They paid for all my expenses, and the wedding itself was a wonderful experience, but the short stay before the wedding was frustrating and even depressing. I was surrounded by the misery of luxury and found it desperately difficult to enjoy myself.
Here's a parable I wrote...
Christianity is like a three-tiered swimming pool at the Ritz-Carlton in Maui.
Christianity is surrounded by eight-story buildings, room service and valet parking.
The people crowd around Christianity’s man-made pools of chlorinated blue water while sipping expensive cocktails.
As everyone tans in cushioned lawn chairs, the almost-unseen ocean laps gently at the sandy shore, less than half a mile away. The ocean water is clean and blue and warm to the touch. It caresses a few lonely swimmers who prefer its living, lapping waves to the severe luxury above.
I ask my companions if they will walk to the shore with me, but they refuse to abandon such posh comfort with convenient views of bikini-clad socialites.
I walk alone to the beach, and the warm wind fills my ears and nostrils. I jump into the swelling tide and dive my head deep beneath an approaching wave. There is sand beneath me, salt dripping in my mouth, and a sharp shell lances my foot...But this is real. This is a living, life-giving ecology.
The Kingdom of God is like a hidden, forgotten beach in the South Pacific Ocean. It is easily forgotten amidst tourist attractions, five-star hotels and infinite amenities. It waits for us to leave the comfort we create and enter a new kind of dangerous comfort – a fresh, vital, living, breathing swim through waters that stretch past the horizon.