"There is a story from the middle ages of a preaching friar who had long distances to travel. Because of this, a wealthy merchant gave him an ass on which to ride. It was with pleasure that the preacher set out on his next journey. When he arrived at the church he tethered the animal outside. But throughout the service his attention was drawn to the ass. Was it properly secured? Had he left it in a safe place? What if a thief had come along and had stolen it? This went on until the service ended, the preacher was all the time distracted. When he came out afterwards all was well, the ass was where he had left it. But he knew that a new danger had entered his life. He untied the ass, slapped its flanks and drove it off. Then he walked away in the opposite direction. He was heard to say, 'God forbid that my soul should be tethered to an ass.' He was determined not to give himself to a lesser purpose than was his aim."~ David Adam, The Eye of the Eagle p. 133
The lesson of the story is not to get distracted on the trivial things of life but to pursue the greatest treasure there is: experiencing the precious presence of our Creator and growing in our relationship with Him. In our lifetimes the Author of Creation has given us a free offer: to know Him! Isn't that amazing? I think it is! All that we have to do is reach out with seeking hearts and He will make Himself known.
Now I'm not saying I believe trivial things are necessarily bad in and of themselves. For there can be lessons learned in the ordinary and God can be found in the most simplistic and mundane of moments. That's not what I'm referring to. If we see glimpses of His glory made manifest through creation, glory be to God! That's a beautiful thing. But it's when we don't see God in things and let the things in and of themselves get in the way of our focus on Him that leads to a falling away of affection and pursuit of the greatest treasure one can ever experience.
So that guy in the picture, he doesn't look very happy does he? But would you if, metaphorically speaking, you were tied to things which perhaps brought you temporary pleasure, satisfaction, maybe convenience, but in the end were empty and hollow, bringing you nothing but a sense of distraction and displaced energy? The ass had a purpose, taking the friar from place to place and easing the burden of his travels but it had become a stumbling block for him, consuming his attention and taking it from God.
We will never find the greatest treasure there is for our mortal minds and souls to discover, or grow in our relationship or experience with Him, if we are too distracted to see it. When we do discover the reality and presence of God we find that it is priceless and nothing else compares. Jesus illustrates it this way:
Matthew 13:44 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
When God is discovered in the depths of one's soul a curtain is pulled back and a light like no other is shined through the heart's corridors, once dark, now illuminated with His presence. There is no greater thing than experiencing God's love!
There's bound to be things in our life that distract us from setting our hearts on God and seeking Him first. There's always things in our lives that clamor for our attention unceasingly. If we simply ask God to reveal to us those things that are stumbling blocks to our faith and relationship with Him He will surely let them be known. If we then come to Him in repentance and earnest desire, petitioning that He help us overcome our being "stuck" in a habit or mired down in a distraction, He will help deliver us and we will undoubtedly enter into greater depths of His love and presence as we shed our attachments and illusions, drawing ever closer to the lover of our souls.
What is the "ass" you are tethered to? (you don't have to share, but might want to ask yourself) It's time for us all to walk in freedom. Let's let God help us cut the cords that bind us to the trivial and experience greater depths of the most holy and precious treasure that could ever be discovered. His great presence, His love, His light.
Any thoughts? I would love to hear them! They are always welcomed and appreciated! :)