Editor’s Note: AMI Quiet Times for May 23-24 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Mark 8:36: What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
Phil. 4:11b-12: For I (Paul) have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Here is a story told by a great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) that succinctly captures the meaning of these two passages: It is entitled, “How much land does a man need?”*
Pohom had great wealth and property but he wanted even more land. One day, he learned from some travelling merchants about a rich land in some foreign distant land which can be bought for practically nothing from a nomadic people. Wasting no time in going there, Pohom couldn’t believe what he saw: the soil was rich, flat and its green grass chest high. So Pohom quickly asked the Chief what he needs to pay to buy piece of this land. The Chief said, “Our price is always the same; a thousand rubles a day.” Puzzled by this, Pohom asked, “What kind of measurement is that? How many acres is a day?”
“We do not know,” the Chief answered, “How to reckon it out; we sell it by the day. As much as you can go around on your feet in a day is yours and the price is a thousand rubles a day.”
Finally grasping the idea, Pohom said to himself: “As much as I mark off with my feet and come back that’s what I will own.” He said to the Chief, “In a day you can get around a large tract of land.” Chief laughed: “It will all be yours but there is one condition: if you don’t return on the same day to the spot whence you started your money is lost.” He meant that Pohom has to start in one place and circle a piece of land and come back to the same place.
The next day before the crack of the dawn, Pohom arose from his sleep and after placing his 1,000 rubles in the fur cap of the chief, he began his walk. As he walked to the land, his strides quickened because the land seemed to be getting better and richer, and more fertile. And to include a particularly inviting field, he went far, he went much too much before he set his marker and turn back.
He then hurried back even faster under the hot scorching sun of the day. Exhausted after circling such a huge tract, Pohom turned back toward his starting hill. Walking with greater difficulty as his legs began to wobble, his chest was breathing heavily, his heart was beating like a hammer, his legs sometimes failed him. Pohom could see the hill with the Chief cheering him on. Pohom looked at the sun which had reached the earth; one side of it already disappeared. With all of his remaining strength he rushed on, bending his body forward but his legs could hardly follow faster enough to keep him from falling. But just as he reached the bottom of the hill, it suddenly grew dark; he looked up and saw that the sun had already set. And he gave out a cry, “All my labor has been in vain.”
He was about to stop but all of sudden he heard the Chief and his people still shouting. Then Pohom remembered that to him, from below, the sun seems to have set but they, on the hill, still see the sun. He took a long breath and ran up the hill—it was still light up there. He reached the top and saw the fir cap. Before the cap sat the chief laughing and holding his sides. Pohom uttered the final cry; as his legs gave away beneath him, Pohom fell forward but managed to reach the cap with his hand just in time. But he was no more! Pohom’s servant picked up a shovel and dug a grave just long enough for him to lie in and be buried in it: 6 feet from his head to his heels—that was all Pohom needed from all the vast land that he had gained.
“. . . I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: 8 . . . give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” Amen (Prov. 30:7-9).
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 25-26
*I initially heard this from a pastor’s sermon.