Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Great (07/06/06)
TITLE: Little Words
By Frank Parrino
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“To be truly great you must begin small.” These words of the wise man broke the subdued silence surrounding the beautiful lush valley that stood majestically before us like a master painting hanging in the picture gallery of nature’s great Artist. It was a proverbial saying of the town’s peoples that Mr. Clarke’s well sat upon front porch, afforded the most commanding view of the valley.
Being the ninetieth year of his life and eightieth of his new life in Christ, this great aged monument of grace, never neglected to offer me an opportunity to visit his cozy haven in the twenty years I’ve known him. The neighborly agenda included a healthy mug of hot green tea and the privilege to share in his great observations of life.
Although slowed by the onward march of time, the voice of the venerable veteran sage never became strained but was steady as a resilient ship making its numerous treks across the great oceans of life. With the twilights last gleaming reflecting in his Ben Franklin like spectacles, Mr. Clarke thoughtfully shared from his storehouse of great knowledge. “Great political figures, philanthropists, doctors, teachers, generals, and I can multiply the greatness of personages be they Christian or not, are great only by the grace of God.”
I immediately thought of the great trees that stood shoulder to shoulder, forming a vast canopy of pleasant green hues along the upwardly sloping hills. Majestic oaks, mighty maples, huge hemlocks, and the other members of that prestigious array of flora, all began from a seed. I also mused on how many great trees were planted by industrious squirrels, who in their eagerness to “fuel up” forgot a few seed-nuts here and there.
As my thoughts returned to the dear old man’s sanctuary, the sun was slowly sinking in the warm western sky. The great light that rules the day was to use an old saying, “hitting the hay.” Twilight time officially made its entrance as soon as the crown of the hill, Robbins Peak, swallowed the last fading rays of the great shinny star. With the approving nod of my hospitable host, I freshened up our mugs with a spot of that tasty tea. My old friend continued in his prudent manner, “As important and beneficial to humanity as great inventions discoveries, feats, and deeds may be. As awesome as the great wonders and works of nature may appear to our senses. Yet that is not what true greatness is about.”
My mind was drawn once again to the trees that stood like decorated soldiers at attention before us in the darkening shadows of the great valley. As I kept running my eyes slowly along its shapely contours, I thought of Psalm 1. Mr. Clarke has been around a long time but I didn’t know he was a mind reader. “Let us consider what it means to be great. We see great in the blessed person. Such a person is one no matter what their ethnic group or station in life, has a personal and practical relationship with the Living God. He or she is like a tree that is firmly anchored in rich soil and well watered by divine grace. A planting of the Lord that is lush, evergreen, beautiful, and useful in the great kingdom of God. By avoiding evil, by delighting in, pondering, and putting into practice the directions of the Lord, the blessed person prospers and bears fruit to the glory of God.”
“To be great you must begin small.” The seed is planted in good soil. As it is cultivated by the Word and the Spirit, it grows to be a “tree of the Lord” and brings forth a great harvest of blessings. Jesus said, “If anyone would be first he must be last and servant of all” (Mark 10:35 ESV). My old friend rose from his chair. Leaning gingerly on his cane, he stood beside me. Evening’s curtain of darkness descended on the great gallery of nature’s great Craftsman. “To be truly great you must have faith like a mustard seed and exercise a child like faith. Great is being last, being a servant, being unselfish, and being humble.” I heard the trees clap for joy. I watched the fireflies flash their approval. To this day I have never forgotten that visit and the little words of my great hero of the faith.
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