God’s ways are so upside-down compared to our ways. This “upside-down” way was a characteristic of the ministry of Jesus as recorded throughout the gospels. He would say things like, “the first will be last and the last first”, or “turn the other cheek instead of fighting back”, or “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, pray for those who spitefully use you…”
This kind of wisdom, the Jesus kind of wisdom, is so contrary to the wisdom of this world which seeks at all costs to get ahead, to profit, to fight, to seek pleasure, and to stockpile and horde.
I find that the more I follow Jesus, the more I have to face ways of thinking that are rooted in our world rather than his realm. One of the hardest things to face is my fear. It’s kind of ironic that I was reminded of the confrontation with fear several times on my vacation with my family last week.
To start off, just before my family went on vacation a week ago I spoke at my church’s weekend services and shared a few things from my personal struggle with internet pornography which I didn’t particularly care to share with a crowd that not only included men, but wives, and grandmothers as well (those wishing to hear the message can go to www.vcfk.com and listen to the MP3 titled “Set Up to be Set Free”). It may be the fear I had to confront in sharing my personal struggles that set the tone for the week, but for whatever reason confronting fear became the theme of our vacation.
Our whole vacation last week was filled with opportunities for my family to face fear in order to enjoy life whether it was my little boy’s fears of going down a water slide or my daughter facing the fear of swimming more than 10 feet in a lake or my wife jumping off of a cliff into the water. As a father I really enjoyed getting to walk my children through their fears so that they could more fully live and engage life. In the process I realized that my experience with my children was not too unlike what my heavenly father has done with me throughout my Christian walk.
Years ago I was in Indonesia on the island of Bali. One day the family that I was staying with offered to take me bungee jumping. I had always wanted to bungee jump but up to that point had never had the opportunity so I was really excited. There I stood up on top of the platform many stories above a swimming pool with the wind blowing my hair and butterflies in my gut. Though the personnel of the facility were very diligent in get me hooked up in the gear the right way and making sure they had just the right amount of chord, no amount of respect for their safety guidelines could relax me. It’s as if my physical body thought I was about to commit suicide and was revolting. Well after a few minutes, which seemed like an eternity, I jumped off. Immediately I was flooded with an intoxicating head-rush of adrenaline as I was dunked into the pool below only to be catapulted back into the sky and back again until the bungee cables returned to their original state. As soon as I realized I was alive and in one piece I let out the half-crazed shout of a madman. My fears had turned to exhilaration and joy. Instead of dying I felt more alive than ever.
There was a time years ago when I found myself in the midst of a struggle with internet porn. I really wanted God to help me deal with the stuff in a way that would be just me and God. I prayed alone to God for deliverance from this sin and I even read books on the subject privately hoping that I could find some formula for freedom. Whenever I would get someone to pray for me I’d be careful not to clue him in to what I was really struggling with. However I found that the sins that had taken root in my isolation could only be dealt with in the company of others, in community, in relationships with my fellow brothers in Christ. But confessing my sins to anyone felt like I was killing myself.
“If I let them know what I’m struggling with then they will reject me.”
“I’ll be ostracized from the church, I’ll be ridiculed, and belittled. “
What made it worse was the realization that coming clean meant that I not only had to admit my secret sin but that I wasn’t quite the Christian I pretended to be.
So when I opened my mouth to confess my sin it was like bungee jumping for the first time – butterflies in my stomach, a cold sweat, an anxious rapidly beating heart.
However I didn’t die.
I wasn’t ostracized.
I wasn’t even rejected the slightest bit from any of the ones I opened up to.
On the contrary I was loved, accepted, and even ministered to not as some unclean leper but as a brother, as a friend. In fact I found that there were others around me going through the same thing who were scared to death to get it out in the open.
So when I’m at a lake and I’m calling to my daughter to face her fears and jump to me I feel a little bit of the pleasure my heavenly father must have when I face my fears and jump into his arms. When I jump I find that I become more of the person he made me to be and less of that imposter I used to be. I become more fully alive, more real, more loving, more courageous, more of a man, more of a father, and more compassionate on those who struggle with the same things.