As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Rom. 9:33
I spent the summer after my junior year in college in Branson, Mo. One of the many things I did that summer was bungee jumping...and I did not like it. Being hyperactive and overconfident, I was the first one in line, boldly rushing to the top of this ridiculously high launching pad of sorts. I got all harnessed in and was supposed to make the big jump when suddenly all of my reasonable instincts took over, reminding me that I had been conditioned my entire life NOT to fall off of high ledges nor think I could fly no matter what that kid in the Disney movie was able to do. I froze. I froze to the point people down below were yelling "push her!" When finally I did leave the safety of that ledge, the free fall was not freeing nor exhilarating nor adrenaline producing. It felt more like I had the wind knocked out of me or was a rag doll being tossed about by an active puppy.
While that is sort of a pathetic illustration, or an illustration of one my more pathetic moments, I think it speaks to the dissatisfaction that often follows pleasure seeking. Whenever I go to get a massage, which is at most once every other year, I look soooooo forward to it and go with hopes of the professionals mashing out all the stress and wear and tear of daily life. In fact, the hour flies by as if just a few minutes and I leave a little more relaxed but not transformed. Where in the world am I going with this? I was just thinking this morning about the fact that we can't grab for delight or happiness or freedom or lightheartedness with any degree of the success with which we can receive it. And I get to receive it through Him, as He draws me into Himself through His suffering into resurrected new life.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
When God gives freedom, it is not stolen or manufactured but the real, life-giving deal. When God gives rest it is not the same kind of escapist rest I am often prone to settle for instead. When God gives delight to His children, it is the pure, wide-eye producing, peaceful gift that only He can fashion.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Rom. 6:4
And, here is the tricky thing: while I can't go manufacturing an abundant life for myself any more than a jump with a bungee cord could guarantee a good time, He will bring me to that place of abundant life not through my courage and boldness but through joining in His death first. But here is the cool thing: life on the "other side" of those many deaths of self is awesome because what is killed off as we join in Christ's death are all my toxic affections which promised a good time even as they tied me up and sucker punched me.
Trying to be an adventure junkie for Jesus just doesn't work because it is no more about the person and work of Jesus than my bungee jumping. Aiming for "the rush" instead of the person and work of Jesus is simply another form of idolatry and self-reliant self-centeredness. But climbing up on that cross with Jesus, painfully entering into His suffering for the mortification of all the many ways I determine to be my own god, sends me up from the grave and out into new life that can never spoil, perish or fade.
This may all be too ethereal to follow, but I am experiencing a little taste of this in this season and it is just plain sweet. But not plain sweet, scrumptiously sweet. He has walked me through some of my greatest fears in this past year, painstakingly uncurled my fingers from things I would never have let go of had He not done the finger uncurling for me. And those things I was so afraid of losing now seem like the discovery that the all powerful wizard behind the curtain is really just a tiny, fearful, incapable little man. Only God knows how many more wizards of Oz have to be exposed to my heart in the years to come, but perhaps I'll be increasingly willing to have those curtains pulled back the more I realize His new life really is exhilarating, freeing, peaceful and transforming.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col. 2:6-7
1 week ago