The Confines of Carefulness
There is a limit to caution. Carefulness can actually confine you. We construct our carefully crafted list of rules, ideals to live by, and then wonder why we are suffocating within. Life has lost its wonder; the future no longer feels full of promise. Days drag by in monotony and adventure seems like a book we read a long time ago. Fairy tales are for children, rule making is for adults.
Three weeks ago our family made the big trek up North to see family. This time is always highly anticipated by the pixies. Promises of grandparents, cousins, swimming, and sweet treats await. The first half we spent in western PA. The pixies went boating and caught fish, tackled an amusement park, and road bikes on old trails. The second half of our trip we spent in central PA. My husband’s whole family gathered together for the first time in three years. 16 grandchildren (ages 15 to six months!), 10 aunts and uncles, and Grammy and Papa.
The pixies played non-stop from morning to night with all their cousins. Kickball and four-square were discovered for the first time. Swimming and baseball games found their way into the schedule. Fireworks lit up the sky. There was never a dull moment. Every single minute a new wonder birthed within them.
Life was full. The children were careless. There were no rules (well, almost none, ha). Caution floated off to the wind. And adventure was found. Heartbeats raced. Life exploded in color.
When there are no limits to how far you will follow, how deep you will go, we find the adventure of a childlike faith.
The Gray Twilight
Theodore Roosevelt wrote in Strenuous Life:
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
How many of us live in the gray twilight?
We allow fear to dictate our days. We miss out on all that could be waiting for us, by cowering within. The enemy of our souls wants to keep us from living life to the fullest. He wants to destroy our desires. We no longer dare mighty things. Our lives are lived in black and white, rather than color.
Some of us feel disqualified because of our past failures. But that is the lie of the world. We should take heart that both the Old and New Testament provides numerous examples of believers who made mistakes. David disobeyed God by committing adultery with Bathsheba. He tried to cover his mistake with another mistake: murder. It would seem failure was David’s middle name. However, instead he was called a man after God’s own heart.
Jacob was a liar. He tricked Esau into giving him his birthright. It would appear that this cheat had made too grave a mistake to be forgiven. Yet, Yahweh chose to give Him a new name, Israel, and from Jacob’s line would come Yahweh’s special, chosen people. “You will be my treasured possession”, the Lord said (Exodus 19:5).
What David and Jacob both had in common was a recklessness. Jacob wrestled with God, clinging to Him until Yahweh promised to bless Him. David abandoned his heart to God in radical trust, killing a bear, a lion, and even the giant Goliath. Both David and Jacob discovered the secret that there were limits to being too careful.
Reckless abandon to our Lover does not result in a life lived mistake free, but a life lived to the fullest.
Reckless abandon to Jesus takes us out of the gray twilight to the twilight of color. Broken in our mistakes, bold in our requests, brave in our wanderings. We abandon ourselves to the One Who is able.
A Life in Jeopardy
As pilgrims in this world, we are to live our lives in jeopardy. We never know where the Savior may lead us, what He may ask of us. But we are to go. Follow. We are abandoning ourselves to a Person, not to a religious list of rules and confinements. It may not make sense on paper. It may go against all we thought we knew, but we know the Who even when we don’t know the what, why, and how.
Christ bids us to live courageously and jump out of the boat. It’s dangerous. It’s risky. It’s thrilling.
When Jesus called His disciples, they had no idea what they were signing up for. They were like children in their enthusiasm to follow the leader. They dropped the illusion that they were in control and embraced allegiance to a Person.
Allegiance to Christ always transcends the illusion of thinking we are in control.
Michael Yaconelli poignantly describes these followers in his book Dangerous Wonder,
“...somehow these men knew that life with Jesus is the life they had been seeking unsuccessfully in the confines of safety and caution. They knew life’s greatest adventure was waiting just beyond the limits of carefulness.”
Maybe we need to let go and become a little reckless. Make others wonder if we have lost our minds. This Jesus, He was a dead man who walked out of the grave. It doesn’t get any more crazy than that. And maybe, somehow, we will find the wonder waiting outside the confines of carefulness.