Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Religious Ponds

Yesterday, I returned home after a two-state, five-day road trip where I taught in several venues and reconnected with some wonderful churches. It was a solo trip. Jan had to stay behind this time. Traveling alone is not my favorite way of ministering but God is always good and provides the kind of encounters with His presence that makes all the travel worth it.

The churches where I spoke put me up in nice hotels. It is amazing how refreshing your own private digs can be when you are ministering in a variety of settings. One of my rooms was on the third floor of a hotel complex overlooking a beautiful courtyard with a large pond. In the pond were swimming large fish. Some looked to be over 2 feet in length.  I am guessing they were some version of Koi fish. Many were gold in color and some were white. I stood at my window and watched them swim in circles. This went on hour after hour. Every time I went to my window there they were still swimming in circles. I felt for these fish because this was the only reality they knew - a pond-bound life. I wondered what life would have been like had they been able to swim in a river where they were no longer living such a confined life of repetition.

Those pond-bound fish remind me of how some of us live our life of faith. We find ourselves trapped in theological ponds in a narrow understanding of a much larger truth. We swim in circles of our current level of understanding. In these ponds, a larger God-reality seems impossible – defined as impossible only because it is not yet within our sphere of experience. Everything begins to change when Jesus shows up and talks of a larger river where He wants us to swim. The thought of being transplanted into a larger river of revelation can cause fear in some people because it means traveling in an unexplored uncertainty outside a known pond.

This is not only true for issues like our theology and our resulting worldview but it also pertains to the circles of fellowship these ponds create. Jesus is coming to our small ponds and He is beginning to move people into the larger river of His presence where freedom, wonder, and newness are the norm. Let God complete this transplanting process with your life. You were destined for a freedom in Christ that a religious pond of narrow thinking and restricted living cannot provide.

“And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:18-19 (The Message)

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