One of my lasting childhood memories was Sunday night family walks by the sea after church. The best times were when it was stormy and the wild dark grey waves would come crashing in, inches from where we stood. There’s something strangely beautiful about the wild unrestrained sea flexing its power in a storm.
Am I missing out on the strangely beautiful depth and richness of knowing the wild mysterious side of God?
Nowadays though, I love curling up in a soft cosy blanket, preferably with the heating whacked up high, armed with a hot chocolate. These days I like my comforts. I want the door firmly shut on what’s potentially uncomfortable or a bit dangerous. Maybe this is a metaphor that sums up my life and even how I view my faith with God. Have I settled for the comfortable, the contained tame version of God? Have I chosen faith on a leash? Am I missing out on the strangely beautiful depth and richness of knowing the wild mysterious side of God?
CS Lewis conjured up a powerful image of God in his epic Adventures In Narnia. ‘Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Yes God is good. And he is the King. But he isn’t safe.
Most of the time in our comfort craving culture we keep God on a leash, try to keep him in a box; we like the safe cosy version of God. We prefer faith on our terms, and often treat God like our divine Santa, or our genie in the bottle – who will meet all our needs and wants, give us the quick fixes. The idea of a smiling, happy, safe and tame Jesus who gives us all we want, just doesn’t exist.
Let’s accept that while God does speak in the stillness and the small voice God is equally wild, unsafe and unrestrained. He’s uncomprehend-able at times. He invites us to take risks, to tread a path that isn’t popular. Often he leads us into the place of the unknown; a place that might look bleak and barren. I’ve come to learn, like so many followers of the faith who have gone before, it’s not in a place of safety and comfort where we grow. It’s in the wild risk-taking barren experiences where my character is refined or where God teaches me deep truths that otherwise I would never know.
I’m reminded of a real hero of mine. Hea Woo is a diminutive lady from North Korea, with an amazing bundle of energy and passion for Jesus. She met powerfully with God in one of the most wild, bleak and extreme places on earth – a North Korean prison camp. Hea Woo’s faith grew in a place of pain, suffering and hostility. Nowhere was safe. Hea Woo’s trust and faith deepened. Hea Woo shared the Gospel, she showed unbelievable acts of kindness to other inmates; washing their rags, sharing her meagre rations. She was fearless and started a church (in a country where Christianity is illegal). The secret church met fleetingly, singing in whispers, by the stinking toilets. Often the stench would make Hea Woo physically sick, and yet it was the safest place – the only place – to meet and encounter God together.
Let’s choose not to avoid the wild side of God and where he might take us. Cling to the promise that faith really does grow in the wild, extreme places.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.