Vicarious.

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:17

When I was a boy, I had a monthly subscription to the magazine, Sports Afield. It was an awesome magazine, full of colorful pictures of wide-eyed, antlered deer in deep woods, huge bass splashing on a line a foot above the rippled surface of a country pond, profiles of tough men telling dangerous hunting stories. I loved their daring journeys through desolate mountain passes. As I read these articles and saw these pictures, I was transformed into a great hunter/fisherman/outdoor expert. I loved it.  Among the courageous, I was one of them. This was my personal catelogue of adventure.

There was just one problem: I didn’t actually do any of it.

From reading this magazine, I could tell you the best time to fish for Crappie (as the ice is melting off the surface of the northern lakes in early spring.) I could share the best way to track a deer (stay down wind.) And, today, I could tell you the real reason for the expansion of poaching of elephants in South Africa’s Bubye Valley Conservancy is the use of cell phones by poachers.

But I have never tracked a poacher (or been one.) The closest I have been to South Africa is to brush by a rolled-up map of it for sale in Walgreens.

In those days, I was content to let others handle the preparation of the fishing trips, buy the bait, clean the guns, sit in the blinds, field-dress the deer, and somehow believe that I had done it, too.

I hadn’t.

Though I had opportunity, I chose not to pursue it. Oh, I fished from time to time. I hiked forever in the brown woods surrounding our home. But I didn’t actually do anything that I was reading and learning about.

While I thought I was a sportsman, I was merely a reader, and that’s not the same.

At all.

As Jesus was having supper with his disciples for the last time, He was wrapping up his 3-year class with them, showing and telling them what it means to be a servant and how to love people.

He, their teacher, washed the feet of all twelve of them (even the betrayer.)

And just when one might think this makes great sense for others, Jesus drops this bomb: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” 

Do them? It is not enough just to understand and mildly assent?

Too often, I can feel really, really good about myself for reading the bible and memorizing Jesus’ teaching. It is so encouraging to know the truth of God’s presence in daily life, isn’t it?

How many of us stop there? How many of us are content to let others be patient or tolerant, let others get ready to serve and love, prepare the beds for the homeless, wrap the wounds of the injured, provide supper for the hungry, stand for the weak, love their neighbors as themselves and think by watching we are participating?

Too often, that’s me.

Is it you?

Let’s become more than the transparent shadows of imagined explorers. Let’s become real heroes who put down the worn pages of the Training Guide and run splashing into rushing, crystal streams and live.

There’s fish to catch.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” James 1:22-25

SMOOTHSTONE: We walk with God as we live out His teaching daily.

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