After a fairly lengthy hiatus, we are back online and ready to add our two-cents about learning about and living out the grace of God. Are you glad we’re back?
I wanted to start this new season of blogging with a thought or two that came out of our study on being pilgrims-aliens and strangers in this world. A couple of months ago, I was intrigued by the story of the teenaged girl, Abby Sunderland, who was attempting the solo circumnavigation of the globe. Her voyage was cut short by storms and seas that damaged her ship and put her life in eminent danger. She had to be rescued, and the firestorm of criticism began. How could parents allow such a thing? How reckless to let a mere youth, alone, out against the mighty and fickle power of the seas – the audacity! Here is her father’s response: “Sailing and life in general is dangerous. Teenagers drive cars. Does that mean teenagers shouldn’t drive a car? I think people who hold that opinion have lost their zeal for life. They’re living in a cotton-wool tunnel to make everything safe.” – Laurence Sunderland in an interview with the Associated Press.
What a powerful statement. Moreover, it is a great metaphor for our journey through this life. Everything we do in our culture seems to aim at making us safe. We are addicted to control – of the environment; of the lives of those around us, the future and even our bodily functions (How many drug ads can you fit into a 3-minute commercial spot?) Even in the church, it seems our highest goal for people is that they be “nice.”
The life we have received and the life we have been called to in Christ are not those of niceness, safety or control. It is one of pioneer danger and explorer adventure. It is a life where the mantra is “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11) That word “fervor” has the underlying meaning of straining toward some destination. Zeal is more than just a nice zest for living, a quicker step. It is “boiling over” with a purpose. Talk about pushing the envelope.
I am reminded of that scene from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, where Mr. Beaver responds to the question as to whether or not Aslan, the lion and Ruler of Narnia, is “safe”. “Of course he’s not safe!” was the reply. “But he is good!”
We do not follow a safe God. Our path is not a safe and comfortable one through this life. We are pioneers. We are pilgrims. The Scriptures call us to remember that it is “Through many hardships that we enter the kingdom.” We live Life on the edge. Here is a similar thought, from Paulo Coelho. “The ship is safest when it is in port. But that’s not what ships were made for.”
I admire that young lady. I wish her spirit toward life in general were mine. More precisely, I long for the day when I will boil over and strain toward the adventure of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.