We have an old book called “The Æsop for Children.” In this book is a fable called The Astrologer. I want to present it here and then propose another ending. Here is how it is in the book:
A man who lived a long time ago believed that he could read the future in the stars. He called himself an Astrologer, and spent his time at night gazing at the sky.
One evening he was walking along the open road outside the village. His eyes were fixed on the stars. He thought he saw there that the end of the world was at hand, when all at once, down he went into a hole full of mud and water.
There he stood up to his ears, in the muddy water, and madly clawing at the slippery sides of the hole in his effort to climb out.
His cries for help soon brought the villagers running. As they pulled him out of the mud, one of them said:
“You pretend to read the future in the stars, and yet you fail to see what is at your feet! This may teach you to pay more attention to what is right in front of you, and let the future take care of itself.”
“What use is it,” said another, “to read the stars, when you can’t see what right here on the earth?”
Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.
My alternative ending:
…”What use is it,” said another, “to read the stars, when you can’t see what right here on the earth?”
The astrologer went home somewhat embarrassed for having fallen into the hole, but not yet convinced by the villagers, for he knew what he had seen in the stars.
The next day was a great earthquake. The villagers ran from their houses and looked to the sky in fear for the sun had turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, including the villagers, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from this calamity that has befallen us! For the great day of wrath has come, who can withstand it?”
Take care of the big things for the little things will be of no consequence.
Christians are often known for believing in some pie-in-the-sky story that gives them both comfort and guilt. This vision is often derided as wishful thinking and used as one of many excuses for not believing in the gospel. Others, many of whom are Christians, emphasize the here-and-now aspect of the kingdom of God (the kingdom of God is within you) and propose that Christians spend more energy looking at the world before them, helping others, feeding the poor, etc. They would deride the pie-in-the-sky idea as merely a means to avoid the world of the here-and-now. The truth being, we are called to help the needy and poor, we are commanded to love our neighbors, but we are also longing for the kingdom still to come. Though the kingdom of God has come in one sense—with the coming of Christ and the outpouring of the spirit of God—we wait still for its final establishment and the corresponding removal of sin from our lives. Our problem, however, is not that we don’t pay more attention to what is right in front of us, and don’t let the future take care of itself. Our problem is that we are too easily rooted in the things of this world; too easily living in fear of what this world might do to us—holes in the ground and all.
In the third chapter of the letter to the Colossians we read, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” This does not mean to disregard the needy and poor, in fact just the opposite. But it does mean that we should be captivated by what God is doing in history, concerned for the future, knowing this world will pass away, and longing for the kingdom come. But we are told differently; the world would have us say it is of the highest importance, its villagers telling us foolishness is to miss the world’s details in favor of the bigger picture. If we listen to the villagers we may never again fall into the hole, but we then might be destroyed when we most need salvation.