Kaizer, our 100 pound lap-dog, can suck the negativity and anger right out of anyone, his enthusiasm for life fills a room when he enters it; as does his enormous head, long and lean body, and huge feet. His tail can be compared to nuclear energy; it is meant for good, but when it’s near a coffee table where any breakables are on display – the incredible force of his nonstop, speed-of-light tail can only leave destruction and heartache behind. He is one of two dogs whose home we share (note the implied ownership – they hold the mortgage and have never made a payment), and without them our home seems empty and too quiet. Kaizer is a good dog (and Harley – so are you).
The title of this story was the classic response from Jesus, when after healing the ten lepers, only one came back to say, thank you. “Weren’t there ten of you?” He asked. Of course He knew how many there were; he had just healed them. He wanted the one person who returned with a grateful heart, and us, to know that He was questioning the whereabouts of the other nine. In effect, Jesus was asking, “Were the others happy to be healed of this terrible disease as well? Why didn’t they come back and say so?” Undoubtedly, the other nine men were very happy and excited to be healed; most likely, that was the problem. They were so excited that they forgot who to thank for their gift. They ran off to their homes and villages to show off the miracle, to stand before the crowds and reveal how fortunate their circumstances had changed. The gift became the focus of all, the center of attention; and the giver, the most important person in this moment, was cast in a supporting role. The nine were confused and mistaken. It was not the gift that was important, but the giver of the gift who was the real story. In their haste, (and happiness) they forgot about gratitude.
If you were a farmer 100 years ago, you might have used a plow horse to pull the metal plow to turn and mix the soil until it was sufficiently prepared to plant the seeds. The horse was meant to do the bulk of the labor; dragging the heavy plow through good soil and bad, while the farmer kept the horse in a straight line. A plow horse didn’t have to move swiftly to be considered good at its job, it needed to be consistent and dependable; always moving forward toward its goal, without much complaining or urging – a good plow horse wanted to plow the field. It knew every morning that the day would bring some rocky, dry, hard spots and, some places that were level and smooth; but, it didn’t matter, the plow horse would work its way through all of it, under the carful guidance of its farmer.
Saturday is a great day for a family barbeque. Saturday is also my day for outside chores: mowing lawns, trimming and pruning the plants, cleaning the garage, and I get great satisfaction in seeing the fruits of my labor when I am done working. Manning the family barbeque on a Saturday afternoon gives me the chance to view my back yard kingdom at its finest moment of the week, and to reflect on how lucky I am.
It was the time during the dinner preparation when I was alone by my BBQ; the family was inside putting the finishing touches on the on the table setting and side dishes, and the meat needed a couple more minutes on the grill. I was inwardly and outwardly smiling while I surveyed the yard. The pool was clean; from my vantage point the water appeared a deep turquoise blue, the waterfall and spa, surrounded by palm trees, bird of paradise, and lilacs look like a scene from a Hawaiian post card. To my right are more palm trees and ferns, overgrowing the ceramic pots they live in, nestled under the branches of an apple tree. The green lawn is a living contrast to the pebbled concrete separating it from the pool. I like my yard; I am at peace here.
The importance of the beauty overwhelms the reality of the flaw.