One of my favorite passages in the New Testament is:
Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it (1 Peter 3:13-15 NLT).
I spent early years liking the part of letting people ask questions about my hope. I had it figured out. I didn't have to push my hope down someone else's throat, I just had to wait till they ask about my "hidden" hope. But, no one asked.
I had missed the part about living so that Jesus looked good; I wanted to live so I looked good (spiritually good). At the end of the day, I taught a lot about Jesus, but I never let him out of the box. I knew all about HIM. I could tell about miracles and teachings from centuries ago, but nothing from last week or the week before. He was master of the past and designer of the future, but the present was mine.
To bounce off the title of an old movie, "Honey, I had shrunk my Savior." He was no bigger than my words, or my expectations, or my human abilities and understandings. I was in dangerous territory. Thank God for second chances. (Have you heard Carlos Whittaker's song "God of Second Chances"? See below or catch a special take of it on Phil's Blog. )
When you have all the "right" answers, you'll find no one really wants to ask you anything. No one cares about your hope. Words and lectures don't display hope; living a full life, packed down, shaken together, overflowing, that sees Jesus in unlikely people, living each day looking for Jesus in others, and in yourself, living to bring out the best in others, living to put in a good word for Jesus, living to inspire second looks and serious questions — that is a life of hope. Life to the full generates questions: "Where does that come from? How do you keep going? What do you get out of that?"
Questions are asked, when we live life with abandon. Just for a moment give up all the Bible facts you learned in Sunday school and let God take you where you were meant to go — out of your box. You will experience faith-on-the-go. You will collect snapshots of your memories; you will discover the joy that really does pass understanding. You will know HIM — present tense.
Mike Erre, author of "The Jesus of Suburbia," has a friend with a story you will remember long after reading FaithNotes. Let's call the friend Randy:
Randy took his five-year-old to Disneyland for the first time. Once through the gates, there is a relatively small area where you can take pictures with costumed characters and you can hear the sounds of the Disneyland Express.
The park lies beyond this picture area, but Randy's son didn't know that. When Randy tried to take his boy away from the characters and into the park beyond, the boy howled in protest, convinced that his dad was forcing him to leave Disneyland.
The little guy had assumed that where he was standing was the extent of the park. Imagine the thrill when Randy dragged him around the corner into Disneyland itself. He had to leave what he thought was good, to get to what his dad knew was better.
Imagine the joy of knowing that you have all day to explore this place with your dad. Imagine life with God beyond what you have read.
Time to write a story or two.
Write about a time when you could see Jesus around you, a time when you were forced out of your comfort zone and into a moment of extreme trust. Tell about a nudge, a push, a new perspective, a risk. Write about a time when you thought you had reached the end, when you knew what to expect, but God forced you into another world.
Write about a person you know who needs to meet Jesus. If you were writing a storyline about how Jesus would touch this person, what would Jesus talk about, what would he do, what would he look for? Would he whisper unimaginable words of second touches and forgiveness and love? Or, would he reach out and hug and say nothing?
Be the Story.