A Panda Parable

Photo by Debbie on Unsplash

In a far, far away kingdom a long time ago the king was given the gift of a panda by a king of another land. The king was delighted by the gift of the panda, for his royal hobbies included collecting plants and animals from far and wide.

The next day the animal keeper approached the king with concern etched on his face. He explained that the visiting gift-giving king had neglected to inform anyone of what food the panda ate in his natural environment. He then explained that he had tried the usual foods he would give a creature that looked like a bear. Though the panda was very hungry and tried much of what was offered him, nothing was ultimately to his satisfaction. He was starving.

The king thought for a moment, then told his animal keeper, “We can know what food the panda eats in his natural environment. Widen your selection of what you offer the panda. Try a sample from every one of the vast number of plants in my gardens.”

The animal keeper did so and came back hours later with good news. After offering the panda more than a hundred choices, the panda dove voraciously into eating a sampling of bamboo.

The king nodded and said, “This tells us that in his natural environment there is an ample supply of bamboo.”

“But we only have a small growth of bamboo, and the panda has already eaten most of it,” the animal keeper told the king.

The king replied, “The panda is not meant to live here. Feed him the meager amount of bamboo we have as you take him back to the place that is his home.” And so the panda was sent back to the distant gift-giving king who returned him to his home environment in the bamboo mountains.

The great Christian thinker C. S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world… Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death…”

We try to satisfy our greatest hunger with all kinds of things that do not provide ultimate satisfaction. That’s because we have a hunger that only Heaven can satisfy.

The good news, however, is that God offers the gift of an adequate supply of Himself here and now, an appetizer if you will, so we can make the most of this journey through life, while finding a healthy satisfaction from the other gifts He gives us along the way. But our real feasting won’t happen until we get to heaven!

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry…’” John 6:35

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