Friday, January 7, 2005

Jump first - Fear later

Currently Reading
Dangerous Wonder (with Study Guide)
By Mike Yaconelli, Michael Yaconelli
see related

Yaconelli (rest in peace) has got me thinking. As you may have noticed, I am revisiting his book Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith. Today, as I sat having my lunch in the new Subway down the street - I came across an interesting passage in Chapter Three about rules. He tells of the adventure he and his two friends had building a "rocket ship" in his back yard as a kid. He says:

"I miss that summer very much. In all the years of my childhood, I was never as alive as I was during those weeks. Every day was vivid, electric, adventurous, invigorating, and exhilarating. Every nerve was standing on tiptoe, every sense was activated, every emotion was alive! My whole being was on call, on alert.

"In the summer of 1952, in the unlikely sanctuary of refrigerator and washing machine boxes, I was given my first taste of abandon, my first experience of giving myself over unrestrainedly to an idea larger than myself. God was gifting me, preparing me for that moment when I would bump into Jesus, and he would beckon me to come, abandon all else, and follow Him." (pp. 56)

Apparently the job of adults, parents, teachers, and ministers is to choke that life, that wildness, that sense of adventure out of children, and replace it with a tameness, a domestication, of sorts. They call it a sense of responsibility, a set of rules that all nice people live by, and for good measure - a fear of not living up to that standard. This is supposedly done for the greater good of the child, and society. After all - if a child doesn't know that there are rules that surround the living of life, he or she is likely to become un-rule-ly! Yac says:

"For many of us - the fear that protected us from dying when we were young, prohibits us from living now."

This reminds me of a story from my own childhood. My best friend down the street was named Marc. Of course, it didn't matter what he was named, because everybody, even his mother, called him Pee Wee. During the summer months, and after school times, Pee Wee and I were practically inseperable. In fact, we spent so much time together that we would inevitably start to hate each other, often to the point of fisticuffs. Or at least, that's what our folks would always say. Well, for the longest time, our most favoritest thing in the world was He-Man (you were wondering when he'd enter into the story, weren't you?). Every time I had 5 bucks it went toward an action figure. One year, I recieved Snake Mountain and Castle Greyskull for the same Christmas!! It was unheard of. Soon my He-Man collection would be rivaled only by that of... well - of Pee Wee's He-Man collection. No jealousy existed, however, because bigger collections just meant bigger, better, bloodier battle sequences on somebody's bed, bedroom floor, overturned garbage can, and chest of drawers. It took forever just to transport all of my He-Man tackle over to his house, but you should have seen the floors when we put our stuff together! Would choose sides - somebody always had to be Skeletor and the bad guys. Then we would begin setting up our world. This guy was going to hang by a grappling hook over here from the drawer-handle. This guy was going to be sitting on the throne in Castle Greyskull. This guy was going to be riding Battle-Cat. This chick can fly, but mostly she just leans up against this baseball over here. No water or slime on these guys over here because I just got 'em. We spent all day negotiating positions, plotlines, and parameters for the fun. By the time we had agreed, and made all the preparations for the battle, my mom would call. Game over. Come home. Time for dinner. The streetlights are coming on. It never failed that we took so long setting up, and quibbling over the rules, that we never actually got to the adventure before it was time to leave. Some days, a squabble over some nonsense would result in me leaving early, or not coming over at all.

I see a little bit of this in myself even today. Some people will spend all their days bickering over what the proper rules and parameters are for life - and never get around to actually living. Some people will spend all their time trying to decide how things should be that they will never allow themselves to be fully present in the way things are. Some people will actually concern themselves with whether or not people should wear hats in the building, instead of what's going on in the building itself. Some people will actually concern themselves with the number of beats per minute, instead of the beauty or the pain of the emotion being expressed by the song. Some people will argue about who can and cannot receive grace, instead of remembering that they themselves didn't even qualify in the first place.

And pretty soon, it's time to go home.

What adventure have I had? Have I allowed myself to be so domesticated, and bound up by rules and conventions that I have forgotten to just live, to be (with a nod to Rob Bell) fully present? Have I allowed the adults of this world to choke the childish spirit of abandon out of me? Do I have the discernment to know when to break the rules, and the courage to do so?

The ultimate rule-breaker, invites me to abandon all for the one who will never abandon me; To live deliberately, and follow Christ recklessly, wherever that leads; And to know the difference between substituting religious rules with my rules, and substituting religious rules with HIM.

Jump first. Fear later.

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