I spent virtually every day of of my adult life pursuing a life I read about in the gospel, but essentially never realized. All the church, bible study, small group leadership, conferences, BSF, serving, and attempts to find fellowship left me feeling mostly isolated and empty. I think I actually resigned myself to believing that this was the penitent road we had to trudge due to our sin. At a time of real brokenness about 10 years ago, I read a book called "The Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard. He said that we have distilled the gospel down into a "life-long lesson in sin management" with a "get-out-of-hell-free" card at the end. How true. How sad. What a lie! Sadly, it was the gospel understanding for which I had resigned myself. Possibly our enemy's greatest victory is that most of us have made agreement with all or some of that.
The journey from that revelation led me through the writings of Foster, Eldredge, and many others. Most importantly, it brought the scriptures to light and made all the promises of that great book not only relevant but realizable. Progressively, life has never been the same.
Ironically, it wasn't that my intentionality has changed or that the gospel has somehow adapted...I needed to take a trip down the most treacherous and terrifying road a man will ever walk...into my story. The word of God, the story of our savior and us as a people, is immutable, unchanging. Every word we read of that revelation, however, is shrouded by the journey we have walked from then to now...our story.
Morpheus talks about the other world the Matrix is and says, "It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes." A false reality, a veiled and distorted representation of the truth. And so it is with us and the gospel. The masculine authority figures I have know, the trials and tragedies, all of it...from that day to this, have shaped the way I view the world. More importantly, they have shaped the way I view God.
The offer of the gospel is that the veil can be removed, that the distortions in our story can be silenced, and that we may walk in intimate and healed relationship with our Father God. Would you give up your former identity, all your possessions, and change your name, like Paul, to have that? Of course you would. It is written on your heart...what we were all created for.
Friday night, I saw a movie called "Buck". It is about a real life "horse whisperer" and really, a man who has a preternatural ability to know the mind of a horse and minister to them. Ironically, the way to get a uncontrollable horse to behave is not to "break them", but to heal them and truly set them free...to be the horse they were always created to be...to transcend the troubled and fractured story of their existence that day to this.
What Christianity mostly felt like to me was not an attempt to heal me and set me free, but to break me. It worked. Thankfully, just in the nick of time, when all hope was lost, rescue and ransom arrived. God sent a "horse whisperer" to redeem, ransom, and restore all that was shrouding the truth. Free indeed.