Thursday, May 10, 2012

When Stones Don’t Sink, Don’t Blame the Water

Intent: To write a piece on why most sermons and Bible studies never reach the core of the individual listeners or participants. It would use the analogy of stones skipping across the surface of water rather than sinking in.
Initially, I suspected that the reason a stone skips when thrown across the surface of water had a great deal to do with surface tension. So I did a little research about surface tension. That would make a great point: People are the problem! They simply resist those wonderful nuggets of truth that we sacrificially and faithfully attempt to feed them.
Before setting fingertips to keyboard I figured a little research into skipping stones might also be in order. Bummer. What I found never mentioned surface tension as a factor. Apparently, it all has to do with the throw itself. Sure, the size and shape of the stone get honorable mention but the key factors are the angle and sufficient speed of the throw combined with the spin of the stone.
Not wanting to abandon the analogy, the message is important (you have to have stones to throw) but the key is delivery. Too often we start by choosing a topic from scripture that lends itself to easy deflection and then we deliver it in such a way to insure it hits the surface but goes no deeper.
However, our goal is not to skip small stones and make small ripples. Our goal is to hoist rocks so big we can barely handle them ourselves and plunge them into the depths, regardless of how great a disturbance it creates. We do not want the stones to skip on by. We want them to go deep and stay there. This invariably causes waves. We do not make the waves, the stones do and their size determines how big the waves are.
When we teach and preach, we should not fear to go after the big biblical issues and throw them into the middle of the people. Yes, it will disturb the status quo but that is exactly what needs to happen. That is why we go down to the water in the first place.
P.S. When looking for an appropriate picture of skipping stones, I discovered that there are people who collect, package, and sell skipping stones. All you have to do is buy them and use them. You don't have to buy the ones that sink straight down. They are all over the place. God has not made His truth hard to get. The best stuff is all over the place.