When I was a kid, I made a small boat out of scrap wood, twigs, and any kind of nails I could find. It resembled a floating bird’s nest more than any kind of seafaring vessel.
Then I sat down at the kitchen table in our small farmhouse and I wrote a note about God, why he was generally a very nice person and someone you could trust. I doubt the note made much sense. But my theology then was probably far more accurate than it is today, now that my views have been clouded by pain and injustice, hypocrisy and inexplicable tragedy.
There was something easy and straightforward about God then, so much so that I could sum it all up in a one-page letter which I eventually taped to the bird’s-nest vessel I had created. I walked to the creek, gingerly carrying that purveyor of truth. I leaned out over the bank, just beyond the small dam the neighbor boy and I had built with rocks and chunks of earth, and I released the boat into the water.
I sat on the bank and watched it bob up and down on the glaring waves. I flipped over a rock or two, hoping to find a crayfish, but then I remembered I hadn’t brought anything in which to put them.
* * * * *
I think we’re all like that when we talk about God. We have our own little messages that we wrap around our own imperfect vessels and then we tape them to keep out the water. We rarely look upstream to see what messages are being sent to us; no, we sit on the bank and watch our own well-sealed words drift and pitch with the waves and the current.
And while God could have been found in the letter that young boy wrote, he also could have been found in the trees leaning over the creek or the clouds drifting in the mirror alongside the boat. He could have been found in the fishing hole or the open field. He could have been found in the care the young boy took to build the boat, or the random way the waves directed the small craft around the bend.
There are the written, deliberate messages. But there is also so much more.