The Tardy Oxcart

By February 17, 2020General

Building up your business is not an easy proposition. Anyone who has tried to germinate and grow an idea into something that flourishes is familiar with the challenges. There are times of unchecked optimism followed by reality and self doubt. Having the courage to get up from failure after failure and keep heading on the path you started forging…

In all of my enthusiasm to get my business off the ground, I am reminded of the virtue of patience. When everything in me wants to build momentum, it seems counterproductive to slow down and take time to reflect on what I’m trying to achieve and why. But taking stock of where I am and where I’m headed from time to time helps keep me from unwittingly running toward disaster.

My friend, author and pastor, Chuck Swindoll tells a story about the differences between an old, thoughtful father and his impetuous son and how they learn the value of patience:

There was once a fellow who, with his dad, farmed a little piece of land. Several times a year they would load up the old ox-drawn cart with vegetables and go into the nearest city to sell their produce.

Except for their name and the patch of ground, father and son had little in common. The old man believed in taking it easy. The boy was usually in a hurry…the go-getter type.

One morning, very early, they hitched up the ox to the loaded cart and started on the long journey. The son figured if they walked faster, kept going all day and night, they’d make market by early the next morning. So he kept prodding the ox with a stick, urging the beast to go faster.

“Take it easy, son,” said the old man. “You’ll last longer.”

“But if we get to market ahead of the others we’ll have a better chance of getting good prices,” argued the son.

Four hours and four miles down the road they came to a little house. The father smiled and said, “Here’s your uncle’s place. Let’s stop in and say hello.”

“But we’ve lost an hour already,” complained the hot shot.

“Then a few more minutes won’t matter. My brother and I live so close, yet we see each other so seldom,” the father answered slowly.

The boy fidgeted and fumed while the two old men laughed and talked away an hour. On the move again, the man took his turn leading the ox. As they approached a fork in the road, the father led the ox to the right.

“The left is the shorter way”, said the son.

“I know it”, replied the old man, “but this way is much prettier.”

“Have you no respect for time?” the young man shouted.

“Oh, I respect it very much! That’s why I like to use it to look at beauty and enjoy each moment to the fullest.”

The winding path led through graceful meadows, wildflowers, and along a rippling stream…all of which the young man missed as he churned within, boiling with anxiety. He didn’t even notice how lovely the sunset was that day. Twilight found them in what looked like a huge, colorful garden. The old man breathed in the aroma, listened to the babbling brook, and pulled the ox to a halt.

“Let’s sleep here,” he sighed.

“This is the last trip I am making with you,” snapped the son. “You’re more interested in watching sunsets an smelling flowers than making money!”

“Why that’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me in a long time,” smiled the dad.

A couple of minutes later he was snoring…as his boy glared back at the stars. The night dragged on slowly, the son was restless. Before sunrise the young man shook his father awake. They hitched up and went on. About a mile down the road they happened upon another farmer..a total stranger…trying to pull his cart out of a ditch.

“Let’s give him a hand,” whispered the old man.

“And lose more time?” the boy exploded.

“Relax son. You might be in a ditch sometime yourself. We need to help others in need…don’t forget that.”

The boy looked away in anger. It was almost eight o’clock that morning by the time the other cart was back on the road. Suddenly, a great flash split the sky. What sounded like thunder followed. Beyond the hills, the sky grew dark.

“Looks like a big rain in the city,” said the old man.

“If we had hurried, we’d be almost sold out by now,” grumbled the son.

“Take it easy, you’ll last longer and you’ll enjoy life so much more,” counseled the kind old gentleman.

It was late afternoon by the time they got to the hill overlooking the city. They stopped and stared down at it for a long, long time. Neither of them said a word. Finally, the young man put his hand on his father’s shoulder and said, “I see what you mean, Dad.”

They turned their cart around and began to roll slowly away from what had once been the city of Hiroshima.

– from Tales from the Tardy Oxcart, author, Charles R Swindoll, pages 424-426

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