International Ministries

Beachcombing

May 3, 2010 Journal
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"Look, Daddy, there's another Hershey crab!"                                                                   


Cute kid.  On An Adventure, for sure!  Probably about 5 years old, the little girl was clearly the family scout.  Running over the sand, she would push the limits of The Known World, and then race back with the latest news bulletin From The Front!

"Come, Daddy!  Over here.  A really big Hershey crab!"

Cathy and I spent a lot of time walking on the beach at the beginning of last week.  It wasn't the same as the trip we had planned, to visit the land of her ancestors in Ireland.  But we also didn't have to wrestle an Icelandic volcano for the opportunity!  And, we had a great three days on the beaches of southern Virginia and northern North Carolina.

I even managed (mostly) to succeed at leaving my "square-headed mistress" tucked into the computer case.  But, part of the fun of beachcombing is you never know what you're going to find.  And, when I heard that little girl on the beach... hey, theology is where you find it!

The scout was doing her best to report on what she was seeing.  Clearly, Limulus polyphemus, the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab, was something new in her world.  Hershey is not.  I suspect she loves Hershey's kisses as much as the rest of us.  So, her beach had lots of Hershey crabs on it!

Someday, she will drop Hershey and switch to horseshoe.  But what a wonderful example of how we learn.  We have to start from what we already know (or at least, think we know), as we stretch toward the unfamiliar.  There's simply no other way to move ahead than to start from where we are.  But, what happens when the new is radically different from what we already know?  One good sniff is enough to tell you that Limulus polyphemus is not made of chocolate!  But other cases are tougher.

When Jesus announced the Kingdom of God, his listeners thought they knew what he was talking about.  They already had expectations (fervent hopes, actually) for what would happen when God's kingship began to be clearly seen and felt in their context.  But they were wrong.  Mark and Matthew make it clear that even Jesus' closest followers stumbled over the difference between the agenda they expected Jesus to accomplish and the path he actually chose (Matthew 16:22, Mark 8:32).  Peter and the others had no alternative but to begin learning the way of Jesus by using what they knew.  But the challenge to them (and to us!), was to keep listening, and to receive Jesus' revelation of something radically different.

So, even as I smiled at the little scout at work, calling her parents to see neat new stuff, I wondered, "How many 'Hershey crabs' still populate my understanding of who God is and what God is up to?"  And, "Does God smile at my limited attempts to grasp new truth, the way I smile at hers?"  The answers, I think, are "Plenty!" and "Yes!"

So, I'll keep stretching toward the truth.  In the meantime... anybody know where I can find a great chocolate crab?

Blessings,
Stan