Friday, February 8, 2019

Marco Polo

When I was a child, I once had a nightmare which sent me sleepwalking…all the way outside. That’s right, even though I had no memory of doing so, I got up in the middle of the night, put on my coat, mittens and boots (Minnesota winter, mind you), opened my front door and walked down to the barn. From there, while still in my dream state, I hollered for my mother, convinced I was completely alone, in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, my mother came outside, wondering (and yelling back) what all of the fuss was about. That finally woke me up to enthusiastically respond to her voice. At last, at long last, I was reunited with my familiar surroundings. I was no longer hopelessly lost.

Middle of nowhere. Anybody out there feel that’s where they are?

When we’re kids, we often play the game, Marco Polo. It’s basically a game of tag, with the “it” person” left to wander, without their sight, seeking the other game players. Tag, you’re it; that’s the objective. It’s often played in swimming pools. And originally, the game started from the chronicles of Mr. Marco Polo, himself:

“And I was swept down by the mighty torrent. I was snagged by a fallen tree a ways downstream. My father and uncle could not see me, as the morning fog had not yet lifted, and I could not see my hand when directly in front of my face. Then I heard a faint whistle in the wind, ‘Marco! Marco!’ I heard my father crying. I responded with the only thing I could think of, ‘Polo!’ I shouted. He then walked the bank of the river and found the tree I had been snagged on, climbing out to save me." - Marco Polo, from, “The travels of Marco Polo, Volume 1.”

So, it also was concerning my bad nightmare. I was shrieking Marco Polo for a rescue from my lost condition.

And how many of us play Marco Polo with God? I suppose that game goes all the way back to “in the beginning” kind of stuff. Genesis 3:8-9 tells us about a hide and seek game involving Adam, Eve and God. The only problem was Adam and Eve didn’t want to be found.

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called…‘Where art thou?’”

 It gets worse from there, as, in Genesis 3:10-13, a blame game replaces the hide and seek.

And, after distributing some consequences (Genesis 3:14-19), God kicks them out of Paradise (Genesis 3:23-24). Wonderful.



And we’ve heard about the lost sheep parable…

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Luke 15:4-7

 That’s a better end than the Eden eviction, I suppose. But still, when it comes to answers for our lives, what about you and I? Are we playing a game of Marco Polo with God?

Life, inevitably, causes each of us to go off course, to get lost…

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way...”

Isaiah 53:6

 Again with the sheep? Great. It’s not looking too bright for us, is it? Are we destined then to only be lost and hollering “Marco,” while getting no answer of “Polo” from God? Is it hopeless?

After all, scripture tells us we don’t know what we’re doing…

“…the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”

Jeremiah 10:23

More great news. So, are we left to fend for ourselves? No. God’s faithful enough to remind us of His guidance:

 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.”

Psalm 32:8

What if, however, our experience doesn’t show evidence of that? Maybe we need to ask ourselves, “who’s saying ‘Marco’ and who’s saying ‘Polo?’” Maybe God’s waiting on us.

 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’”

                                                             Jeremiah 31:3

Feeling drawn? If you’re searching for answers to your life, then, yes, I’d say you’re feeling drawn by God. And He’s asking you, “Marco?”

            “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’...’”

Isaiah 6:8

What’s your response?

“...Here am I; send me.’”

Isaiah 6:8

Is that it? Or is it more like “my way?” instead of ‘Polo?”

We like our own way, don’t we? But scripture lays out the whole issue when Jesus taught us to pray…

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

Matthew 6:10

Somehow, we don’t jump up and down with Marco Polo enthusiasm about that concept. We tend to often want our will done instead of God’s.


“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way...”

Isaiah 53:6

Great. Again with the sheep! How’s a sheep supposed to play Marco Polo with God in the first place?

Answer? Perhaps by letting the shepherd be the shepherd? The 23rd Psalm says it best. Check it out:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

It’s God’s response to our lost state, our stress, our confusion. Will we let the Lord be our shepherd or not?

What do you say?

Copyright © 2019 by Sheryle Cruse

Cross references:

  1. Psalm 23:1 : S Ge 48:15; S Ps 28:9; S Jn 10:11
  2. Psalm 23:1 : Ps 34:9, 10; 84:11; 107:9; Php 4:19
  3. Psalm 23:2 : Ps 36:8; 46:4; Rev 7:17
  4. Psalm 23:3 : S Ps 19:7
  5. Psalm 23:3 : Ps 25:9; 73:24; Isa 42:16
  6. Psalm 23:3 : S Ps 5:8
  7. Psalm 23:3 : Ps 25:11; 31:3; 79:9; 106:8; 109:21; 143:11
  8. Psalm 23:4 : S Job 3:5; Ps 107:14
  9. Psalm 23:4 : Ps 3:6; 27:1
  10. Psalm 23:4 : Ps 16:8; Isa 43:2
  11. Psalm 23:5 : S Job 36:16
  12. Psalm 23:5 : Ps 45:7; 92:10; Lk 7:46
  13. Psalm 23:5 : S Ps 16:5
  14. Psalm 23:6 : S Ne 9:25

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