Thursday, July 20, 2017

“Put the woman down, and get on with your life.” ― Read below for explanation

                                 One of my favorite stories is of two Buddhist monks walking together in ancient Japan.  They came from a very strict monastery that forbade any contact with women.  While they were walking they came across a beautifully dressed woman in tears standing on the side of a small stream.  When the older of the two monks, asked what the trouble was, the woman explained that it was her wedding day and she had no way to ford the stream without ruining her handmade, silk wedding dress which would cause her to forfeit the wedding.  The older monk simply picked her up, carried her across the stream, and put her down.  She went on the path to the left drying her tears, and the monks continued on their journey on the path to the right.  After walking for several miles, the younger monk could contain his anger no longer.  He yelled at the older monk and asked, “How could you do that and violate our vows?”  The older monk just shook his head and gently replied, “Are you still carrying that woman?  I put her down on the other side of the stream many miles back.”   
                               Far too often, far too many of us are still carrying that woman.  I used that story to illustrate a sermon on forgiveness that I preached over twenty years ago at Sequoyah United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Unknown to me, one of the men who was there that day, was moved by that story and went to a man with whom he had been feuding for years and asked his forgiveness.  The other man was astonished and humbled and readily forgave him and asked for his forgiveness as well.  This led to a joint real estate venture between the two of them that resulted in a complex of townhouses being built.  The man who responded to my sermon came to me and knowing that we were leaving for Africa a year from that point, offered for us to live rent and utility free in one of those townhouses until we moved to Africa, allowing us to save more money to take with us when we finally left.  We graciously accepted and lived there for a year in a beautiful townhouse.  Our last weekend in America, as we were doing our final packing, our benefactor came by to say good bye.  His final words to me were, “I finally put that woman down and I can never thank you enough.”  We have never forgotten him, nor never will.  Forgiveness is freedom from that which would destroy you from within.  If you are still carrying that woman, put her down, and learn to let love fill your heart instead of hate and resentment.  You will never regret it.
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