There was once a wise old woman traveling a long and dusty road. On her journey she crossed a clear, cool stream. As she knelt to quench her thirst, she saw a sparkling stone beneath the water. Reaching in, she pulled out a rare, precious, and beautiful gem. Refreshed, she continued her journey.
The following day she encountered a fellow-traveler. He was hungry so she opened her knapsack to share food with him. As she opened her bag, he saw the stone and with brazen audacity, asked her to give it to him. He assumed she didn’t know the rarity or value of the stone, and thought his boldness was worth a try.
The wise old woman surprised him when she told him exactly how precious the stone was, and then without hesitation . . . gave it to him.
As the traveling man went on his way, he was overjoyed with his good fortune. Knowing how valuable the stone was, he had secured his financial stability for the rest of his life.
But this was no average traveling man.
He too, was wise.
After a few days, he returned, sought out the woman, and handed the stone back.

“I have been walking this dusty roads these days, thinking deeply about you. I want to return the stone in the hope that you will give me something even more valuable. I hope you will give me whatever you have within yourself that made it possible for you to give it to me.”

The false-self tends to manifest in in three primal areas:

  • an inner drive to control our own lives and the lives of others who impact us.
  • an inner craving for the affirmation or acceptance of other people.
  • an urgent need to feel secure and safe in a dangerous world.

frustratedIf your false-self shows up in the third – an urgent need for security and safety, you know firsthand how wise this traveling man was.
Imagine what it would be like to be free of the fear, striving, and compulsion for security. That freedom would be worth more than a stone of great price.
Jesus taught us to store up inner treasure rather than the kind that can be lost, stolen, or degraded with time. This, he taught, is true freedom, true life, abundant life.
Spend some time with me this week. Let’s reflect on how we’re doing with the primal drives:

  • Does the need for control hurt the people you love — those you work with?
  • Does someone’s bad opinion of you ruin your day . . . keep you up at night?
  • Do you fret about the bank account, the retirement fund, the kids?

If so, the wise old woman has a gift for us.
Let us walk the spiritual journey – and be free.
Jesus also has a gift for us.
Let us find the pathway to inner freedom, and give up everything else to walk it.

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