“The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed” -HOWARD MACEY
“Safe? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” -C.S. LEWIS
The past few months, I’ve been reading and processing John Eldredge’s book called Wild at Heart. A great book that has impacted the season of life that I am currently in. Though the primary audience for this book is Christian males, I believe it speaks to everyone (male or female) and how our faith is being lived out. I’ve been personally reflecting on my own faith and what it means to live as a Christian. There’s many different ways to answer and describe that question of course. But from what I’ve experienced and seen, a few general words to describe it would be: safe, comfortable, and settled.
I think a lot of us resonate with those descriptions of our Christian lives but give two different reactions. One reaction is that we simply agree with the description because it’s true and are satisfied with the way things are. The second reaction is that we realize that it describes us so well yet we’re unsatisfied reading that description. We’re left wondering why our faith and life isn’t described as bold and fearless like the stories we read in the Bible. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we all feel like that there is something missing and yearn for something deeper in our Christian lives. I think this desire of wanting something more and deeper reveals that we have been missing out on how we were designed to live out our faith and be “wild at heart”. We have settled for safety and comfort instead and therefore, we have been missing out on our identities to impact the world (“Desire reveals design and design reveals destiny.” -JOHN ELDREDGE).
The main thing preventing us from experiencing life to the fullest and deepest is the fact that we’ve taken control of our own lives to shelter ourselves from the “danger, risk, and element of surprise” that life offers. (“This whole creation is unapologetically wild. God loves it that way. This is the world God has made-a world that requires us to live with risk. Because God wants us to live by faith…Because he loves to come through.” –JOHN ELDREDGE). What God loves about life, and all of its wildness, is the very thing we decided to step away from in order to protect ourselves. God can’t come through if we’re not doing anything that requires Him to show up. He can’t come through to save us if we’re not in the deep end.
It is fear that keeps us safe and comfortable. (“A life lived in fear is no life at all.” -JOHN ELDREDGE). We won’t risk unless we have some questions answered. We won’t step into the unknown unless we see some end results beforehand. But the whole purpose of faith is saying “yes” to an adventure that God wants to take us not knowing where it might lead, how things will go, and what will happen to us. It is being bold, fearless, and courageous for things on the heart of God knowing that Jesus is with us step by step on this journey. It’s trusting Him. To be “wild at heart” means surrendering the need for control and fear that has plagued mankind since the Garden of Eden. To be “wild at heart” means to be and live as all we were meant to be: “wild, dangerous, unfettered, and free” in our faith for the Kingdom of God.
We’re all on a journey and we’re all placed in different realms, boundaries, and callings of life. I think we have to be asking ourselves: “What does it look like to be ‘wild at heart’ in where I am at in life? What does it look like to step out of my comfort zone at work or school to allow God to come through? How can I live wild, dangerous, and free instead of settling for safety and comfort?”
I partner with few other Rutgers college students to do a weekly homeless outreach where we hand out sandwiches and pray for the people we meet in New Brunswick. Is it safe and comfortable? Not at all. We run into all different sorts of people and walk the very streets where crazy things happen. It’s totally out of my comfort zone! But why do I do it? Because I want to see people encounter His goodness as God comes through for them when faced with diseases, arthritis, sickness, and addictions. I place myself in those situations on the streets to see God heal and give freedom to people who are suffering. Another example is my friend who felt like God was telling him to talk to a gay classmate, who was sharing the hurt and hate he experienced from Christians saying he was going to hell. He took the risk to say he was sorry, as a Christian, that his classmate went through all the hurt and hate. The classmate genuinely replied back with a thank you and they shook hands. The classmate could have reacted in anyway. But my friend took the risk of not knowing how his classmate would react because he wanted to show God’s love to his classmate and possibly lead him towards healing. Recently, I got a conviction to buy donuts for every kid at Kumon (an after school learning center) where I work. Is it safe and comfortable? It’s safe but definitely not comfortable to my wallet as a college student. (Also, I sometimes dislike the kids because they can be so rude!) But I want to show love to the kids and make their time at Kumon a bit better by giving them a treat after they finish their work because going to another learning program after school must suck! Even if it seems like this might not do anything, I’m risking it because I’m trusting that God gave me that conviction to make an impact to show love to the kids with just a donut, even if it might impact only one kid.
It can be and look like anything. I think the cool thing about our God is that He can use anything for His glory. It can be big or small. It can be trying to reach out specifically to one person or a group of people. It can happen in a classroom or workplace. The important thing is that we’re trying to position ourselves in places and situations for God to come through so that others may see His goodness. We have nothing to fear because God promises that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us and He affirms us by saying we have what it takes to be bold, courageous, and adventurous.
“Why not just remain safe and comfortable? Why risk at all? Why put yourself in a position of uncertainty?” Because there is something at stake. We have to understand that we’re living for something greater than ourselves. And that is fighting for the freedom of others and saving lost souls for the Kingdom. I love the way Bill Johnson, senior pastor at Bethel Church, says it: “Jesus isn’t only coming back for a rescue mission but to return to celebrate with the people, cities, and nations that we have stewarded on our time here on this side of Heaven.” There are people’s freedom, lost souls, cities, and nations waiting to be invited to God’s kingdom and to encounter His goodness. But that can’t happen if we’re safe and comfortable.
So let’s take risks, step out of the boat into deeper waters, and pursue after the heart of God so that others may encounter His goodness. Let’s see revival happening in all different places, situations, and journeys of life we have been placed in. Let’s live and be all we were meant to be, “wild at heart”-not just for the sake of others but so that we may also encounter Him in the deeper places, experience life to the fullest, and see Him come through for us time after time again.