“Following Christ is a wild adventure full of risk, frustration, excitement, and setbacks. It is not an evening stroll in a planned community along a well-manicured path.”
For the past two years I’ve been challenged to look honestly at how Christ is being formed in me. It began when my discipleship group read through the book of Matthew together. Though the stories roll off my tongue with great familiarity and even though I’ve examined the text carefully – line-by-line in seminary – this time I read as though I’d never heard the gospel message before. It was as if I were present somewhere in the back of the crowd hearing Christ speak. I could smell the fishy odor floating in the air with the sweat from the dry, arid heat rolling down my forehead. I was “hearing” Christ speak and it was radical and new.
Our purpose in reading was to examine the text story-by-story, searching for encounters where Jesus acted or spoke in ways that were contrary to people’s expectations of him. We were searching for life answers to the questions that were surfacing within us. Personally, I was grappling with God about how different my life was turning in contrast to anything I had hoped or dream. Somehow, I wanted to know how those who encountered God in Scripture had dealt with him acting and behaving in ways that were contrary to their ascribed beliefs and expectations. Who is this God? He doesn’t seem “safe,” as C.S. Lewis noted, but is he dangerous? To what extent should I trust this somewhere-between-safe-and-dangerous God?
My life, being in chaos, had made me feel that somehow God must be chaotic and unsafe. I like things being orderly and predictable. My underlying expectations of God being neat and tidy were betraying me, just as the expectations of those whom Christ encountered betrayed them. Being able to embrace the messiness, the highs and lows of the journey, is a part of the beauty of a relationship with God. He’s not interested in my paths being “well-manicured,” but rather that the path leads to a place of real heart transformation.