A man decides to go explore a forest near his home, wondering what he might find there. However, being inexperienced, he soon becomes lost. Finding no food for several days, he begins to starve. While wandering around one day, he comes across a clearing full of mushrooms. His famished body desperately wants to eat them, but he knows some are probably poisonous. Feeling helpless and unsure what to do, he suddenly remembers a survival guide he had packed in his bag, containing pictures of nearly every type of edible mushroom which grow in the wild. All of a sudden this survival guide, which he had almost forgotten about, becomes extremely valuable to him and plays a very important role in his survival.
Before the man began to starve, this guide wasn’t important to him, he had no real need for it other than just being curious. As well, until he actually found the mushrooms, the mere pictures of the mushrooms were essentially worthless, as they could give no nourishment to his starving body. But once he found the clearing of mushrooms, these same pictures allowed him to identify and eat the actual mushrooms which COULD provide nourishment, strength and life.
The New Testament scriptures (the Bible) are kind of like this survival guide. The Bible seems useless until you’re hungry (recognize your spiritual poverty). Even then, the Bible can’t nourish you itself – it’s just ink on paper, like the pictures of the mushrooms. But like the guide, what the Bible can do is help you avoid poisonous “mushrooms” (ways of belief) and recognize and find the mushrooms which can be eaten and provide (spiritual) nourishment and strength. This is why wisdom and understanding (which require diligence and revelation) are so important – if you misread the survival guide, then even though you think you’re following it, you still can end up injured, starving, or poisoned. This story also illustrates why it’s important to WALK the path of truth, and FOLLOW the spirit, because only by moving forward can you encounter new things which can give life to you and others after you.
If this man had “set up camp” somewhere instead of continuing to seek new territory, he would not have found the mushrooms and likely would have died. This is like many Christians – they “camp” around certain truths and ways of understanding, never going forward or looking for anything more. In many cases, they have done this so long that they have begun to think the pictures of the mushrooms in the guide (words and descriptions in the Bible) are the actual mushrooms (spiritual realities) themselves. They have mistaken the depiction for the reality. Because of this mistake, they starve spiritually yet don’t even realize it. But because this man refused to camp, he will now be able to update the survival guide for future travelers, helping them to find and benefit from the mushrooms in the clearing he found. Maybe someone reading this will be diligent to seek new spiritual ground in Christ and will be able to add to the survival guide and help other travelers who follow you in finding the same spiritual realities you found by your pioneering ways.