Life can only be lived forwards, and only understood backwards…
Once upon a time, in the Ancient Farmlands of rural China, Lived an old cattle farmer named Pong. Pong was a fifth Generation farmer and tilling land, and growing crops to earn a living and provide for his small family was all that he knew. I say small family because Pong and His wife, Wi only had one child, and young man in his late teens named Pong II. They didn’t have much land, but it was all that they needed. One strong horse to till and plow their land each year which would provide enough harvest to sustain their family and pay their bills. It wasn’t much, but it was an honest living.
One day, Pong and his Son were getting ready for the days work of plowing and preparing the land. They had their morning tea, and headed to the barn to get the horse ready for the days work. Upon their arrival at the Barn Stable, the pair could tell that the horse was acting a little out of sorts, but couldn’t figure out why. Against their better judgement, they proceed to lead the horse out of the barn and towards the fields for work. As soon as the three made clearance into the fields the horse bucked and jumped, and got loose from its lead rope and ran away. leaving Pong and his Son devastated. How could they work now? They certainly couldn’t afford a new horse on their modest living. What were they to do?
Once news of the run away horse made it’s way around town, neighbors would come to Pong voicing their concerns, and concern for themselves, as Pong’s Harvest always Yielded to the local markets and helped feed the community. “Pong, Pong, what will you do now!? How will we all eat?! Isn’t this such a terrible thing?!” They would ask.
Pong, being a man of great wisdom, and insight replied, “Well, I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing, but what I do know is that I don’t have a Horse now.” And the town’s people were shocked that a man, a farmer, and a town staple was not as crazed over the loss of his prized work horse as they were. Although, internally he was incredibly stressed out, he continued in his faith and his Mission. The fields were not waiting. They had to be plowed. So Pong strapped on his shoulder plow and spent his days dragging the fields himself, and the evenings looking for his horse. To no avail on the latter. Days went by. Long grueling days went by. Loads of extra work, long tiring days. Still no Horse.
About two weeks later, just before sunrise, Pong was awoken to the sound of what appeared to be playful neighing and hoof stomps out in the barn yard. Was he dreaming? He rushed outside into the morning chill and noticed that not only had his beloved Horse returned, but it had run off and found a mate! His prized horse had returned with a Female Wild Mustang, and they would later find out that they had mated, and Pong and his Family would soon have THREE HORSES!
When the town’s people found out, they were so excited for Pong and his family and were so happy for themselves, for this meant that Pong would soon be able to get three times the harvest in the same amount of time!
“Pong, Pong, isn’t this such a great thing?! You will soon have three horses and be able to feed the town three times as much!?” They Cried. And Pong, being a man of great wisdom, replied, “Well, friends, I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but what I do know, is that very soon I will have three horses.”
But first came the challenge of breaking the wild mustang, and teaching her to farm. Which would not be an easy task, horses are fickle creatures, and a pregnant female horse is particularly difficult to break. But the fields were not waiting and this needed to be done. So Pong and his son, would spend hours with their trusted stud horse plowing and tilling the fields, and the evening hours working with the new addition to their team. And She certainly seemed to be doing so well for a while. About 3 weeks into their training, Pong was riding the Stud out into the fields, leading the female who was being ridden by his son which was standard practice; when suddenly a snake slithered out into the path of the female horse, and she bucked back in fright, throwing Pong’s son of the back. She then bucked back and forth, and stomped down on Pong’s son’s leg, Shattering it in 2 places.
Pong Sr. was able to corral the female and get her stabled, and it was decided that they would wait until after the female gave birth to try and break her again. But now, Pong and his family were faced with a new dilemma. Pong Jr’s Leg was horribly mangled.
When the town’s People learned of this, they were heart broken, as Pong Jr was Pong’s right hand man, and now their harvest and provisions were again in jeopardy. “Pong Pong, what are we gonna do!? Your son is now lame, and now you will only be able to produce half of your yearly crop?! What are we going to do?! Isn’t this such a bad thing?!” They cried. And Pong, being a man of great faith and insight, replied, “Well, I do not know if this is a good thing, or a bad thing, but what I do know, is that my son has a broken leg, and cannot work the fields now.”
And being that this was Ancient China, and Medical care was not what it is today, the care and rehabilitation for Pong Jr’s leg was primitive. Sure, they would be able to get him walking again, but they would not be able to get him any where near his former shape, and Pong Jr was a very strong and durable farm hand. And he would be bed ridden for months on the mend.
Pong Sr was a very old man, but he too, was a very experienced and durable farm hand, and he knew that the fields were not waiting and that winter was coming, so he would arise early, and work late. Working for two so to speak, while his son got better. And he was finally able to get his fields tilled, planted, maintained, and he would yield a very fruitful harvest! He was feeling very blessed and fortunate that he was able to overcome such adversities, and still pull together a harvest. He would finally be able to rest and enjoy some down time.
