Imagine you’re walking on the safe shores of life. You visit these shores often because you can see the untamed ocean from a distance while sitting in relative comfort and safety. Rumours suggest that God is somewhere far out there, and though this intrigues you, you’ve figured out a way to keep his Son, Jesus, somewhere close by on the safe shores.
It’s been a while, however, since you visited Jesus; you’ve been busy with your career, and well, you’re just busy. Today, though, you thought you’d walk the coastline and maybe even rent a boat and row out a ways, see what you find. And maybe you’d happen upon some luck and run into Jesus along the way.
It’s a rocky coast, like Maine’s, and down the coastline you see what looks like smoke. You get closer and notice a man stooping beside a fire. It smells inviting, so you approach him, not realizing at first that it is Jesus.
You’re a few yards off, but you offer a “how’s it going?” as he cooks fish over the open fire. He’s looking out into the distance, just smiling.
You’re close enough and you can feel the fire now. And as you stop to greet him, the horizon catches your eye. Its incandescent light casts itself all over the breaking waves. He sits poking the fire and humming, his weathered skin buffeted by the salty air. He looks up at you as you gaze out into the distance. You turn your head toward the fire to catch him looking at you; he seems familiar, but you still don’t recognize him. He nods and smiles.
“Are you heading out there?”
“I was thinking about it. Not sure though,” you reply.
“I wouldn’t go too far out if I were you. It’s not safe.”
“Why? I’ve heard that God’s out there somewhere. I wonder if he would notice me.”
“I notice you.”
The words come to you like spring, like blowing on a child’s face; there is a loss of breath and exhilaration all at once,
“But who are you?”
“I AM the horizon. I AM the rain. I AM the good. I AM the radiance you feel when you get too far out there. I AM the victory; sometimes you feel me, though not as often as you should. I AM the light you saw in your grandmother before she passed. I AM the joy you felt when your daughter was born. I AM glory. I AM the breath of creation. I AM.”
He looks up from the cooking fish, his eyes filling up, but you look away, again looking out into the horizon. And then it dawns on you.
Why didn’t I recognize him? you ask yourself.
He looks back down and flips the fish. The gray of the evening shrouds him.
“I’m, sorry, I…” your words feel heavy, “I had no idea”
“I know,” he replies. “I’m not who you remember me to be. I’ve passed by this coastline before, but you didn’t notice. You looked stressed and busy.” He half laughs and wipes his tearing eyes. “I think you like the idea of me. But you’d rather I remain out of the way.”
His words cut your insides. But he’s right.
“I remember when you used to seek me out all the time,” he continues. “I loved our relationship. But something changed. What happened?
“I don’t know”
Excerpt from “Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society” by Timothy Willard and Jason Locy. Pages 141-3, Chapter 7: The Violence of Bees
(emphasis in original)