Archive for March, 2005

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Detox and a Mystery

March 14, 2005

“It struck me just how inviting and challenging it is to live life this way. If I choose this way, it means death for me. I’m choosing the hardest way. And if I choose this way, what am I supposed to look like? What do I look like as a barbarian? I feel so brand new at following Jesus, but so old at being a Christian. I’m going through a sort of detox, so that I can begin life all over. I can’t seem to get rid of all the toxins, shedding a past life. This must be what it’s like to choose to follow Jesus for the first time. It is a heavy decision for a 23 year old to make; a much heavier decision than it was when I was 7.”

journal entry for 2.11.05

DETOX: I’ve not found a better word to describe what has been happening in my adventures during the last 11 months. It has been no less than monumental. Something is happening in me, it’s stirring. It all started when I realized that Christianity as I knew it couldn’t possibly be what Jesus was talking about. It was just another empty, ritualistic religion. One that simply put your messy life in a box and cleaned it up, and told you how things should be, but it didn’t heal your soul. It didn’t take care of the deeply broken places. Wholeness was something that just had to be looked forward to when Jesus came back or you found yourself in Heaven. That’s all fine I guess, but if wholeness can’t come to me now, while I’m living life, then life isn’t worth living. I might as well just die now. God might as well take me out, relieving me from myself and relieving himself from watching me fail. Talk about a faith crisis after 15 years of “being a Christian”. That will throw you for a loop, or into a severe depression. The latter has been my poison. Yet, God has been weaning me off of that poison, and the poison of Christianity. I am in detox and very much on the verge of sober. I’m not playing church anymore.
And I’m learning the richness of words like “salvation” and “peace”, both of whose Hebrew words indicate complete healing and wholeness, NOW. I have been living a second-rate life, because, let’s be honest, the Christian life as it was laid before me was just not nearly as exciting or adventurous as the life outside of Christianity.

In Mark 8:34-37 Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life?” This statement and these questions are loaded with mystery, but God has revealed something to me in these words of Jesus. In other places, Jesus says, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” Those who do not have ears to hear read a hard statement like this one, one that requires much wresting with, and they instantly see that in order to truly follow Jesus they must give things up. Following Jesus means that they can no longer participate in XY and Z. They must give up many things, things they enjoy, things they love. To them, Jesus wants to take and take and take, and once he has taken enough from them, they will be able to follow him on the path.

Then, there are those who have ears to hear. And what they hear is profoundly different. To them is given a mystical experience. When in the midst of reading Jesus’ words it is as if he is right up close your face, cupping it in his soft hands and looking directly into your eyes. Then he speaks, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” And when his voice hits your ears what you hear is this: “I love you so much. Do you want to go on an adventure with me?”

And what does it look like to lose our lives? And what does it look like in the end, when we lose our lives for Jesus and then end up saving them in the process? It is mystery. We do not know what life Jesus is ready to unwrap for us when we give our entire lives to him. But we can know this for certain: whatever life he has to give us is far better than the one we are currently living in. The one we choose to live in apart from total surrender to him is second-rate, mediocrity, no matter how wonderful it seems. And there is wholeness, and there is healing, and there is adventure.

These are the things I have been learning. An arduous process and a precious gift. I became a Christian when I was 7. Sixteen years later I have decided to simply follow Jesus. This is the year of my rebirth. And what a mystical thing it is, indeed, to talk to the living God.

“All the men at court are without poetry. If they see me they see my father’s fortune. I will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love, love, above all. Not the artful postures of love. But love that overthrows life. Unbitable, ungovernable, like a riot in the heart and nothing to be done come ruin or rapture. Love as there has never been in a play. I will have love.”

-Viola (Shakespeare in Love)