Back in ancient Turkey lived a young boy who loved to amble through the marketplace. Accompanying his wandering feet were his wandering eyes… and his wandering hands. His curiosity turned him into a thief. The sights, sounds and smells of the marketplace were a relentless temptation for him. One quick grab, two swift feet and the object of his desire would be his.
Until he was caught.
The penalty for thievery = the amputation of the thief’s hands at dawn.
Slowly, the sun’s rays peeked out over the horizon. Dawn was coming too quickly for the little thief. Brought in chains before the king, he waited for his sentence to be carried out. As the king viewed the prisoner, compassion filled his heart. He presented a shell filled to the brim with oil to the lad. “If you can carry this shell through the market from one end to the other without spilling a drop, you will not have your hands cut off.”
Tenderly, the boy took the shell and worked his way through the market. The vendors hawked their wares, screaming for attention. The smells wafted up the boy’s nostrils. Colorful banners, tents, merchandise crowded his passageway through the alleys of the marketplace. But the boy carefully wove his way through the crowd, past all the distractions that usually captivated him.
When he arrived at the other end, there stood the king awaiting his arrival. The boy raised the shell and presented it to the king, filled with oil. Not a drop was spilled.
“How did you manage to get through the market without spilling a drop?” asked the king.
“I kept my eyes focused on the shell the whole time,” said the boy.
“That,” said the king, “is how you are to always move through the market. Keep your eyes focused where they belong, and you will not be tempted by the distractions along the way.”
I share this story because we will all be in markets of various kinds over the next few weeks. The mall, the supermarket, the boutiques. We will be shopping for gifts, for food, for our families, to bring to other’s homes. There will be vendors tempting us with their wares, salespeople who are inattentive or incompetent, fellow shoppers who are inconsiderate, traffic jams, lack of parking, should I go on? There will be all manner of situations designed by the enemy to rob our joy, to steal our peace, to hinder our witness, to distract us from the real meaning and purpose of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb. 12:2-3
Fix our eyes on Jesus.
And you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Lord, help us to fix our eyes, our minds, our emotions on You. Help us to sense Your presence in the midst of the chaos. We love You.