Strange objects

Published 10:26 am Thursday, August 11, 2016

While walking through a secluded hardwood timber bottom, I saw something strange — a bright yellow object on the ground about 100 yards to my left. It was January, and winter had finished its work of stripping all color from the forest, making the unidentified object impossible to overlook. It arrested my attention and piqued my curiosity. I adjusted course. Weaving through the trees, I moved closer — it was round, a ball, maybe. What is a yellow ball doing way back here? Did Hurricane Creek carry it here? Had the bright round wonder ridden the torrent after a downpour?

Garland Boyd

Garland Boyd

Like Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk, the gentle brook can rapidly surge into a raging beast crashing through the trees, inundating its surroundings. The ball was probably left behind as the gushing river became a tranquil stream again, the flood waters receding back into its normal path and personality — the Hulk having spent his rage, calming, shrinking back into normalcy. I always wondered how his pants still fit afterward, I guess little Bruce and big Bruce had the same size waist, but I digress. Whose ball had it been? Some kid is missing a yellow ball!

No, wait, not a ball — a balloon, a yellow balloon with a long silver ribbon. Well, this is a completely different scenario. This thing didn’t land deep in the woods by a flood, it rode the wind. How strange to find a balloon in the middle of nowhere.

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I imagined the ribbon slipping through a little girl’s hand as she was leaving her best friend’s birthday party — the helium lifting it skyward, and the panicking youngster snatching at it but only grabbing air. As her mother consoles her child, the balloon slowly moves up and away. I stared at the balloon and wondered how long it had stayed aloft and from whence it came.

It was peculiar to find a balloon in the deep woods. It was a bright spot in the otherwise dismal landscape; intriguing, because it was out of place. A balloon is just another balloon at a child’s birthday party, but in the wilderness, it inspired wonder.

Christians are as out of place in this world as a yellow balloon in the backwoods. Or at least, we’re supposed to be. Jesus’ people stand out. We are different, intriguing, an oddity in the world. In the Bible, Christ’s followers are called “aliens and strangers” in this world (see 1 Peter 2:11).

Jesus walked the dusty roads of Galilee and Judea as an oddity, and if the master is abnormal the students will also be abnormal. Strangeness is a powerful    resource. It affords us a significant platform on which to present the gospel message. Like a yellow balloon in the wilderness, those who follow Christ stand out in a world filled with hatred and rebellion against the Creator. God says, “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). The word holy means “set apart” — different, strange to the world.

Many well-meaning Christians, attempting to be relevant, have blended into their sinful surroundings. We must be careful not to be caught away and carried along by the swollen tide of unbelief that prevails around us. Melding into popular culture weakens our testimony. Of course, being different invites rejection and even persecution. Jesus was persecuted because he dared to be different, and so will we.

Acquiescing to godlessness has never won a heart to Christ. The more we live like the lost world, the more the lost world is deprived of a true image of Christ. Living for God in a godless world will naturally make us strange. But that strangeness, that Christlikeness, like a bright yellow object in the wilderness, shows the world something intriguingly mysterious—something impossible to overlook—something eternal.


Garland Boyd is pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church. He can be reached at 601-833-6760.