While on our cruise, I excitedly awaited our final port of call: Cozumel, Mexico. We planned to go to the beach at Chankanaab National Park with the kids. Knowing we could snorkel there, I bought the kids and I some cheap equipment while in Belize.
The afternoon after purchasing the equipment, I took the kids to the ship's pool to show them how. My oldest loved it. The younger two--not so much. They decided wearing the mask was o.k., but the snorkel wasn't fun to breathe through. Their choice.
When we arrived in Cozumel, we packed up the equipment, minus the youngest kid's snorkels and headed to Chankanaab. The beauty of the beach was breath taking. The kids couldn't wait to get in the water.
At the recommendation of the beach staff, we put all the kids in life vests and headed to the appropriate entry places--Cozumel is a coral atoll, and there are several places where there is no gradual entry into the water. You literally have to climb down rocks or metal stairs to enter. The kids weren't thrilled with that, but they still couldn't wait to swim.
My eldest began snorkeling right away. My middle child, put on her mask and began observing the underwater features. My son had decided to forgo any thoughts of snorkeling when we were putting our stuff in the lockers. "I don't want my mask!" he dictated.
Suddenly, my eldest surfaced. "Check out all the fish!!!" she exclaimed.
My middle child stuck her head underwater, surfaced, and shouted out, "Cool. They are so close. I almost touched one!"
My son yelled out, "I want my mask!!!"
Fortunately, he has a nice uncle who went back and got it.
Maybe he learned a lesson. Maybe.
In our world--particularly in our United States Culture--we have an affinity for everything new. We have an affinity for the latest and greatest. We believe we need to focus on the young folks who have new and amazing insights. We need to strive to experience things ourselves and forge new pathways.
There is nothing wrong with this--as long as it is rooted and grounded in the wisdom of the past.
I mean that in all sincerity. I used to be one of those craving the newest and latest stuff--especially in the Church. New insights into theology; new worship music; new methods of interpreting Scripture. This was the stuff which would turn the decline of the Church in the U.S. around.
If my son would have listened to me, he would have taken his mask with him from the get go. He would have understood there was something really neat to experience under the water for which his mask would be a huge asset. But wanting to do things on his own without regard for the knowledge I had, he almost missed out. Almost. Fortunately, I had the forethought to pack his mask even though he was adamant he didn't want it.
Perhaps it is time many of us in the Church listen more carefully to those who have gone before. Perhaps it's time to acknowledge contemporary scholars and their contributions to theology, but to ask them, "How does this relate to the Old Time Religion--the religion founded upon grace; the religion that cuts everyone to the heart (Acts 2); the religion which states there is no other Gospel (Galatians 2).
"For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith," and this is not any work that you did on your own. It was God's work, and God's work alone. This is the wisdom of those who have gone before--extending back to the earliest disciples of Jesus. This was the message which caught the world by fire (the Spirit) and water (baptism).
Much of the church in the U.S.'s focus is on what we are supposed to do instead of what God has already accomplished. We have done a poor job of being heralds. We love being advisers and telling people what they should do. We focus on our action instead of God's.
Perhaps it's time to trust the wisdom of those who have gone before.