Tim Throckmorton: There all the time

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 22, 2023

It was Terry Pratchett who said, “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” 

Mark Twain wonderfully reminded us, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” 

 I have been extremely blessed to gaze upon many a scenic vista. I’ve seen swells in the Atlantic Ocean and watched whales swim in the Pacific. I’ve held the wheated plains, looked longingly at purple mountains majesty, stood under cypress trees in the old south and walked in the midst of evergreens in Maine. 

Email newsletter signup

But I have to say that the beauty right in my own back yard is unsurpassed. I mean, no matter where I’ve been, there’s nothing more breathtaking than what lies just outside my McDermott backdoor here in Southern Ohio… especially this time of year, as the fall foliage comes into full bloom.

With a piping hot cup of coffee, the beauty to behold from my front porch is unsurpassed! However, from where I live, Ohio has several popular fall color spots including the Appalachian foothills and Hocking Hills in the south, and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the north. 

Leaves are changing earlier than normal and falling in some areas of the Wayne National Forest in southern Ohio. Whenever they peak is just fine by me, it’s just beautiful. 

I could talk on and on about the handiwork of God, instead let me focus for a second or two on the beauty that is right before our eyes and is often overlooked.

I recently re-read the story of the prodigal son from Luke’s Gospel, I was drawn not so much to the father’s quest for the son or even the welcome the wayward son received when he finally came to his senses and came back home. 

What I want to draw your attention to here are the things he remembered as he longingly looked homeward and remembered what he had left behind. What was there all along that he hadn’t even considered until he was far away and all alone.

Finally, looking homeward… how he missed the Father’s Presence. He knew there was safety and protection there. He missed his Father’s Provision, there was more than enough to spare in father’s house. Lastly, he missed his Father’s Love. Something he knew, yet rejected, was still cradled deep in his heart as he journeyed home, remembering it was there all the time.

What’s in your backyard that you are overlooking right now? The blessings of God? His help and strength? His Love expressed for you in more ways that you can count? 

Years ago, Russell Conwell told of an ancient Persian, Ali Hafed, who “owned a very large farm that had orchards, grain fields, and gardens… and was a wealthy contented man.” 

One day a wise man from the East told the farmer all about diamonds and how wealthy he would be if he owned a diamond mine. Ali Hafed went to bed that night a poor man — poor because he was discontented. Craving a mine of diamonds, he sold his farm to search for the rare stones. 

He traveled the world over, finally becoming so poor, broken, and defeated that he committed suicide. One day the man who purchased Ali Hafed’s farm led his camel into the garden to drink. As his camel put its nose into the brook, the man saw a flash of light from the sands of the stream. 

He pulled out a stone that reflected all the hues of the rainbow. The man had discovered the diamond mine of Golcanda, the most magnificent mine in all history. Had Ali Hafed remained at home and dug in his own garden, then instead of death in a strange land, he would have had acres of diamonds. Again, What’s in your backyard?

I have read about William Randolph Hearst who in his lifetime invested a fortune collecting art treasures from around the world. One day, Mr. Hearst read the description of a valuable art item, which he sent his agent abroad to find. 

After months of searching, the agent reported that he had finally found the treasure. To the surprise of Hearst, the priceless masterpiece was stored in none other than the warehouse of William Randolph Hearst. 

The multi-millionaire had been searching all over the world for a treasure he already possessed. Had he read the catalog of his treasures, he would have saved himself a lot of time and money. 

Is there anything you are overlooking? You can afford to overlook some things, but you cannot afford to overlook God and His Love. 

It’s right there, in your own backyard!

Tim Throckmorton is the national director of Family Resource Council’s Community Impact Teams.