During the beginning of the cold winter months, a terrible and vengeful civil war broke out with the dynasty to the west. The town and territory, or dynasty that Pong and his family lived in, and it’s leaders and Generals went Door to Door; not requesting, but ordering that all men ages 10 years and older, all the way up to age 50 were required to show up for battles. The only exception, would be those who were not fit for battle. And being that Pong Jr was still casted and on the mend from the Horse accident, and Pong sr was 62 years old, His family was spared.
The rest of the town was not so lucky.
As luck, or God, or Fate would have it, Not one home in Pong’s town had a boy younger than ten years old. Every single male in the town was sent off to war, and they were all lost in battle. Ultimately Pong’s community had to surrender to the dominant forces of the opposition, and not one single male from his town returned home from war. It was truly devastating For everyone.
As the dust settled, and the smoke cleared. Over time, Pong Jr’s leg healed enough for him to work, and life went back to normal. As normal as it could be in a post war era. Pong and his son were finally able to get the female mustang under control, break her, and train her to farm the land. They were even able to get the young one saddled, as time had passed and the female gave birth, and this young male pony was assisting with the farm work too! And for Pong and his family, although they were very saddened for the rest of the community, they were very happy to have survived and still have each other.
Eventually, The town was withering with low population, as all of the males were killed in battle, and the older males who were not called to war were dying off. And though this was very sad for so many, This made Pong Jr. a very important young man. Not only were they the main providers in the community, but Now he was the only healthy Male left to help the community continue to repopulate and multiply. And though, selfishly, this made Pong Jr glow with Male Bravado as he knew he would be a VERY busy man, it also carried with it a very large amount of responsibility. And Pong and Pong Jr knew this.
The women in town would cry out to Pong Jr, “Pong Pong, you still have your son, you still have your land, and if you will allow your son to marry my wife, we will divide our land with you, and crown you and your son as royalty. We will donate half of our earnings to you and your family, and you will be a very important person, for years to come. Isn’t this such a great thing?!?”
And Pong, being a man of great wisdom, took a deep breath, and said, “Well, after all these years, I suppose it was a good thing after all, that my horse ran away.”
It has been said that Justice is getting what we deserve, Mercy is not getting what we deserve, and Grace is getting what we do not deserve.
Looking back on your life, what ways have you received justice, mercy, and grace? looking back on your life, what events took place that you just didn’t or couldn’t understand? What horrible pain have you experienced? what loss? Grief? Trauma? And in what way can you look back at it now? And what Grace can you pull from it? Are you able to reflect back on events in your life that were once terrible and uncertain times, and pull something precious from them? In what ways has God, the universe, Fate, or whatever you believe used your suffering for good? In what ways has the justice you have experienced, actually been mercy and Grace? Is there a grey area between these three ideas?
How can you relate to Pong the Farmer in this story, and apply it to your own life? Is everything good, or bad; or is it just what it is, for now? Until some time has passed and we’re able to look back on the current circumstances we’re faced with and discern the lesson from all of the today’s, as they compile and form a life catalogue on our hearts. How can God use your current circumstances today, for good? For the good of you, and for the good of the world? How can you utilize this pain, or this triumph, or this lesson, or this blessing, or this loss, or this victory, to benefit the good of your community? Is that even possible? Do you even know? How can you use the justice you have been served, to then serve mercy? Can that even happen? I believe that it can.
Pong was a very wise and insightful man, and it was because he had learned to grow through what he went through, and he knew that even though a situation may seem utterly awful right here and right now, eventually time would pass and He will then have an opportunity to look back on the past circumstances and pull some goodness from what seemed dire before.
Often times, we see rejection. But it is really, redirection.
Sometimes we see loss. But it is really opportunity.
We may feel pain, but it is really growth.
And though all we have is the right here and right now, there will be tomorrow for some of us, and for some of us not. But for those of us who are fortunate enough to continue on in time, opportunities will continue to present themselves, to utilize our past and reflect, to make a more important choice with our future tomorrows to make the world a better place, for others.
Life itself, is bittersweet. Sometimes life just sucks. And sometimes it seems like we’re on a winning streak like no other. And then it sucks again. And sometimes life doesn’t illicit anything at all, it kind of just is. And I believe that’s where the notion of the Pursuit of Happiness comes from. Those fleeting moments of bliss, and joy that tickle our stomachs with butterflies and amusement. Those pure sweet happy times. And I also think that this is the way it is suppose to happen. We cannot enjoy the bliss and the joy without the sorrow and pain. Just like we cannot enjoy spring time as much without the dead cold snaps of winter.
This is more of Herb’s psychobabble. But I think it makes sense.
I have said it for years, asked the question really, is more like it: “Why does God allow suffering?” And I believe it is, 1: so that we can draw nearer to him and power up our relationship and dependence upon him. and 2: so that we can overcome our sorrows, and then inturn use our experiences to help the next one in line who is suffering in a season that we just overcame.
The most powerful thing that we can share with each other is not facts, or sciences, or opinions, or beliefs; The most important thing that we can share with each other, is our own experiences.
For everyone and everything: is either and lesson, or a blessin’; and Life itself, is bittersweet.