The passage below, from Sacred Romance, really sums up what I’ve been feeling for a while now. There may be other ways of saying this, ways that others might interpret and understand better, but I understand this. For me, this nails it. This is the question on my heart, the source of my unrest, my searching. I don’t want to be a Sunday Christian, I want to be a Lover of God.
John Eldridge, in The Sacred Romance, 10,11, says it like this…
“It is possible to recover the lost life of our heart and with it the intimacy, beauty, and adventure of life with God. To do so we must leave what is familiar and comfortable—perhaps even parts of the religion in which we have come to trust—and take a journey. This journey first takes us on a search for the lost life of our heart, and for the voice that once called us in those secret places; those places and times when our heart was still with us. The pilgrimage of the heart leads us to remember together what it was that first engaged us in deep ways as children: “. . . anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it,” said Jesus (Mark 10:15).
Our journey will take us to explore the hidden questions of our heart, born out of the stories of our lives. It is only by leaving home and taking a pilgrimage that we will begin to see how our own stories are interwoven with the great Romance God has been telling since before the dawn of time. It is on this pilgrimage that we begin to see that each of us has a part in the cosmic love affair that was created specifically with us in mind. Last, this pilgrimage brings us to the destination, set within all of our hearts, which in some way we have known, longed for, and been haunted by since we were children.
..Our journey begins by asking questions, putting words to the movements of the heart. “What is this restlessness and emptiness I feel, sometimes long years into my Christian journey? What does the spiritual life have to do with the rest of my life? What is it that is set so deeply in my heart, experienced as a longing for adventure and romance, that simply will not leave me alone? Does it have anything to do with God? What is it that he wants from me? Has he been speaking to me through my heart all along? When did I stop listening? When did his voice first call to me?”
This morning I was reading in Luke 14 and the statement that gave me pause was Jesus statement to his disciples, “So then every one of you who does not abandon all his possessions is not able to be My disciple”.
Abandon; to walk away from, take no thought for, disregard.
In another parable, Jesus talks about the Pearl of Great price. Keith Green had a great teaching on this years ago, I think I still have the tape somewhere. He told the story something like this…
A man saw this tremendous pearl, absolutely the best, the most perfect and largest pearl he had ever seen. He decided that he must have it, so he went and met the Seller and asked him how much it would cost. The Seller simply replied “everything you have”. The man’s eyes lit up. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled $5 bill and put it down on the counter. “There, that’s all I have”, he said. The Seller smiled, and began to engage him in conversation. With anticipation, the man eagerly began to talk. The Seller asked him, So, do you have a wife and children?”. “Oh, yes”, the man answered, “my wife is so incredible, she’s the best in every way, and my children are the light of my life.” “Wonderful” said the seller. “And your parents?” Oh, yes, my parents are doing well, they are well off, and don’t need a lot of looking after. They have been just the best, I love them so much.” “Excellent”, replied the Seller. “And friends?” Yes, yes, my friends and I just recently got back from a very expensive vacation together, we all hopped into my motor home and went on a lavish trip, a big spending spree”. “Oh, so you have a lot of money, and a motor home too?” asked the Seller. “Oh, yes, I am very wealthy” replied the prospective buyer. “Good”, replied the Seller, “bring all of those to me, your wife and your children, parents too, and anything else you have, even your own self, and I will sell you this Pearl of Great price”.
I know Jesus isn’t asking us to literally abandon our loved ones, but that he is speaking of abandoning everything in comparison to our pursuit of Him, the Pearl of Great Price. Sometimes, this may mean that there is a parting of the ways, because someones heart is not prepared to follow where you are going. They may not be able to go where you must go. They may be involved in things which Jesus is calling you out of, and you may be blazing the trail, leading the way.
This whole thing is about recovering the Life of the Heart, of fanning into the flame the Life that God imparted to us by his Spirit so long ago. I am talking to myself here, but it may apply to anyone reading this as well.
These are the very questions I am asking. And along the way, down this long and winding road, I’ve “discovered” that I was once “safe”. It reminds me of The Chronicles of Narnia, where one of the children asks if Aslan is tame. The response was that no, he’s definitely not tame. But He IS good. Yes, I was “safe”. But that statement told me a lot. First, it stabbed like a knife, realizing that my passivity was what made me attractive. It said that my value was not in who I was, but in the fact that I did not challenge, I did not question, I did not confront. I was not going to mess up someones “plan”, I’d leave the decisions to someone else. But strangely, I felt joy when I heard this, because this obviously was no longer true about me. Somewhere, somehow, subtly, along the way, this has changed. Oh, I still love working in groups, and can get along with just about anyone. But I don’t hide any longer. I don’t want to lose any gentleness, but am comfortable being me.
So, my prayer lately is not that I become safe, but that I become Good.