Friday, July 10, 2015

Their prison is only in their minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.” Lewis, The Last Battle

Throughout the Gospel, we hear, “Do not be afraid.” That is what Gabriel says to Zechariah. That is what the angels say to the women at the tomb: “Do not be afraid.” And that is what the Lord says when he appears to his disciples: “Do not be afraid it is I. Do not be afraid. It is I. Fear is not of God. I am the God of love, a God who invites you to receive–to receive the gifts of joy and peace and gratitude of the poor. The invitation of Christ is the invitation to move out the house of fear and into the house of love: to move away out of that place of imprisonment into a place of freedom. “Come to me, come to my house which is the house of love,” Jesus says. Throughout the Old and the New Testament we see that invitation. “Oh, how much I desire to dwell in the house of the Lord. The Lord is my refuge, the Lord is my dwelling place, the Lord is my tent, the Lord is my safety.” Henri Nouwen, The Road to Peace

For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and adder; you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet. Psalm 91:11–13

Well, I certainly should not be afraid of anything. I can trample my way through life without a second thought.

So what is it that ties me up in knots?

And on the upfront and out there world, I imagine I seem fairly fearless. The sort that rides a loaded-down bicycle for 1200 km of winding narrow roads following haphazard yellow arrows painted on trees and stone walls. Or packs a hundred middle school students into family station wagons and camps out on a pile of dirt behind a Mexican ejido. Or leaves that front door to her home pretty much always propped open.

But somewhere along the way I decided that I didn’t measure up. Not on the outside of course. I always towered over everyone else. But on the inside. If anyone truly saw me, they would think it was inadequate. I even decided to include myself in the frowning judging world. If I ever paused and looked at myself and saw myself, I would be unhappy with who was standing there vulnerable, naked, with no distracting adornments.  

And maybe, just maybe, that love your neighbor as yourself thing is true. And if I can only look at myself with a squinched-up critical eye that is exactly how I look at my neighbor. Weighing. Measuring. Judging.

Rather than waiting out on the road, looking into the sunset settling over the horizon, pacing, looking up, even craning my neck a bit, so eager am I to welcome the wandering prodigal into my awaiting heart. Because that is how I have been welcomed, just as I am, without one plea.

And we are all wandering prodigals. Who have been welcomed with outstretched arms.

It is finished. Done.

And stepping into His tent, oddly enough, is stepping out into complete freedom. His tent is far bigger than the human mind can comprehend. And a light breeze is stirring the door flaps, whispering, “Come further up, come further in!” 

Do not be afraid. It is I.

Here is a good article by a Christianity Today blogger on crafting our own lifeboats. Me and Abraham.