Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Living On the Edge"

By Tony Harriman  •  

It appears to me that the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man who stood by the sea looking out.  All his life he had lived by the sea.  Each morning and evening he came and stood by the sea and walked along the shore, thoughtfully reflecting on the water’s curious properties.

The man loved to watch the children play in the sand at the water’s edge, building sandcastles and splashing around in the refreshing surf.  He was fascinated by the way the sun reflected off the surface of the water, giving the impression of being covered with countless diamonds.  Each day, at different times of the day, the sea would recede far from the land, then return, making his daily strolls sometimes short, sometimes longer.  He didn’t care how long the walk took; the day just didn’t feel complete until the journey had been enjoyed.

In the distance the man could see immense ocean-going vessels which constantly traveled back and forth to and from who knew where.  Each day he saw smaller craft on the water, closer to the shore; some pulling water skiers, some carrying pleasure-cruisers.

From time to time the man caught a glimpse of creatures in the water — some large, some small — though he really couldn’t make out what he was seeing, and the moments passed quickly.

Once a week the man visited friends at a nearby beach to enjoy the sights and sounds of the sea together.  Twice a year the man took time to ride the ferry to a nearby island, just for a day trip to visit family.  The ferry stopped running in the early evening, and he was always home before dark, in time to take his evening stroll by the water’s edge.

One day a friend, who owned a sail boat, invited the man to sail with him for the day.  The man agreed, and mid-morning the next weekend the two of them loaded up and sailed away.  It was a calm day.  What a time they had sailing the gentle waves and enjoying the warm ocean breezes.  They dropped anchor and had lunch together.  The stillness was enjoyable to the man, who usually enjoyed the water tumbling constantly onto, and away from, the shore.  

They sailed some more, then dropped anchor again.  The man’s friend invited him toward the back of the boat.  With curiosity the man stared at the various articles of equipment laid there.  The friend handed the man a glass face mask which had a pipe attached—a snorkel and mask.  The man was offered a life jacket, which he put on.  The friend put on a similar set, plunged into the water and invited the man to do the same.  The man had never swum before, so instead of jumping in, he carefully stepped down the ladder into the water, always keeping his head above the surface, since he hadn't yet put the mask on.  Always staying close to the boat, the man bobbed around in the water.  The life jacket easily kept him afloat, but he wasn't sure he could get comfortable with the experience of being in the water.

The friend showed the man how to put on the snorkel and mask, then invited him to put his head below the surface.  Cautiously the man put his head under the water and was met by a sight that took his breath away; not a good thing to have happen under water.  The boat had dropped anchor at the edge of a vibrant coral reef.  Not far below the surface of the water was a world of beauty — the likes of which the man had never seen.  There were fish and creatures of so many sizes, colors and variations; they looked as though they belonged on an artist’s palette.  There was vegetation he had never seen before, or had ever imagined existed.  The light from the sun burst downward from the surface, going in all directions and dancing like it were alive.  Everything in the water shifted constantly, seemingly reluctant to settle.  But the man and his friend were in the water, so they, too, shifted with their surroundings.

For most of the afternoon the man and his friend floated on the top of the water looking down into this new-found world. As time passed, all feelings of discomfort passed quickly away.  The water seemed to be the perfect temperature.  With very little effort they were able to stay close to the boat.  The friend showed the man how to lie still in the water, and as they did this, many curious creatures swam close to them, adding to the enjoyment of their time in the water.  Eventually it was time to leave, and they both reluctantly made their way back into the boat.  Staring back at the unimpressive surface of the water, the man could never again see its plainness, since his imagination unfailingly carried him far beyond the boundaries placed by his vision.

The man’s eyes had been opened to a world and an experience of which he had never dreamed.  For years he had enjoyed the water and its many personalities from the shore and from the ferry, but this was something beyond his wildest imaginings.  He went on to learn that most of the life on our planet lives below the surface, hidden from eyes that are ignorant of its existence.  More of our world is covered with water than with vegetation, yet many of us living here have no clue what life exists just beyond our reach or comprehension.  The seas and oceans are wonderful, curious entities which for centuries have facilitated travel to and from every continent on the planet.  But these vast bodies of water have many secrets which are revealed only to those curious enough to put their attention below the surface.

It seems to me that the Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto this picture in words.  Many of us enjoy the countless blessings offered us each day from the Father’s hand.  We have an appreciation for that which may be clearly and easily seen.  But we frequently miss the reflections off the surface, and the creatures which occasionally emerge from the depths.  There appears to be much more to the heavenly realm than can be seen at a first glance.  Just like when we look up into the night sky, so much more may be seen when the clouds part.  And once we apply magnification, well … the sky's the limit.

I suppose we should look for the friend with the vessel who will take us out and give us the opportunity to stick our heads below the surface.  Seems like there's a much larger experience waiting for us.

Just my take on it ….



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