On the Line of Discovery

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Halford Luccock writes about the necessity to be always discovering, and to never be content with what you know.
  O THE LIE OF DISCOVERYBy Halford Luccock 1916Edited by Glenn PeaseEditor Introducion.I have been reading and quoting Halford Luccock for many years, and his words have enrichedmany of my sermons. ow that his works are made available on the internet I can quote wholechapters and not just sentences and paragraphs. This is a chapter from his book Fares, Please!And Other Essays on Practical Themes. It is an excellent challenge to all of us to stay fresh andkeep on making discoveries in life, and especially in the Christian life.Among all the tributes that have been paid to Gladstone, one that comes nearest to the secret of the abounding vigor and freshness of his ninety-year span of life was the remark of John Morley : He kept himself on the line of discovery. At an age when most men twenty years his juniorwere completely occupied with the reminiscences of distant years, his heart and mind were busywith the problems of to-morrow. It is a phrase which interprets the interest and achievement of any life.The zest of life lies in its ventures. Kipling has put into classic form in his Pioneer a man wholived on the line of discovery : There's no use in going farther, it's the edge of cultivation. Sothey said and I believed it; broke my ground and sowed my crop; Built my barns and strung myfences in a little border station Hid away beneath the foothills where the trails runout and stop. But a voice as clear as conscience rang interminable changes On one everlastingwhisper, day and night-repeated Something out there, something hidden — and look behind theranges! Something lost behind the ranges — Lost and waiting for you — Oo! So he leaves the comforts of a settled farm, for hardship and privation, drawn by the insistentlure of discovery. We all begin life on the line of discovery. The world is new every morning andevery day a fresh delight. The magical storage battery of curiosity supplies endless energy toevery faculty. The greatest loss in the years that follow is not so much that they bring thephilosophic mind, as that with their more settled aspect we allow the familiar outline of our littleworld to become a twice-told tale and stop discovering. One of the characters in a story by O.Henry says of the town in which he lives, The trouble with, this place is that everybody in it dieswhen they get about twenty-one, and they don't do anything but snore and toss around in theirsleep the rest of their lives. It is a case of the tree about which one can say, It grows,'' becomingthe flag pole about which all that can be said is It grew. With unerring instinct Jesus waged continual war on self-satisfaction as the great arch enemy of growth. His parable of the full storehouse, in which the man who says to his soul that he hasgoods laid up for many years finds that in that very hour his life is gone, is one that finds dailyapplication. It is true of the teacher. When he stops learning and trusts to doling out the sameparcels of his fixed stock of knowledge, that very day his spontaneity, freshness, and contagion,his very life as a teacher, is gone, and another routine machine is added to the world^s alreadyover- stocked supply. It is the sad tragedy in the life of the preacher or other professional manwhich we call the dead line.”  Christianity was first called “the Way” before any formal name was given to the religion of Jesus.It states Christian discipleship in the right manner — in terms of motion. Rightly apprehended,being a Christian is not so much a process of anchoring one's soul in the haven of rest as it is of sailing the seas with God. It keeps men on the line of discovery.Prayer is a sure line for the discovery of God and the exploration of the hidden self. Jesus's ideaof prayer lifts it out of the realm of a bargain-counter transaction with the world's Storekeeperinto that of communion with the Father. Prayer is to religion what experiment is to science. It isthe personal verification of hypotheses and probabilities. Acting on the faith that God is, it findshim. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man is like the little Santa Maria setting outfrom the port of Spain on a great voyage of discovery. And as the evidence that it has reallydiscovered the Father it brings back the wonderful treasure of a changed life — new powersbrought to light in the hidden continent of the soul.By service we keep ourselves on fresh pathways. Men grow quickly on battlefields, said a wise French campaigner. We find ourselves through responsibility and effort. GeneralGrant, a failure in the tannery at Galena, only came to himself under the spur of Shiloh andVicksburg. By the cultivation of active sympathies life is kept out of blind alleys. It is a faithfulsaying and worthy of all acceptation that a loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.Sympathy is the rarest form of travel. What travel does for an alert mind, quickening the sense of life, replacing a threadbare set of thoughts with new interests, putting ourselves in the place of another with sympathetic concern does for the soul. When the prophet Ezekiel, depressed andmelancholy in an alien land, entered into the lives of his fellow exiles, and sat down where theysat, the somber hues of dejection and despair which had colored all his thinking gave way to thepositive shades of love and faith. We speak complacently of mellow old age, as though itwere mellow of necessity. It is just as apt to be sour. It will be sour and the heart shriveled, unlessit finds new leaseholds on freshness and unselfishness by a real stake in the lives of others. Afterall, there is only one sure line of discovery. It is itself one of the great spiritual discoveries of Jesus — He that loseth his life shall find it.
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