My alarm goes off, and I reach over to silence it. Maybe hit the snooze button a few times. I get up, and begin the trek upstairs to my boys. Sometime in the last few months I’ve noticed something new: my muscles ache and my bones crack in the early morning as I walk up those stairs. An honest reminder that no one, especially me, is getting younger.
Truthfully, it’s okay. Until I forget and drink a latte way after 5 PM and regret it at 12:35 AM as I’m staring at the ceiling. That was me, last night, scrolling through years worth of blog posts that are posted right here in this beloved, sacred space of mine. My, how God changes us when we let Him. To see His work in our own lives is like seeing beauty for the first time. It’s breathtaking.
I’ve been studying the book of Esther for the past eight weeks. As part of my study, I read through commentaries from other people, specifically people from different countries, parts of the world, races, and contexts. They weren’t reading from the mindset of a 29-year-old white, Midwestern woman. They read the Bible through a completely different lens than I did.
Somewhere between now and 16 years ago, I started to believe that differing perspectives were difficult and testing, not beneficial. It’s taken years to see it as otherwise.
The past year has been trying and conflicting for me and my world. I’ve known for some time that this moment in life and faith is meant to grow and change me into who I am meant to be. But it hurts, like the way my muscles ache and my bones crack in the morning. I’m trying to wake myself back up because I’ve been sleeping on too much for too long.
For the first time in a while, it feels like I’ve stepped into the right place. Like the tension of the world and heaven has created a tightrope, and I’ve finally gotten it. I can feel how all that surrounds me could make me fall, but my feet have memorized how to move better, more steadfast, with confidence. For a long time it felt like walking through a wall of rain and fire. But now it feels like walking with the rain and fire is what has made all of this easier.
The dimensions of Christianity are complex, but truthfully, you and I have to blame for a lot of that. For too many of us, living a life for Christ means standing with straight spines, neat appearances, measured steps, plastered smiles, and kindness that feels like dead air. We speak words that fall on deaf ears because our words are pretty dead themselves. Aren’t they? We speak with no action, we love with ulterior motives, we pray with plans already made. We’re complicating something that is not so complicated.
And my goodness, no wonder I don’t fit in with it.
I think about Jesus in the Bible and the way He behaves with people. Not only is He so self-sacrificing, but He is so aware. His back is bent to reach low. His words are like oil on rusted wheels, getting minds and hearts moving towards a Kingdom they know can be theirs. He doesn’t walk with dead words. He walks and embraces and hugs and loves like it is the simplest thing in the world.
As I was studying Esther, discovering this book over and over for eight weeks, I couldn’t get the thought out of my head: He is relevant to all of us in all of our complexities. He is applicable to all of us because He is so acutely aware of us and who we are. And He does not back away from us. It’s quite the contrary: we often back away from Him, sure He’s a liar, sure He’s a thief, sure He’s not really who He says He is. We’d rather look like those with rigid appearances and dead air than we would look like a king who serves like a slave.
Sometimes when I’m standing in worship at church, I close my eyes and pray with any fervor I can muster. Sometimes the Church looks like a bunch of sleeping buffoons, and by God, I don’t want that for them. I close my eyes and start letting the Spirit speak for me. I invite Him in, like rain and wind and fire, and ask Him to get us moving towards Him, whatever it takes. That we step out of line a little bit, get out of our minds the idea that we have to look and be and do as all others do. I pray for Him to weave among us as we stand in our spaces, afraid to move for fear of being wrong.
If there ever were a time to begin moving in the world like Jesus did, it is now. If there ever is a time to be unashamed of the gospel, it’s today. Otherwise, you’re looking at a life lived with dead words coming from your mouth hitting dead air and deaf ears.
It’s time to wake up.