Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Parable of the Pterodactyl

As we begin this new year, let us ponder for a moment on the Parable of the Pterodactyl. Not long ago, in a small town, much like ours, was a congregation, much like ours. This congregation diligently sought for ways to improve themselves, individually, as a congregation, and as a community. Someone in the congregation thought to plan a special meeting, where everyone could come and learn a wonderful thing. One member scheduled the gymnasium weeks in advance. Others hung posters and handed out flyers. Many made personal invitations to friends and neighbors. A few planned and prepared a delightful dessert. Everyone in the community anxiously looked forward to the upcoming meeting.

The pleasant summer day finally came, and all were excited to attend. People arrived early, not wanting to miss any of the meeting. At the appointed time, all chairs were full - and a few late comers stood patiently in the back. An aura of enthusiasm saturated the air as people of all ages eagerly awaited. After a brief introduction, the long-awaited guest speaker came forward … the little known, but unusually talented, Parley P. Pterodactyl. Like most pterodactyls, Parley had years of personal flight experience. Unlike most pterodactyls, Parley could speak English and was a very charismatic speaker. Parley calmly explained to the congregation that he was going to teach each of them to fly.

As you might expect, many of the people in the room received this statement with considerable doubt and skepticism. People cannot fly - everyone knows that. Who is this Parley creature that thinks he can come teach a bunch of humans to fly. He must be as crazy as he is unusual. While some people were nurturing their doubts and drafting their excuses, others were opening their ears and expanding their vision. Parley proceeded to patiently and precisely explain the particulars of flight. He answered questions, demonstrated techniques, and taught of the convenience and wonder of flight.

Before long, a few people cautiously decided to give it a try. A few falls, a bevy of bumps, and a bushel of bruises did not quell their desire. They were inspired to do what they had learned. Their diligence paid off and they were soon flapping their arms and flying gracefully around the room. Through Parley’s persistence and the example of others, people of all ages and abilities were flying through the air. Eventually everyone was excitedly exercising their wonderful new skill. As all meetings do, this meeting eventually came to an end. The dessert was delicious, the seats were stored, and the prayer was prayed. Everyone thanked Parley, congratulated each other, left the building … and walked home.

While this parable itself is not true, it teaches a true principle. We are all creatures of habit and we all resist change - no matter how much it may bless our lives. Think back to recent weeks when you were inspired to do something wonderful. Perhaps you were inspired to light the world through acts of kindness. Perhaps you were inspired to become more self-reliant or study more diligently or pray more sincerely. Perhaps you were inspired to be more patient with a loved one or go visit a neighbor. Whatever that inspiration was, where is it now? Did you leave that inspiration right where you received it? Let us not be like Parley’s pupils who succumbed to the heavy chains of habit. Instead, let us do as James counsels and be “doers of the word, not hearers only” (James 1:22). Let us bless our own lives (and the lives of others) by implementing our inspirations.

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