chasing mystery | chasing Jesus

We don’t follow someone because we think we have the best answer or the best adventure or because we know how to beat the antagonist in the story.

We follow someone because we believe he has something we do not.

When the disciples were called out of their busy, productive lives as fishermen and tax collectors and ordinaries, they said yes to a very mysterious man with an authoritative voice. They knew little about his mission or his history or his agenda, but they didn’t ask questions. They followed.

They chased the mystery that called them into following. They said yes before they knew all the answers about where to direct the clamoring children and how to calm a crowd. They said yes before they knew demons would flee when they spoke and before they knew entire towns would reject them as they shook the dust off their feet.

The disciples chased mystery as they chased Jesus, leaning in close for the next surprise to tumble off his lips. Each disciple knew that Jesus had access to something they did not and they must have believed that this knowledge was worth following, however crazy it seemed.

I love that they didn’t have the answers. I love that they learned as they followed and they followed with faith that the mysteries made sense.

I imagine the curious looks they gave each other when Jesus motioned for the children to come and when he held up wine to toast at the party and when he reached out to touch the leper and the blind man and the bleeding woman.

I imagine their shrugs and their puzzled stares and their visible decision to continue chasing this crazy man and the crazy mystery of his love on earth.

They didn’t have Paul’s letters or eye witness accounts or pounds of history books to corroborate oral histories.

I like that they kept saying yes, anyway.

I like that the disciples were fishermen and tax collectors and ordinary folks who kept saying yes to following the footsteps of a man who loved with the authority of heaven.

And I like that Jesus only needed their “Yes” to pull them into the mystery. Did they ever dream they would see the dead raised or demons cast out? Did they grow up hoping to someday throw a party with their Savior as a co-host?

They didn’t know the Greek and Hebrew way to decipher his movements, but they knew his movements because they were following him so closely.

I want to follow Jesus that way.

I want to say yes because I believe in what He is about and not because it makes sense. I want to get pulled into the mystery in a way that makes my eyebrows shoot into my hairline – a way that makes me ask, “Is this the right thing?”

There is mystery and magic bound up in the monotony of the everyday and there is only one person we can follow to spook it out from underneath the moldy rocks.

When mystery is spooked out from under moldy rocks it might seem like it had a better life hidden underneath. It might seem like a bad idea to lift up the rock at all. It might not be reasonable or pleasant or comfortable, but mystery is surprising in that way.

Sometimes all of our knowledge makes mystery look very undesirable and we end up missing out on that very beautiful, very unique thing that captured the spirits of those disciples.

I want to follow Jesus when He lifts up rocks that look fine where they are. I want to be next to him when he walks through closed doors and when he reaches out to touch the ugliness.

I want to follow Jesus because He is what I am not – He is the best answer, the best adventure and the best way to beat the antagonist fighting for sway on my soul.

I am a sinner, in the first person

Yesterday, I stood in a new church singing a song with all the old, redemptive swagger of a classic hymn. We rested on the chorus in repeat and I finally sang in the first person.

“I am a sinner, if it’s not one thing it’s another
caught up in words, tangled in lies
You are a Savior and you take brokenness aside
and make it beautiful, beautiful.”
(Brokenness Aside by All Sons & Daughters)

I am a sinner. 

Have you ever been challenged to make “I am …” statements? I often asked my students in Honduras to make a list of ways they could finish that sentence. We would then look through the list and talk about which of those statements were true, which were false, and which were within his/her power to change. All those conversations are nice and tidy when I’m on the counseling end, encouraging people to examine their inner being and ask God to reveal if there is any wrong thing.

As I stood there singing, “I am a sinner” in the first person, something broke. “Sinner” is not the first thing I’d like to have follow my “I am” statements. I’d like to have an impressive list before I make that admission. I always have a hard time thinking about specific ways I sin when I’m standing in church (so convenient, I know). But not yesterday. With every repeating chorus I thought of ways I’d made my heart ugly.

I am a sinner.

The pastor introduced the sermon series on generosity and we read from Luke 18 about the offerings of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 ESV)

I work with the kind of stories that would tear your heart out – parents, children, families, neighbors capable of things we try not to know about. There’s a distance that threatens to creep in to my posture when I come before the Lord. There are so many things I haven’t done and would never do.

I pictured the posture of the tax collector at the temple and his first person proclamations struck me. Both the Pharisee and the tax collector prayed for favor. The Pharisee was grateful for what he was not. The tax collector was grateful for who God was. 

The tax collector prayed with a posture that honored the Lord, recognizing how great God would have to be to save him – a sinner.

It is this kind of posture that produces a generous heart – a desperate, first person statement that begs for mercy from the One who is merciful.

I am a sinner, but You are my Savior and you take brokenness aside and make it beautiful, beautiful.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy