I like that I can’t put Jesus in a box. I like that he does the unexpected and the weird. I like that he’d rather have some crazy lady crying and wiping his feet with her hair than have a normal foot washing. I like that he is unconventional and doing things that make me say, “Is he allowed to do that?” But then I remember he is Jesus, so he must be. I like that C.S. Lewis writes about Jesus being wild, not like a tame lion in the character of Aslan. I like that he gives babies to old people, who by all rights should never have gotten pregnant. I like that he does the impossible and the miraculous.
I like it until he does something that doesn’t make sense to me. Or something that feels terrifying. Or asks me to do something that makes me want to run away and hide. Or until it is ME stepping out of the boat to walk to him on the water, not just cheering on someone else to do the brave act of faith. Then, my heart flip flops and I feel so afraid. The pit in my stomach grows and I wonder what on earth Jesus is doing. I wonder if I have an ounce of courage left to follow him into the pain of this next assignment. My enjoyment of Jesus’ wild side starts to turn to fear as I look at how hard things have become or what it might cost me.
It turns out I’m not the only one who thinks about throwing in the towel or who is afraid of what the Lord asks of us. Rachel Wojo writes about her failed marriage. She married a Christian man, one who had aspirations of becoming a pastor. She did all the “right” things, with regular church attendance and showing up for everything she was “supposed to.” But in the end, she still ended up as a single, divorced mom.
Rachel tells about the painful, heartbreaking discovery of her sweet daughter’s diagnosis of a disability. She is honest and forthright about caring for a child with special needs. My heart ached to read the details of her daughter losing abilities and skills she once had, including her speech, and I along with Rachel had to echo, “This feels too hard. Too awful. Too much.”
In her book, “One More Step” Rachel shares openly about what it feels like to want to give up. We like that Jesus does crazy things, until he does things that we don’t understand or hurt beyond words can say. Rachel shares about how the Lord asked her over and over again to trust him, to believe what is true about his character even when everything seems crazy. “When things seem out of control, God is always in control.” (42) We don’t need to be afraid when things feel wild and when God is doing things that don’t make sense. “Redemption is God transforming crazy circumstances into beautiful blessings.” (45) Rachel shares over and over again about the difficulties in her own life: death, divorce, disability. In the midst of the pain of these, she claims the truth that God is a good father. He can be trusted. Even when she feels afraid, she clings to the truth of Scripture, the truth of who Jesus is.
I think one of my favorite parts was when Rachel shared a story of treating herself to a root beer out of a vending machine, only to discover a startled bird came out instead! She could hardly believe what her quarters had produced! She uses this analogy as she shares about a prayer she prayed in response to the Lord asking her to trust him. In a season where she felt totally inadequate, stuck at home with her kids, and very introverted, the Lord asked her to show up and trust him to use her. She said yes, telling the Lord she was willing.
“Okay, I’ll do whatever you want. You can have all of me–the cracks, the pieces, the fragments. The divorce, my mom’s death, my daughter’s terminal illness, the negative emotions, and the blessings of today. I give it all to you. Even the leftovers. But if you want me to tell others about you, then you’re going to have to bring the people to me. You’re going to have to tell me what to say. And you’re going to have to show me what to do…
But one particular day, I noticed an extra busyness centered at the front door of my home. The UPS man. Neighborhood children. Piano students and their parents. Twenty seven people visited our house that day.
And toward the end of the day God whispered, I brought them to you…
He beckons you too. The assignment? I don’t know the details, but it’s something you may not necessarily have wanted. A role that wasn’t part of your childhood dreams. A task that you don’t want to do. An assignment for which you have been chosen and now the Lord is whispering to your heart to sign the dotted line. He affirms your heart with words similar to these: I know you wanted a root beer. But I have something so much better than that. (159-160)
Rachel quotes Elisabeth Eliot saying, “We never know what God has up His sleeve. You never know what might happen; you only know what you have to do now.” (158)
How different it feels to look at my life with anticipation rather than dread. When I am trusting the Lord with my life, I can believe that good will come out of the horrible. When I believe that he is good, I don’t have to be afraid when crazy things happen that don’t make sense. I can expectantly ask what my assignment is and ask for the help to accept both root beer I want and the bird I’m still not quite sure about.
As Christmas approaches this week, I don’t want to miss the crazy, wild God who offers restoration to the broken bits of my life in the flurry of activity and the familiarity of the Biblical narrative of Jesus’ coming. I don’t want to miss that this isn’t just a story of a baby being born or miracles that happened way back when. This is the story of who God is. He is the one who comes into our mess. He is the one who does the impossible and crazy. He is the one who loves us and invites us into an adventure of redemption.
We don’t have to be afraid. Our life may be more painful than we imagined and more frightening than we can handle. The story doesn’t end here. We can trust him, whether we get birds or root beer. We can’t put the Lord in a box, but we can trust who he is. The Lord isn’t done doing unexpected, wild, crazy, loving things for those he loves.
“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
*I recommend Rachel Wojo’s book. It is an honest, vulnerable call to trust in the Lord when circumstances are painful and overwhelming. Blogging for Books has provided me with a complimentary copy of “One More Step,” in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255