The priest who waited for God
Once there lived a priest, who was well versed in the Holy books and could give very good speeches to explain the teachings. People from different towns and cities used to invite him to teach about God. This made the priest very proud of himself. He felt that he was the greatest devotee, but he did not realize that he never put into practice what he was teaching. For example, he used to teach about reducing greed, pride, etc., but he himself did not try to do so. He would charge large amounts for his speeches and was very proud of them.
One day, the priest was invited to another city to teach about God. There were storms in the city that night and within a few hours the hotel where he was staying started flooding with water. As the water rose in the early morning, like the rest of the people, he too climbed to the roof. He was sure that since he knows so many Holy texts, God would rescue him immediately. There was another man with him, who had attended his speech the day before. That man was very humble and happy to see the priest. He remembered that the priest had taught about chanting (repeating) God’s Name and about prayer, and started chanting and praying intensely.
The priest, however, felt that he was greater than the other man, since he was the one who had taught the man to chant and pray; so, instead of trying to chant and pray, the priest kept waiting for God Himself to appear for his rescue. Just then a coast guard rescue party came in a rowboat. The priest refused the boat and said, “I am a priest. I will stay here. God will save me." But, the other man, who was intensely chanting, thanked God for sending help and left immediately with the rescue team.
An hour later the water was close to the roof of the hotel. Another boat came to rescue the remaining people and the coast guard said to the priest, "Sir, you better get in. The water is still rising." The priest said, “No, thanks. God Himself will come to my rescue."
An hour later, another boat came especially for him (since all other people had been rescued in the flooded area). They found the priest still waiting for God to help him out. The rescuer said, “Sir, we will not be able to come back with another rescue party – the water level is too dangerous now. Why don’t you hold my hand? I will get you in. This is your last chance.” By now the priest was wondering why God had not come to rescue him. Dejected, he jumped into the boat.
Within minutes, the whole place was under water. The next morning, the priest was narrating his experience to another priest friend and asked why God did not come to help him. The other priest told him, “It was by God’s grace only that you got rescued. You teach people spirituality and they put it into practice, but you yourself did not even try to chant or pray! No wonder you could not realize and be grateful that the rescue boat was God’s way of rescuing you.”
Moral: Like the man, who sincerely followed the priest’s teachings, if we try to put into practice what we learn at Holy places or from spiritual books, we, too, will realize that God is always helping us! We, too, will feel grateful and close to Him. A simple way to feel close to God is chanting God’s Name, as per our religion, as much as possible throughout the day.
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