

One day, a couple came along and wanted to stay at the inn where the first tree was. Having no room to stay in and the wife being with child, they resorted to stay in the manger where the tree was, and as the child was born, they placed him in what was the first tree. The animals bowed before the baby, and as the wise men came and left, the first tree realised his dream – he was carrying the biggest Treasure and Gift on earth.

Many years later, the second tree carried a group of men, mainly fishermen, across the lake to a mountain. Mid-journey was marked with the worst of storms and the tree didn’t think he could make it. Forget about being a great vessel, he couldn’t even hold his weight in a lake. When he thought it couldn’t get any worse, one of the men who were sleeping woke up and spoke two words: “Be still!” and the seas and winds calmed down. The second tree then realised his dream came true – he bore the greatest tidings that anyone could every receive: the arrival of the Son of God.

The third tree was awoken from his sleep one day by angry shouts and a bloodthirsty mob. He was carried away by Roman soldiers and found himself on a bloody shoulder of a Jewish carpenter. Dragged through the streets and being stained with the spit and litter of the mob, not to mention the blood of the man who was carrying him, he found himself at Golgotha. There the man was nailed to him, and insults hurled at the man’s strained and bloody frame. The man had nothing but peace about him, and the tree could sense no wrong in him. Then he heard the words spoken through the parched and bloody lips: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And it was then that the tree realised that he would always be remembered – not for being the tall tree that he hoped to be, but that whenever people looked at him, they would think of Jesus Christ.

The trough, the fishing boat and the cross. None of them were who they hoped to be. None of them met their own expectations of what they should become. But they all found something beyond what they had in mind. God had used each of them to fulfill something in His plan.

What this reminds me is that sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want them to. We don’t get the grades we want, or the promotion, or the job, or the car, or the guy/girl. But inside it all, we also have to know that this is part of God’s plan. His ways are much higher than ours, and because we don’t know them, we try and fit our own expectations into our lives. Like the trees, we design our own desires and our own future. And like the trees, more often than not we don’t get what we want.

But like the trees, God will also turn our dashed dreams into something glorious. Not to glorify us, but Him. And in being part of the plan for His glory, we will achieve things that are beyond our own dreams.

Who we are meant to be isn’t determined by us – as much as we want to believe it. It’s when we let go and let God do His work, that’s when we achieve our destiny.

Exam results came out yesterday…to be honest I was somewhat disappointed because the grades were not as good as i expected. And i know those of you out there will be ranting about the way i feel about my grades, but if you’ll sit and listen to what i have to say for a while i’ll explain further why i’m posting this.

Amidst my checking of the results, a lot of other people evidently have also checked their results, and to my knowledge, quite a few of them didn’t do too well either. (of course i know those whom have done well, but that’s not my focus at this point of time – congrats to you anyway)

And again i’m facing with the question – does it really matter? Is there really a difference between a D and an A? Of course there is – but not in the way most of us think it does.

The difference then is how we have used our time. I shall share further by saying that even though i wasn’t happy with what i got, i was satisfied – reason being that i know i tried my best with what i had. Amidst my struggles and preparation for the musical, amidst coaching other people and doing my other stuff, i believe that i had done the best i could with the time that i had. (which is not to say that you should busy yourself with other things and forget about your studies and say you’ve done your best – that’s not your best)

So the question really boils down to whether we have been good stewards of what we have, and in this case, mainly time. Why do i use the word “steward” instead of “owner”? Well, we don’t really own the time we have, do we? Can we at will extend the day by even a second, or make an hour last more than that? We only can utilize what has been given to us, and thus we are merely stewards of our time. God is still in control of what He gives us.

To those who are given much, much will be expected. May i be so bold as to say the possibility of us being judged according to what we have done with what we have been given, and not against another human being. Our standard for purity/righteousness/etc is God’s standard. I’m pretty sure from what i know of my God, that He won’t go up to a mentally challenged person and ask why he didn’t get a Ph.D. Hewill, however, ask that if you could and should have gotten it, but didn’t, for whatever reason you chose.

What really counts is that we put in everything we had – for Jesus did just that.

How can we give Him anything less?