Friday, 16 October 2015
Once upon a time, there was a wealthy widower who had a son, whom he loved dearly. The father was an art aficionado who traveled the world collecting priceless paintings by Rembrandt, Monet and van Gogh. Years passed and the son grew up. The nation was now torn by war, and the son enlisted to defend his country. After a few months of combat, the father received the sad news that his son had been killed in action.
Deep discouragement and mourning set in. The house that was once filled with the laughter of his young boy was now silent and hollow. Several winters passed, and the father was facing another Christmas alone when a knock sounded on the door. A young soldier stood on the front step.
“Sir,” the young man said, “I am so sorry to bother you.” He was carrying something tucked under his arm. “I was in the same platoon as your son. He and I became very close friends, and he often told me about your love for art. I am not that good of an artist, but one evening during a lull in the action, I sketched a portrait of your son. It’s not much, but I thought you would like to have it.” The father thanked the soldier, and he left.
The father unwrapped the gift. The sketch remarkably resembled his son in every way. Tears came to the father’s eyes. It became his most precious art piece. He hung it over the mantel of his fireplace. Every day he looked at it, and it brought him much consolation and joy.
Some years later, the father passed away. Art collectors from all over the country flew in to buy the quality art that was to be auctioned. Prospective buyers filled the room waiting to place a bid for a Rembrandt or Monet. To everyone’s surprise, the auction began not with what they had expected, but with a piece of art that wasn’t on the list – the sketch done by the young soldier.
The art collectors looked at each other, bewildered. You could hear them, annoyed and impatient. “We didn’t travel this far to purchase an amateur’s sketch,” they said. “Let’s get on with the auction!”
The auctioneer pressed on. “We will start this bidding at one hundred dollars,” he said. No one bid. There was silence. “Let’s get on with it!” someone cried out. Again the auctioneer said, “One hundred dollars is the starting bid.”
Slowly, an old man at the back raised his hand and said, “I have been the neighbor of this family for years. I knew the father.I knew the son. I knew the mother before she passed away. They were dear, dear people. I will buy that sketch. I don’t have much money, but I will pay the one hundred dollars. I would very much like to have it.”
“The bid is one hundred,” said the auctioneer. “Anyone bid one hundred and fifty? Anyone?” No one said anything. “Let him have it so we can move on!” the other collectors said, looking at their watches and tapping their feet. “Going once! Going twice!” The auctioneer hit the gavel. “Gone!”
They expected him to continue, but to everyone’s surprise, he said, “The auction is now over!” The crowd started to protest. “Wait a minute,” said a collector. “It hasn’t even begun! Let’s get on with the good stuff!”
“Sorry,” said the auctioneer. “The auction is over.” “It can’t be!” complained another collector. “What’s going on?” “It’s very simple,” said the auctioneer. “According to the father’s written will – ‘When you auction all my paintings, start with the sketch of my son. The one who takes the son gets it all.”
The meditation of my heart
What is life all about?
It's all about Jesus! It’s our relationship with Him that matters. He is precious and priceless only to those who know Him and love Him dearly.
Last year, I discovered how much I love myself. When I said that I wanted to ‘give to the Lord’ it wasn’t the truth. I was more concerned about what people think of me. The ugly truth pierced through my heart.
“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist … But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.”
Excerpt from ‘What Pastors Want Christians To Understand’
Rev Dr Kow Shih Ming: Wesley wrote those words in his ‘Thoughts Upon Methodism’ in 1786, when he was in his nineties. He had lived to see Methodism spread to both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. But Wesley was not one to rest on such outward success; he consistently feared that a decline was already setting in among his followers.
They had grown wealthier and were forgetting their commitment to the poor. They had grown more comfortable and were failing to live lives of holiness. Wesley was afraid that the Methodists’ outward ‘success’ would lead to a real failure:
Rev Dr Kow Shih Ming: Don’t stop at being generous. Be sacrificially generous.
It is recorded that Nicolaus, the German Count von Zinzendorf, loved to visit art galleries. One day, Zinzendorf came across Domenico Feti’s painting Ecce Homo (‘Behold the Man’), showing Jesus with a crown of thorns on his head. At the bottom of the picture, there was an inscription that read: “This I have done for you. What have you done for me?” The question changed his life …
The ‘KNOWLEDGE’ that Jesus was talking about is deeper than knowing someone on the surface. It is a relationship with Someone who is precious and priceless – a close and intimate relationship that cannot be bought or borrowed.
Dear Father, I pray for every Christian to long for such a close and intimate relationship with Christ - a relationship that is precious and priceless.
Lam Yee Ling