A sea pen looks and acts like a single organism but it’s actually a colony of tiny animals called polyps with a bulbous foot at it’s base–the bulb anchors the sea pen in the muddy or sandy bottom. The primary polyp loses its tentacles and becomes the stalk of the sea pen. The various secondary polyps form the sea pen’s “branches” and have specialized functions from trapping food, reproducing to channeling water in and out of the colony. Others make slime that glows in the dark…
Oh! what a longing we have to be apart of something that fantastic! We believe that we are connected to the stalk/foot but what if the other polyps don’t respond or they withhold from us because we don’t have the right marketing or enough credibility or what if we are judged and ignored? Do we need the other polyps? Well, sure we do, it’s not a sea pen otherwise.
…But, this is the hard part, trusting that everyone is working in one accord.
We aren’t the only ones to acknowledge this issue of trust in community. One of the founding fathers of “tilling and traveling” wrote of the same dilemma. His name was, Paul, formerly Saul. He had a remarkable revelation one day and turned full circle from his life of high society and religious piety. He became “all things to all people” by making himself available to go where ever the door opened. His soul desire was to spread a gospel of revolutionary magnitude. A gospel that suggested we could actually experience real reconciliation and freedom in our lives. Paul was convinced that like the sea pen we were made individually but meant to come together as a whole, clinging to the stalk that was connected to the foot. Folks seemed pretty excited about his passion until he started going into parts of society that they deemed unexceptionable and his support dwindled if not ceased. He responded with a push back to those who called themselves believers, to those who claimed to be his family. He shared his pain and disappointment but not for his own gain. No, he understood the heart condition and knew that if his “family” had treated him this way, they were probably treating others, who were doing a good work, the same way.
Paul admonished them to take a look in the mirror. To realize that their perspective was off and they have forgotten where they came from. Then he encouraged them to remember. He warned them of their past and the danger markers in their history book. He said, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! And, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.” And later he says, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.”
And, so we remember the pit that we have been pulled out of. We remember the pain and discord of our rebellion. We remember how quickly our pride can lead the way. We remember the faithfulness, mercy and compassion granted us when we deserved a good slap in the ass. We remember the refining process thus far and we refocus our perspective on not only living well but living to serve. We remember that it is not up to us to know the “how” only to be available and continue to be all things to all people.
We are like the polyps who are connected to the stalk and channel water in and out. We have to trust that those who are suppose to light our way, will do so with their glow in the dark slim.
Learning to trust, becoming trustworthy and remembering; that sounds like a good way to start 2012. We look joyward to putting this into practice. with. you.