Expensive SUVs and even more expensive mobile homes and high-tech camper vans vie for position in the ‘field’ where folk have chosen to come and get close to nature. Urbane city-dwellers stroll nonchalantly to the toilet block in their pjs, happy to be roughing it for the weekend.
We had occasion to stay on one such site on our recent roadtrip and it was there, on the way to the aforementioned facilities early one morning that I overheard a priceless line which is the basis of this week’s Thought.
Some children were clambering around in the playpark as I passed. One obviously wanted to play pretend and was assigning superhero identities to their pals. ‘You be Ironman and I’ll be Captain America’, they said, to which one friend replied,
‘I don’t want to ‘be’ anything. I just want to play.’
And I thought , doesn’t that sum up perfectly where a lot of us are in this 21st century? We’re reluctant to ‘be’ or ‘do’ anything of significance. We just want to play!
The world seems beyond saving anyway. Heroes are misunderstood, misrepresented. Anyone who tries to do anything is asking to be shot down. Perhaps best if we keep our heads below the parapet and just enjoy whatever entertainment is on offer. We can play online, or fantasize in the cinema, in comfy seats, sipping coke and nibbling popcorn. Let the film stars do the hard work. That’s all the adventure we need.
Which is a rather shameful pity, because while it can be tempting to hold such an attitude at times, we were made for better.
In Luke 5, Jesus invites Peter to cast off and head out to ‘deep water’ for a catch. As an experienced fisherman Peter is not exactly scared. He’s tired, having fished all night with disappointing results. But he goes with it, lands a record catch and accepts the Lord’s invitation to become a disciple and ‘fisher for people’.
Immediately he is immersed in a world close by that he had been sidestepping, a world needing compassion and rescue. He is there as Jesus embraces a socially outcast leper, prays, preaches grace and forgiveness, heals all kinds of sickness and disability, and has a party with a notorious local crook(who reforms his life and later writes the Gospel of Matthew), prompting bitter controversy with religious officials.
Many today profess a modest faith, just enough to help in our times of need. The Lord is gracious and answers our prayers on such occasions but He calls us to more. He invites us to the ‘deep water’, to join Peter and others through the ages in following Him, declaring His message of hope and sharing His loving concern for our bleeding, despairing neighbourhoods.
To do more with our lives than just play.
More too, than just pretend.
He calls us to be heroes.