Aug. 7, 2014
I say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God!”
On the edge of Mazomanie where we live is the Walking Iron Park. It has lots of hiking trails and a place I have enjoyed hiking and trail running for years. I hadn’t been on the trails this year. And I’ve been feeling quite disjunctured these last few weeks. Searching for something that seems misplaced or lost. Trying to figure out what this next phase of my life might look like.
Today, I decided to go on my favorite Walking Iron Park trail. It’s the longest route I take. I enjoy it because it includes many different habitats: cornfields, prairie flowers, sandy ridges, wooded areas and a section down into a marsh.
I ran from our house to the trailhead and through the wooded section, easily following the well-maintained trail. Then I arrived at the point where the trail gets unique. This section is less used than others and not as well maintained. Even less this year! A novice could easily get lost through this area as I plowed through a ticket of wild berry bushes. Then, the trail goes down a slope into the marsh where a huge oak tree completely crossed the trail. My options were to go through a thicker briar patch or over the large branches. The branches seemed less intimidating.
The marsh area meant lots of mosquitos and gnats. Silly me failed to spray myself beforehand. Now I was walking and swatting at the same time. In the marsh, a flock of ducks flew away, scaring me as much as I surprised them. Squashing through the muddy part, I chastised myself for not wearing older running shoes. Climbing out of the marsh, I contemplated how this trail run/hike/walk was desperately looking like my life these days.
When Jesus taught, he used prophetic hyperbole: seemingly outrageous statements to make a point. These words were meant to shake his hearers into taking his words seriously, but not always literally. An example is when Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. No, a camel cannot go through a needle’s eye. Jesus’ point is riches can be toxic to our souls. We should not let them enslave us.
We also use silly hyperboles. When someone says, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse,” do they really intend to? Do you know someone who can really snore louder than a freight train?
Today, I found a meaningful hyperbole of my life. The overgrown sections of the trail seem a little too much like my disjointed life right now whereas the well-maintained trails are so what I aspire. The sandy, dry part of the trail is the parched state of my soul. The pesky gnats are the things I allow to distract me, like mindless time on the computer and checking Facebook too often. The briars are the thorns that I allow to take too much of my time and energy. My dirty running shoes remind me there are several areas which I know are sinful and yet I continue to overlook. The scared ducks remind me that maybe something else looms on my horizon and I cannot be afraid to step towards it.
As I hiked and ran back towards the trail head, I reminded myself that hiking the daily is absolutely necessary. What is important is doing a bit each day to move myself towards the place I’d rather be. It’s not expecting myself to do everything ideally but allowing a fraction of what I’d like to do to get on my daily radar screen.
Is there a prophetic hyperbole looming in your life right now? They don’t appear daily, but when they do, let’s ponder them, examine them and discover lessons that we can apply to our daily lives.
Lord God, wherever we are in our lives today, there are lessons looming to help us draw closer to you. If our souls seem parched, dump into our lives things that will water them. Help us to see your desire to guide us daily. Amen.
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