The Parable of the Blessing Box

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” ~ Matthew 7:7-11

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(Blogger‘s note: I’m not sure if it’s possible to plagiarize a parable, but just for the sake of full disclosure, this parable, or a form thereof, has been passed through the generations. It may be most noticeably found in Bruce Wilkinson‘s Prayer of Jabez. The parable takes on subtly different variations with each telling. This just happens to be mine.)

Blessing Box

William was 72, and he’d just died.

And he now found himself face-to-face with a man who greeted him as if he’d known him all his life.

***

On earth, William had been a good man. He was faithful to family, attended church regularly, and respected by all who know him. For William, life was pretty easy. Most days he felt blessed beyond what he deserved, and so for the many magnificent things in his life, he always felt a little guilty.

No one ever knew it. He just carried it around, and kept it in a place where no one ever saw it.

Lord, why have you blessed me with so much?” he often asked in his prayers.

And as a result, he mostly coasted through life, grateful all the while, never asking for much. To have asked for more would have been an insult, he thought.

Blessing  Box

At this moment, William stood face-to-face with Peter. William was in Heaven. Light was everywhere. Will saw colors he’d never seen before, and the music was so beautiful it took on a new dimension. William could actually see the music in the air.

Peter was standing by, waiting for William’s arrival, to give him a tour of the place.

Quickly in, among the majestic beauty of golden streets and sidewalks of pearl, William noticed a facility resembling what a warehouse looked like on earth.

“What is that place?” William asked.

“Nothing we’re interested in seeing,” Peter replied.

But William was drawn to the warehouse.

William will have nothing of Peter’s ongoing tour until he can see the warehouse.

And Peter, as he has so many times before, finally relents.

He opens the door and William almost trips over himself to see what’s inside.

 He sees millions of white boxes with red ribbons wrapped carefully around each one. Each box has a name on it.
William runs to the “J” aisle (his name had been Jones on Earth) and finds a box with his name. He opens the box and Peter hears the familiar deep sigh, he’s heard so many times before.
Inside the box, William’s just found all the blessings God wanted to give him. But they remained in side the box because JOE NEVER ASKED FOR THEM.
Fortunately, for William, there no regrets in Heaven. Just more wisdom every day.
Blessing Box
“Now Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that you would bless me, indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from the harm that it may not pain me!’ And God granted him what he requested.” 1st  Chronicles 4:10
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The Parable of Two Doors: Not a Choice, But a Point of Entry

Door of Perceived Opportunity

Photos by Dana Hoggard Watkins

Joseph had taken every personality profile assessment you can imagine, and multiple times.

Eventually, he thought, the results would come up different, but they never did.

Joseph was driven, intense, introspective and a strategic thinker. He also had a compassionate heart, and the latter only added to his internal drive for change. He’d always believed, that together, with a like-minded group of friends, they could change the world.

He worked at a small company, independently owned, and somewhat entrepreneurial in culture. Joseph loved the diversity in his colleagues, especially because they were smart in so many ways he was not.

For two years, every morning around 7:20, Joseph arrived early for work, each day entering through the front door.

***

For all its forward thinking and self-proclaimed image to embrace new ideas, each day Joseph walked in the front door, he quietly wished his colleagues would turn their culture upside-down and get really radical. He wished they’d take on a genuine “what-if” mentality, because the world was changing, and changing fast.

Some days, Joseph did what he could to impose a new way of thinking, but it never quite took hold, and he wasn’t senior enough to come right out and say some things. Imposition of change never works anyway, he’d learned.

On occasion, when he was bold enough to cross a certain line, his thinking was listened to, but not really heard.

The days, weeks and months went on, and the culture eventually took its toll on Joseph. He’d becoming something he really was not – accepting of the status quo.

So Joseph walked through the front door each day at 7:20 a.m., and privately felt as if he were betraying his own heart.

***

One day, hope arrived.

Before 8 a.m., (everyone in the company was an overachiever), a senior company team called Joseph in to take on a major project for which he’d previously solicited leadership responsibility. They told him to go with it, and to use his own creative gut instincts to get it done.

So Joseph was elated.

Creative freedom was offered, accepted, and now, he started once again to feel true to himself. His strategies were bold, radical and counter to anything that’d ever been done, and he was thrilled with all the possible outcome scenarios.

They might just change the world after all.

At some point, a company client got wind of the culture change to which Joseph had been assigned, and they called senior management with their disapproval. “Things have been just fine for 30 years now,” they said. “Let’s not go and start changing now.”

Yes, the client had been with the company from almost day one – and with that came a certain freedom to call some shots.

***

Quickly, senior management back-tracked, called Joseph in, and asked him to call the client explaining the new approach wouldn’t be so radical after all.

The follow-up meeting brought only one phrase to Joseph’s mind: “Thrown under the bus.”

Door of Perceived Opportunity

***

Prone to sometimes quick and emotional decisions himself (after so much bs), Joseph got up, and walked out the door that gave him safe passage every day.

