We've all heard that certain evangelical strain of pathos: "Thousands are dying without Christ every second" or "Let's finish preaching the gospel in one generation so that the end may finally come!" Yeah, as if I needed to put any more pressure on myself. I have been reading J.B. Phillips' book Your God Is Too Small for the last few days. The book was written in 1952 but aptly categorizes the many false gods or images of God that many "modern" people hold. I do not know the punchline of the book yet - the pithy ending where Phillips tells me how I might open up my view of God to be larger - but his descriptions of the small gods people serve (or avoid) have unmasked several points of small-mindedness within my own view of God.
The most poignant example for me has been Phillips description of the "God in a Hurry" conception of God. When I am being particularly hard on myself (and when am I not), I end up feeling something like a trusty little red wagon that God has piled all his hopes and dreams up in for the Kingdom. Yes, to an extent, "Christ in me the hope of glory," is the equivalent of having all of the glory, honor, and miraculous potential of God's cherished Son in my wagon, but I so easily mistake my "light load" for something heavy.
I have been in a hurry for most of my evangelical Christian experience. Eagerly I read my Bible, go to Church, do good things, and try to shine my bright light for others to see so that I may somehow graduate to the next level of spiritual maturity. I want to do miracles. I want to see people changed and freed and loved. I want to see the kingdom of this world crumble in the face of a powerful Kingdom of God restoring order to all creation. Yet I forget, as Phillips writes, the "quietness of Christ."
When Jesus was hanging in Bethany across the Jordan teaching and healing, his good friend Lazarus passed away. As God incarnate, he probably knew Lazarus was dying, but the messenger did not probably reach Jesus until Lazarus had already falled into eternal sleep. Even so, Jesus still waiting another day to depart to the other Bethany. His disciples were worried he would be killed by outraged Jews in the city of Bethany where Lazarus had lived. Anyway, Jesus finished what he was doing (purposefully) in Bethany across the Jordan before bravely returning to the home of his friend. We know how the story turns out. Jesus shows death to the door and welcomes Lazarus back to the living.
It's easy to see Jesus as some kind of Greek hero going here and there, escaping death, feeding thousands, healing hundreds (or more), and making friends with the lowly. It's easy for me to think that as a "little Christ," I should be here and there, escaping death, feeding thousands, and healing the sick, and befriending the lowliest. I have been told to do that my whole life. Now. Quickly. It's urgent. Don't stop. Don't look back.
Not surprisingly, I am no match for my conceptions of "God in a Hurry" and my visions of "Kid Christmas in a Hurry."
I want to re-aquaint myself with the purposeful kind of God who puts me where He needs me when He needs me there. I also want to believe in a God that will patiently wait for me to not only hear His voice but obey His voice instead of frantically following my own plans.
This is the theme of my time in FrXc0, CO. Slow Down. Stop being so hard on yourself. God is not in a hurry. So I should not be either.
To quote from a recent favorite song:
Why must I negotiate
Why must I think You hold my fate dangling from a string that's worn and frayed
I used to think, it was all mapped out
While I stayed the course, You rethought the route
When lost for good, I tried to sort it out alone
But now You're here
Oh what love I've found
You found me, my days rewound
I need Your love more than I need to understand
If I could I would fall backwards...
I think I'm falling backwards