The Little Jar


Jar from Syria, Mamluk dynasty 14th century A.D

A retired man of advanced years lost his only relative before he passed away.  He had been an adventurous man and had spent many years travelling around the world in his younger years. Over that time he had collected various trinkets and items of subjective value that he considered his treasures.  Now that he had settled into a slower lifestyle and pace, he had no desire to seek new sights or sounds.  His passion had changed to telling and retelling stories of the places he had been and the people he met. It was as if he was reliving the memories by telling those stories and it gave him great delight to do so.

Because the man was well thought of in the community, on occasion a reporter would visit to hear a story for the human interest section of the newspaper.  There was often months or even years in between each visit from the reporter, but still the man looked forward to the next visit with great anticipation.  He would polish and revise the story he would tell next in his mind or sometimes even try the story out loud to see how it flowed.  By the time the reporter arrived, the story was always mesmerizing and breathtaking, full of interesting twists and colorful details to spur the imagination.  It was always disappointing to read the actual column because the reporter had to summarize and trim down the story, but the man understood why.

He hired the service of a selfless young woman who performed various tasks and light housework for him.  She had agreed to listen to one story a week at the end of her shift before she was hired, and the man promised to keep them under a certain time limit.  Although it seemed an unusual request, the young woman did not think twice about agreeing to it.  She could tell the man was lonely and needed to talk with someone.  She wished there was someone who cared for him and even felt some guilt at her large family because of it.

The man was very visual when he told his stories, moving his hands and using objects or even his ‘treasures’ to better illustrate the story he told her.  From the first story she was completely hooked and took no notice of the time.  She looked forward to the energy and passion he used to convey what he saw, what he did, and what he learned in the various places he visited over the years.  After listening to him she would often research the place and the people of that region just to see if she had imagined it right.  She came to know and understand the history of almost every one of his treasures as the weeks and years went by.

As the man became older and more frail, the stories her employer told her were less vibrant, for he tired easily and sometimes lost his place.  As his confusion and frustration over it grew, he found that he could no longer captivate her as he wished.  He decided to purchase a recorder to tell the story to so that he could keep track of what he had already said.  While he was busy dictating the next story for her, the doorbell rang.  The reporter had arrived for another story.

The reporter was surprised to see how much the man had aged, and tried to encourage him to sit as he spoke.  The man seemed agitated and somehow nervous, not at all the confident man with so much to tell.  The reporter smiled encouragingly, letting the man gather his wits without pressure at first but became more concerned about time.  The man began with flair, but seemed to lose his focus and drift off for seconds and then wonder what he had said already.  Once it seemed the man had entirely forgotten the reporter was there at all.  A story, it seemed, would not be possible today.

The reporter left as soon it was polite, thanking the man and assuring him that his story had been wonderful.  The man had insisted the reporter take a small elaborately decorated jar with faded blue coloring. He seemed enthusiastic about the jar and began to tell of the jar’s story and origin when he lost his focus and drifted off again.  The reporter smiled and turned to leave without the jar.  The man hurried after him with it, repeating himself and somewhat anxious that it be accepted.  The reporter took the jar, uncertain what exactly it was.

The young woman arrived just as the reporter took leave.  She stopped the reporter and spoke briefly about her employer and the unfortunate loss of faculties and memory he was now experiencing. She noticed the small jar and made a comment about it.  The reporter offered it to her, explaining it was not needed and certainly the man must have been confused in offering it.  The young woman refused and shortly explained that the jar was extremely rare and extremely valuable, of so much value that the reporter could easily purchase a new home with it.  It was quite an honor to be given this and had been planned as a gift for some time, she said.  The reporter was amazed to be so honored by the valuable gift, and embarrassed to have intentionally almost left it behind.  The story she recounted about the jar made its way into the paper the next day.

—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————

In this story I reflected on someone too busy to hear something important.

15And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

In thinking about Matthew 4:18 I decided that Jesus didn’t need people.  If you think about it, that is a pretty profound statement.

I know people (and I am partly one) who are introverts, people drain their energy and vitality eventually.  There are others who get energized by the company of friends more than anything else.  I’m not sure Jesus was either an introvert or an extravert to be honest.  I just think He did things with intention.  So, if I continue this assumption that Jesus didn’t ‘need people’ or get energy from being around them, why do we see him take notice of two fishermen?  It seems there is an intentional reason behind the author telling us this. These were not men begging to be near Jesus or even hoping He would speak to them, they were busy at work.

In this book so far it seems Matthew has intentionally written to show the reader that Jesus is the promised king, the Messiah the Jews had waited for.  He doesn’t delve into what the fishermen thought, only that Jesus ‘saw two brethren’ and the focus so far is on Jesus.  Were these two men significant enough for a king to stop for?  Probably not.  However, Matthew also pointed out that the kingdom of heaven had come to earth, the king had arrived.  That meant things were shifting from normal life to heaven’s (God’s) way of doing things.  I know that God desires close fellowship with us, and I conclude that Jesus was beginning to demonstrate that.

As we are often busy working away at something, the thought or urging to follow God and do something that doesn’t exactly make sense can happen.  I’ve had this happen many times and unfortunately I am not as faithful as I would like to be; I’m often too busy to listen as in this story. Was God less powerful when I didn’t follow through?  No.  There is no fulfillment needed in God, He is complete.  We are noticed, we are known, and we are recognized as important in God’s economy and kingdom.  He beckons, and then waits and does not force His will upon us.  Will we choose to go about our business catching fish that will last today and mean nothing tomorrow?  Well…that depends on how you look at it I guess.  God’s heart is tender, He wants to give you and I purpose and joy undeserved…whether to answer is up to us.

Please note, parablesbymish has moved to

A wonderfully blessed, self-critical person who loves to learn new things, delights in the little victories and gifts, and deeply respects wisdom. I enjoy writing and telling stories. I love outdoor activities and my career, coworkers, family, and the wonderful folks in my church family who teach me so much about how to walk confidently when you can't see where you're going.

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Posted in Based on New Testament, God's Will, Matthew

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© 2013-2018 Parables by Mish & Each story is an original work of fiction, and any resemblance to actual events or persons is purely coincidental. Send requests for use of this content to Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

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