Through the Mountains for Spiritual Transformation: The Gift of an Only Son Devotional Reading and Podcast
The story I am sharing is from the spiritual journey of a boy, age 11, whose mother decided to give her only son to become a Buddhist monk when he was born. Timeline: Spring to Fall.
The location is somewhere in the mountainous area of Asia. It is spring, and the terrain is beautifully covered with flowers, yet the mountain is harsh and rugged when one focuses on the whole picture.
The family of five raises goats and has a couple of cows that provide the essentials of milk and butter. The land is unadulterated by chemicals or pesticides and yields plentiful berries, herbs, and green plants used for vegetables.
This region is a small community of people who live in separate territories that do not overlap. With mutual respect, neighbors not only enjoy privacy, but they also have sufficient land to feed their animals.
Still, the focus of this documentary was the rite of passage of a young boy whose destiny was determined at birth by his mother. Culturally the oldest son inherits the property and is responsible for caring for his parents until their death. The mother’s decision to break traditional mores provides insight into the methodology of change and the progression of society.
What about the boy’s father who according to tradition could have nullified the mother’s decision? When interviewed, the father simply responded, “I cannot stand against the spiritual destiny of my son.”
It is difficult to imagine the parent’s emotions as they lovingly watched their baby mature into a young boy, knowing that one day, he would leave and they would be separated for life. With determination, they did not allow emotions to overshadow their son’s spiritual purpose. In preparation for her son’s transition, the mother waited until the boy could understand his destiny. At the age of 10, he was told that at age 11, he would leave the family to become a Buddhist monk.
As the day of his departure grew near, the biographer interviewed the mother, asking her, Why would you give up your only son? Her words were spoken with conviction. She desired for her son to have a different life, one of knowledge and experience outside of being a goat herder. The story continued with a somber mood.
The night before he left, a celebration dinner was prepared and the home was filled with happiness and laughter. After everyone had fallen asleep, the mother expressed her ambivalent feelings about never seeing her son again. Her voice trembled, and spoken words were replaced by tears that flowed like a waterfall.
The Morning of Departure: The boy’s 15-year-old cousin arrived who would serve as his chaperone and traveling companion. The father sat isolated on the ground with tears streaming down his face. Yet, the time for parting words and hugs was brief. These two boys with huge backpacks had a seven-day journey [on foot] through the snowy mountains to the town where the Buddhist temple was located.
The Arrival: It was interesting to watch a young child’s reaction to seeing a city for the first time. As they walked through the open market, he stopped to look at a table with baseballs. Picking up the ball, he began to laugh and asked his cousin to buy him this ball. “No, I cannot buy this ball for you. Your life is to become a monk. You are not allowed to have balls to play with in your new life. If I buy this ball for you, you will be distracted and grieve over the ball when they take it away from you instead of focusing on your preparation to become a monk.” The sadness of not having the ball was quickly replaced when they arrived at the temple and he was introduced to his mentor.
This young boy’s pre-determined journey produced deep reflection and uncertainty as I asked myself, Where do I stand in my spiritual journey with God? Have I become so distracted by the world’s nothingness that I cannot dedicate my life to God?
“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful.” Psalm 116:5
Without surrender and the daily anointing of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, we quickly forget the spiritual purpose of life, nor can we ever understand the loving character of God. Truthfully how often do we thank God for His agreement to sacrifice Jesus, His only Son? Unless we meditate and worship God every day, the willingness of Jesus to die for ungrateful humanity will be a fleeting thought instead of a lasting memory.
Like the young boy who saw and desired the baseball, we also become easily distracted and desire the earthly pleasures of this world. How often do we forget our commitment as disciples of Jesus Christ? The struggle of living as a believer is real. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation [trials and sorrows]; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Just like the young boy who had his wise cousin as a guide and protector, we cannot navigate through life without our Spiritual Team, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, who is just a prayer away. Sanctification is a lifelong spiritual journey that requires us to stay on the Path of Righteousness. Despite our best effort, we can never live righteously without Divine Intervention.
Lest we forget God’s love, grace, mercies, and protection from angel armies, with prayers of gratitude, we follow King David’s example: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:12-13).
Now unto him, that can keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25
Prayer: Thank You, God, for Your never-ending love, Your Son, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and angel armies. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.