Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Boardwalk Living

Earlier this month my family spent a weekend in San Simeon.  Along the bluff that runs above the beaches are miles of boardwalks. You could ignore them and take off cross country, but they were placed there for a purpose. They provide safety for the visitors and protection for the animals and plants in the coastal ecosystem.  Boardwalks provide a sense of anticipation because there is a destination--a destination that promises the best. The best view, perhaps, or the most freedom, the most fun. We can't always see that destination, though. We get only glimpses of the majestic ocean between sand dunes, or shrubs or around a small bend in the path. Without the destination in full view, our attention shifts to the things along the path.

On the boardwalk, there are signs that give directions so that anyone can reach the destination.  There are signs that tell travellers what they should not do such as "Do not feed the animals" or "Do not step on the plants."  The signs are placed there, at strategic locations, because somebody knew what temptations we might face.  I noticed, as we were walking, that my daughter, Shannon, was way behind.  She was distracted by the squirrels playing and running all around the boardwalk.   She knew she was not supposed to feed them, but she teased them by pretending to give them some food.  In the mean time, other people were approaching and we were getting in their way.

Matthew 5:13-7:29 : An Overview
Starting with Chapter 5, and continuing all the way to the Chapter 7, Jesus gives a sermon as he sits on the side of the mountain.   Aware of the temptations of this life and the tendencies of mankind, Jesus gave us guidelines for us to adhere to while we are on the boardwalk.  His sermon addresses three major aspects of our "boardwalk living".  I would summarize them as follows:

 1. Relationship to God (our destination) - Jesus emphasized the importance of keeping our focus on our destination - God Himself.  There are pleasures for us to enjoy on our way to Him.  He allows us glimpses of His glory even before we get there, although every once in a while our view of Him is obscured by our circumstances.  He waits for our arrival, when we can experience Him fully.  Pricilla Shirer, in her book "One in a Million," describes that kind of experience as the promised-land living.  That is our destination.  God has prepared an abundant life for us but we need to get there and experience it.

2. Relationship with Others (other people on the boardwalk) - The boardwalk is a shared path and, at times, there are people who walk with us.  We have to be considerate so that they will also enjoy their walk.  God wants the flow towards Him to be steady.  We need to love one another so that our journey will be pleasurable and smooth. 

 3. Protection of our Faith (footing) - The boardwalk is provided but there are no attendants there.  We walk there knowing that we can move forward on that path that has been provided for us.  The boardwalk is narrow; anyone can be careless and distracted.  Falling into temptation along the way will only delay my arrival to my destination.  

On this narrow path that leads to his kingdom, we must remember the destination. Otherwise, the distractions that are so common along the path will take us on a painful detour. Many times, our biggest difficulties are with our fellow travellers, but Jesus guides us on how to live with others gracefully, to hurt no one and stretch out extravagantly to others in love. 

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