This is a copy of a post I recently read on Marie's blog, and which she so graciously gave me permission to post on mine. It really did give me the goose bumps.
Once upon a time there was a man and his son who lived in a tiny village in a country named Japan. They didn't have much to call their own, except for a tiny plot of land that they farmed. Once or twice a year they would load up an old ox drawn cart with vegetables which they had grown and make the long journey into the nearest city to sell them.
With the exception of their last name, and this little plot of land they worked together, the father and son had very little in common. The old man was a 'stop and smell the roses' kind of guy, and the son, well he was more of a 'go-getter,' always in a hurry.
Bright and early one morning, they loaded up their cart, hitched up the ox and began the long journey to the city. The son had it in his mind that if they walked faster and kept going all day and all night, they'd make the market by early morning the next day. So he kept prodding the ox with a wooden stick, urging it to walk faster.
"Take it easy son," the old man remarked, "you'll last longer."
"IF we get to the market ahead of the others," argued the son, " we'll have a better chance of getting good prices."
There was no reply from the father. He simply pulled his hat down over his eyes and went to sleep on his seat next to his son.
Itchy and irritated, the young man kept goading the ox to walk faster and kept getting even more irritated when the ox refused to hasten it's pace.
Four hours and a few miles further down the road, they came to a small house. The father woke up and smiled at his son. "This is your uncle's place," he said. "Let's stop by and say hello."
"But we're running late already," complained the young man.
"Then a few more minutes won't hurt," was his father's reply. "My brother and I get to see each other so seldom."
And so the two older brothers were able to spend an hour together in each other's company, chatting away and laughing whilst the young man sat nearby fuming and grumbling.
Soon enough, they were back on the road again, continuing their journey. As they approached a fork in the road, the father led the ox to the right hand branch. "The left way is shorter," cried the son.
"I know," replied his father, "but this way is so much prettier."
"Have you no respect for time," his son shouted impatiently.
"Oh," his father slowly replied, "I respect it very much. That is why I like to look at beauty and enjoy each moment of my life to the fullest."
The winding road led them through graceful meadows filled with wild flowers and past rippling streams so very beautiful to look at, but all of which the son missed. He was too busy and preoccupied with his misery. He even failed to notice the beautiful sunset.
Twilight found them in what appeared to be a huge colourful garden. The old man stood by breathing in the scent of what seemed to be a million flowers. A babbling brook lay nearby and the gentle sound of it's trickling waters sounded in the air. "We will stay here for the night," said the father.
"This is the last time I am coming on this trip with you," fumed the son. "You waste far too much time smelling flowers and watching sunsets, when we could be in the city already making money."
"Why, that's the nicest thing you have ever said about me," replied the father, and within a few minutes he was snoring away as the son sat there and fumed up at the stars. The night dragged on slowly and the son was quite restless.
Before the sun even rose in the sky the son hurriedly shook his father awake, anxious as he was to get back on the road. Before they had gone too far, they came upon another farmer, a complete stranger, trying to pull his cart out of the ditch it had tumbled into. "We will stop and give him a hand," said the old man. The younger man exploded with rage.
"Relax, son. Don't forget that one day you may be the one in the ditch needing help," his father said. "We must always stop to help others that are in need." The boy looked away in anger.
It was almost eight o'clock in the morning by the time the other cart was on the road. Suddenly a great flash of light split the sky and what sounded like a huge clap of thunder followed. The very ground shook beneath their feet and the sky beyond the hills turned very dark.
"Looks like rain in the big city," said the father.
"If we had hurried," replied the son, grumbling as they went on their way, "we'd be almost sold out by now."
"Take it easy son," said the father. "You'll last a lot longer that way and you'll enjoy your life a whole lot more."
It was late in the afternoon by the time they got to the hill overlooking the city. Both of them stood still in their tracks and stared down at it for a very long time, neither of them speaking a word. Finally the younger man, turned to his father and, putting his hand on his shoulder, said, "I see what you mean father."
They turned their cart around and began to make the journey back to their home, rolling slowly away from what had once been the city of Hiroshima.
What a great reminder to go with the flow and , as Marie said, take time to smell the roses along the way. That unexpected delay or disruption to our plans could very well be God's way of diverting us from our path for our greater good. Think of the people who have missed a train or plane, and their tardiness wound up saving their lives when it crashed. Or the many folks whose lives were spared on 9/11 because something caused an unexpected change of plans in their usual routine.
So next time things seem to be going all wrong, instead of getting mad or frustrated, consider the fact that the God who is watching over you, and who is the only one who sees the whole picture, may have you exactly where He wants you to be.