close to Melbourne's Docklands gives us a front row seat for the fireworks
displays which appear regularly in the skies above the harbour. Although
I admit to being somewhat blasé when they appear, given their almost
monotonous regularity, I find myself reflecting on the repetitious pattern
which results in bursts of light in the night sky, invariably fading to
nothing. The variegated patterns in the sky as a result of planned explosions
is a tribute both to human creativity and to the ability to manipulate
explosives in both colour and shape.
And yet I find myself returning to a parable of Jesus as I watch: the parable of the Sower. In this parable Jesus describes a particular gospel response:
…in a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. (Mark 4:16-17)How we love the adrenaline surge which comes with pushing the boundaries, with new discoveries, and with exciting and obvious responses! To be fascinated with fireworks displays is one thing; to base our relationship with Jesus on similar experiences is entirely another reality. Sure, it is exciting to know the reality of answered prayer, to share insights of faith with a friend, to find the Word of God burning in our hearts as we read. Such responses are received with joy… but are only fleeting, even temporary. It’s interesting that Jesus calls Peter “the rock”, or perhaps colloquially “Rocky”… is it this aspect of Peter’s character which Jesus is alluding to in this appellation? Consider Peter’s effusive responses: “Lord, bid me to come to you (on the water)”, “You are the Christ!”, “Let us build three tabernacles!”, “I will never deny you!” Peter’s exuberance was often shown to be wanting for a deep root which would sustain him through the dark and unknowing moments, something which emerged only later in his pilgrimage of faith.
The life of discipleship will encounter moments of exhilaration and joy. But we need more to learn perseverance which sustains us through the ordinary, and often the dry. It is in these times that our roots reach deep into the silence - into the heart of God - where we find nourishment and sustenance which endures.
In this Lenten season, let us seek for a love which has depth, a relationship founded not on emotionalism, but on a shared vision with Jesus. Ironically, when we give such attention to depth, the heights become ever greater too!
March 11, 2007