(This week is the 44th installment of the book, “The Band Director’s Lessons About Life”, which TCRN is publishing as a series during 2020. This week, band director and spiritual author Donald Lee relates a parable about sowing what you want to reap. For a complete listing of previous episodes in this series, click here.)
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
MAHATMA GANDHI(Indian lawyer, activist, writer, and leader of the Indian independence movement)
“My goodness, Rebecca, what did you do to yourself?” I asked as she came hobbling into class on crutches.
“I rolled my ankle in the basketball tournament on the weekend,” she said.
“Oh no. Did you come down on someone’s foot?”
“Yea. I was going for the rebound.” There was a mixture of pride and disappointment in Rebecca’s voice. Sports injuries seem to be like a “red badge of courage” for us—both kids and adults. Zoe closely followed Rebecca, carrying her books.
“Thank you, Zoe,” I said. “That’s very kind of you to help your friend.”
The two of them struggled into desks, a bit late for class. This grade-nine religion class was fairly rambunctious and had a wide range of faith—from strong to none at all. Whenever I tried to talk about spiritual things, there were those who just didn’t get it. An idea came to me that I thought might help.
“I’m sure all of you would help a friend in need, just as Zoe is helping Rebecca today. All of you are good and kind young people.” A few chuckles, comments, and friendly insults greeted this overly optimistic assessment.
“You also understand that if you help someone else, they are likely to help you in the future. It’s a simple fact of human relations: people tend to treat you the way you treat them. It’s really just the converse of the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
“Sometimes you treat someone nicely, and then they treat you like crap,” objected Jeremy.
“That’s true, Jeremy, because everyone has free will. You are free to be as big a jerk as you wish. But usually, people respond to you the way you treat them. If we think about this beyond the level of human relations, we understand our actions set spiritual forces in motion. Of course, we can’t see spiritual forces, but they exist. Let me explain it this way.
“I love our Rocky Mountains. I’ve been hiking in them since I was your age. If at the bottom of the mountain I put a big rock in my backpack and carry it up the mountain, I change the rock. I add energy to it. Maybe you learned this in science class. In carrying the rock up the mountain, I use my own kinetic energy, which is ‘miraculously’ converted into potential energy in the rock. The rock looksexactly the same. Its higher energy content is unseen.
“In a similar way, your spirit and your spiritual energy are unseen. Your deeds, good or bad, change you and the world around you in ways that are unseen but none the less real.
“If I now roll the rock down the mountain slope, its potential energy will be converted back to kinetic energy, and it will do lots of (useless) work as it smashes into bushes and scares the begeebees out of other hikers coming up the trail.
“Our deeds are the same. Whether they are good or bad, they create a sort of spiritual potential energy. It is our deeds—along with our thoughts and words—that create our spiritual state of consciousness. The results of our actions are the ‘fruits’ Jesus talked about (Mt 7:15). You can tell a tree by its fruit. If it grows apples, it’s an apple tree. A good person will do good things. Sooner or later our spiritual potential energy, which we create with our actions, will emerge in our life as spiritual kinetic energy—the consequences, or “fruits,” of our actions.
“So, in my analogy about energy, your good deeds create good spiritual potential energy. Whether that potential energy shows up as spiritual kinetic energy in this person or that person, in this situation or that situation, we never know. But sooner or later, in one way or another, the spiritual energy will manifest in your life. So ask yourself what “fruits” you want to harvest in your life. Then make sure you plant the right seeds.”
It really doesn’t matter whether we believe we have one life on this earth and an afterlife somewhere else, or if we believe we have many lives on earth. Our souls are eternal, so there is plenty of time for our deeds to bear fruit somewhere. Therefore, sow good deeds, for “as you sow, so shall you reap” (Gal 6:7).
A big part of sowing good seed is helping other people. We are called to be of service in our families and communities. Jesus made this clear during his last days on earth. Remember how he washed the feet of his Apostles? He gave them an example of service to others. And his final instruction to Peter? If you love me, feed my sheep, (Jn 21:17). Love is about serving others.
This little poem, attributed to the famous Presbyterian preacher John Wesley, succinctly expresses how we should live our lives.
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
Donald Lee is a spiritual author and speaker. This article is part of a weekly series for 2020 in which TCRN is publishing his inspirational book, The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle, in serial form – one parable per week. You can learn more about the author at his website: www.ComingHomeSpirit.com, or order a copy of his complete book on Amazon, or get his free mini eBook and sign up for his weekly blog. Follow Donald on Facebook.