Where Did Following Jesus Take You (Or Jesus Through the Looking Glass)

the-tardis-263153_640Portals and doorways fascinate us, not because they are so engaging in themselves but entirely because they lead us somewhere.

When Alice slipped through the looking glass, she stuck around to explore Wonderland. When Lucy walked through the back wall of the wardrobe, she explored Narnia. When Dr. Who invites passengers into the Tardis, they expect a journey to somewhere fantastic. When Dorothy opened the door of her house after a hair-raising twister ride, the world literally changed from sepia to technicolor and beckoned her to follow the yellow brick road. The truth we know that emerges in the stories we tell is that doors, portals, passages, and gates should lead us to somewhere.

This holds true, as well, in daily life. As young people, we dream about our wedding day. Once we’ve found the one we love, we plan and prepare for it – often as if it’s the only event that will ever matter. The next morning we wake up inside a new adventure knowing there’s an entire marriage to explore. The wedding was simply a doorway into a deeper relationship.

The same thing happens when we’re expecting a baby. I remember reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” cover to cover. I also recall the first evening in the hospital, alone with my firstborn son, in a full-blown panic because now that he’d arrived, I had a million questions the book hadn’t covered. What I needed in that moment was a crash course in what to do once that baby emerges. Labor and delivery weren’t an end but simply doorways to a lifetime of parenthood.

Coming to Jesus is like that. Jesus is the door – the opening, portal, gate, way  (“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be the-interior-of-the-254577_640saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9) but modern humanity acts as though just through the door of faith lies a boring, empty room or a brick wall. As if coming to Jesus is the end of something, not the passageway into a promising adventure. As if entering a faith relationship is like one of those old movies where the whole focus is on finding a mate and the rest of the story is summed up with the single line “and then they lived happily ever after.” Too often, we let Hollywood convince us that the chase, the search, the pursuit, and the questions are the most interesting part of any adventure. That just isn’t true.

Is it more interesting to launch a manned rocket ship into space or to explore space? Is it more interesting to obtain and staff a sailing ship or to set sail and travel the high seas? Is it more interesting to prepare for a climbing trip, purchase the equipment, study the guidebook, and arrive at the foot of the mountain or to explore the mountain? Certainly, the preparation for these trips is engaging and interesting and so it’s right for the church to give the endeavor of seeking God its proper place – to respect those who are on the journey of finding Him.

But, we need to not stop there.

books-1141911_640The modern Body of Christ hasn’t nurtured, cultivated, or cherished this idea that entering the faith is crossing the threshold to the true adventure, which is exploring the Almighty God. We live in spiritually lean times. We live in a time of spiritual famine. A famine of God’s Word. A famine of Christian community. A famine of godly wonder.

So, that’s our challenge, isn’t it? To maintain wonder. To learn how to explore God. To learn to go deeper into the adventure with Jesus. It’s our challenge but also our longing, our desire, our hunger, our thirst, to maintain the wonder of exploring God. Isn’t that, though, a little like saying we need to keep our wonder of starry nights or sunsets or waterfalls. Why do we struggle so to maintain wonder?

Part of the answer is simple – just as ambient light obscures our view of the heavens, so do humanly devised religious practices sometimes obscure our view of God. Just as we often miss sunsets because we’re too busy, so we miss God because we’re distracted. The most amazing waterfalls require work to locate and long hikes up steep hills to view. So it is with God’s attributes – experiencing them requires work, dedication, steep climbs and we don’t all invest the effort.

What does it look like to maintain wonder of a relationship with God? What does it look like to truly engage in Christian community? And, what does it look like to minister to a world in the midst of a famine for truth? These questions are more important than the paler questions we’re busy asking. How do we get more bodies in the door? What style of worship will attract the most young families? How do we distinguish ourselves from the liberal/judgmental church down the road? Find meaty answers to the first questions and the second set will take care of themselves.

Yes, you’ve entered into a relationship with Jesus. That’s beautiful. What’s happened since then? What more do you knalice-in-wonderland-1253474_640ow about Him? About humanity in relationship with Him? About the wonders of the universe? What adventure have you known – one that happened across the planet or one that happened from your rocking chair? There are some incredible shut-in saints who have gone spelunking through the heights and depths of prayer and spiritual warfare taking adventures many travels world travelers would envy.

When Alice entered through the looking glass, she returned with stories to tell. What happened when you entered through the door to eternal life, to redemption, to the very heart of God? Or, did you sit down just inside the gate? Maybe it’s time you got up and took a long look around.

My new book, Jesus and the Beanstalk, is available for pre-order. If you’re looking for an engaging way to encourage your own spiritual growth or to have a healthy conversation in your small group about maturing in Christ, you’re going to want this book! Be sure to subscribe and receive the opening chapters and reserve your copy TODAY!

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5 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Explore Wonder. I love it. Thank you for the deep encouragement today. I needed to refocus.

  2. I love this, Lori! During times of crisis, both personal and in the world, people turn to the church. If we are faithful to show them that Jesus is the door to comfort, peace, and strength, they might stay past when difficulty fades. Christianity should not be unadventurous. It should be a door to the riches of God.

  3. Lonnie says:

    I recently ran across a Bible for $6.00. My first thought was, “Wow! I can underline, highlight, write notes — my favorite way to read — and not worry that I’m going to ruin an expensive Bible. Restored wonder? Absolutely. In probably a month’s time I’ve read three gospels, Esther, Nehemiah, Hosea, and part of Psalms and James. (Don’t ask me if house cleaning and projects are done. 😎 And no, my Bible reading holds little blame.) Thank you for today’s inspiration.

  4. Ann Knowles says:

    Just ordered all three books. I’m looking forward to some fertile study time with your guidance, Lori. You bless me with every word you write and I share with others the wisdom I gain from your words, knowing they are God-inspired.