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The Passionate Jesus

Day1 host Peter Wallace's new book on the emotions of Jesus is, according to Marcus Borg, “An illuminating and powerful personal meditation." Ideal for personal or group study.

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Peter Wallace The Rev. Peter Wallace

The Rev. Peter Wallace is the host and executive producer of Day1. The President of the Alliance for Christian Media, Peter is also the author of "The Passionate Jesus," and eight books of meditations.

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The Meaning of Life: A Parable

January 19, 2016

On the night after I returned from a vacation to Southeast Asia, the day after the memorial service for my mentor and colleague and Day1 leader Dr. Bill Self, I had a dream--it was a parable of sorts. I'm not sure what this parable means, and like any parable you certainly can't push it too far, but it was pretty powerful for me. I want to share it with you...

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In a town far away, a young man approached an older man known to be wise. "Sir, I am told that you know the meaning of life. Will you share it with me?"

"Yes, my son," the older man said. "Come with me."

After a walk of many miles, they came to the shore of a large lake. The older man pointed to an island of rocks in the middle of the lake. "Do you see that island in the lake?" he asked the young man.

"Yes, sir, I do. Is that where I may find the meaning of life?" the young man said excitedly.

"We shall find out," the older man replied. "First, we must get there."

The older man reached down and scooped up a handful of wet sand from the lake shoreline. He threw it out into the lake toward the island, where it landed with a splash. He did this a second time, and a third.

The young man was perplexed. "Sir, what are you doing?" he asked.

"I am building a bridge of sand to the island," the older man replied. "Help me." The young man reached down and scooped up a handful of sand and threw it into the lake toward the island.

"Each scoopful of sand represents a word of wisdom," the older man explained. "We must walk to the island on a bridge of wisdom."

Twenty years later, enough sand from the shore had built up a bridge enabling the two men to walk to the island of rocks.

"Finally, now, is this island where I will find the meaning of life?" the younger man, now twenty years older, asked.

"We have another journey ahead of us, my son," the older man replied. "Do you see that mountain on the other side of the lake?"

"Yes, sir," the young man replied. "Is that where I may find the meaning of life?"

"We shall find out," the elder replied. "First, we must get there."

The older man reached down and picked up a rock from among the countless rocks on the island, and threw it in the water toward the mountain, and it landed with a splash. He did this a second time, and a third.

Again, the young man was perplexed. "Sir, what are you doing?" he asked.

"I am building a bridge of rock to the mountain," the old man replied. "Help me." The young man reached down and picked up a rock and threw it into the lake toward the mountain.

"Each rock represents an act of caring love," the older man explained. "We must walk to the mountain on a bridge of love."

Twenty years later, enough rocks from the island had built up a bridge enabling the two men to walk to the mountain and climb to its summit.

"Finally, now, is this mountain where I will find the meaning of life?" the younger man, now forty years older, asked.

Just then a ferocious storm arose. Heavy rains and fierce winds buffeted the lake, the island, and the mountain. The lake was filled with treacherous waves, dissolving the sand bridge they had built. Great winds blew the bridge of rocks into the waters. Forty years of work vanished in a matter of moments.

The younger man was heartbroken. "All that work we have done is gone!" he said, "and I have yet to find the meaning of life!"

"No, my son, you are well on your way to finding the meaning of life," the old man said calmly. "You have walked the way of wisdom, and you have walked the way of love. But you have another journey ahead of you."

"Where must I go now, sir?" the younger man asked.

"You must climb down this mountain and return to the town and wait there for a young person to approach you and ask you to share the meaning of life. And then you must guide them here just as I did you," the older man explained.

The older man smiled and added, "When you have shared this journey with another, then you will have found the meaning of life, as I have just found it myself now. Thank you, my son."

The two embraced, and then the younger man, his eyes brimming with tears and his heart full of wisdom and love, climbed down the mountain to return to the town.

 


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