Pulled into the Wilderness (my story, pt. 3)

(This short series previewing my upcoming book talks about how God changed the trajectory of my life during my college years. Earlier entries are: Your “Success” – NOT God’s Plan? (my story)
800 Youth in Wild Friendship with God (my story, pt. 2)

Let’s begin with a question.

What’s the evidence of the work of God in someone’s life?

For the demoniac of Gadera, it was that he was clothed and in his right mind. For John the Baptist, it was that the heir of the high priest chose to live in the desert with honey and locusts in his scraggly beard. God’s glory can be displayed in the chaotic becoming decent as well as the polished going wild. 

For many folks at my uncle’s church, becoming a friend of God meant laying bags of dope on the altar or making backyard bonfires with old pornographic magazines and Ouija boards. It meant trading Hell’s Angels-type leather jackets for Bikers for Christ ones. 

In college, my sanctification was in the opposite direction. It was going outside the four walls of my room and looking into the full moon. It was trading my prayer closet for a prayer pasture. It meant becoming less civilized, not more. 

Erwin Raphael McManus, pastor of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, echoed this sentiment in The Barbarian Way. I devoured the book. The back cover of the book captures its overall feel.

“[T]he call to follow Christ has been repackaged to be smooth and trouble-free, filled with opportunity and promise but lacking risk, passion, and sacrifice… Jesus never made a pristine call to a proper or safe religion. Jesus beckons His followers to a path that is far from the easy road. It is a path filled with adventure, uncertainty, and unlimited possibilities…This is the barbarian way: to give your heart to the only One who can make you fully alive. To love Him with simplicity and intensity…To be consumed by the presence of a passionate and compassionate God. To go where He sends you, no matter the cost.” 

I also read Mark Batterson’s In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. It’s a weird title, true, but the small book changed my life, allowing me to apply the lesson I’d learned in tennis to my walk of faith: real success requires real risk. Here are a few quotes:

  • “Even choosing to do nothing is still making a choice.”
  • “Most God-ordained dreams die because we are not willing to do something that seems illogical”
  • “Society’s goal is to make us less foolish. From the cradle to grave the pressure is on: ‘Be normal!’ Our inner fool may be shackled and caged by a world made to suppress it, but Jesus came to free the fool.”

Such voices like these and those at the Ramp helped break me out of my mold. Entire new galaxies were opened up in my spiritual walk. The same journal which, for years had been a simple logbook of sermon points and prayers, now become a place of wonder, mystery, and imagination. I would hear and write down things from the Lord that didn’t have to tie into a neat bow of a life lesson.

Upcoming post: Children and How to Flunk a Psychology Exam.

(Featured image from Jesus Film Project.)

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