Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A New Year Parable

Sixteen-year-old Jerry Smith came home from his first day at school in the New Year with a perplexed look on his face. “Dad,” he began, “my English teacher gave me this essay assignment, and I don’t have a clue what to write about. I am supposed to write a thousand word essay on what I can do to make the world a better place.”

“Did she give you any ideas?” asked Dad.

“Yeah, she suggested we might want to write something about what we can do to stop climate change.” He rolled his eyes.

His Dad chuckled. “You don’t seem to be too enthused…”

Jerry slouched down in the easy chair. “Not quite. From what I’ve figured out sunspots have a lot more to do with global warming than man-made carbon dioxide ever could. What can I do to reduce sunspots? Not much. What are your ideas, Dad?”

The elder Smith paused and stretched out on the couch. There were a few moments of silence. Finally, he began with a question: “How about writing about prayer?”

“Prayer? How can I write a thousand words on prayer?”

“Let’s try it this way. What are the two or three biggest trouble spots in the world you can think of right now?”

Jerry grew thoughtful. “Well, I suppose our US economy is in rough shape right now. People are losing their jobs and people are losing their homes and their life-savings.”

“Good!” his dad responded. “What else?”

“Well, there’s a war going on between Israel and Hamas. That’s a real trouble spot, especially if a country like Iran gets involved.”

“They’re already involved, son. They are funding and arming the Palestinians in Gaza.”

“OK,” Jerry countered, “but how does prayer fit into all this? That was your suggestion, you know.”

“Here’s my idea, son. You can take it or leave it. There’s not too much you and I can do to fix America’s economy, except pray. There’s not too much you and I can do to bring peace to the middle east, but pray.

“I’ve read in the Bible that ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.’ I figure maybe we are having economic difficulties because God has a thing or two to teach us. Maybe we as a country aren’t living the way He wants us to. Maybe the best thing we could do for our country is to pray God will change Americans’ hearts to turn back to Him.”

“Maybe,” Jerry countered, “but what about the war in the Middle East?”

Jerry’s dad responded, “I read some time ago in one of the psalms that we are supposed to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Our prayer should go something like this: ‘May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.’ I expect only God can bring peace to Jerusalem.”

For the first time, Jerry looked thoughtful. “Hey, that could take more than a thousand words! Thanks, Dad. At least you’ve given me something to think about.”

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