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“You never know how far you can go until you risk going too far.”  This is a paraphrase of a quote by T. S. Eliot that was on a poster in my classroom when I taught high school English. I recognized that my high school students often were far more interested in just receiving a passing grade for my class than they were in learning what I could teach them. Their focus was on their friends and their immediate circumstances. They were more interested in graduation than in learning. They preferred easy to meaningful. They wanted to get to the end more than they wanted to learn in the present.

I understood them because I was just like them when I was in high school. I’m still like that. How often have I settled for what I can control, rather than reaching for all that was possible? How many precious moments have I wasted focusing on what was next, rather than the significance of the present? How many adventures did I miss because they were inconvenient or did not come with a guaranteed outcome? How much joy did I miss because I was too busy being proper or prepared for what I thought was next? How much delight have I missed because I was content to just go through the motions? I don’t want to get to the end of my life and be done; I want to be wowed by all that happened.

Jesus came to earth to teach us to life this life to the fullest. His purpose for us is not heaven; it is relationship, beginning now. He didn’t come just to protect us from Satan’s schemes; he came to that we could know the power of his resurrection. (Phil 3:10) He didn’t teach us to be satisfied with barely getting by; he came to give us abundance. (John 10:10) His ultimate goal was not to keep us from being miserable; he came so that our joy could be complete (John 15:11).

One of my goals for the New Year is to depend on God so much that he wows me. I don’ want to have a nodding acquaintance with God; I want him to delight my soul. My hesitant, inconsistent faith in the past has taught me that his way is better, that his plans are so much more exciting than mine, and that his love for me is more than I can ask or imagine. I don’t want to skim through 2015 and just get to the end; I want to see God and know his power and presence and joy. I want to risk my plans and expectations on the one who calls me to adventure and abundance. The stories I hope to have this time next year will have far less to do with my capabilities than with my choices to trust God with all the things I cannot control. I’ll keep you posted…

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