Friday, November 2, 2012

Jared, What If My Legs Don’t Work To Get In the Tent?

On Wednesday I linked to what I consider a very helpful piece by Jared Wilson on the lame excuse of “I’m Not Much of a Reader”.  In his article he used this metaphor:

Imagine I showed you a tent across the yard. You can see a glow emanating from its zippered door. “Inside that tent,” I said, “is God himself. He has something to say to you. You just have to go inside the tent, and the God of the Universe will reveal the mystery of the ages to you.” And then imagine you were to say, “I’m not much of a walker. I prefer sitting to walking.”

One of our readers commented that the article seemed a little one sided, asking, “What if you really don't learn that way? What if the word doesn't come alive to you unless you are hearing it preached? What if you struggle with illiteracy or have a limited vocabulary?”

Those are very real struggles and I don’t think Jared is dismissing them.  The majority of Jared’s post is really dealing with “I don’t want to” more than “I can’t”.  But I think he also astutely cuts through some of the excuses that people make.  Often “I can’t” is code for “I don’t want to”. 

Extending the Metaphor

So I took a little liberty and added something to Jared’s metaphor.  Again, imagine that someone told you that “God Himself is inside that tent and will reveal the mystery of the ages to you”.  Unfortunately, though, you cannot walk.  It’s not that you prefer sitting to walking.  It’s that you legitimately cannot put one leg in front of the other and walk to that tent.  What then? 

Here is where I think Jared’s metaphor is so valuable; it helps to expose the truth behind those excuses.  If someone told you that the God of the Universe were in that tent across the street but you couldn’t walk there, I guarantee that if you really desired to get in that tent you’d use any means necessary to do it.  You would be calling up that 1-800 number on television and ordering yourself a Rascal.  You’d barrel roll if you had to.  You would even call somebody that you couldn’t stand and ask them for a ride.  You would do whatever it took to get in that tent. 

The question really is, “Do you want to get in that tent?”  You don’t have to repent because it is toil.  But repentance might be necessary if you’re using lame legs as an excuse to not get into that tent. 

Jared’s not saying that people need to be Bible scholars or even to read chapters per day.  He’s saying that if you really value the Lord you’ll do whatever it takes to get in the tent.  For some people “getting in the tent” might mean reading two verses and chewing on them all day.  For other people “getting in the tent” might be learning to master Philippians in the Greek language.  But for either person the goal isn’t to see how much of the Word you can master.  The goal is to get into the tent and have the Lord and His Word master you, no matter what it takes to get in there.  


  1. Perhaps if someone is giving you the excuse of "I'm not much of a reader" they don't even realize what they are even missing out on. Thanks for this post, very illuminating.

  2. Mike, thanks for the expansion. You are right, the walking thing is meant to be a metaphor. When I made this point about "being a reader" in the sermon from which this illustration was taken, I pointed out how we have so much technology today to help us -- from Internet to audio -- so I wasn't trying to make a literal point about reading words on a page. And yet I still think there is a reason God inspired the "word" and not "the video."

    I think it's important to get the Scriptures into every form and translatable tongue, from Swahili to braille. If one is illiterate, they can use their ears to hear the Bible spoken. My point, as you said, was not about trying to tighten up the legalistic noose around legitimately handicapped people but about metaphorically showing the disobedience inherent in our excuses not to do what God has called us to do.



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