Feb 16, 2009

Dangerous Jesus

The picture doesn't have a lot to do with the post, but I figured the post needed a picture. :) This is Bess, one of our more recent arrivals... a heart baby. And a super-sweet, cuddly little girl.

Sometimes when we hear Him calling, it’s a little scary, isn’t it? A few weeks ago, a teacher at our church talked about how if we’re being honest, sometimes deep down, we don’t really want to draw near to Him, because we’re afraid of the consequences. Even Jesus tells us to count the cost of following Him. It isn’t as if when one decides to be a Christ-follower, life suddenly becomes easy and clear and you get the Mercedes you always wanted.

To be honest, I used to live as though the main point about being a Christian was to be moral and good. Like a doctor taking his Hippocratic oath, we Christians were to “Do no harm,” and other than that, life could go on however we wished. The pictures of Jesus in our Sunday School classrooms served to drive this point home, for in them, Jesus always appeared pretty tame. He looked like a normal enough guy, certainly not like someone who would be the source of trouble and disruption.

But something about those pictures wasn’t quite accurate, because the more I try to follow him, the more I realize He isn’t normal or tame at all, really. He’s revolutionary. It reminds me of something C.S. Lewis wrote in the Chronicles of Narnia. (I’m roughly paraphrasing here, for I don’t have the books with me.) Upon seeing Aslan, the Lion, for the first time, Lucy fearfully asks Mr. Beaver, “Is he tame? Is he safe?” Mr. Beaver’s disconcerting response is, “Of course he isn’t! But he is good!”

I sort of wish some of those Sunday School classroom pictures would have portrayed Jesus turning over the money-lender’s tables instead of demurely staring off into the distance waiting for kingdom come. How he came to be associated with trivial things like not dancing, not drinking, and wearing long skirts is beyond me. Because, in the end, he is the Savior who was called a glutton and a drunkard, and as far as I can tell, he never cared much about the length of a woman’s skirt. Instead he hung out with women of questionable repute, inviting them into His Kingdom.

Instead of getting wrapped up with these trivial things that so often plague the Church, Jesus keeps calling us up… up to a higher place, but like climbing a mountain, it’s HARD to go up. The lives we might have imagined – the ones that feel comfortable, safe, predictable, and secure in our best predictions – seem farther and farther away as we go higher and higher, the way cars look like scurrying ants from airplane windows. It’s scary to go up. Whether it’s up Everest, or up in a sky-diving plane, or up to the top of a roller coaster, the higher up we go, the less control we really have. We're vulnerable up there, left wondering if we'll come crashing down. It’s the same with Christ. The higher we go up, the more control we lose as we have to trust Him for everything.

He isn’t tame. He isn’t afraid to ask us for everything. He tells us the cost will be high to follow Him. He isn’t safe.

But He is good.

I’m clinging to that more and more as I seek to trust Him more and more each day. For the longest time (really since moving here), Jacob and I have been seeking clarity. How long should we stay? How should we make this life work? What should we do? Where does He want us to live? If this is what we’re supposed to do, why is it so hard? Why do we feel so uncertain? Sometimes we wrestle with these questions to the point of mental exhaustion. As we were praying for clarity, I happened to pick up a book. In it, the author told a story of someone who met Mother Teresa for the first time when he went to volunteer with her Missionaries of Charity. This volunteer trip was his first step in trying to decide what to do next with his life. Mother Teresa asked him how she could pray for him. He asked that she pray he had clarity as he sorted through the decisions about where his life should go.

She told him no.

She said she wouldn’t pray for clarity, but would instead pray for trust, telling him that she’d never had clarity – only trust in God’s goodness.

Since reading that, I’ve realized I’ve been praying the wrong prayer. My desire for clarity has been mostly rooted in my desire for control. I want a clearly delineated plan for the future, hopefully at least 5 year’s worth. I want to ensure my safety and security, and the best way I know how to do that is to plan ahead.

But as I try to plan, He keeps calling me up. Up higher where I must trust Him more. Where my only security is Him. Where my only safety is found in His hand. It’s troubling and disconcerting, for I do want a tame and safe King. It’s natural, I think. But, as I grow in my understanding of His goodness, it is easier for me to trust Him, in spite of the fact that He is neither tame nor safe.

