A duckling hatches. Unlike most ducks, which lay their eggs near bodies of water, this duckling has, for whatever reason, been born inland, with no water nearby.

Our duckling grows up into a duck in an arid climate, seldom feeling the cool, wet caress of raindrops. In those rare rainy moments, he steals brief glimpses, takes a small foretaste, of something more. Yet he is content in his environment, never having known anything else.

One day, a fierce wind begins to blow. Try as he might to weather the storm, he decides to venture out of his comfortable surroundings in search of shelter. He walks (for he has never had a need or occasion to fly before) as the wind continues to intensify, filling the air with sand and debris. Steadfastly, he pushes ahead, sometimes allowing himself to be blown forward by the wind, other times pressing headstrong against it. He walks, and walks, perhaps for hours, perhaps for days, it's difficult to have any sense of time or direction.

Then, suddenly, the wind dies down, and as his eyes begin to clear he can scarcely believe what he sees.

Water. A billion, trillion times more than he has even seen before.

He has been led to the ocean.

He stands, then sits, then stands once again, staring at the magnificent scene in front of him. At length, be approaches timidly, dipping at first a single webbed toe, then a foot. Although scared by this new experience, this foreign environment, nonetheless he intuitively knows that he is on the threshold of greatness.

Still, he hesitates. It's unfamiliar, untested, even scary.

Yet, he takes a step of faith and jumps into the water … and for the first time, swims.

It's unlike anything he has experienced before, but at once he knows. This is what he is meant for. Not just his perception of the world has changed; he has changed. It's not that he is abandoning everything about his life on land, but now that he has experienced the fullness of this new environment, he can never go back to the way things were before … he is home.

Photo credit: spyros_tav

The experience of encountering and walking with the living God is not like putting a feather in your cap; it's more like putting on glasses and really being able to see for the first time. It is the fulfillment of cravings of which we are only given a foretaste in the natural world.

C. S. Lewis once said, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." This, I think, captures part of the transformative power when a person realizes that they have finally been freed to become the person they were always meant to be.

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Jesus

Is it possible that God has been at work in your life all along? Maybe it's time to explore your world beyond your current boundaries in search of the ocean, and ask the question: What does your soul crave?

Sometimes you've heard a song many times before, but suddenly actually hear the lyrics. That happened to me just now with MxPx's song "Foolish". Listen to the song using the widget, the lyrics are posted below:

Some people say that I threw my brain away
That I'm illogical and don't have much to say
Some people say that it's foolish to believe
In what we cannot see, so we're deceived

All that I can do is listen to you
All that you can be is out there, you'll see
Every single time that I
Explain to you my reasons why
You turn away; you close your eyes
And then you cut me down to size

Some people say that I threw my vote away
The moment I decided to live life this way
Some people say that it's foolish to believe
In what we cannot see, so we're deceived
I'm not here to make you all agree
But have you truly studied this historically?

Every single time that I
Explain to you my reasons why
You turn away; you close your eyes
And then you cut me down to size

Every single time that I
Explain to you my reasons why
You turn away; you close your mind
Your heart's just not prepared to find
Some meaning, some meaning

Just wait, and listen to that voice
It calls so quietly, for you to make a choice
What will it be? What will it be?

The line that caught my attention was "But have you truly studied this historically?" I gave a talk recently at my church based on my ebook, The Historical Reliability of the New Testament, which I'll be reprising later this month. I encourage you to check it out. The ebook, I mean. I may record a video of my talk this time, and if it turns out well, I may decide to post it online. :)

When I first heard this song, I cried. And when I heard it again at our Sunday service today, I cried again. It's hard for me to believe that less than 10 years ago I had no idea who Jesus is and what God did for me … and you. I was, and am, as C. S. Lewis said, surprised by hope.

This song (and fan-made video/lyrical accompaniment) to me communicates the pure joy of knowing God, and coming home to Him. I pray that if you don't know this joy, that you would earnestly seek it. And if you do, just watch and recommit your life to God.

If you're wondering "Who is this Jesus who brings such joy?", please click to find out.

"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!" shouts Charlie Brown in frustration. This is Linus' answer:

Linus is quoting the Gospel of Luke chapter 2 … but what reason do we have for believing it? If this message is true, it's certainly the greatest and most important message we'll ever hear. If we have good reasons to trust what the biblical authors wrote, then it would seem reasonable (given the incredible, life-changing meaning of the message) to accept it, nay, embrace it. My short free e-book gives some reasons to believe it's actually true: The Historical Reliability of the New Testament.

But perhaps the more common hindrances to faith are not the intellectual concerns, they are instead the "heart" objections. Before I became a Christian, I wrestled with many of these. "I'll have to admit I've been wrong for the first 20-something years of my life!" I thought. (It's never easy for me to admit when I'm wrong.) I also wondered how my family and friends would react, since most of them are not Christian. And then there was the life changes issue … would I have to give up some of the "sin" I enjoyed?

Well, let me tell you. It does take a mature person to admit they were wrong. It's not always easy talking to friends and family about faith issues. And giving up sin, even when it seems distasteful and wrong … well, frankly it's not always easy. But the all-surpassing joy of knowing Jesus, of knowing God's love and the paradoxical freedom of growing deeper in that love, makes it all worthwhile.

If you're contemplating these issues, or are perhaps considering such things seriously for the first time, you may want to consider reading True or False: Doubters Welcome … or checking out the short flash video about Jesus. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas holiday! Remember, there is reason for the season!

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