When my son Jake was little, a bath towel and a safety pin transformed him instantly into Batman or sometimes Spiderman, depending on who was trendy at the time. He was sure he could soar through the air, or at least jump from rooftop to rooftop. Or so he thought. Years later he told me about jumping off a ten foot roof….and falling ten feet. Reality and some pain caused him to look at the cape differently. Is that what happens to us? We jump off a roof in faith, maybe we bungee-jump with a victory shout ; then hit the ground really hard. What happened?
I admit I have looked at God in surprised shock a few times in my life. But Lord, I’m a good Christian. I’ve even taught Sunday School! I’d gone through some trials and God was there with abundant blessing. He was my Friend. But to my subconscious mind, there was a silent oath, a little understanding between us. “You would never allow…” There’s a line we draw on a cosmic bargaining table. “Yes Lord, You can have this, and this and all of that, but just don’t touch…” Is it your bank account, your health and vitality, self-image, your children?
Maybe because I’ve lost a child on that bargaining table I can look hard at the things we hold onto. Yes, my faith was rocked when I buried my son. I fell more than ten feet. I felt like I had been dropped from the sky onto the pavement. God, where are you? Most of my “faith” was a house of cards, the Robin Farnsworth Version. I had to appraise the altar I had built in my heart and the cheap idols that adorned it. My soul was crushed, laid bare and I had no choice but to wait patiently for His voice, His leading and tender mercies. We rebuilt, slowly, together.
Several years ago during one of many visits to the Yarmouth police station, a detective who I wasn’t very familiar with stopped suddenly as he was walking past me. He had that look you would have if some revelation just came to you and he said, “You don’t have anything to be afraid of!” like it was the most amazing thing to him and maybe it was; being a cop and all, there’s probably a lot to be afraid of. Then he went on, “You’ve experienced the worst, there’s nothing worse than what you’ve been through, so you have nothing to fear.” He shrugged and walked away.
I did not think I would ever try to fly again. I wasn’t afraid. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to. It was a few years before I could even pray. Now I pray different. I ask God to make sure there’s nothing stashed on a hidden altar in my heart. I’d like to say there never is but sometimes He finds stuff. Stupid, embarrassing stuff. And I hand it over. I know there are no deals, no hold-outs. It’s all or nothing if you want to fly.
In the oldest book of the Bible, Job declares, “But He knows the way that I take. When He has tried me I shall come forth as gold.”(Job 23:10).You can have faith, you can even wear it like a cape, quoting scripture and the Promises. But you’ll never know it works unless you fly, abandoning everything on earth that holds you. I want to fly again, recklessly secure in His sovereign grace. I want to come forth as pure gold. So if I soar He will be my wind. And if I crash He will be there to build it again.