My favourite parable in The Bible has always been the one about two sons (Matthew 21:28-32). The parable tells of how their father asked his sons to go and work in his vineyard. The first one says no, but later on he changes his mind and goes. The second son readily says that he will go, but never goes. I can remember how surprised I was when I read in verse 31 that it was actually the first son who had obeyed his father! My young mind couldn't understand how his response translated to obedience. He had blatantly told his father that he wouldn't go to the vineyard to work.
But I had missed the point: in the end, he is the one who did exactly what his father had asked him to do.
It's weird how you can feel a connection to certain stories in life even though you don't understand why. I first heard this parable when I was very young (I can't even remember exactly how old I was), and even though I didn't understand why, it resonated with me even then. It's one of those stories that has stuck with me throughout my life.
It's only now that I realize why it spoke and still speaks to me so much. I have been in both the first son's and the second son's shoes. Many a time I have said to someone, "We should definitely try out that restaurant one day", or "We should definitely hang out soon". And I assumed that, because this person knew that it's something I wanted to do with them, it was the same as me actually doing it with them. As people always say, "It's the thought that counts, right?"
"I really wanted to be early today, but I woke up late. It turns out that I forgot to set my alarm...I'm sorry!"
"I really wanted to come for your party, but it started raining and I figured the rain would delay me and I'd end up being too late...I'm sorry."
"I really wanted to come to the concert, but something came up and I ended up using the ticket money on that instead. I'm sorry."
A friend busted a myth for me not so long ago, and that was when I realized that there are so many of them going around that over the years, we have come to believe them to be truths. Well, allow me to bust another myth for you: The thought doesn't count, especially if it doesn't translate to action.
I came across a bible verse today that says: Say only yes if you mean yes, and no if you mean no. If you say more than yes or no, it is from the Evil One (Matthew 5:37).
A bit harsh, but true nonetheless.
Whenever I say that I really want or wanted to do something, I mean it. I really do! I almost wish I could open up my chest in that moment and show everyone how honest my heart's intentions are. But I've found that there's an easier way of doing that: either I should accept that, as much as I'd like to do it, I can't right now and so I shouldn't talk about doing it. Or I should simply DO IT!
A friend of mine asked me to go out and eat with her three times in a row, and all three times I'd said "No", because when she asked I'd already made plans to do something else. I could tell that she was hurt, and probably thought that I just didn't want to hang out with her. But that wasn't it. I actually did want to hang out with her; the only problem was that we never planned ahead.
So, the first thing God directed me to do was explain this to her; and that's when I realized where the problem lay. In the end, we sat down and planned a trip to the cinema together.
And so the next Saturday morning, I decided to pass by the cinema and find out what time the movie we wanted to watch was on. But by the time I had gotten there, I had spent so much money on necessities that I wasn't sure whether it was wise for me to still treat myself to a movie.
"But you said you would..." came the nagging voice in my head.
True, but what about the money?
I went in anyway, and checked the movie times and the prices of tickets. Then I made my way home. I wanted so badly to postpone the whole movie date, but I knew in my heart of hearts that if I postponed it, I'd keep postponing it because something different would always come up and we might end up never going. And that wasn't fair on her.
So I told her about my little trip to the cinema, and she got so excited! The movie was showing at 6pm and at 9.30pm that day. We decided to go for the 6pm one. And I can honestly say, that that was one of the best decisions I have ever made!
Looking back on my life, I realize that God has slowly been pushing me to go the extra mile; discouraging me from just thinking of doing things and encouraging me to actually do them.
With time, I realized that when I really wanted to be on time, I'd get my things ready the night before, wake up early the next morning... I'd basically go the extra mile. And it wasn't really that hard to apply this same principle to other areas in my life.
And I can bet you anything that it won't be hard for you to apply the same principle to all areas of your life, too.
I find it easier and more effective to write down how I feel rather than to say it.
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