(One more attempt… for now at least (!)… at some parable creation…)
Finally, this parable “on the pond:” The kingdom of God is like the huge rocks that line the shore: for no matter what else shifts and changes around them, they stand firm and strong.
In the nearly sixty years that “the camp” has been in our family, there have been many changes to the landscape around the lake. To begin with, many of what were once modest cottages have been transformed into year-round homes, and there’s a nearby golf course and time-share condominiums on land that not too many years ago served as cow pasture (in fact, I have vague memories from when I was very young of how those cows would occasionally wander off and end up in our driveway!); and some of what I remember as rough and questionably passable tote roads are now practically paved streets!
Moreover, as I return to camp every summer I am reminded of the many families who have come and gone over the years: the people who were our neighbors and friends “on the pond” while I was growing up. Some passed on the legacy of “camp” to the next generations; others eventually sold their properties to others who have in turn come to create memories of their own. From year to year there’s even a lot of change as to what you see on the lake: twenty years ago, for instance, we seemed to be almost overrun with speedboats; these days, kayaks are far more abundant. In the end, I guess it’s true that whether one is talking about the landscape or life itself, nothing stays the same forever; which is what makes it good news indeed that the rocks…the mammoth, glacial rocks that line almost the entire circumference of the pond always stay the same year after year, generation after generation; to coin a verse from the hymn, our lake truly has a firm foundation that is from “age to age the same.”
I must admit that from the time I was very little I’ve always had great fondness for these rocks: they were, after all, what I played on and around as a child (my friends and I had special names for almost every one of them!), and they continued to stir the imaginations of my own children as they played years later. They also often served as their own sort of island refuge for swimmer and boater alike on those frequent days when the lake water felt all too cold, rough or deep to handle; a place to rest, and breathe and plan one’s next move. And to this very day, as evidenced by the many aging towering birches on our lake that still boldly defy gravity as they hang over the shoreline, these rocks also provide an unyielding anchor for whatever (or whoever) would cling to them!
In a world that is ever changing, these rocks have always symbolized for me not only what is gloriously unchanging in this world, but also that which is for us solidly held and the most important in our lives. Indeed, though the years pass and perhaps some things we have cherished along the way change or at least rearrange, nonetheless the rocks remain, standing firm and strong, come what may; which is, of course, what God does for each of us with perfect love and unending strength!
Our God blesses us with all things that are good: God gives us the peace and joy and hope and love that can fill our heart and make life and living a thing to be cherished. But perhaps even more significantly, God also gives the courage and strength that it will take to endure the storms of that life and all of its challenges and difficulties. In and through it all, you see, God gives us the solidity of his presence. In fact, it could be aptly stated that the first and foremost of all blessings is the promise that nothing in life or death separates us from God’s love; the same assurance that “though the earth should change, [and] though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea… the Lord of hosts is with us; [and] the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalm 46:2) This is, truly, the one absolute certainty for our lives that, as the Psalmist also proclaimed, “from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God!” (90:2)
God is, indeed, the rock of our salvation; and so, whatever else this world brings to wreak havoc, nonetheless we stand secure, knowing that God’s promised kingdom will come!
Here ends the parable: as Jesus himself said, “Let anyone with ears listen!” (Matthew 13:9)
c. 2014 Rev. Michael W. Lowry