“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:12-14).”
Khalid is an alchemist in who has tried to trick his ruler into believing that he could make gold from other substances. When his deception is discovered, Khalid’s hand is removed as punishment.
Author Kim Stanley Robinson portrays Khalid as a disillusioned, bitter man in his novel “The Years of Rice and Salt”. Khalid begins to care for nothing, and even begins to destroy his precious books and alchemy equipment.
Bahram wants to help his father-in-law Khalid, so he seeks out the local mystic for advice. The sufi tells him that Khalid’s problem is that he has depended soley on his intellect, and now that he has seen its limits he is depressed.
He further tells Bahram:
“Intellect has no real mettle, you see, and at the first real threat, into a hole it scuttles. But love is divine. It comes from the realm of the infinite, and is entrusted to the heart as a gift from God. Love has no calculation in it. ‘God loves you’ is the only possible sentence. So it’s love you must follow to the heart of your father-in-law.”
Bahram follows the msytic’s advice. He begins to take over Khalid’s jobs, which he is neglecting. Bahram keeps his spirit high.
However, Khalid wants no part in this effort to love him. He snarls at any affection, even from his wife, daughter or grandchildren. He is an irritable curmudgeon.
Khalid even balks when Bahram suggests outright during a scientific experiment that love is the unknown force involved in causal chains. He mocks Bahram’s idea, citing the immorality of the religious figures around him.
Bahram and the rest of Khalid’s relatives had to be frustrated. Despite their continued love to the old crank, he continued to resist.
A spiritual mentor of mine told me once that real change is possible, even when someone resists the change. He said that God uses circumstances and suffering to force us to look inward so that we make real and lasting change.
I could be Khalid. I have a good tendency to be a stubborn curmudgeon. It’s a male trait of my family.
Yet, Khalid and I are different in that I at least have tried to affect change. The trying events and suffering God had brought into my life has made me run to God in despair.
I have realized I can’ t think my way out of my problems. If I could do that, my problems would have been solved long ago.
When I overthink the same old stuff, it just becomes like trying to refry the same old egg. It just gets me nowhere.
What I have met when I have run to God is steadfast love. What I have seen in the darkness is the loving light of Christ, and Him waiting for me with open arms.
I have seen the truth of what Jeremiah wrote in the Old Testament in the Bible:
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:19-23).”
I have learned a big lesson. I have earned that since God hasn’t given up on me, and has continued to love me despite my denseness, stubborness, and resistance, I should in turn love others like me.
I think of a person I have encountered at work in this regard. This young man after several months continues to resist the efforts made toward him to help him succeed.
I had not seen him for a while, but now he is back in my day-to-day sphere of influence. Last week, when he broke some rules, I strongly rebuked him. I had some recollection in my mind that this fellow had failed when I had tried to help him before.
I checked some records, and sure enough he had been with me this summer. I have thought its best that he find another person besides me to help him.
Yet, I am reconsidering this thought to day. Perhaps I ought to try a different approach, the way of love.
My bad temper is not going to work with him. I could see it in his face as I barked.
The wise man of Proverbs says that pleasant words promote instruction, and provide sweetness and healing. He also says that a person who controls his temper and remains patient is better than a combat soldier.
It may be the world’ s way to be a martinet, but it isn’t necessarily God’s. The wise man of Proverbs tells us that there is a way that SEEMS right, but it leads to death. This could very well be true of a harsh approach with the particular indivual I am dealing with at work.
I think the fictional character Bahram has hit on something. Love is the force that holds the whole world together.
Ishouldn’t give up on it even when others don’t want any part of it. God surely hasn’t given up on me. He keeps on loving.