"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint Exupéry
I read a story by James K. A. Smith, in his work titled, “You Are What You Love.”
The author recounts a time when he was in the Tate Britain museum in London and was captivated by a painting.
The painting is called, “The Boyhood of Raleigh” and attempts to tell the story of who would eventually become Sir Walter Raleigh, the great Intrepid explore sailing for Queen Elizabeth.
Cool picture, right?
Here is what I love about it. While there are no words attempting to tell us what is going on –we intuitively know.
The older man, the hardened, skin-salted, sailor is pointing the boys towards the sea with great tales of thrilling adventure!
“Boys,” he says in a whisper, “The first time I set sail as a young man I remember…” And the story begins.
Now notice the young boy’s faces. Totally on the man. Every word. They sit. Hanging on his words as he paints pictures and as he tells them stories, something is happening to them. They begin to see themselves as sailors. Standing on the mast. Commanding the large wooden ship through the mighty seas.
This is teaching. And do you want to take any guess as to the greatest teacher our world has ever known? If you guessed Jesus, then you are correct. Man was He good at painting pictures. “I am the Vine and you are the branches” (think of this being said standing right in the middle of a Vineyard). “I am Living Water” (imagine being situated in the hot sun-beaten dessert next to a well). I could go on, but there is just one more aspect of Jesus’ teaching that I want to highlight before I finish.
If you have ever read the Gospels, you probably remember Jesus using a phrase that goes like this: “The Kingdom of God…” When He is saying this, He is painting a picture for His followers much like the sailor in the painting. He is casting a vision for what life can and should look like as His message spreads. Because when His message spreads, you, I – the world starts to reflect the character of God – in other words we will be a little bit of heaven right here on earth.