Additional "From Further Afield" Articles


Living Metaphors
Published: 9/4/2013 8:15:09 PM


I've never been from either the city or the country, I've always been sandwiched somewhere in between. I always lived in a suburb of a big city: Denver, LA and Sacramento. I really did enjoy growing up in suburban America.  With a mom who grew up on a South Dakota farm and a dad who grew up very near LA, my brothers and I were often regaled with stories, so I don't think we ever felt like we missed out on anything.  My mom told us how she and her sisters had to collect the chicken eggs and one day when they were feeling quite unruly they had an egg fight, using straw as a second artillery option.  My dad told of all the interesting people he met delivering papers when he was just a boy. One of his delivers was to an ice-cream shop.  One day when he went to give them the paper, they told him that their freezers had just broken and he should take home as much ice cream as he could carry!  

I always loved listening to my parent's stories and imagining what it must have been like. However it was always only that; imagining.

Sometimes I think we're the same way when we read the Bible.  Jesus spoke in metaphors many times with a specific audience in mind, one that would have an instant picture in their heads because they knew exactly what He was talking about.  In today's world, sometimes we just have to imagine what it was like and then draw a conclusion from there.  Living in Hungary, away from the environment of my childhood, I've been able to see some of these metaphors in real life, and the pictures Jesus painted have become even more clear.

For example, Jesus says in Luke 10:2: "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 
I'd always understood the fact that Jesus was telling us to go and be workers and tell others the Good News of Jesus. I never understood the hardship and frustration of a plentiful harvest with too few workers until I moved to Hungary.  Although I've never harvested wheat or corn, I have helped multiple times with a grape harvest.  Around harvest time, every family needs help to get the grapes off the vines.  Villages organize their harvest dates so that everyone can help everyone else.  With enough people, the work gets done quickly.  My husband and I (and some of his relatives) filled about two truck beds full of grapes in roughly 5 hours.  With only a few people, the same work would have taken a day or more. Tragically, some fruit surely would have been left on the vines.  While we were working, the above Bible verse popped into my mind and I realized that the original audience most likely had a deep understanding of what it meant to have only a few workers and to be forced to leave part of the harvest rotting in the fields.  To take that living metaphor and apply it to people being left without knowledge of Christ makes the point even that much stronger.

The second metaphor that I've grown to understand more deeply is not a parable that Jesus said, rather, one that was said in reference to Him.  Isaiah 53:7 says, "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." 

In Hungary, people not only help each other with harvests, they also help each other in the winter to butcher animals (usually pigs) and make sausage, ham, bacon, and preserve the other cuts of meat.  Once, however, my husband was called on to help butcher a lamb.  When he came home he told me that the lamb barely made any noise when they killed it (unlike a pig, which makes quite a racket). How eerie it was for him! Lambs barely speak when they are faced with death, so too the Lamb of God refused to parley with His captors.  

As Christians, we know the Bible to be the Word of God, but what is more amazing to me is that the Bible is correct even in the places where it?s not directly speaking of faith issues, like in the above metaphors.  People really are needed to harvest and sheep really are silent at slaughter time.  It makes me marvel even more at the Word of God.

Ers vár a mi Istenünk (A mighty fortress is our God),

Contributed by Sarah Berta-Somogyi

What living metaphors have you experienced?

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