This story speaks such wisdom to me, I wanted to share it with you.
The Rusty Bucket (author unknown)
Faith is not about everything turning out okay. It’s about being okay no matter how things turn out.
Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of Johns Hopkins Hospital. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs room to clinic patients. One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking tiny man. Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, “Good evening. I’ve come to see if you’ve a room for just one night. I came for treatment this morning from the eastern shore but there’s no bus ’til morning.”
He told me he’d been hunting for a room with no success since noon. No one seemed to have a room for him. “I guess it’s my face…I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments…” For a moment I hesitated but his next words convinced me: “I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning.”
I told him we would find him a room but to rest on the porch while I finished making supper. I asked the old man if he would join us. Holding up a brown paper bag he said, “No thank you. I have plenty.” After supper, I went out to the porch to talk with him. It didn’t take long to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into a tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her 5 children, and her husband who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury. He didn’t tell it by way of complaint. In fact, every other sentence was prefaced with thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. At bedtime we put a camp cot up for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch.
He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, halting as if to ask a great favor, he said, “Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I wouldn’t put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in the chair.” He paused a moment and added, “Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don’t seem to mind.” I told him he was welcome to come again.
On his next trip, he arrived a little after 7 in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big bag of fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen! He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so they’d be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 A.M. and wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.
In the years he came to stay overnight with us, there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk 3 miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made these gifts doubly precious.
My neighbor had remarked after his first stay, “Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people.” Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But Oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear. I know our family always will be grateful to have known him. From him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.
Recently a friend who has a greenhouse showed me her flowers. We came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden Chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, “If this were my plant, I’d put it in the loveliest container I had!” My friend changed my mind. “I ran short of flower pots,” she explained. “And knowing how beautiful this one would be I thought it wouldn’t mind being starting out in this old pail. It’s just for a little while til I can put it in the garden.
She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. “He won’t mind starting out in a small body til he gets to heaven.”
All this happened long ago, and now, in God’s garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand.
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Guard your heart and see others through God’s eyes!