My sister went to a concert the other night that featured one of my favorite bands. While she was there, I asked how the show was going, and she proceeded to take and send me videos of the show. Very small, poor-sounding videos. I watched them unmoved. After a few videos, she changed the filter on the phone camera, and you know what? The videos were still pretty terrible.
Now, I’m not complaining about a kind gesture—it was nice of her to be thinking of me and trying to connect me with the concert. But no matter her efforts or the love behind them, watching the show via cell phone was not the same as being there.
I got hit with this in my garage last night. Honestly, there was no reason for me to get hit with it: I didn’t trip over a forgotten memento or anything like that. Nope, it was all subconscious neurons firing, and it led me to this thought: What things am I doing now that I will regret?
But then I realized, almost immediately, that I was asking the wrong question. Often we live in this mode of zealous protection. It is like the Meatloaf song where he says he’ll do anything for love, “but I won’t do that.” I’m not even sure what that terrible song means, but I do know that is often how I live—with this laundry list of things I can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t do. I live my life—my marriage, my friendships, my faith—in this restrictive mode focused on safety and “best practices” like either of those things really exist.
A better question is: What am I missing out on?
And I don’t mean in a bad selfish way, like the jealous feeling I got watching the footage of a concert I should have been at. No, I mean in a good selfish way. In a way that realizes that I have received ALL things and that God lavishes His love on me. That it is for freedom that He set me free. But I don’t live in that freedom, rather I make all these little restrictions and call that faith. What a sham!
I’m constantly reminded of one of the best images I ever read from Ray Bradbury. In speaking about writing he said that we should be like a kid riding his bike down a hill. You all know this feeling, right? Being twelve and taking off—feeling as if you are going to ET toward the moon at any given moment. And then a thing happens: you realize YOU ARE GOING TOO FAST! It is terrifying knowing that a fall at this speed will yield far worse than a scraped-up knee. You want to stop. But you don’t. You don’t because it is too exhilarating. So you laugh in spite of the fear; you squeeze the handlebars tighter, and whoop at your racing plight. Bradbury calls it, “one-half terror, one-half exhilaration.”
And that is life. That is faith.
We should be striking off on adventures. We should be captivated by the wildness of God, rather than taming Him so He fits the little cages we’ve made for Him. We should love hard and dream big. We should cry. We should take walks without maps, and have nights without bedtimes. We should get lost in conversations and the woods as well. We should let our phone sit and let our imagination go. We should roadtrip and gameplay. We should stop “praying” and begin actually, you know, communicating to our Creator. We should throw ourselves before Him fully, and not just sit before Him calmly, legs folded. We should dance, and sing, and laugh, and maybe do it all without worrying away about how we are perceived by all the people around us and whether or not we are meeting their standards. Because their standards are mostly made up and mostly don’t matter. God’s standard is all that counts, and He’s met that for me in Christ! I can live! I can rejoice!
But what if I disregard all that? What if the answer to what I am missing in life is LIFE itself?
I’m not sure how that answer plays out for you. But I walked in from the garage resolved to take more bikes down ever-steepening hills.