Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.
- Hebrews 12:2 (GNT)
Bethany and I have a dream of one day adding a small addition to the back of our house where our aging back porch is. We keep worrying that it's going to fall over if we close the door too hard right now. We have everything laid out exactly in our minds. It would be bright and quiet, with a peaceful new office space on the left (with a huge window facing my birds and the woods) and a simple mud room on the right for a less cluttered way to get in and out of the yard.
We hope the opportunity comes in the next few months/years to save, find a professional builder, explain our vision, and have them make it happen. We don't really want to give an architect freedom to do just anything. We have a clear framework and we need someone to get us there.
We humans prefer that sort of thing, don't we? Having a very specific vision for what something is supposed to look like, and then finding the right help to get it done? Unsurprisingly, this is one reason why it can be such a struggle to truly follow Jesus.
New Testament scholar Tom Wright introduced me to this imagery. He reflects on what the Jewish people of Jesus' time were expecting:
"They were looking for a builder to construct the home they thought they wanted, but he was the architect, coming with a new plan that would give them everything they needed, but within quite a new framework. They were looking for a singer to sing the song they had been humming for a long time, but he was the composer, bringing them a new song to which the old ongs they knew would form, at best, the background music. He was the king, all right, but he had come to redefine kingship itself..."
Most of us reading this are American Christians. We have become conditioned to hope that Jesus will bring us the life we want, or at the very least, the life we can envision. The problem is that our imaginations are woefully inadequate, and the kingdom of God is exceedingly larger than we expect. Plus, Jesus is always surprising religious folks!
Wright says that we are more accustomed to wanting someone to save our souls rather take charge of our whole world. I think that's true. And yet, what Jesus came to do really was shake up the whole world and everyone in it. He came to flip over its systems of power and prestige. He came to make a way for God's kingdom to flourish within each human heart and within the (often unjust) systems in which they participate. That's what it means to be free on every level.
And it starts with a true openness to let Jesus be the architect, the composer, the author, of our lives. That sounds exceedingly heady and not practical, I know. But sometimes we only gain the ability to truly see and hear when we're not even sure what we're listening or looking for. We just have to be attentive. And to trust that Jesus is truly, exceedingly, astonishingly good.
What new layer will Jesus uncover within you? What surprising opportunity to love will Jesus place in your path today? What fresh purposes and projects might Jesus be inviting you to spend the next season of your life on? Let's not assume we have it figured out. Who knows, maybe if Bethany and I talk to an architect, we'll see options out back we've never imagined before!
Let's continue to walk with openness and humility toward Jesus. He will always surprise us with transforming grace and love, and he will always equip us for unexpected callings in God's kingdom.
Jesus, keep reframing my perspectives until I am trusting and following you completely, each new day.