When I was a small boy my mother used to read to me a short story by Richard Bach entitled, Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Mom if you’re reading this i still have my copy and read it from time to time, and think of our wonderful times of imaginations and stories before ‘sleepy time’).

It was a metaphysical tale about a seagull that transcended reality to become a next level being. My parents were Scientologist, I grew up until about the age of 11 in the Church of Scientology. My childhood tales were not your typical stories, but neither was my home. As a Christian I find great intimacy in my relationships with ‘others’, its part of my story of redemption. Learning how to wander well in this world with ‘others’ so present around me is something that has never been an option for me to choose or not choose, and I would suggest that its not really an option for you. What I remember about this story was the seagull’s wonderful passion for flight; to soar and then to dive deep, deep down into the blue waters beneath.

I think much of Christian spirituality can be expressed through the metaphors of creation – journey – homecoming. When I think about the characters in the bible I relate to best its not necessarily Paul, but rather people like Abram, the father who was brought out of Ur (but Ur remained in him, a part of him, awaiting its own redemption). How can we journey in a pluralistic world, is there guidence and wisdom in scripture to meet us in our needs? How can we journey in a church so diverse, with traditions not our own; is there a place that can speak to us in scripture? I would suggest that indeed there is, and the way it is handled does not rob us of our stories, but rather redeems them and uses them for mission. That place is in Numbers. Consider Dennis T. Olson’s comments on the books message;

As has often been true throughout its history, the church struggles to discern its way forward in a cultural wilderness filled with competing temptations, conflicts over authority, and both the potential promise and problems involved in encountering the “other” in our society – people of other cultures, other faiths, and other concerns. Scripture provides an important source for the church’s discernment of its mission and work in such a time of wilderness or exile. The book of Numbers may be an especially appropriate resource for guidence through the contemporary wilderness of pluralism, competing voices, and shifting foundations in the journey of God’s people into the twenty-first century.

My challenge to you is to consider your own bed-time stories, to be confident that God has been soveriegn over all the days of your life, and to apply the mysteries, the tensions and contradictions, to the way you speak to others about your Spiritual journey. God’s call is to us, its a call ‘out’ and a call ‘toward’, but its heard ‘then’; don’t forget your ‘then’ and forfiet your ability to hear and listen to lost people’s ‘then’ as well.

Carl Ellis has recently reminded me of the power of a God that calls us from ‘then’! In his CCEF lecture Carl shared with an entire audience his very personal struggles with his bi-polar wife, what those struggles did to him, and what they taught him about the nature of Christian community and the nature of his own sin. We can never forget the ‘then’