Posted: 7/14/17 at 8:30am. Column by Ed Jordan.
It seems to me that America has grown lethargic and unmotivated. Maybe it is because we have been provided with so much by those who came before us, or maybe we have become desensitized to new ideas because of the glut of information that bombards our senses 24/7. Perhaps we have become lazy and lost our work ethic.
Am I being too hard on us? Perhaps, or perhaps not.
My family is privileged to be friends with a young American who just tied with another young American to win the Gold Medal at the USA Mathematics Olympiad. I am so proud of him, and honored to know him. Approximately 300,000 students entered the Olympiad, and 12 finished with honors. This young high school graduate, who goes to school in Hungary, engages his mind on multiple levels, pushing the envelope to discover what there is still to learn and to be the best of the best. It is a joy to interact with him and see his passion and motivation.
That is the spirit of which I am speaking. Not settling for mediocrity, but striving to be the best.
Our country was discovered by explorers, by people who were willing to go where others hadn’t, to discover new lands. They risked their lives, and some died. But some survived and eventually gave birth to the United States of America.
Our country has become known as the land where people have the freedom to pursue their dreams and make them come true. Where is that spirit today? It is still here, but it seems it is often suppressed or asleep. Success is not easy, and it takes great stamina and courage to keep going despite difficulties and hardships.
Almost a century ago André Gide noted: “One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”
Think about that image. Without a spirit of discovery, we idle away our days, tied to the dock, yet all the while wishing that something exciting would happen in and through our lives.
Would Columbus, or Cortez, or Ponce De Leon have discovered anything if they had never left the comfort and safety of the shores of Europe?
Would Marco Polo even be a familiar name today, had he not left the shores of Italy and journeyed to explore China, Asia, Tibet, Burma, Persia, and India? When he was young man, he and his family reached Beijing and met Kublai Khan at the summer palace, Xanadu, which was a palace made of gold and marble. They discovered many new things from their interactions with the Chinese and Mongols.
Would the Christian church have ever expanded beyond Jerusalem, had not the early apostles and believers risked their lives to take the good news of Jesus and his resurrection to Judea, Samaria, Crete, Philippi, Macedonia, Turkey, Thessaloniki, Athens, Ephesus, Sicily, and Rome and the from there throughout the Roman Empire?
In the early days of Jesus’ ministry, he was speaking, and the crowds of people were pressing nearer and nearer to him in order to hear his message of eternal life with God. At that point Jesus saw two boats on the lakeshore. The fishermen were beside them, washing their nets. Jesus got into Simon Peter’s boat and told Peter to shove off a little.
Jesus finished his teaching from within the boat, then in Luke 5:4 Jesus told Peter: “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Peter explained that they had fished all night and caught nothing, but he took the boat out into the deep waters.
As I noted above, we will not make new discoveries sitting in our boats on the shore. We must leave the shore, leave the safety and comfort of the known, and go out into the deep waters if we are to make new discoveries or catch fish of any size.
God wants us to get off our duffs and get involved with discoveries, with new contacts, new life, new possibilities, and discover new lands. Lands need not only be lands. Discover new systems, new methods, new tools, new ideas, or new applications of old ideas.
Where are you? Sitting in a boat beached on the shore, or leaving the comfortable to explore new possibilities, new ministries, or new relationships?
What is keeping you beached? Will you let Jesus take you on some new adventures?