The Child and the Captain

There was a child that by his on his tenth birthday came to his father and said: “Daddy, I would like to know the ocean.” His father, turning to him replied: “My son, if you pass the year with good grades I’ll take you to the ocean.” The child kept his father’s words and worked hard all year to get good grades. By the end of the year, he brought his report card to his father remembering the promise he once made. The father looked at him and said, “Okay my son, this summer we’ll go to the beach.” Arriving at the beach, the child went straight to the water. He wet his feet in the sea as he smiled cheerfully. He had finally gotten to know the ocean!

Not to far from them was an impressive ship which was touring the beach. Overjoyed, the father took the child in one of those tours. The captain who sailed ship was a very experienced man. He had sailed the seas for many years. He knew the winds, the currents, the beauty and the dangers of the ocean. He knew enough to keep all his passengers safe. He was a rugged man, with a gazing set of eyes. Intrigued by the captain, The young child approached the captain and asked: “Do you know the sea? Yes because I do know it.” He continued: “I’ve studied a lot about the ocean. I read books at school and today I even went into the water.” As the boy spoke, the rugged captain recalled some of his experiences at sea and thought to himself:” Does this child really know the depths and the expanse of the ocean?”

This story illustrates the reality of our relationship with God. Just as the ocean, the knowledge of God can also be vast and deep. It also requires that one explore it beyond the shallow of the beach. We live in times where the search for knowledge is summarized in the aggregation of bits of information searched on Google. In milliseconds, you can gather some kind of information about anything that exists in the world. This is the knowledge of Wikipedia, which is quickly digested without much discernment. Our pursuit of knowledge then consists in putting together bits of data. We also live in a time where wisdom can be summed up in 140 characters on Twitter. This is the type of wisdom that communicates only what we want to know. It offers short impacting statements instead of complex and profound teachings. In this scenario, the quest for knowledge and wisdom is completely detached from the experience. It is instant and summarized. This is the zeitgeist of our time.

It doesn’t take much to recognize the same trend with regards to the knowledge of God. Many of us are like the child in the story. We wet our feet in the shallow waters of the knowledge of God without ever navigating to its depths. We choose to live in the illusion that our quick experiences are sufficient to know who God really is. This reality was well exposed by Leonard Ravenhill, one of the great prophets of the church in the twentieth century. When looking at the current generation in comparison to the pattern of the heroes of the faith in the Bible, he sentenced: “We are still paddling on the beach of the ocean of the possibilities of God’s grace.”

In Christ, our lives can be seen as boats sailing on the ocean of Spirit, the ocean of the possibilities of God’s grace. The knowledge of God is not a purely intellectual knowledge, or a simple gathering of information and data about the character of God. The knowledge of God is based on the relational experience that begins when we are introduced to Him through Jesus Christ. The experience of the new birth and life in community and worship. Just as in our story, the knowledge of God is a substance, and this substance can be measured. But contrary to educational standards, we do not measure the knowledge of God by the information that we are able to retain, but through implication of this knowledge in our lives. The knowledge of God is experimental. Therefore, to know God is directly connected to letting yourself be known by Him.

Our story reveals two realities, the child and the captain. Both can say with all honesty that they knew the sea. Both can talk about their experience and feelings. But only one can speak of knowledge that goes beyond the beach. The type of knowledge that comes through taking risks. That comes through facing dangers and struggles by venturing beyond what we consider to be our safe harbor, or comfort zone. Only one can speak of a knowledge that comes when we let the sea disrupt our lives. When we yield control to the wind of the Holy Spirit, and when we are driven by currents that take away our control and go against our will. Only one can speak of a knowledge that comes through perseverance and goes beyond the superficiality of what we consider fun and pleasurable. Though both technically knew the sea, only the captain knew that he still had much to learn.

Never stop seeking!