When the past has been painful and difficult it’s easy to become afraid. It’s easy to fear that life will always be painful and difficult. Fear freezes us in the past because we refuse to take risks for fear of being hurt again.
What set me free from fear is faith in my Higher Power. Faith that as I live one day at a time God will take care of me.
I believe that for the past not to become your future you need to live one day at a time with faith in your Higher Power.
How do you do that? Here’s a story that show’s how. It’s a traditional Jewish folktale called “The Sword of Wood,” and it goes like this:
Long ago, on a hot summer night in Morocco, the king could not sleep. So he decided to leave the palace and go out into the city for some fresh air. He took off his royal pajamas, the ones with the crown on the pocket, and put on the work clothes of a peasant. He went by himself to wander through the streets of the city.
At first he went to the center of town, and from there he walked until he reached a poor section on the outskirts of the city. After a while the heat began to bother him, and he noticed that one of the houses had a light in the window from which was coming a pleasant singing voice.
The king came closer and peered through the window of that house, and he saw a man sitting at the table beside his wife. On the table were different kinds of fruits and salads and a small bottle of wine. The man drank a glass of wine, tasted the fruits, and sang praises to God. The king stood at the window for a few minutes, amazed at the peace of this poor man, and he wondered why this man was so joyful.
So the king knocked on the door, and when the man inside asked who it was, the king told him that he was a wander, and asked if he might be accepted as a guest. The man opened the door, invited the king inside, and offered him food and drink, while the man himself continued his joyful singing.
After a while the king asked his host,
“What do you do for a living?”
The man replied:
“I am a poor Jew. I wander the streets during the day and fix shoes. With whatever I earn I buy enough for my wife and me to eat for that day.”
And the king said:
“But what will happen when you get old and won’t be able to work?
The man said:
“I don’t have to worry, for there is someone who looks out for me.”
This reply surprised the king, and he said:
“Who is this guardian? I see you and your wife are home alone and that you don’t have any children. And even if you had children this very day it would be many years before they grew up and were able to take care of you.”
At this, the man laughed and said:
“It is not a man who protects me, but God, blessed be his name, day by day.”
The king laughed when he heard this and he got up and said:
“It is late and I must go. But if I come here again, will I be welcome?
The man smiled and said,
“Yes my friend, you are welcome here any time.”
The king went back to his palace and decided to test this man, to see how he would fare in times of trouble. So he issued a command forbidding anyone to fix shoes in the streets.
The next day, when the Jew got up and came to the city, he was astonished to see an order of the king denying him his livelihood.
Then he lifted his eyes to heaven and said:
“God, the door to my livelihood has been shut. But I am confident that you will open another one to take its place.”
And when the man opened his eyes and looked around he saw a man carrying a water jug, and he said to himself: From now on I will be a water carrier.
So he went to the market and bought a water jug, and then he went to the well and filled it and carried it into town until he found someone who needed water. He did this all day long. By evening he found that he had as much money as when he had been a shoemaker. So he went to the market and bought food and drink for himself and his wife and returned home a happy man.
That night the king returned to the house of the Jew to see how he was doing after the order had been given. And the king was astonished when he peered through the window and saw the man as happy as ever.
So the king went to the door and knocked, and the man invited him in to join them at the table.
The king said:
“What did you do today? For surely you saw the command of the king?’
The man replied:
“Blessed be God, day by day. He did not abandon me. The king closed one door to me. But God opened another one in its place.”
And he told the king about how he had become a water carrier and how well his work had gone.
After a while the king said, good-night and returned to the palace. The next day he gave an order that made it forbidden for water to be sold to anyone, from then on each person had to draw water for himself.
When the Jew returned to the well, he discovered that his new occupation had been outlawed by the king. While he stood there, trying to think of what he might do, a group of woodcutters passed him by on their way to the forest to cut wood.
He asked them if he might go with them and cut wood to earn his daily bread, and they welcomed him.
So it was that he worked hard all day long cutting wood. In the evening, after he had sold what he had cut, he found he had earned as much as he did when he was a shoemaker and a water carrier.
That night the king returned to the house of the poor Jew, curious to know how he had done that day. The poor man told the king about his work as a woodcutter. And when he learned that the Jew had found a new occupation, he decided on a new plan to test the man.
The next morning the king ordered the captain of the guards to come to him, and he said:
“Take your soldiers to the road that leads to the forest, and stop all woodcutters who pass by. Bring them to the palace. Then dress them as palace guards and give them swords, and order them to guard the palace.”
The captain obeyed the king’s command and among the woodcutters who were brought to the palace was the Jew. The woodcutters were made to guard all day long, and in the evening were all sent home with their new uniforms and swords. But they were not paid anything, for the guards received their wages only once a month.
So it was that the Jew returned home empty-handed, and he was very puzzled. For he did not have enough to live on for another day, much less for another month.
How will the woodcutter handle this new challenge? Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story and find out how to live one day at a time with faith in your Higher Power.