Last month, we spent a few days at the beach trying to recover from launching The Journey at a full sprint. It has been exhilarating and simultaneously exhausting, but a good exhausted, if you know what I mean.
One of my favorite things to do at the beach is feeding the seagulls. I usually run up on a half dozen or so just standing around staring out at the ocean. They don’t pay me much attention until I get real close. Then they saunter away watching me suspiciously out of the corner of their eyes. I am really an annoyance until I drop the first piece of bread. Then I suddenly become a “person of interest.”
Feeding them is a study in trust. If I drop the bread too close to me, they cautiously run up to it and grab at it, oftentimes missing it completely before tucking tail to run. Before long they are coming closer and closer, except those timid ones that are shoved out of the way by the bullies. The shy ones stand on the edge of the perimeter wishing they had the nerve to take a risk for the reward. I always try to throw some bread their way, but the aggressive ones always seem to beat them to it.
Anything worthwhile should be pursued with passion. The Bible says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” (Matthew 11:12) Jesus pursued a relationship with us by leaving Heaven’s glory, grabbing sin by the throat and destroying its grip on us. Following Jesus is not for wimps. Jesus tells us that if we want to follow Him we must take up our cross daily and join Him on His journey. I pursue Jesus by trusting Him to be my life instead of me. It takes courage and boldness, but the rewards are more than worth the cost.
Seagulls are a microcosm of people. Some seagulls stay at the back of the pack wishing they had some food but afraid to take the risk. Others scramble after the crumbs, pushing one another out of the way. Some are bullies intimidating the other birds by loud squawking and rapidly flapping their wings. But all of those are “grounders.” They are created to fly but spend their lives pecking in the sand for meager leftovers.
After awhile, word spreads and the crowd begins to gather. That’s when I start to throw the bread into the air. At first, it falls to the ground and the scramble ensues. It’s not long, however, before one brave soul flies up and snatches the bread out of the air, avoiding the melee below. Another takes note and tries the friendly skies as well. Soon, a group of seagulls are treading air directly over my head, snatching the airborne bread in mid-air then circling around for another bite. Some become so trusting that they take the bread right out of my hand.
While I am really proud of those who mount up with wings overcoming their fear and trusting the Bread Master, my heart aches for those who remain grounded at the back of the pack starving, paralyzed by fear. If they only knew that all I wanted was to feed them, not harm them, they would be both happy and full.
It’s all about trust. Always has been. Always will be. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) That works for birds and people. You can fly and feed, or sit and starve. You get to choose. Either way, the Master is holding out the Bread of Life and waiting for you. You don’t have to be afraid and hungry anymore. Trust Him.
Kenny Ashley is the leader of a new church in Lake Wylie called The Journey. It meets at 10:30 a.m. Sundays at Crowders Creek Elementary School.