I love me a good metaphor (and, apparently, some good sentence-structure as well). But seriously, metaphors have this ability to touch my heart more deeply than just a story or stand-alone truth can. Maybe it’s because my skull can be a little thick and I need deep truths illustrated in the simple things in order to, well, GET them.
Clearly, Jesus understood this need for things standing for other things. Like when He said, “I am the lamb of God,” (John 1:29) or when He described us as being like “sheep without a shepherd” (Matt 9:36). Or how about all those parables He used? I think it’s because metaphor just resonates somehow, in our brains, helping us understand all the way down to our hearts.
At Catalyst this year, they gave every single attendee a copy of Margaret Feinberg’s new book Scouting the Divine. And I love it. You know why? Because it explains Biblical metaphors in their proper context, deepening my understanding. And, in turn, strengthening and deepening my faith.
For example, Feinberg visits a shepherdess, and learns what it really means for sheep to recognize their shepherd. The shepherdess explains: “Once they respond to my beckoning, I have them forever.” When I read those words, my heart just sighs with longing, with understanding, with recognizing the beckoning; and I am filled with gratitude in knowing that I am His forever.
Or when she visits her friend, a farmer, and learns more about what it means to offer our first fruits. To give to God the very things we have sweat and toiled to produce, because not only do they belong to Him, but He alone has actually made them grow (even if it feels like we did all the work).
Feinberg explains that the Word describes us as God’s vineyard, “a land and people that he loves and has gone to great lengths to plant, cultivate, and protect.” When we think of God as the master vintner, carefully pruning and growing His people, it helps us understand why, even though the pruning process can be painful, it’s always for our very best. Every cut, every trimming in our lives comes about for our greatest good. Just like the master vintner wants to produce the highest quality, most delicious wine possible; our heavenly vintner carefully prunes and grows us into the strongest vines, allowing us to produce the most delicious and choice fruit.
Speaking of metaphors, I know y’all are just DYING to hear all about my time here with my new friend Melissa (and you surely will hear more about it than you ever wanted, knowing me). But for now, let me just say this: It has been as refreshing as an ice-cold Diet Coke on a hot summer day. Or as fantastic as cheese dip, or Chick-fil-a . . .