I desire the company of Kings.
Friday, March 31, 2006
I desire the company of Kings.
Friday, March 03, 2006
"A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places to explore. One must go without familiars in order to be open to new influences, to bold growth and dramatic change." -- Katharine Butler Hathaway
"And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins." - Jesus Christ
I went out to the Palo Duro Canyon this past Monday for some solitude and silence with God. I walked to a new place that I had never been before. It wasn't far past a place that I had been, and my inclination was to just go back to that great location. But for some reason, I kept going just a little bit past it. Around the base of the mountainous canyon wall I was traversing, I way up in the distance to the top and saw a dark cave that I really would love to get to someday and explore. It was very far away, a journey not within my time limitations for the morning.
Continuing on, I came to an interesting area...land formations and rock shapes and cavernous crevice-looking things that were new to me. They were sort of like trails, but with walls. I entered into them, feeling good about being an explorer. I was slowly going up the side of the canyon wall as I walked, and came to a spot where at my feet was a very small, dark cave. I had to get down on my stomach to poke my head in the hole which was no bigger than my waist, but it looked deep and like it "went somewhere". I wasn't about to crawl in, I didn't even have a flashlight, and couldn't see 5 feet from the cave mouth.
I found some other, bigger, better lit tunnels that I descended into and ended up having a great adventure through that just seemed to keep going and going! When I ascended the top of the tunnels, I found myself a halfway to that big, dark cave at the top! Inspired by how easy it was to get this far, I went the rest of the way, and sat in the cool, peaceful perch, with a fantastic view of the canyon, and spent some time being still and knowing God is God. Awesome.
When I descended, I went through the tunnels again, finding more, being a little more adventurous, until it got to where to continue would've meant walking in pitch black. So I ascended a difficult hole that promised the sunlight and went home.
I brought my son and daughter back that afternoon (to give my wife some space, and also to show them my new find), and I brought a flashlight this time. And guess what? The beginning of this long system of tunnels, that speedily got me to the far away place I was longing to go, was that tiny little, seemingly impassible dark cave! The unfamiliar place that I did not want to go.
Do you ever separate from the familiar? Really. I mean do you ever quite intentionally walk away from safety and towards something brand new? I don't think you do.
Obviously, I could be wrong... but for the vast majority of people reading this email, I would put money down that I am right. A fearless look at my life has shown me that unless it is by force, coercion, or accident, I rarely walk towards the unfamiliar in ways that matter. And, like you, I have some great, reasonable excuses to explain why.
Do you go on retreats with a whole group of people of a different religious belief? Do you engage in conversations with people you are not comfortable with? Do you buy and read books that directly challenge your way of thinking? Do you listen deeply to the people in another political party in order to understand, learn or (Heaven forbid) validate the parts of their way of looking at things that are (shudder) corrective for your political views?
There is a man in the locker room at the gym I work out at that absolutely must have the TV on the Stock Exchange channel for the 15 minutes he is in the locker room. He doesn't mind being seen as a total jerk by 10 other guys watching ESPN before he changes it, either. As far as I can tell, he doesn't even listen to it. He's just used to it being that way and seems to think everyone else should be that way, too.
Do you just immerse yourself in the familiar? Surround yourself with those most like you? Do the same things every day/week that protect you from having to confront anything you might hold too dear to reconsider? Go to lunch with the people who agree with you? Do other people's ideas frighten you? Why? I mean, they can be dead wrong, but why the heck would it frighten you that they are? Seriously? What triggers fear in your heart?
You should intentionally escape the familiar and venture off into the 'dark caves' of new things. I think everyone should. It is the humble thing to do. And all of your excuses for playing it "safe and comfy" in the subtle (and not so subtle) areas of your life's experiences are challenged with this one argument that suggests you should do otherwise: It is the humble thing to do. When you do, it says, "I don't know it all. I have more to learn. I'm not afraid to be corrected. I am open to others knowing something that I don't. I am secure in God's love for me. I am after the Truth, not my truth."
The reality is that most of us don't want to be bothered with what it might require to find out something new. We're getting along just fine. I can pretend I'm an honest searcher for truth if I can just believe I've found enough of it to get by.
Am I a searcher for Truth, or a fortress guarding what I already know? Am I an sponge, searching down every dark cave for Truth, or an statue, immovable and unmoldable out of fear that I might lose something if I'm wrong.
If I'm an old wineskin, then now wonder I run from new wine. New wine would make me burst.
But as I look back on life, it is only when I have fallen down (or been thrown down) and squeezed into the dark caves of uncertainty that I have found all the great Truth that has shaped and formed me.
There is probably a dark and scary cave at your feet right now that if you went into it and accepted it as an adventure of discovery rather than an intimidating threat, you would enjoy it and find yourself halfway up the mountain to the goal that you think looks too far off to attain.
Go for it.