Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Refuge of the Stuck

Okay so it's summer and I'm supposed to have more time to read and blog, but not so far. :) I was at the mall today looking, failing, to find pants for Haiti and passed the Christian bookstore and went in. I wanted to see if they had Sons of Encouragement by Francine Rivers. It is a compiling of 5 of her books The Priest, The Warrior, The Prince, The Prophet, and The Scribe. I loved her book A Lineage of Grace which is also a compiling of 5 of her books. She is an amazing fiction writer! I can't wait to read my new book!!!

Chapter 1 of Your God is Too Safe tells about this amazing place called Busia which is a border town between Kenya and Uganda. When I think of a border town I think of all the times I went to Canada when I lived in NY. There is usually a small space between the two countries and sometimes a bridge, but that is usually it, well at least in NY. This is different in Busia, it's an actual city of sorts. It is about 100 yards wide and 300 yards long but it has residents. People who actually peddle things, hawk things, and beg there.

When you live one of these two countries you have to walk, yup not drive, through Busia to the other country. There are no laws. You could be robbed, beaten, and even killed and no one would do anything about it. The guards at both country's border patrol will do nothing. You are on your own. I can't image the fear of crossing such a place. Yet there are people who live there! They choose to live there. That is what Mark is describing in the first section of this book. The borderland that some of us live in, that fearful place, that we choose to live in.

If you're thinking "no way" really think about it. How many times have you not been able to let go of the past? Hurts? Fears? Even joys? I know I have! I think we all have. As I read this book I realize how many times I have done this. I realize how much I currently am doing this.

Mark says that this place is actually safe. It is familiar, you know what to expect, what to do to survive. He says it takes endurance to live there but not much else. "Life there requires no discipline but falls into neat routines. It's domesticated lawlessness. It's chaotic, but predictable. Borderland might be dangerous, but even more, it's safe." That description sounds like a terrible place, but if you feel stuck, blah, in a rut, that is probably where you are.

In the introduction, Mark talked about becoming a Christian and jumping in enthusiastically, but they it didn't last. The fizzle happened and it just became stuff he did. That's it I guess, we keep doing it. We keep working at that job that we can barely get out of bed for: teaching that Sunday school class with the same stories year after year: being in that relationship where you give and the other person just takes; and so on and so on.Sometimes the thing we are stuck in isn't bad, like Mark said he did. He still taught the youth group and volunteered for church events, but he felt stuck. It's not about the thing we are stuck in but about our relationship with the god we created, the one who is safe.

Mark talks about how some of the most stuck people are those who know a lot about God. They may have gone to Bible colleges, seminaries, theological schools and learned all about God. They have an intellectual view of God. They talk about God a lot. But they don't know who God is and they don't talk to Him. This isn't just for Bible students. We go to church, we sing, we pray, we listen to preaching, we talk about God, we volunteer, etc. But when we step out of the church doors we go back to life as usual.

I love this part so I will just quote it. "Down in our bones, mingles with our blood, silent and potent as instinct, is a dread of God...I'm talking about something more primal: a deep down craven terror, a black hole of unknowing." Mark is talking about how we fear God. Not the fear of the Lord that is mentioned in Proverbs. We know we should want Him, but part of us wants to run from Him. We want to see God works and miracles, but we don't want Him to work us in our lives. We are like the Israelites who wanted to hear from God but they didn't want to do it themselves they wanted Moses to listen to Him and tell them about it. (Exodus 20:18-19) They knew that God is a holy God and they were unholy. We know that too. I know that too.

Jesus came and did the miracles and the people loved Him for it. They wanted to follow Him. And then He did the unpredictable, unsafe thing and said "follow me." He asked people to give up what they knew, and they went back to it instead. He said leave your job, and they headed back to fishing boats and carpentry tables. He said leave your family and they went home. He wasn't safe. They wanted to be lead to freedom, but didn't want to do what was necessary to get there. They didn't want to follow the One who would take them away from the borderland and into the holy wild.

I so understand!

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