Across the Pastor’s Desk: Consider thankfulness a choice

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, November 23, 2017

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Don Malinsky

In a small Polish community, hundreds of years ago, or was it yesterday, a small business owner owed a large sum of money to a local loan-shark.  The loan shark was a very old, unattractive looking man that just so happened to fancy the business owner’s beautiful young daughter.

Don Malinsky

He decided to offer the businessman a deal that he could not refuse.  This deal would completely wipe out the businessman’s debt.  The deal had a catch. The debt would be wiped out only if the loan-shark would get permission to marry the businessman’s daughter.  Needless to say, this proposal was disgusting to the daughter.

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To make it appear sporting, the shark hatched up a plan for all involved in the deal.  He would place two pebbles into a bag, one white and one black. The daughter would then have to reach into the bag and pick out a pebble.  If it was black, the debt would be wiped out, but the loan-shark would then marry her.  If it was white, the dept would still be wiped out, but the daughter wouldn’t have to marry the loan-shark.

Standing on a pebble filled path in the businessman’s garden, the loan-shark bent over and picked up two pebbles.  While he was picking them up, the daughter noticed that he’d picked up two black pebbles and placed them both into the bag.  He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one out.

The daughter had three choices as to what she could do:

Refuse to pick a pebble from the bag.

Take both pebbles out of the and expose the loan-shark for cheating.

Pick a pebble from the bag fully knowing it was black and sacrifice herself for her father’s debt.

  She drew a pebble from the bag, and before looking at it “accidentally” dropped it into the midst of the other pebbles.  She said to the loan-shark, “Oh how clumsy of me!  Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

The pebble left in the bag is obviously black, and seeing that the loan-shark didn’t want to be exposed for cheating, he had to play along as if the pebble the daughter dropped was white, thus clearing her father’s debt, and avoiding an ill-fated marriage.

Often in life we have to think outside the box.  Life happens, and we scramble to make sense of it. Remember we have choices, just like the daughter in our parable. At St John’s I often say we have a choice; “Bitter or better.”    

Psalm 100 reads: “Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations.”

This Thanksgiving, and always, may you choose “better.” For the Lord walks with us daily, we never walk alone.  Give thanks always.

Don Malinsky is chaplain at St. John’s Lutheran Community.