I’m not there yet, but I can more confidently say that come what may, He is good. Always good. Even if my circumstances suggest otherwise. Even if I can’t see Him. Even if He asks me to do something difficult or dangerous. He is always good.

I hope you are growing in the knowledge of His goodness.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh Carrie,

well said. I am walking a similar journey and can so relate to your words. So much of where I am right now in life is different from what I had pictured, planned for and imagined. Some things are very hard. I seem to have little control over most things. And yet I am trusting God for the day, for the moment. Sometimes joyfully, sometimes with a resolute spirit, and sometimes with trepidation. I constantly pray for more faith, to be able to trust when I can't see the outcome, to be faith-filled when my heart has moments of doubt. Thank you for putting so many of my heart's struggles into words.

xo
bonnie
luke's mama

Chris and Jane said...

Really good post, Carrie.

Sarah Taylor said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post, Carrie. I don't know how many times lately I've prayed specifically for "clear direction" for our future. How much better, though, is peace and faith while you just do "the next right thing"...

Ashley said...

This is exactly where I am right now. HE IS SO GOOD! You have such a gift speaking from your heart. Thank you very much!

Ashley

blessedmomof5 said...

Here are the quotes Mrs. Beaver:"if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."
"then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver..."Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
Then from the end:
""He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."
As far as goodness goes--I think that we are too frightened to understand the real goodness he has planned for us. He can't tell us in clarity because we couldn't handle what might be ahead--we aren't there yet emotionally or experiencially. I've been thinking a lot lately that we told ourselves 5 years ago that we should't adopt if we were going to care for my in-laws. We decided we wouldn't have to do that and adopted Steffi. One month later, my in-laws move to our town. It has been a very difficult jouney (see my blog) but God has been there. But we wouldn't have adopted if we'd known because we wouldn't have understood that we could do all this. And my heart leaps up at the tragedy it would have been to have lost Steffi.

Lindsay said...

Carrie,
This was incredible. I'm telling you Carrie-you need to write a book. This really was one of the most amazing things I've read in my life. It gave me such a clear, perspective on everything- that everything will not be completely clear ( :

Love you!
Linds.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carrie,

Tried to mail you but am not sure it worked, so here a post on your blog just to make sure!

We'd love to visit you tomorrow, would that be OK?

Our email: ivw1@hotmail.com

I'll try to call you tonight!

Blessings, Irene

Heather said...

I always enjoy each & every one of your posts. You have such a gift of writing. Thanks for sharing with us!

Girly Girl Mommy said...

Carrie,

You really do have a gift of expression, and I thank you for sharing. I too have so often prayed for clarity and now feel my eyes wide open to my need to be praying for my heart to be seeking to fully trust Him and walk by faith.

Blessings,
Kelly

Monica said...

Those words from C.S. Lewis have always remained burned in my brain as well, since the first time I read them...it is so true, yet so profoundly OPPOSITE of what the pervading church culture sets us up to believe...

Funny how you believe things without ever realizing that is what you believe, until you see that belief challenged as you see God afresh.

Leanne said...

oh, wow. I love this post. So eye-opening and so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your heart!

Nicole said...

This is beautiful. THANK YOU SO MUCH. I needed this tonight. I'm definetely bookmarking it!
Blessings,
-Nicole
www.bakerssweets.blogspot.com

Alisha said...

Thank you for an amazing post that has perfect timing. I have many people I will share it with.

TanyaLea said...

Carrie, the more I read, the more I love you and your message. God has blessed you with a great insight and a level of depth that most people try to avoid entering into. I have been incredibly blessed as I sat and read your blog for the past few hours...I really need to get some sleep, but I know I will be back. And oh how I hope to meet you in person one day! You have a gift to reach so many. I can see you writing books...and if you ever do, sign me up...I'll be the first to buy!

God bless you and Jacob, both!! <><
~Tanya Thom

Robin said...

Carrie - I just stumbled onto your post and have been reading back posts. I just returned from a trip to Haiti and I am struggling with some of the same things in this posting. You express things so well, whatever you do, you must write about it.

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