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Summary: Being part of God's family means that we have acceptance, access, assurance and assistance

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CALLED TO BE LOVED

There was an emperor in the Far East who was growing old and knew that he would soon have to choose his successor. Now normally when an emperor needed to chose a successor he would make his selection from one his own children, but he had none. Ordering all the eldest children of noble birth in his kingdom to his palace, the emperor announced to them that he was about to step down from his throne. Then he gave each one of them a single seed and instructed them to go home and plant it. “In one year,” he told them, you will return to my palace and I will judge what you have grown.” “The youth whose plant I deem most beautiful and best nurtured – will become the next ruler of my kingdom!”

One of the boys who was present was a boy named Ling. Eagerly taking his seed from the emperor he ran home quickly to tell his mother the good news. Together they took the seed and carefully planted it into a pot. Then, for the next several weeks, each day when Ling awoke he would look carefully at his pot to see if anything had grown. After three or four weeks all of the other youths who had received seeds from the emperor were all bragging about their plants beginning to grow. To Ling’s great disappointment, his pot still contained nothing! He felt like a total failure! He was sure that he had done something wrong and that he had killed his seed. Five months went by, then six! Before Ling knew it one year had passed. The time had come for him and all the youths to return to the emperor’s palace so that the emperor might inspect their plants. Everyone was so excited! Everyone, that is, except Ling! There was no way he was going to return to the emperor with an empty pot. But Ling’s mother finally convinced him to return to the emperor and to be honest about what had happened. When Ling arrived at the palace he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by all the other youths. They were beautiful, and in many different shapes and sizes.

Placing his empty pot on the floor in front of him, many of the other children began to laugh at him. Some felt sorry for him and just said, "Hey, nice try." When the emperor arrived, he quickly scanned the room and greeted all the young people of his kingdom. One by one he walked around the room complimenting each one of them for their great plants, trees and flower. Just then the emperor noticed Ling sitting in the back of the room embarrassingly trying to hide himself and his empty pot. To Ling’s great horror and embarrassment, the emperor ordered him to come to the front of the crowd. What is your name, son?” the emperor asked very kindly. Bowing before his emperor, he respectfully replied, "My name is Ling." Then to the surprise of everyone in the room, especially Ling, the elderly emperor announced loudly to the crowd, “Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!" Turning towards the crowd, the emperor proceeded to tell everyone why he had chosen Ling as their new emperor. “Although you mock him now – Ling’s empty pot is a good thing!” “You see,” the emperor went on to say, “The seed that I gave to each one of you one year ago was a boiled seed. In other words, they couldn’t possibly grow anything!” “Obviously then, when you all found that the seed I gave you would not grow, you unfairly substituted it for another seed, hoping that you might impress me and that I might make you emperor.” Only Ling had the courage and honesty to bring me a pot containing “the” seed that I gave to him. Therefore, I choose him this day to be my successor!"

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