A king called together two of his brightest subjects. He told them he wanted to catalog the flora of his kingdom. He sent one man out to observe and note every flower he could find. He sent the other out to do the same for the weeds of his country.
The first came back in two weeks.
“Oh, King!” he exclaimed. “I have barely begun my search but wanted to make a quick report before I continue. Our kingdom is filled with the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen! Indeed, I have never noticed them before. The colors! The shapes! The sheer varieties and smells! To be perfectly honest, I have been considering moving from here and now I realize I must be living in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Thank you for this job. I will leave now and continue my work.”
The second man came in shortly after the first.
“Oh, King!” he sighed. “I have barely begun my search but am ready to make my report. I confess I have never before noticed what a miserable kingdom we live in. I have barely made it out of the surrounding courtyard and have been cut and stung by numerous thorns and brambles. And the stink! This is a noxious kingdom and I have two things to report. I quit. And I’m moving.”
Some have suggested that our feelings are determined by our attitudes: whether we see the glass as half-empty or half-full. I would suggest the more important question is whether or not we even see the glass.
What we are looking at determines our attitude. To return to the story of the king, an important question is whether we are looking for the flowers or the weeds. Both are there to find.
The news will be filled on any given day by reports of good deeds and courage and victory. It will also be filled by disasters and anger and violence. Which stories will receive our focus? Which ones will linger in our hearts and minds and shape our view of our neighbors and God?
Jesus speaks in what we often call the “Sermon On The Mount” about our focus. He says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” — Matthew 6:22-23.
So we need to watch what we watch. We should focus on what we’re focusing on. And if our attitudes start to move toward despair and away from hope, we need to pay attention to what we’re paying attention to. There are a lot of flowers out there.
Rick Cupp is minister at Kenai Fellowship. Worship at 11 a.m. on Sundays at the building, wearing masks. Or join us on Facebook, livestreamed! Look up “Rick Cupp” and go to the page with the Kenai Fellowship sign as the backdrop picture.
• Rick Cupp, Minister, Kenai Fellowship