What Does Your Chair Look Like?

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“Look at the lounge chairs.”

She turned and looked.

“What do you see?”

She looked at the lounges. They were the usual blue lounges found at most pool sides. All were pointed towards the water. All were well used. All were empty. So?

“Look again.”

She took another look.  Although the chairs were all pointing in the same direction, they were not lined up in a perfect row, and the backs were all set at different angles. She frowned in concentration.

“What are they telling you?”

Hmmm… she thought. What would these chairs be telling me if I could hear them? That they were there to serve people? That they were enjoying the sun just as she was? That they were in the place they were supposed to be? That they were lined up casually and set at different angles?

She thought about how the angles would affect her line of vision.  If she sat in the chair with the back straight up, her eyes would look out over the pool. She would see the sparkling blue water and all the people who were in it. If she sat in the chair with the back all the way down, she would be able to see the brilliant white clouds as they slowly passed by and birds as they flew overhead. But she would no longer be able to see the water or the people. The other chairs, with backs set at different angles, would allow her to see varying amounts of both water and sky.

The chairs are like our faith, she mused. Sitting in one with the back straight up doesn’t take much faith. Our muscles could hold us upright comfortably even if the back of the chair should give way. But lying back, no longer using our own strength but trusting the chair to hold us up requires more faith.

And the amount of faith we practice affects what we focus on. With little faith, like sitting upright in a lounge chair, our view is limited on what we see around us. Our focus is on the physical world and all its troubles along with its beauty with little ability to see into the spiritual realm.  The more faith we practice, like the further back we recline, the more of the spiritual world we’ll be able to see. We can still see the physical world, but our focus becomes increasingly centered on God and His kingdom. We are better able to see things as God does. And lying fully back? That probably only happens when in the midst of fully worshipping God… or when we die, she thought wryly.

“So, what does your chair look like?”

She thought about that. She knew what she would have liked to have answered. But the truth was – her chair was constantly changing angles. And then, she knew. That was the whole point of this lesson. Her chair was not going to stay in one position, or even progress steadily to a flat position. And that was OK. The important thing was to ask herself, especially in times of stress, “What does your chair look like?”

Because her chair may need a little adjusting from time to time to get the best view.

Digging For Real Treasure

With all the broken shells lining the beach, she just knew this was the spot. She set her beach towel and bag on the sand way above the high tide mark, then took her net and img_20180604_222246027.jpgwalked into the water. Staring down at the shifting shells along the breaking waves, she watched for anything that was a darker shinier black than anything else.  She was determined to find a shark tooth before having to go home but she found the waves very distracting and frustrating as they kept blocking her view and making the shells move before she could catch any.

So she began scooping up random piles of shells and dumping them on the beach above the water’s reach. Then stooping, she spread out the pile with her hands searching through all the broken pieces for the telltale shiny black. After many such searches, she gave up. This was not getting her anywhere.

She went back to standing in the water and concentrated on what she could see, hoping to find that one big tooth she knew was there. Her entire attention was focused on the search. She tuned out the sun beating down on her. She turned out the birds calling to each other. She tuned out the people strolling by. She even tuned out the waves as she peered intently through the water. Eventually, worn out, she gave up and went back up on the beach.

Sitting down near the shells that lined the high tide mark,  she began digging. Maybe she would dig up a tooth that had washed up then gotten buried by the sand. Jack pot! Within a few minutes she found a small but beautiful tooth! Feeling satisfied that she wouldn’t be going home empty handed, she headed for her towel.

As she sat, resting before her long walk back to her car, she had a thought. Why can I ignore the waves and sun and other distractions while searching for something as trivial as a shark tooth, and yet not be able to ignore all the distractions that call me away from searching the Bible for a word from God?

I’m going to have to make some changes, she told herself. It’s time to dig for the real treasure.

The Museum – The Reveal

Spoiler alert:  If you want to try guessing the meaning behind my symbolic short story The Museum for yourself, please go there now before you continue reading.

Still here? Then here we go.

The museum represents Christianity. Each wall symbolizes a different denomination. The paintings featured on each wall represents a central focus of that denomination based on my observations when visiting different denominations over the years.

The first wall is Catholicism with their main focus on the Eucharist.

The second wall is Baptist with their main focus on the Bible.

The third wall is Assembly of God and Pentecostal with their enthusiastic worship services. The different languages spoken by the people gathered there represents their belief in tongues.

The fourth wall is the Seventh Day Adventist with their focus on following the laws, especially the Sabbath.

The fifth wall is nondenominational churches – the swirls representing the freedom from traditional denominational boundaries.

The groups of people in front of each painting are the ones that have been drawn to that particular denomination based on likes, dislikes, needs, as well as other factors. Just like people have different personalities, denominations also have different personalities. And when people find the one that fits them the best, the one that meets their needs the best, they stay there.

The people still walking around the room are Christians who are still searching for their church home, and non-Christians exploring Christianity.

 

How close was your guess?

I know some people won’t agree with me, but I believe, for the most part, that having different denominations is a good thing. I think it’s quite possible that God may be behind the formation of many of the denominations that exist today. There are reasons why I believe this, but I won’t get into that now.

I’m aware that having different denominations is confusing to non-Christians. But I believe that’s because of how we Christians have handled it. If we really respected each other, and didn’t try to steal each other’s members – but instead worked together to point non-Christians to Jesus, then helped them find their right fit regardless of whether it’s in our own denomination or not, I think we would be amazed at the result.

Just saying.

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