Years ago, in horse-and-buggy days, a poor circuit preacher made his weekly rounds to one of his favorite churches. As he could not afford a horse, he walked the lengthy distance to the little, white church in the vale.
On his way through the fertile valley leading to the church, he stopped at his favorite meadow to savor the change of scenery each season revealed.
He enjoyed spring as it burst forth with bluebells, daffodils, Queen Anne’s lace, and other wildflowers filling the meadow, and fall with the beauty of the trees as they boasted of their vibrant shades of russet, saffron, and burnt sienna.
He loved listening to the bubbling stream that trickled through the field. He laughed when winter’s snow and ice decked out the trees and shrubs, making them look like some of the icy parishioners in his church.
On each journey to the church, he paused to meditate. Leaning on the old fence surrounding the meadow, he praised the Lord for the beauty of His creation, for all the faithful parishioners filling the little church, and always asking for the miracle of a bigger building to someday hold more believers.
One beautiful spring day, he noticed a for-sale sign on the property. His curiosity about a buyer lasted only until the next week when a new sign appeared: SOLD!
What will become of my lovely meadow, he thought. And my dream!
Disappointment did not begin to cover how he felt as he weekly walked by and saw the destruction. Several trees knocked down. Flowers gone. The ground disturbed.
Each week, he grew more annoyed. Mumbling and complaining chipped away at his praise until pessimism threw a dark shadow across his rumbling soul. His joy disappeared and he blamed God and even questioned his calling as a preacher.
By the time he reached the little church each week, his spirit was so negative that his sermons suffered and the people noticed the difference.
One Sunday as he walked to church, he became so angry at God for taking away his beautiful praise meadow that he kicked the fence post and broke his foot. Luckily, a parishioner came by in his buggy and took the preacher to the doctor.
After resting his foot for many months, it finally healed. When spring arrived, he was able to resume preaching, so the parishioner came to pick him up for Sunday services. When the parishioner arrived, he told the preacher he must do something.
“What is it?” asked the preacher.
“You must wear this blindfold,” said the man.
“What in the world for?”
As the man explained it was a surprise, the preacher grumbled something under his breath, but he conceded.
When they reached their destination, the man removed the blindfold from the preacher’s eyes and he heard, “Surprise!”
“Wha-a-t? What is this?” He glanced around and saw his entire congregation surrounding him.
“This,” said the man, “is your new church building.”
There, in the middle of his favorite meadow, stood the most beautiful church building he had ever seen. And the meadow welcomed him back with its display of fragrant wildflowers and trees in full bloom.
“I…I don’t understand,” said the puzzled preacher.
The man said, “We received a large endowment from an anonymous donor to build you a new church. Knowing it’s been your heart’s desire, and since you broke your foot and couldn’t see what was going on, we thought we’d surprise you.”
As his eyes filled with tears, the preacher fell to his knees, sobbing, “Oh, Lord, forgive me. I blamed You for taking away the very thing that gave me such joy and I lost my praise. You planned something for me even more beautiful than I could have imagined. My cup of joy is now refilled and running over. Praise You, Lord!”
The Lord has planned something beautiful for you. Thank and praise Him in anticipation of its arrival and for His love and care for you.
May your cup of joy be refilled and overflow…Lynn