Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Parable of the Palace, the King, and the Subjects

There was once a large kingdom roughly organized into several villages and surrounding farmland. In every district, there were certain subjects like helped pass the time during their long, arduous work in the fields by imagining the kinds of treasures the king had in his palace. One group of peasants endlessly talked about a golden ring possessed by the king. Another group fantasized about a beautiful woven tapestry that hung on the wall. Another group gossiped about a lovely chest of drawers that someone claimed to have seen long ago. Some peasants coveted these goods so strongly that they actually made crude replicas to possess for themselves. Some peasants marveled at these revolting caricatures, having never seen the real thing and thus lacking the discernment to tell the difference.

One day, the king announced that he had toured the kingdom and, moved upon by the poverty of the subjects, he was willing to grant each subject anything they desired from his palace. The peasants whipped into a ravenous frenzy. The requests quickly came pouring in, and just as quickly, the disappointment of the peasants mounted. Since none of them had ever set foot in the palace, they had no idea what the king actually possessed. They based their request only on the fables they had heard. Many were disappointed to hear that the item they had coveted their whole lives didn't actually exist. Others, whose fables had enough basis in reality to be mapable to a real object, were disappointed to find that the tapestry they had heard about was not so magnificent as they had been told, the chest of draws was quite smaller than they had imagined it, and the golden ring was actually made of copper.

But not everyone in the kingdom was disappointed. There was an old, destitute woman who made the best request. Her request to the king was very simple, but profound: She asked for the king himself, to become her adopted son. You see, the women realized that, being a peasant, she not only had no idea what the king possessed, but she also knew that, even if she had a full inventory, she did not possess the wisdom to know the true value of the king's possessions. By obtaining the king, she would both obtain access to all his material possessions, but also access to his wisdom.

We are told to ask our Father for blessings. But which of us has any real knowledge of what he has to give?

We do not know God (John 4:22). We do not know ourselves (Luke 9:55). We do not know what to pray for (Romans 8:26). We do not see the folly of what we do ask for (Matthew 20:22). Why do we pretend that we do know?

If we really understood the vast difference between God's knowledge and our ignorance, we would act very differently.

What better blessing can we ask for than to know him? What better approach is there than to humbly bow before him, admit our absolute ignorance, and beg him to impart of his goodness and wisdom to us according to his matchless knowledge and mercy?

"Oh God, your knowledge surpasses my greatest understanding. I know nothing. I will freely give away anything I think I know to know you more. Teach me, Lord. I have been true and faithful to everything you have asked of me. Send me further light and truth that I may worship you more fully and somehow bless others by imparting some share of your glory. I will not reject anything you ask of me or teach me. Father, show me what to ask for. I humbly await your instruction."