Friday, February 10, 2006


Calling the Bluff

(from Long Haul Christian, on Voxtropolis)

The "Spiritual Warfare" post didn't go the way I expected it to. It actually started out in concept as a story about being bamboozled by God into walking into his open arms. Then I thought about an Email from a friend, who questioned the presence of demons in our world, which reminded me that not too long ago I also questioned that. The ideas collided, fuelled by two doughnuts and the ensuing sugar rush brought about that rather odd mix of ideas that necessitated a new category: The Soapbox.

What's really behind it is God's direction. When he brought me back to himself in the fall of 2003, I decided, all by myself, that I was going to reinvent Christianity. The old stuff didn't work. Be radical. Rather than believing all the stuff preachers put out there, I'd ask my own questions. Who would I ask? God, himself. I thought I was nuts, but I was desperate enough to try anything. When everything you've done doesn't work, it's time to be radical.

At the time the best outcome I could envision was that God would tolerate this modus operandi for a little while, and then he'd tell me to straighten myself out and start acting like a real Christian. I thought I was doing something strange, weird, on the edge. I even used to send out little messages to interested people that I called "Weird Email" because they showed examples of the odd way I approached Jesus. Every day I expected this dream to end.

When it stubbornly refused to end, I began to take steps to end it myself. For every weird step I made, God matched me and pushed. I thereby learned first-hand that God has a very deep sense of humor. I could imagine him sitting with some angels, talking about how clever I thought I was, taking the back door and then learning that either there is no back door to God, or else he'd recently repaved it.

I don't handle intimacy very well. God designed this path very well. For 7 months I was very busy working with Mosaic in Beverly Hills and just kept walking without really thinking much about what I was doing. When the Beverly Hills experiment ended I was about done with it anyway, awakening to just how far along this path I'd been led by a God who, while he can't lie, is not obligated to tell the whole story unless he's asked. The question implied things so deep that I didn't even want to get close to them, and I ran.

For about a year and a half, I alternated running, turning around, and running again. Approaching God felt like walking up to a blast furnace. Change, intimacy, knowledge, caring, all blended into a big gnarly knot I wanted nothing to do with. Yet God is faithful. As the bridge turned to tissue paper beneath me I didn't fall through. The Holy Spirit held his hand under me and I took one slow shaky step into this new world after another. There really was no choice. I remember what the pre-God days were like.

Lately I've sort of gotten used to the idea of radical intimacy with God. What started out as something half-joke and half-desperation, with a bit of devil-may-care daring--if God fries me I've not lost anything--has turned out to be something other than the lifetime gutterball I expected. I've been led down the primrose path to leaning on God's warm chest, and that's not the end of the story. I don't know what comes next.

I'm living the result of one radical experiment and uninterested in trying another. Except that I have to. All the principles of life have changed. I can't do this myself. Life by myself is intolerable. God starts at the beginning and teaches good lessons. One of these days I'm going to have to turn around and face the future instead of walking backward.

But I wonder about that, too. People talk about big dreams, and perhaps I should have one. I just don't know. Maybe God has to prepare the soil more before any kind of dream will take root. It's pretty sterile in there. I have no doubt that he will do it if that's what's needed.

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