Friday, April 22, 2011

Paddling Parables Intro

Parables are short, simple stories designed to communicate a spiritual truth or a moral lesson by using examples or making comparisons from everyday life, which offer a short, instructive story that contains an analogy. Most of us are familiar with the parables shared by Jesus as recorded in the New Testament Gospels although parables were often used throughout the Old Testament. The point of each parable is to help internalize the concept developed through the story. Jesus’ use of parables to connect spiritual applications with daily living and normal activities sets the standard for Christian leaders in the Outdoor setting.

Jordan and Lane put it this way in Cotton Patch Parables of Liberation: “Parables tell us that the discovery is so overwhelming that it shatters the routines that characterized our old way of living…Jesus is not talking about reform, but about transformation.” Ashley Denton adds in his book, Christian Outdoor Leadership: “Parables pierce through the most guarded barriers of hardened human hearts.” To be clear, we must understand that parables differ from myths in that parables keep the spiritual aspect separated from the natural world while myths combine the two in a way that makes them indistinguishable. As you might imagine then, paddling parables are stories that connect paddling activities with spiritual implications to provide opportunities for transformation on and off the water.

You can often better understand, get to know, and appreciate an artist or writer by carefully studying their works. Likewise, you can grow in our knowledge of and relationship with the Master Artist, the Creator of all, by carefully studying His works. There is no sanctuary any more conducive to growing your knowledge of God’s wonderful plan for your life than the outdoors. This understanding, given through God’s creation, provides an unending source of parables through which He clearly explains Himself. Thus, the primary reason for this collection of outdoor parables is to offer spiritual truths and devotional thoughts.

Most of the following paddling parables have been adapted from Ben Simms and his work with Outdoor Wisdom Leadership School (OWLS). He has led countless groups ranging in experience from inner city programs for youth that have never set foot in the outdoors through outdoor enthusiasts that share his faith and love for spending as much time as possible in God’s magnificent creation. Many of these parables can be used as they appear in this resource or may be adapted to fit your own specific purposes. Pray, have fun, and get creative when you work on your own parables. You may discover that developing your own parables might just be as rewarding and fun as the paddling activities themselves.

The information supplied is not comprehensive but should give you enough of an idea to get you started. Consider a brief prayer similar to this before sharing the parables, “Lord, open our ears to hear and eyes to see, so that we may clearly receive the message you have for us in what we are about to experience.” You will notice the difference as people begin to settle and prepare their hearts for a transforming experience.

Hopefully this resource gives you a place to start to build your own parables. Make it challenging and fun!

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