The Cup

When Rachel was five years old, her grandfather would come over every weekend. He would usually bring her a present. Not a doll or something like what most people would bring a young girl. No, he brought unusual gifts. This time, he brought over a cup. She took it and looked in side. It was full of dirt.

She was disappointed and said, “Grandfather, my parents won’t let me play in the dirt.”

He grinned and said, “Oh, Rachel Lee.” He took the little cup and placed it in the window sill. Then he went and got the little tea pot they had been playing with the weekend before. Together they put water in it. They came back, and he showed her how to pour a little water in the cup of dirt. Then he said, “Rachel Lee, if you promise me to pour a little water in that cup every single day, something wonderful will happen.” She promised her grandfather.

She was excited. Everyday, she would faithfully pour a little water in this cup. Then she would look. Nothing was happening. Day after day after day, a whole week went by, and nothing had happened. To a five year old, a week is forever.

When grandfather came by the next weekend, she said, “I don’t like this. It wasn’t any fun anymore. Can we quit?”

He replied, “Rachel, you promised to be faithful everyday.”

So for a second week, she would take her tea pot, and pour a little water in the cup. Day after day, nothing happened. Now, Rachel was really mad at herself for promising that she would do this. When her grandfather came at the end of the second week, she asked him, “Would you take your gift back?”

Grandfather replied, “Rachel Lee, you promised.”

The third week was the toughest. She would be lying in bed, almost asleep and remember. She would get up, fill the little tea pot with water, and pour it into the cup. She did not miss a day. It was hard.

Near the end of the third week, she got up one morning and looked in the cup. There were two little, green leaves sticking up through the dirt. She was stunned and amazed. Now remember, Rachel lived on the sixth floor in an apartment highrise in Manhattan. She was not a farmer’s daughter. She did not know what happens in dirt.

When grandfather came by that weekend, she ran to him and said, “Look at this!”

Grandfather said, “Rachel, do you understand? Life is to be discovered everywhere. In the most ordinary and unsuspecting places, you can discover life.”

Rachel asked, “And all it needs is water?”

Grandfather smiled and answered, “It needs your faithfulness, day in, day out. All it needs is your faith.”

Faith—it is not easy. It is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

— Story told by Dr. Robert Long, pastor at St. Luke’s in Oklahoma City.

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