Saturday, September 13, 2008

Swim at your own risk

After watching Darfur Now the other day, while the credits scrolled up the screen, Andrew said, "I just got the strong sense that I'm supposed to die with nothing. If I've hoarded possessions, then to some extent I've failed." This is the heartbeat of our lives. Be willing to part with anything and everything if someone else needs it more. We came into this world with nothing, and we can't take anything material with us.

This concept, however, would have been foreign and a little scary to the Andrew and Sarah of 8 years ago. When we were first getting to know each other, we both gave the impression with or without words that we wanted a quiet life working, supporting a family, and living in one house for the rest of our lives. Now something's awakened in us. Something that yearns for that radical existence Jesus talked about when he said, "If you cling to your life you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it." I don't know for sure when and how it changed. But somewhere we were spoiled for the ordinary.

There's a bumper sticker or flair on Facebook that is popular among girls. It says: "Well-behaved women rarely make history." There is something in Andrew and I that wants to "misbehave," not in the sense of breaking the law, or rebelling against anyone in particular. But in a way that our lives wouldn't make sense to the play-it-safers. "Why would you purposely buy a junky car?" "Why wouldn't you buy a house, especially in this market?" "Why would you let someone live in your second bedroom when all you have is an apartment to share?" "Why would you give away more than the obligatory 10%?" "Why would you want to move closer to the city, where it's not as 'safe' as it is here?"

Andrew and I cringe at the word "safe." It's an illusion! When people say "safe" they're referring to the external comfort factor in which they've put their faith. A big car. A nice house in a nice subdivision. An alarm system. Nobody with a different skin color nearby. A strong military. A wall between the U.S. and Mexico. To Andrew and I, "safe" means essentially walking dead. This is real safety: "Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power. ... For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God." For this reason, "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going." Real safety is knowing that this empowers you to take risks, be generous, step into an abyss when you can't see the bridge, and love without strings attached, all because this life isn't all there is.

External comfort factors are not safety. They are not all bad, but they are not safety. And safety isn't all good, either. I would rather live a grand adventure and have an impact in the world than fabricate a comfortable, quiet existence where the biggest difference I make is in what color I paint the livingroom wall.

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