Are You Living In A Spiritual Zoo?

It was a rainy day in October when a few of us got together–old friends reconnecting. We talked about our past, our present, and our future. There were some awkward pauses… but we listened to each other. We spoke of our hopes and desires for the future.  We wondered together about life and community and the intersections of our lives.  We left each other with the plan to get together again soon.  It was a really good conversation… but still I left with something nagging me… like the feeling you get when you can’t remember something but its right on the “tip of your tongue”… like there was something just outside of my conscious senses that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

Reminded…

A few days later, as I was driving home from work, I caught glimpse of a note I had written to myself a few months ago. I’d tucked it away in my car door-pocket. It was a note to re-listen to a section of an audio book.  The note read, “Re-listen to 24 of 51 in The Barbarian Way.” and I had tagged on this thought, “You are most fully alive when you are on an adventure w/God.”  Hmmm… intriguing… So, I re-listened…

Transformation, Uniqueness, and Liberation!

Tiger-in-ZooThe Chapter was titled “Mystic Warriors” in the Audio book, The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus.  It begins, “Our spiritual heritage is filled with [mystic warriors]… people who walked with God…” . . . “We are called to embrace our call as mystic warriors.”  The author’s point was that we must walk with God (yes, hear and interact and speak to God, ie., mystically) and that in doing so we must be courageous enough to (as Thoreau says) march to the beat of a different drummer… a beat given to us uniquely by God.

“We have equated the promise that we would be conformed to the image of Christ with a belief that all of us will be the same…. discipleship [has become about] uniformity rather than uniqueness.”  (He’s right! I mean, really, how many Elijahs or Davids or John the Baptists do you know?)  “[God’s] desire is not to CONFORM us but to TRANSFORM us… not to “domesticate” us but to LIBERATE us!”

No Longer Suited For A Normal Life

McManus goes on… “You are no longer suited for a “normal life, Jesus has come to live in you. To have the spirit of God dwelling within [your] heart leads to a transformation that should not, cannot be contained.  It would be like having a tiger trapped within a cage. You are not intended to be a “spiritual Zoo” where people can look at God in you from a safe distance. You are a jungle where the Spirit roams wild and free in your life. You are the recipient of a God that cannot be tamed… and of a faith that must not be tamed.” (Untamed Faith)

The Nagging Feeling Comes Back

 Ok… now that’s a lot to take in… so I paused and asked God, “What do you want me to hear from You in all of this?”  And, almost immediately this comes to mind — I have reacted out of fear. I have attempted to domesticate and harness and control the direction of the adventure God has called me into.  Wow! God was right. I knew it was true the moment I heard Him say it. That “nagging” I spoke about earlier in the week in my conversation with my friends, it was this, exactly.  In the midst of sharing my hopes and dreams I was injecting my fears and hesitations. I began to concern myself with how different we all are and how I was afraid of this or that.  Without realizing it, I was trying to domesticate our faith… trying to close the cage on this wild tiger in hopes that I could live my Christianity out at a safe distance.

It didn’t work!  God called me out.

It was then that I pulled my car into a Walgreens parking lot and wrote all this down.  I had to capture this — this moment of clarity and the challenge I was being offered. A challenge for me to let go of control… to stop trying to conform faith and people and ministry and God to fit into my box (or cage)… A challenge for me to be ME, to offer myself as I am.  And in that moment of pause… after giving myself back over to God and His plans, His adventure… I felt absolutely FREE!

And, I have to wonder… How about you?  Where are you hesitating?… Controlling?… Hiding behind seemingly perfect reasons for not releasing control?  Where are you conforming?… Living in fear… Holding back your TRUE self. 

What does God answer when you ask, “God, what do you have for me in all of this?”  
(I’d love to hear how your conversation goes. Post a comment back.)

THERE IS FREEDOM!  You are most fully alive when you are on an adventure with God.  Consider my questions and let go of anything that stands in the way of the adventure God is calling YOU into.  It is possible… and it is worth it!

In the adventure together,

Mark

(Photo credit: Tiger in Zoo – Indyzoo.com;  Bengal Tiger Running in Water The Natural World – posterrevolution.com)

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