Perhaps the most miserable place on earth is Shallowland.  This is a place into which most of us slip in and out.  Sometimes several times a day.  Others live there permanently, docking their storm-worn boats just outside the majestic Courts of the Almighty where amazing blessing flow.

For the folks living in Shallowland, they are content to merely see or guess about the wonders which remain freely available inside the gates of God’s courts.  Shallowland is as dismal as the name implies.  Vacant and hallow, morbid, desolate.  Yet, the fear of giving up the familiar holds the resident boat people of Shallowland captive.

Almost no one who lives in Shallowland actively engages in horrific acts of sin.  They satisfy themselves by merely existing in their world of prideful contentment.

Please understand the residents of Shallowland are Christians.  They are simply not deeply committed to their Savior.  Sunday morning church is the best they can muster.  And that may be interrupted by weeks,months or years of “not feeling well” or greater commitments.

When the subject comes up, Sarah tells everyone that she is a member of First Church of Shallowland.  However, she has not attended in more than ten years.  Sarah would be surprised that everyone she once knew there has also disappeared.  She doesn’t expect Pastor Whatshisname to know her; but she would be shocked that First Church took her off the roll five years ago because of inactivity.

While most of the members of The Special Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community could not be called “Saints of God.”  They desire and aim for that status.  Like green apples, they cling hard to the Source of Life because they want to grow in Christ.  Few of them desire to live in Shallowland.

I’ve learned from them that regarding growth in Christ IQ is not as important as WantTo.  While Paul emphasizes that faith cannot be bought with the price our good works, the book of James reminds us that living for Christ is hard work.  Prayer, study and commitment do not come without determined effort.

But the rewards of living in the Courts of the Almighty are worth every bit of strength we muster.  The Special Gathering members are a stark reminder of the merits of pursuing Christ.  As I look at the joy on Jack’s face and catch a glimpse of Shelley’s heart, I become more and more convinced that the Courts of the Almighty is where I want to be.

I like listening to a variety of political opinions.  Honestly, I don’t believe many of the opinions I hear from the “other side” of my political viewpoint.  Yet, at other times, I find myself not agreeing with the positions of my own party.

I have a good friend who seems to be able to anticipate all sides of almost every argument.  Most of us are not gifted in this way.  Therefore, in order to understand, I need to listen.  I find that listening to a variety of views helps me to sort through and better understand my true feelings, often based on my world view.

Stirring our thoughts takes time, patience and a bit of mental exercise.  One of the things I see within the mentally challenged community is that they often are not threatened when their thoughts are challenged.  Of course, it is because they don’t feel secure with their own thoughts.  Nevertheless, this is a refreshing attitude, since so many of us are totally fixed in the way we allow ourselves to process ideas.

Today, I looked up a website because I didn’t agree with anything a spokesperson was saying in a TV interview.  She was speaking about the special needs community within the school system.  At the website, I found several interesting videos.  I found myself taking pages of notes and looking up books that were recommended.

My son-in-law watches TV evangelists whom he disagrees with because they teach him a different perspective.  He doesn’t mind that his thoughts and ideas about Scriptural principles are challenged.  He, in fact, welcomes the interaction.

When Paul approached the religious leaders of his day, he taught them from the prophets about Jesus.  However, because their minds were fixed regarding how the Messiah would come to earth, they could not hear what the apostle was saying.

Each of us has permanent markers in our brains that cause us to accept and reject certain facts.  While listening to others opinions often reaffirms what I believe, it is vital that each of us reaches past what may be opinion in search for truth.

What are some of the things you are learning about the Lord?  Have you seen something different recently in the Scriptures that you had not seen before?