Back from vacation, facing a challenge.
“How was your trip?” That’s what everyone wants to know.
Well, not everyone. Some people couldn’t care less about our trip. They wish they could have a vacation, wish they could go somewhere, wish they could just fly off.
But other people want to know about our trip. They want details. They want to know whether we saw what they would see. They want to know whether we did what they would do. They want the story to be the story that would be the way they would tell it.
So what do we tell them? What parts matter to the person asking?
It’s challenging to know where to start. You see, we were gone from Thursday morning until Monday evening.
- There are stories about travel: the delayed flight. The bumpy flight. The queasy flight. The Mustang convertible (free upgrade).
- There are the stories about geography. The coast. The lighthouse. The state park. The trails and trees. The beach late at night and in the morning
- There are stories about food. The pizza Thursday night. Friday night. Saturday night. Monday lunch. Different every time. Oh yeah…and the steak. And cuppa pie. And the subtext of vegetable avoidance.
- There are stories about relationship. Three guys getting meat in a convertible with the top down listening to NPR. Talking late into the night.
- There are stories of children. Trying to get attention. Throwing up. In a store. Climbing everywhere. Avoiding poison ivy.
- There are stories of flora. Ladyslippers. Bleeding hearts. Trillium. and even moss (pictured).
- There are stories of stories.
It would take more than 5 days to write all the details of touch and taste and sound and sight, of voices and glances and expressions. And it would take weeks and pages to capture the different perspectives and the unanswered questions. And if we take it to the level of the moss, to detail that is the size of a matchstick head, we will be here forever, trying to describe what happened.
Recently, a friend said, “We don’t have many details in the Bible do we?” And I realized that it’s true. There are huge gaps. But then I read what John writes about his book, the gospel of John:
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.
And it suddenly made sense why we don’t have very many specifics about the sound of his voice or the kinds of things he built or all the jokes he told or all the miracles he did or why Mary Magdalene cared about him so much. All of those are things that we would love to know, that would round out our picture of him. We would love the details.But we don’t get them. Because if a five day trip takes weeks to describe, then a life would take, well, forever.
We only get enough detail for John to do what he wanted to do. And here’s what he said he wanted to do:
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
The gospels are selective history of Jesus, just like every conversation with me is selective history. Not because I’m trying to hide anything, necessarily, but because there is so much detail available and so little time to talk that I have to filter.
And so the mental frame for us in reading John is, does the detail we have tell the story he’s trying to tell?
It’s a great question.
Want some pizza and decaf?