Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Parables, Part 2

Have you ever noticed how much we can glean from a very small parable? Read on...

One day a weary traveler stopped in at a shop located near the marketplace of a coastal city. The sign on the shop said, “Fine Pearls.” The traveler was always on the lookout for treasures and he asked the shopkeeper if he could see his merchandise.

The shopkeeper, a kind and discerning man, showed the traveler some of his collection. He noticed the longing eyes of the traveler as he surveyed the pearls one at a time. His own eyes carried a slight smile as he anticipated the question which the traveler was sure to ask.

Finally. “Do you have others?”

“Others?” queried the shopkeeper as he waited to see into the man’s heart. “I have shown you my collection and it has some rare jewels, don’t you think?”

“Without doubt,” said the traveler, “but I heard a story in a faraway port and I wonder if it’s true.”

“A faraway port? What does that have to do with me?” The shopkeeper asked.

“It has much to do with you, sir. More correctly, it has to do with the possibility that you have a pearl far more rare than any you have shown me. And, if that is true, I ask you humbly if I might see it.”

This time the shopkeeper reached deep within the folds of his clothing. He pulled out a small, velvet bag and poured one pearl into his hand. Holding it up to the light, he said, “Could this be what you are asking about?”

A look of deep joy ran across the face of the traveler. Voice quavering, he asked, “How much?”

“How much do you have?” replied the shopkeeper.

“I have a little bit of gold. It isn’t much, but it is the sum of my earthly possessions.”

“That’s good,” stated the shopkeeper, “but do you have anything else? This pearl is indeed precious.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.” The humble traveler was turning to leave.

“Don’t go just yet,” the shopkeeper pled. “Do you have anything else besides that small amount of gold?”

“Well, we -- my family and I -- own the little home where we live.”

“That’s good!” smiled the shopkeeper. “A small bag of gold and your home. You mentioned your family?”

Shocked, but intrigued, the traveler said, “My wife and I have a son and two daughters.”

“Wonderful!” The shopkeeper was laughing now. “A little gold, a small house, a wife, a son, two daughters. Anything else?”

Horrified that the conversation was continuing this way, the humble traveler turned to leave. Quickly, the shopkeeper called him back. “Sir, please! I beg you, please look at the pearl one last time.”

The traveler looked. There was something about this pearl. He longed for it with all his heart. Then the shopkeeper said, “One last question, sir. Do you have anything else? An animal to carry your pack, for instance?”

“I have an old burro,” said the traveler. “I’m afraid he isn’t worth much.”

“Let’s see,” the shopkeeper replied. “A small bag of gold, a little home, a wife, a son, two daughters. Oh, and a tired, old donkey.”

He held out the pearl to the man. “Sold!”

The man was full of fear. Yet he couldn’t resist the pearl. He reached out his hand and took it, his face breaking into ecstasy. He just stood there. He knew that, if he walked away, he would regret it forever.

The shopkeeper finally cleared his throat. “Humble traveler, you have purchased my pearl. Alas, now I need to ask your your help.”

“Help? What could I do to help you?”

“Well, you see,” the shopkeeper replied, “I have this bag of gold. Could you take care of it for me? I will from time to time ask that you give some of it away for me to help some of my friends. Could you do that?”

“Uh, of course,” said the traveler.

“And I have a problem. You see, I already have a place to live. Could you continue to live in that home you gave me? But, occasionally, when some of my friends need hospitality, could you share it with them?”

“Yes. Of course!”

“And, traveler, there’s another matter. I also have a family. Could you take care of the family you dedicated to me? Could you protect them for me? And, if I have something special I need them to do, could you bless them and let them do it?”

By now, the traveler was weeping. He had given the shopkeeper everything. As tears flowed down his cheeks and dripped from his beard, he asked, “Do you want me to care for your burro, too, sir?”

45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls,
46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:45-46 (New American Standard Bible)

To us, He is the pearl!


Rachel Cotterill said...

I was so, so confused by yesterday's post. It makes much more sense now!

C. Beth said...

Great characterization of God!