by Sam J Christopher
The liver fluke is a tiny flat worm that commonly infects cattle. In the 50’s, one Wendell Krull discovered the very amazing lifestyle of this tiny parasite. It merrily lives in the liver of cattle where it dates, mates and lays eggs. The poor cow gets sick with liver disease and eventually dies. But before it dies, the fluke eggs pass through the cattle’s system and exits along with its faeces. Guess what happens next?
A species of land snail with a peculiar craving for the utterly gross, eats the cow’s faeces, along with the eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae that promptly proceed to attach themselves to the snail’s gut and enjoy the free food. When the snail eventually catches on to the uninvited guests, it activates its immune system. The larvae are encapsulated in cysts and ejected via the snail’s slime ducts, sparing the snail’s life. As the snail moves about, the cysts are left behind in the slime trails. End of story? No way.
The slime trails attract a species of ant - another fellow with a taste for the gross. The ant licks up the moist slime, along with the cysts containing the larvae. When the cyst breaks down in the ant’s gut, the larvae break free and happily feast in its gut, the ant none the wiser. And then something incredible, and I mean really INCREDIBLE, happens!
Some of the larvae head for the gullet of the ant and from there proceed to somehow manipulate the bundle of nerves under the gullet. This sends weird signals to the ant’s brain (or whatever) and turns the behaviour of the ant upside down. By day it is the normal hardworking ant, foraging far and wide with the rest of the gang. But when evening comes, instead of returning home to the nest after a hard day’s work, the infected ant suddenly decides to go sightseeing and starts climbing up a tall blade of grass. On reaching the tip, it just hangs on there for dear life, exposing itself to danger for no apparent reason – all through the night! In the morning, it has a headache, wonders what on earth it was doing up there in that dangerous place, and climbs down to rejoin the rest of the colony, as if nothing happened, to go foraging, nest-building, or whatever it is that ants do during the day. In the evening, again it climbs up the grass. This goes on night after night! (Hmmm, like some Bangsar-inclined friends I know).
Sure enough, eventually, one evening, a passing cow will eat the grass (along with the befuddled ant and its cargo of fluke rascals). Once the ant is ingested, the happy larvae drill into the gut of the cow and mature there to repeat the whole dastardly cycle!
Aren’t we a little like that infected ant? You don’t see the resemblance?
Just think. From the time we wake up till we hit the bed again, we are driven by an overwhelming urge - an urge to fulfill the 10-point plan for success, vis-à-vis:
1. study and graduate
2. look for a job that we qualified for
3. give up no.2 and grab whatever job we can can get
4. pay up the instalments for the loan for no.1, and a car, a house and that superb 3-D home-theatre you “just gotta have!”
5. invest, preferably off-shore – things don’t look too good here
6. mortgage the house to educate the children overseas coz the local U’s suck, and the investment nosedived
7. get the missus to sell Avon stuff to pay off the loan taken for no.5
8. buy insurance for retirement in case the “kids” decide not to return to wonderful 1Malaysia
9. wait for the grandchildren to grow up so as to go for that “free” holiday bonus from signing up for no.7
10. retire and be happy (or vice versa) and wonder about what’s no.11
And then we hope that at the end of it all, there will sufficient funds left over - to either to put us in an old folks’ home or to bury us. (By the way, if the Amway chaps are to be believed, there is a short cut – buy into their Amway scheme and pretty soon, you should be able to bypass everything and straightaway jump to 9 – so they say)
How different is this from clinging on to that blade of grass, hoping the cow doesn’t come along tonight? The dividend at the end doesn’t seem to be worth the lifetime of investment does it? Is there really more to life than just trying to avoid that damned cow? Maybe cows are just fairy tales and don’t really exist, therefore clinging on to that real blade of grass happily ever after is the best thing to do?
Or maybe we are confident that no.5 and no.8 are so iron-clad, that early and happy retirement is an absolute sure-thing – until one by one, we witness all around us, Mr Cholesterol, and Mr Cancer screaming:
“You fool, this very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? ……” Jesus ( Luke 12:19-22)
Looking around at the disastrous goings-on around us (and sometimes within us too), it’s impossible to escape the conclusion that we are actually a hopelessly defective breed, as a result of some genetically transmitted dysfunction, caught in an inescapable cycle of infectious, self-perpetuating futility. One great guy sums it up in a lucidly frank observation:
“What I do is not the good I want to do; the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing……” Paul ( Romans 7:15-20)
Some of us may attempt to assuage our ego and deny this inescapable diagnosis by pointing an accusing finger at the geo-socio-political environment for our pathetic condition, and passionately take on the monumental task of putting those things right. Others may choose to surround themselves with flashy wish-lists of anything and everything that appeals to the five senses. And within this self-scribed circle of “live and let live”, devoid of Truth, crown their “selves” as king of the day.
