The Field of the Slothful
Only a little effort makes a big difference.
By Ken Raggio
"I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding, and lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down," Proverbs 24:30-31.A few years ago, there was a place on the west side of town that was a very undesirable piece of property. It was very low, and collected runoff from every rain. It was overgrown with weeds, and people began to drive into it with their trash and dump it there. After a while it began to fill up with old lumber, old appliances and hot water heaters, and every kind of trash.
Finally, the owner brought in a bulldozer and began to knock down all the piles of rubbish, smoothing them level with the ground. Then he had loads and loads of sand and topsoil hauled in, and everything was covered up and smoothed down again. Today, it is a very nice looking piece of property with a beautiful new home on it.
The amazing potential of only eleven minutes...
I heard a story about a man who drove a streetcar in a big city. Each day at mid-day, he got to the end of his run, stopped and took a break, then turned around and began his run back in the other direction. Before he started back on the evening run, he had an eleven minute break at the end of the line, where there was an old deserted lot on the edge of town. It was spoiled by trash and rubbish that had washed over it in rainy weather, and trash that people had dumped on it while nobody was looking. There were broken bottles, rusty cans, and trash of all kinds lying everywhere.
One day, as the streetcar driver was standing around during his eleven minute break, it occurred to him that he could make better use of his break by using his time to clean up the lot. At first, he started picking up the paper that he saw. Then the cans. Then the bottles and broken glass.
After several days of spending only eleven minutes at a time, the property began to look dramatically different. With a sickle, he cut the grass a little at a time. In the spring, he planted flower seeds, small shrubs, and cuttings from shrubs. Just using a little time each day, the streetcar operator converted the ugly vacant lot into a beautiful place that looked like a park. Everyone who saw it was impressed and delighted.
What could a similar effort produce in a human life?
It is a tragedy to see the many people whose lives look just like that ugly old vacant lot. Their lives are filled with debris, clutter, and chaos. Too many people become the dumping ground where wretched and miserable experiences have dominion. Every person must at some time find the moral and spiritual discipline to clean away the chaos and confusion of their lives. Otherwise, they will become victims of their own carelessness.
Eleven minutes a day is not a very long time, but just like the streetcar driver who turned a trash lot into a scenic park-like area, we could dramatically change our own lives with just a few minutes of genuine effort each day.
The Philosopher and the Preacher
Early in the twentieth century, two men were given honorary degrees from Oxford University. One was Rudyard Kipling, who was world-famous as a poet/writer and philosopher. The other was William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. The two men were quite a contrast: William Booth, the old gospel preacher, and Rudyard Kipling, the intellectual genius. When the ceremony was over, Booth marched across the platform and said to Kipling, "Young feller, how's your soul?" His query needed no further explanation. It only took a small gesture to deliver a huge message.
Change begins with a state of mind
Years ago, a small town up north was notified that a large hydro-electric plant had been proposed, and a dam would be built across a nearby river. Once the dam was built, the entire area where the little town sat would be submerged underwater. The people were given many months to arrange their affairs and move away.
But an interesting phenomenon occurred. In the several months that followed, the people lost all interest in maintaining their little town, because they knew that it would soon be submerged in the new lake. The people stopped all maintenance on everything. Nothing got painted. Nothing got repaired. The potholes in the streets were not fixed. The roads and streets were neglected. The parks began to run down quickly. People even stopped mowing their lawns, and quit working their gardens. They knew the place was cursed to die, and they gave up all hope.
"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life," Proverbs 13:12.
More tragic than that little town, there are people everywhere today who live their lives as if there was no tomorrow. Each day leaves them in shabbier condition. They exhibit no hope for anything ever getting better. But it is so simple to change our destiny. There is no requirement of failure. We do not have to degenerate with each passing day. We must be careful not to let our lives fall into disrepair.
Only eleven minutes a day could change our lives.
If we would only concentrate on identifying each and every thing in our lives that corrupts and destroys. Just one piece of paper, one rusty can, one broken bottle at a time, and eventually, things can be so much better.
If we merely dealt straightforwardly with everything we know works against us, and did something about correcting the situation as it develops, we would never find ourselves backslidden. If we only laid a hand on each and every sin that so easily besets us, and carefully removed it, piece by piece, step by step, we could overcome absolutely every single adversary of our soul.
No matter how desperate the world condition around us becomes, we should methodically do the things we know are best to do. A little prayer, a little Bible study, a little consecration to righteous living, and eventually we will have completed our lives with a shining victory - one day at a time!
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