Watching my Suzuki dirt bike hoisted onto a wobbling, home-built canoe at the edge of a flooded river, gave me pause. Did I make a smart move?
My unsettled mind calmed the next few minutes as the two tribal men skillfully executed their self-assigned duties. I looked on in growing admiration.
These fellas know a thing or two about rivers. And of cargo management for home-built canoes.
The reflection in my head took form after I witnessed a donkey traversing those waters under the young men’s management, emerging at the opposite shore, her hee-haw still intact.
In a similar way I’ve found it often only takes a little observing to appreciate praiseworthy qualities in people – their dispositions, skill sets, personalities, their manner.
In this respect, Jesus has become my favorite subject in people-watching.
Indeed, he himself – this son of a blue-collar worker growing up in an unexceptional middle-eastern village – honed his own set of observing skills. Sharpening them as keenly as he did the carpentry tool finding its home in his saw-dust-sprinkled grip.
“Here, Yeshua, see how we mark the place just this side of the knot hole? This is where we cut the plank. Now, watch closely where I position the saw. . .” Papa Joseph patiently tutored the youngster, modelling for him the carpentry craft.
To excel at a thing – to move little by little into expertise – any person ever trained in a skill knows the drill.
- Watch (observe) the trainer, listening, paying attention as they do their work
- Imitate the manner and movements of the mentor while he looks on, coaches, corrects
- Do the work – produce ‘fruit’ reflecting the quality of the master’s own workmanship and of his character
Jesus did this. Jesus trained his friends while adopting for himself role of trainee. Remarkable, really. The writer of Hebrews offers a pithy insight about Jesus, “He learned.”
Paul the apostle followed suit, the Damascus-road convert boldly recruiting others to ‘board his gospel canoe’:
“Follow me as I follow Christ.”
I want to become like Jesus.
Through the years the yearning has ebbed and flowed in my deep interior.
Not in me alone. The cry is common to Christ-followers all around. Common because nothing else slakes our thirst for meaning. A cry because, at the core, this is our design. We are made for it – for apprenticeship to Jesus. Made to be formed into a likeness very much resembling him. In character. In life.
How does such a life-altering enterprise get underway?
My boyhood days growing up on a farm stirs a thought.
©2018 Jerry Lout