Isn’t it about time you forgot about what is sensible, responsible, and prudent and rediscover the passion of falling in love with life?
When I use the word life, I mean it to include falling in love with God and I’m warning you ahead of time that deciding to do this is risky and radical. But if we’re going to ditch duty and pull up anchor from the harbor of resignation, it won’t be without some kind of tradeoff.
The first time I went to the Christian Youth Ranch Summer Camp at Bibletown in Boca Raton, Florida, I was drawn into a circle of people who were passionate about life in Christ.
Early in the morning before the brutality of a South Florida July sun drove you indoors, you’d see the wide lawn peppered with teenagers, Bibles in hand, learning how to practice “quiet time.”
The day would unfold with teaching, music with a homemade tub band and guitars, skits and raucous noise and laughter. From Kangaroo Court to the final night around the bonfire as we gave testimonies and sang “Christ is All I Need” it was a world of it’s own—one none of us wanted to leave.
Invariably, toward the end of the week, one of the leaders would say something like this:
You’ve been on the mountaintop this week, but now you’re going back down into the valley.
This would be followed by lots of admonitions to maintain our quiet time, hang out with other Christians, stay connected to Youth Ranch, and witness to anything that moved. By doing these things, we could maintain the experience we had with God at camp.
Only that never seemed to work and as I result, I grew up with the belief that my Christian life was just a series of ups and downs, mountaintops and valleys, and one day—after many years—I would grow enough in my faith to be on the mountaintop more than the valley.
Is that what you thought?
Let me say that today I see that picture of the Christian life as seriously flawed. After decades on this journey, I think roller coasters are a far better model of the Christian Life. I can’t improve on Michael Yaconelli’s description from his book Dangerous Wonder, so here it is:
You say yes to Jesus, and suddenly you are strapped in and you think, I’m going to die! Then you begin the long climb of growth—Sunday school, baptism, church membership—and you think, Hey, no problem. I can follow Jesus anywhere, and then—ZOOOOOOOOM—you crash into the twists and turns of life, jerking left than right, up then down, and fifty, sixty years go by and—WHAM!—you’re dead.
My heart and God’s Word assures me this is a far better picture of what we can expect when we become wholly devoted followers of Christ.
Because a passionate life is an extravagant life. It isn’t about duty and responsibility. After all, do you really want a life that reads like an IRS 1040 tax return?
A few years ago a friend sent me the following quote by Hunter S. Thompson. If you read his bio you’ll wonder why I’d ever quote him in anything remotely Christian, but I love these words.
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!
I liked those words so much I used the quote as a tagline to my email signature for years. People thought I wrote it.
When Jesus said He came to give us LIFE, He qualified the kind of life He was talking about. “More and better than you ever dreamed of” (John 10:10). Supreme, superior, surpassing, extraordinary, more remarkable, beyond excellent. All this in the word abundant.
Yaconelli goes on to say, “If I were to have a heart attack right at this moment, I hope I would have just enough air in my lungs and just enough strength in me to utter one last sentence as I fell to the floor: “What a ride!”
On September 20, 2003, Michael Yaconelli was killed in a truck accident. He was 61 years old. There’s little doubt in my mind that the prayer he prayed five years prior was answered.
Where are you today on your ride? On the mountaintop, in the valley, or hanging on for dear life whipping around corners and pitching left and right?
Extravagant passion, dangerous wonder, risky curiosity. That’s what I choose.