May 22nd, 2019
Pastor Paul Cannon
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
- John 14:27
At the Lutherdale board meeting last Saturday, I sat and listened to another board member tell a short story, written by Jon J. Muth, author of “Zen Shorts” during the devotional time. It went like this:
There was once an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day, his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses. “Such good luck!” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the farmer.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown off, and broke his leg.
Again, the neighbors came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Such bad luck,” they said. “Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after that, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army to fight in a war. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. “Such good luck!” cried the neighbors.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.
The story struck me in an odd way, and I’m not entirely sure why. It didn’t answer any particular question I have, but it resonated with many stories of heartbreak and loss that I’ve heard recently. Maybe it will for you too.
I first thought of Rachel Held Evans – a name you might have heard of in recent weeks, even if you hadn’t heard of her before. She was a popular Christian author, theologian and thinker, who recently died at the young age of 39 from complications to a routine medical procedure. She left behind her two children and husband, along with thousands of people who had been positively influenced by her words (myself included).
“Such bad luck.” You might say. The Farmer would just say “Maybe.” It’s not an answer to a question (like “why do bad things happen?”) as much as it is a way to process information differently.
Maybe. “Maybe” is another way of saying, “I don’t know, but maybe something good could come from it.” It reminds me a bit of our words from Jesus today, who is telling his followers some bad news. He was leaving them – a foreshadowing of the cross. But in the wake of his departure, maybe something good might come. God sent the Advocate – the Holy Spirit – to fill the void, and maybe that’s just what the world needed.
Maybe something hard is going on in your life. Maybe not. But our faith is about following a God who can take a thing as sad as death and bring new life out of it. Thanks be to God. Amen.