The Two Travelers and the Farmer
A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.
"What sort of people live in the next town?" asked the stranger.
"What were the people like where you've come from?" replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.
"They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I'm happy to be leaving the scoundrels."
"Is that so?" replied the old farmer. "Well, I'm afraid that you'll find the same sort in the next town.
Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.
Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. "What sort of people live in the next town?" he asked.
"What were the people like where you've come from?" replied the farmer once again.
"They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I'm sorry to be leaving them."
"Fear not," said the farmer. "You'll find the same sort in the next town."
I recently read this story in a biography and it struck me as very timely given the New Year. I think for many the choices to how 2012 turns out are based less on what the year has in store as much as their attitude going into it. Are you going to believe the media that the wheels are coming off everything and we are spiraling out of control? Or are we going to remember that Jesus is in control?
In the past I have found myself succumbing to a victim mentality that everything was against me. This led to negativity, skepticism and ultimately depression. I walked around under a dark cloud for weeks and sometimes months. During those times I thought I had to justify my every action to gain others validation. I wanted to find people to agree with me on how bad my situation was. Anyone that threatened that was dismissed as not fully understanding of my struggle. If they knew everything that was going on in my life then surely they would agree that the deck was stacked against me.
Thankfully a few years back God began a rescue mission in that area of my life. I am by no means completely free of this thinking but thankfully it is in the minority thanks to the gospel. When I started applying the practical realities of the gospel in my life I realized I had been living a lie. His word says He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world. This truth made me realize that no matter how bad things get here on this earth. No matter how many people I fail or that take advantage of me I have something that overcomes them both. No matter how much I lose in this life I have something worth far more. I have Jesus and he is enough. I forget this from time to time. I start to think it’s up to me to make things work and I stress myself out. God watches and waits and then gently reminds me that Jesus is enough. Slowly but surely over the past couple of years I have learned this.
You need to decide now in the first week of the year how you are going to react. Are you going to react based on God’s word and the principles laid out in the gospel? Or are you going to try to do it yourself based on a lie? One way ends with peace the other ends in depression. The people you meet, the economy, election results, your church, your job, your finances won’t change. What changes is you. That is what God wants most in 2012. He wants your heart to change not your circumstances. He wants you to be less like your self- sufficient, sinful self and more like the image of His Son.