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Out of Sight

by Chantal J. Klingbeil

It was like camping in the woods. Ellen White and her granddaughter, Ella, shared a tent that had been pitched on a great stretch of land in Cooranbong, Australia. Lots of other tents had been put up near them too.

A new school was to be built on the land. But before anything could be constructed the land needed to be cleared. Some of the trees were enormous. They were more than 100 feet tall. Most of these big trees had to be dug out by the roots. In order to uproot them, men with teams of six or eight oxen had to do the job. The strong oxen would pull a big plow, which would break up the soil and tear away at the wide-growing roots.

Ellen and Ella enjoyed watching the team work. Soon Ellen noticed something strange. The strongest looking ox of one team, which also seemed to be the leader, had leather flaps or blinders around his eyes. This meant that the ox could only see what was in front of him and couldn’t notice anything around him. She wondered why. When the team took a rest, Ellen and Ella climbed over some of the big logs to ask the man who was working the team about the ox with the blinders.

He told them that he put the blinders on so the ox would think that the master was watching him all the time. Apparently this big strong ox was actually quite lazy, and a bad influence too. If the master stopped looking at him for a moment to check on the plough, the big ox would immediately notice and stop working. As soon as he stopped, he would drag all the other oxen to a standstill too.

In their tent that night Ellen and Ella spoke about the ox with the blinders. Ellen thought that the ox reminded her of some Christians. If they think someone important is watching them, they behave as Christians should. They are kind and do what they are supposed to. But the moment they think no one is watching, they begin behaving in an unchristian way, saying and doing mean things. Ellen thought it would be a good idea if each of us kept our eyes on Jesus and remembered that He does see and hear everything.

This story can be found in Marian de Berg, Stories From Sunnyside, pp. 46, 47.