The Fine Art of Bible Spelunking
Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 11:43PM
Ralph West


My dear theologians –


In all likelihood you have noticed I refer to our Sunday mornings together as explorations. Was reminded of that late last week when my brother called ordering me to find my rattiest Levi’s, ugliest sweatshirt and best thrasher tennis shoes because he was taking me on an exploration of the underground: spelunking (pronounced spee lung king: “the exploring of caves).


Spelunking is a bona-fide, for-real sport, practiced around the world by an unusual breed of sub-surface hikers (Okay, it’s not as ‘visible’ as curling). Those in the know call them “cavers” or “potholers.”


A spelunker is happier in a thousand-foot shaft than in a fancy-schmancy restaurant. He breathes deep to fill his lungs with rich, damp, musty air. What I call claustrophobia, he calls cozy. His favorite bird is a bat. Contorting his body through an underground crevasse is pure ecstasy.


Spelunking tools for this subterranean insanity include a lighted hardhat, boots, pads and ropes. The sportsman has every appearance of an underground, bungee-jumping coalminer.


After graciously turning down my brother’s generous invitation (he is my younger brother), I started thinking that a spelunker resembles the theologians meeting in Parish Hall each week for their own Bible exploration.


It’s not difficult to see the similarity between those who explore underground passageways and those who explore Bible passages. Each has an insatiable appetite to go deeper than ever before. And both wonder why more surface dwellers don’t take the journey with them.


That’s because both the spelunker and the theologian have tasted the thrill of going deep. One searches darkened caves for nature’s beauty. The other searches God’s Word (“…a lamp to my feet and a light for [our] path”) to solve problems with eternal answers. And both discover hidden treasures found nowhere else.


A spelunker talks in code. For example, if he announces that he’s found a kitchen sink, a bathtub and a showerhead, an inexperienced civilian might assume he’s been to Home Depot. If he says he’s looking for bacon, popcorn and pudding, few would know he’s searching for rare and natural mineral formations found deep inside the earth’s crust.


Just a few Sundays ago, Pastor John reminded us that we also talk in code. “He must increase and I must decrease” is our constant prayer. “Study to show yourself approved…” is our daily assignment.


Each week our explorations have taken us deeper into God’s Word. At 11:30 we resurface to live what we’ve discovered.


What an adventuresome life we live! Like spelunkers, we have our ups and downs. At the end of a day, like a potholer after an exhilarating ‘spelunk,’ we can come home bruised and exhausted. Ah, but we know the joy of the rewards of the exploration – and we become eager to start again.


Spelunk on!


In Your Debt,


Article originally appeared on Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church | To Know Christ and Make Christ Known | (
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