For years, he obsessed in disgust, and for years he never went back, until one day something prompted him to go back and visit old friends.

His parking space, long-lost over the years to multiple generations of new “idea” guys, Joseph parked in the back lot, and took entry through an obscure warehouse door.

Oddly, Joseph noticed, the back door was slightly cracked.

He was warmly greeted as he walked the warehouse aisles en route to the area where all the real thinking went on. Around the next corner, he bumped into an old adversary who “managed” the company’s entrepreneurial culture.

Then the adversary asked something interesting.

“It’s just you and me here in the back of the warehouse. Since we’re here, would you remind me about the vision you had for the corporate culture change?

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The Parable of the Enlightened Christian

leap of faith

Her most treasured photo, Dana calls this, “Leap of Faith.” I call it, “Enlightened Man.” Near Casablanca, Morocco.

“…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth, he confesses, resulting in salvation.” ~ Romans 10:9-10

***

All photos by Dana Hoggard Watkins

Two men.

Aydin, at 71, rests in a hospital bed. He’s just come to terms with an incurable diagnosis. It will take his life in days, if not, weeks.

Nabal is a Christian pastor, who for the last 40 years dedicated his life in service to the Lord. He’s led many flocks, built many churches. He updates his resume twice a year with an endless list of accomplishments for which he’s tirelessly worked. There’s a kingdom to build out there, and it requires a lot of work.

Circumstances prompt a meeting between the two men in Hospital Room 2008, and they form a kinship.

In the precious days to follow, Aydin opens up to Nabal. He describes a life of regret. Booze. Women. Foul language, and everything else you can throw into the kitchen sink. Aydin wishes his time had been more well spent.

But Nabal replies with a message of hope.

“What’s important is this moment,” the spiritual veteran says. “Have you made the decision to acknowledge Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your life? We can say a prayer right now and your scarlet sins will become white as snow.”

“I’m not ready, but maybe I will be soon,” Aydin replies. “I just need to think on things some more.”

Good News: Aydin now owns his sins and shortcomings.

No-So-Good-News: He’s still got baggage, and he’s carrying it around. Everywhere. And it’s heavy.

sunset near casablanca, morocco

Sunset near Casablanca, Morocco.

And so Nabal plants a seed. In the waning hours, the seed takes root, and grows in Aydin’s heart.

Days pass. Friends and family come to Aydin’s bedside for what everybody knows may be their final visit. The times are pleasant, good memories shared. There’s even laughter, and everyone who leaves Hospital Room 2008 senses something different. Something they can’t quite comprehend.

Despite the dire circumstances, Aydin seems relaxed, peaceful, happy, and not quite his former self. There’s a newness about him. Transparency. Freedom, if you will.

Three days later, something rouses in Aydin’s spirit. His new-found freedom stirs thoughts to acknowledgement, and acknowledgement, to action.

Aydin tells his faithful wife of 47 years he wants to be baptized.

And so Aydin’s wife, beside herself with joy, calls Nabal requesting that he come to the hospital right quick. No explanation of why. Just come, Nabal. Please come.

Nabal puts it on his list of priorities, but first preaches his Sunday sermon because he carries an obligation to his flock. He’s been charged with a duty he takes most seriously, and first things first.

He rushes through the normally relaxed three-point message, shakes a few hands on the way out and heads directly to Hospital Room 2008 where Aydin awaits.

Aydin’s faithful wife, meets Nabal outside the door.

over the skies of Greece

Somewhere over the skies of Greece.

“He wants to be baptized,” she says, smiling, knowing nothing else to say beyond just that.

“That’s wonderful. Praise the Lord,” Nabal replies, all the while, Aydin awaits anxiously in the bed inside Hospital Room 2008. “We’ll make the arrangements.”

“No, you don’t understand,” she says. “He wants to do it right now. He’s asked the entire family to come and witness, and everyone’s on the way.”

And Nabal goes silent. It’s a long silence before he offers a reply.

A baptism’s not possible in Hospital Room 2008, he says, because the Bible specifies the proper procedure, and it includes a “full-immersion.”

Aydin’s wife looks confused.

“We don’t care about the full immersion,” she says. “A sprinkling will be fine. He just wants to make the public profession of faith, and everyone’s on the way.”

“But he can’t be fully immersed,” Nabal responds. “I don’t conduct baptism with a sprinkling, or anything short of full immersion. It’s our doctrine.”

“But this is just for him,” she says. “It’s what he wants, and we don’t know how much longer he has left. It’s time.”

“I can’t do it,” he said. “He can’t be fully immersed.”

And Nabal returns to his home, and his flock. And he never sees Aydin’s family again.

Four days later, Aydin died, but he’s never been more alive.

TOMORROW: “The Parable of the Enlightened Church.”

For related posts see:

Days and My Dad

Forty Things You Feel 40 Days After Your Dad Dies

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