The story is told of the old rice farmer enjoying the scenery from his window. His farm lies high up a hill, giving a breathtaking view of the ocean.
Suddenly his breath is truly taken away.
He feels a strong tremor underneath his house and watches in horror as the ocean rapidly begins to pull away from the shore. He knows the water will not be gone long. This is merely the prelude to a tidal wave.
The farmer is safe where he is but in the valley below the man can also see his neighbors working in low-lying fields. The coming surge will surely drown them.
There is no time to run down to warn his friends. He needs a signal that will get everyone running as fast as they can up his hill.
He does the only thing he can. He immediately runs outside with a torch and sets fire to his extremely dry rice barn. It goes up in an instant.
The flames and smoke quickly grab everyone’s attention and almost as quickly they all begin running at full speed to help their friend.
No sooner do they reach the barn than they hear a crashing sound beneath them and discover the fate that had awaited them all and what a sacrifice their friend had made.
Later, when the old man was gone, they erected a monument on which they simply wrote: “He gave us all he had, and gave gladly.”
This story is usually told to demonstrate the wonderful power of sacrifice, but notice this: sacrifice alone was not sufficient to save the villagers.
Notice the not-so-noticeable: Death would not have been cheated if the people had not had a speedy willingness to help in their hearts.
Anyone looking up from the valley who simply thought, “That’s a shame. Wonder what the old man will do?” would have found themselves under the flood.
The same would have happened to any who, working hard in their fields, made a mental note to help the old man out “one day.”
This is as significant as the old man’s sacrifice and a powerful encouragement to our lives.
A huge flood of sorrows and worries and self-pity lie merely one disaster away from any of us. The flood can come from many sources. An unexpected phone call, a routine check-up that requires further tests, a surprise expense are but a few potential storm surges that rush unstoppable into our lives.
But there is a way out. It is possible to keep from drowning.
The quickest and most effective solution when we are knocked down is to think of others. It may seem paradoxical, but it is true.
The person with an eagerly compassionate heart who sees a friend hurting and immediately moves to action will quickly stand back up and find the flood pass beneath their feet.
And know this: acts of kindness never go unnoticed by our God. Others may not build us monuments, indeed, sometimes it appears helping hands are overlooked by the very people we help, but one of the writers of the Bible gave us this promise: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them,” Hebrews 6:10.
Be eager to help.
Rick Cupp is a minister at the Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 of the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai. He can be reached at 283-7682, or online at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Services are Sundays at 11:15 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Bible classes for all ages are Sundays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
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