Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Story: Winning the race!

At an important celebration on the bank of a mighty river, a great king declared that he would create a new position of honour and huge significance in his kingdom. This would entitle the recipient to sit at his feet where very few men had ever had the privilege of doing so.

All the men of the kingdom accepted the challenge for this prestigious honour. Many trials and tests were completed and in the end only the three strongest contestants remained. The king laid down the final challenge which was to take place before his annual feast. The three finalists were to swim up the mighty river from a given point downstream and the first one to sit at the king's feet would receive the honour and the king’s many the blessings.

The king ordered the three men to be covered in red clay - from their feet to their heads. Then the competition began, heralded by a huge trumpet blast. The men dived into the raging river and begin their grueling swim upstream towards the palace.

After a quarter of the distance, the first man climbed out and ran along the bank. Just before the finish line in the reception area, there was a bend in the river where the young man jumped back in and briskly completed the rest of the swim to the applause of the crowd. He rushed towards the throne but as he neared it the king ordered his guards to arrest him. The king banished the young man from the feast and he was led away in disgrace. The court officials were shocked and could not understand the king’s actions.

The second young man had the same idea as the first. He climbed out at the halfway mark and ran along the bank as far as the bend in the river. From here he completed the swim. He leapt out of the water, to a thunderous applause, and started running towards the throne. The king shouted that he be arrested and also banished him from the feast in disgrace. There was huge consternation in the crowd! Everyone was confused, yet once again the court officials obeyed the king's command.

After the celebrations had begun and the feast had started, a young man dragged himself out of the water and staggered towards the throne. The crowd had dispersed to join in the festivities so there was no applause for the third man. He collapsed at the king’s feet. The king rejoiced and covered him with his royal robe and bestowed many gifts and blessings upon him.

The court officials were discouraged by the king’s actions and asked in anticipation;
"Master...how is it that the young man who came last, who finished long after the first two men, received the honour? Why not the first or the second man?"

The king smiled and replied;
"The test was to swim all the way up the river to sit at my feet. It was only by completing the entire swim that all the red clay was washed off the third man. He was the only one who honestly completed the task and therefore the only one worthy enough to sit at my feet!"

Matthew 20: 16

"And so it is, many who are first now, will be last then; and those who are last will be first"


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