A little while back in the summer my wife and I went to Costa Rica for the celebration of our grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. It was a total blast. Costa Rica is such a beautiful country, and the people seemed so passionate about the progress of their country. And not just passionate but hopefull which is less than I can say for American perceptions today.
While we were there we went to this resort on top of a mountain overlooking the Central American shoreline. The shore seemed to streatch on for miles and miles and miles. Luckily I had my trusty 300mm lens with me and I took this shot of a wave breaking at what seemed to be a few miles away from us. Even at that distance you can see the size of the wave. I can only imagine how big it is when you’re starring at it square in the face. The picture below is what it looked like from my actual angle. That is one of the things I loved most about surfing and surf culture. The thrill of the hunt, and what its like to paddle into a break that possibly no one has surfed before.
The joy of finding an unsurfed break is a great metaphor for the ‘journey’ nature of biblical exegesis. You get to a point where you find yourself very used to the ‘setup’ questions exegesis raises: history, literature, theology. And you pretty much know what are going to be the important areas to pay attention to in a passage. You kind of even have an expectation of what the text will mean at the end of the labor. But every once in awhile you find yourself starring into the face of an exegetical find that is captivating. Something that you were not prepared for and something that makes all the other routine experiences of biblical exegesis rich and meaningful.
You find something of God’s character you had under appreciated or played down in the past, or you see something of yourself that you had never beheld and you relish in the moment of being able to see it through His eyes. Biblical exegesis is a journey filled with wonder, with far away exotic places, and questions and answers and agonizings that are greater than you could have imagined. Studying God’s word ought to captivate us and fill us with the kind of anticipation a surfer has as she or he sets out to find that break that no one or few have surfed before.
At times biblical exegesis demands from us that we use that 300mm technical lens of the craft just so we can begin to see the outline of a much more beautiful and majestic find. Those technical questions can feel very clunky at times but they’re necessary. Still, that’s not the point of biblical exegesis. Its not about seeing the outline, its about seeing God in His majesty face to face (coram deo in Latin). Biblical exegesis is a journey, like wave hunting in surfing culture, the question is do we have the passion and ‘faith’ to pursue it as a lifelong journey rather than a holiday excursion…