My thoughts (David Zier):
One who walks in integrity will be safe, but whoever follows crooked ways will fall into the Pit.
This verse reminded me of a story I heard in a sermon when I was in seminary. To my knowledge, the author is unknown, but it goes something like this.
There was an emperor in the Far East who was growing old and knew it was coming time to choose a successor. He called all the young people together and he said, “I am old. It has come time for me to step down. I have decided to choose one of you.” All were surprised! The emperor continued, “I am going to give each one of you one seed today. It is a very special seed. I want you to go home, plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed, and then I will judge the plants you bring to me, and the one I choose will be the next emperor of the kingdom.”
Ling was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his mom the story. She helped him plant it. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were growing. Ling kept checking and watering his, but nothing ever grew.
A year finally went by and all the youths brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she encouraged him to go, to be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick. But, deep inside he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace. When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by all the other youths. They were beautiful, in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other kids snickered, “Hey nice try.”
When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the plants in the room and greeted everyone. Ling just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great gardens you have grown,” said the emperor. “Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!” Then the emperor spotted Ling with his empty pot. Ling was brought to the front. He was terrified. “The emperor knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me punished!” When Ling got to the front, he told the Emperor his name. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to be quiet. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!” Ling was stunned! Ling couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?
Then the emperor said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!”
Isn’t life like that? Ling tried his best. He thought it was not good enough, but it was his best. Others had to find other means to make themselves “look” better. Isn’t that a kind of pit we can fall into in life? When we do, how do we really feel about ourselves?
Thought for the Day: God help me to live life honestly, in true freedom and safety.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.