Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Loof. He grew up where people liked giving out such silly names. He was a relatively normal child, with rich brown hair and huge, inquisitive round eyes that lit up when he got excited. His parents toiled on the farm every day, tilling the land and harvesting crops to provide for themselves. As hard as they tried, his parents failed to get Loof to participate in such mundane tasks. No such life for me! he thought. All I want is an adventure, something to live for.
One day, lo and behold, a visiting scholar chanced to stroll by the edge of the grassy field! Loof had never seen such a person of high station, ever! Creeping closer through the dense field of grass, he struggled not to sneeze as the flowers reached up to tickle his nose. His eyes widened despite their watering, studying every aspect of this educated man. The scholar, dressed in a breezy linen top and pant set, wandered whimsically along the dusty, cobblestone road. And, we must note, he carried on him a writing quill.
Not just an ordinary quill, mind you. Up until that point in his life, Loof had never seen such a thing! It appeared as though one plucked it from an ancient bird of wondrous legends past. Its blindingly white spine tapered into the finest point ever seen. Flecks of crimson and glowing gold gleamed so that it looked alive. One brush from it promised to coax out the most exquisite literature known to man. And it flickered and flashed in the noon-sun, on the twiddling fingers of the scholar, patiently waiting to be used.
Loof sprinted up to the scholar, whose name, in case you were curious, is William. The latter started in fright, because, you remember, Loof had been spying on the curious fellow.
Panting excitedly, Loof shouted, “Sir, what is that marvelous thing you have got there?”
Scholar William replied, “Why, boy, ‘tis a master quill! Quite a marvelous thing, you know. Lasts forever when you overcome those blasted writing blocks.”
In response, Loof asked where he could obtain this “quill” for himself. He discovered that it came from Merchant Yenom in the capitol city five hundred miles away! All his life, Loof had been seeking something more than the provincial life he led.
And that day, he found his life goal: to acquire a master quill.
For days, his parents tried to talk him out of what they saw as a preposterous idea. Why, they cried, you don’t even write! Why would you sacrifice so much if you can’t do anything but look at it? Try as they might, they failed to extract the notion from Loof. He dreamed about it day and night, and every time the thought darted into his mind, a little voice kept telling him that life could never be what he dreamed of– unless he got that quill.
So off he went! On a warm Sunday afternoon, Loof thrust a few loaves of bread and a few dried fish into his sack-pack, pressing on with his walking stick. So determined was he that his parents got no farewell!
I could spend pages and pages recounting the fascinating encounters Loof had during his long trek across the mountains and the hills, but that can be saved for another time.
One year later, he finally stumbled into the capitol. His clothes were dusty from the road, sandals worn into the ground, and the sack-pack that had once carried his provisions flew tattered like a flag of surrender. The inhabitants were fortunately very kind (or wanted him out of their way), and quickly directed him to the door of Merchant Yenom. Loof felt all his exhaustion melt way as his excitement grew. Eyes sparkling, he knocked on the door with as firm of a knock as he could muster.
And who would open the door, but scholar William?
“Sir, it’s you!” cried Loof, “I came to buy the quill that you had a year ago, and you told me to go to Merchant Yenom! What are you doing here?
Scholar William smiled and made some remark about how writers tend to be starving artists these days, and rambled even longer about how he had to make ends meet by doing odds and ends. Finally, he set a price for the writing quill: 500 slekehs. Loof was broke by this point (what did you expect?), and begged to work in return for his dream.
A deal was struck: seven years of service, then the quill would be his.
And so it was.
For seven long years, Loof labored with all his might to pay the astronomical cost for the exquisite quill. The thoroughbred horses needed constant care and exercise; he was there. The sheep anxiously bleated to graze; he was there. The intellectual festival needed a waiter throughout the night; he was there. Loof slept at the wee hours of the night and woke up at the crack of dawn. All day every day. You could say he was worked to the bone.
Two thousand, five hundred-fifty five days later, William fulfilled his side of the contract. He handed Loof the quill with utmost care, instructing him to use it well, and left him with some provisions at the door.
Loof couldn’t believe it! After all this time, after so many years, the quill was finally his! Sitting at the capitol’s gates, he fluttered the quill over and over in his hands. As it had done previously, the master quill spun with hypnotic energy and reflected the last gleams of sunlight onto the well-trodden ground.
It belonged to him.
I wish I could tell you that Loof went on to do glorious things with the new trinket of his, that he accomplished marvelous things with his life but I’m here to state the facts, not to tell some fairy tale story.
Loof returned home and lived the rest of his days on the farm. He went out to do his duties on the farm, and then stared at the quill now hanging over the hearth. As months and years passed, dust settled in the quill and dulled its brilliance. The promise of beautiful lines being written into existence was stifled into silence, because that’s not why Loof bought it. He just wanted it, and got it.
And one day, many years later, Loof died. And alas, the quill had died the instant he held it in his hands at the door of Scholar William’s domain.
Why? The purpose of a quill is to be used as an instrument to write, not simply to behold. What glory is there in possessing such a beautiful tool if you know not what to do, only caring that you finally own it? If you strive to get something you want and make it your chief end – what waste, what loss!
Reader, I hope you remember the same lesson Loof never learned: with whatever we desire, we need to examine our hearts. We can work so hard – for months, years, our lifetime – to get something we see as wonderful. But if we make it our ultimate goal, it’s a waste. Surrendering what we desire to have and to do, all unto the Lord makes everything…. worthwhile. Don’t be a fool like Loof. Live as God intended for us, delighting in Him and doing all things for His glory. It’s easy to become shortsighted and see how something affects us immediately, neglecting to understand (or want to understand) why God orchestrates things His way, gives us certain things, takes away others. Don’t simply stare and chase after things without giving a thought as to why and for whom.
Let us not grow so caught up with the world and its promises that we become blinded to the priceless treasure that we have in Him!