But all such efforts, no matter how noble or practical they may seem, have little impact on the pesky parasite that continues to call the shots by manipulating us from within.
You see, the environment doesn’t infect us. The environment, like the clinical thermometer, merely manifests the symptoms of our own inherent infection (in various unfathomable sinister patterns).
“Out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander ………”. Jesus (Matthew 15:19-20)
We hang on precariously to the dangerous tip of the soon-to-be-chewed-up blade of grass, oblivious to our very beings being manipulated by an insidious parasite, out to achieve its own ends at all costs. Narrowing our vision, it relentlessly drives us to seek out only the self-pleasing things of this life and by and by, we are enticed to build our lives on the colorful kaleidoscope of self-designed rules. Physical needs of the immediate future transform themselves into the very purpose of living, because we don’t realise that we are blind to the abiding Reality that will carry us through even beyond the grave. And as the 6th millennium seduces us with mind-boggling innovations churned out at dizzying speed, whatever we have in hand, somehow NEVER seems enough to satisfy our ever-hungry self-indulgence. Everywhere we turn, we are pushed, pulled and pressured to somehow or other (even at the risk of a credit tsunami) possess this flashy new gadget, achieve that better status, dream this bigger dream, experience this latest entertainment, enjoy that exclusive luxury, etc. Huge full-color billboards and moving electronic displays at every intersection, will see to it that we have not missed out on anything new and wonderful. Even if we have to step on another guy or grab his share of the good stuff, as long as we can have whatever we want, we are told that THIS is what life is all about. And some of us are happily soothed with a weekly dose of heavenly lullaby, that all is well if we “don’t rock the boat, baby!”
Alas, inspite of ALL that, there comes a point in many a person’s life when it all falls flat – and tragically, sometimes when one IS flat!
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death…..” King Solomon (Proverbs 14:12)
AWAS! This self-indulgent binge, spurred on by the battle-cry of “I must feel good”, will inevitably blur the boundary between good and evil. Eventually the parasite-infested conscience gets buried in the soft sands of the all-inclusive “universalism” and “relativism” philosophies, where NOTHING is absolute or good, except self satisfaction and self-preservation – both of which are mutually destructive.
“Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron….” Paul (1Timothy 4:1-2)
So how can we ever see the real meaning of life so long as this destructive parasite ensures its own survival by ensnaring our will to our own ultimate detriment?
There has always been a way. Only the One True God who is the Supreme Designer of all that exists can remove this worm from our gut.
“I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. I will save you from all your uncleanness……..” God (Ezekiel 36:25-29)
This is the declaration of the Only True Almighty Sovereign God, who alone grants REAL life – a life that goes beyond that deceptive blade of grass – a life that is humbled by the recognition of the awesome Life-Giver who supercedes life itself. And He has announced the good news of the antidote for this pervasive parasite, through His Anointed One - the Messiah, the Christ, the Saviour - who entered history with the name of Jesus and walked and lived among us, like one us. Only the Almighty Sovereign Creator’s nudge can cause the scales to fall from our eyes so that we may see the futility of climbing that blade of grass and realise the inevitable tragedy of hanging onto a mirage. It is only by His Divine Spirit dwelling and ruling from within us, that we will able to discern that He alone is the Reality that matters to us. Only if you and I are called to a life of subservience to His Holy Spirit, can the effects of that damned parasite be effectively suppressed, setting us truly truly free, no matter what goes on around us.
“God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose……..” Paul (Romans 8:28-30)
May the Only True God, who puts each and everything in its place according to His Sovereign will, grant you and me that special grace that our eyes will be opened to this wonderful knowledge that can free our wills from everything that is futile.
“This is salvation – that they may know You, the Only True God, and Jesus, the Christ whom you have sent…” Jesus (John 17:2-3)
If you and I are granted the faith to believe in this, we will discover to our great relief, that we already have in our possession, the key that opens the door of escape from the dangerous foolishness of hanging onto this blade of grass, in exchange for a life of indestructible treasures, designed and directed by the Master Designer himself.
For outside of THIS truth that Jesus brings to us person-to-person, no political system, no religion, no life-style, no holy scripture, no philosophy, no mantra, no church, no priest, no prophet, nothing, NOTHING exists that can ever save us.
“For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain……” Paul (Philippians 1:21)