“I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure. Abundant life, rich and satisfying…” – (John 10:10 – hybrid translations)
This past weekend, standing in line for a bowl of chili, I read a sign on the wall that did a great job of summarizing my whole “Live like you mean it” ethos.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, “WOW WHAT A RIDE!”
The quote was unattributed, but I will credit Camp Nuhop (Ohio) for burning the words on a piece of wood and nailing it to the wall.
Really, thinking about it, this is exactly what I’m talking about when it comes to the fully engaged Christian life. Following Jesus is all about getting dirty, coming home with rumpled clothes, tousled hair, dirt under the fingernails, giving everything because we are loved so creatively and completely.
I have this great story about Mikey, a six-year-old autistic child on the more profound end of the disability spectrum. Mikey was a student in the program I ran in Pensacola, and he made life interesting on a daily basis.
But Mikey’s mother was not happy, she wrote a letter to my principal, complaining that her son always came home dirty and generally rumpled, sometimes with a grazed elbow or a skinned knee. His clothes would be dirty too; and – once in a while – he’d have a missing button or – God forbid – scuffed shoes.
So we had a meeting. “When I send Mikey to school,” his mother said, “he’s clean, his hair is brushed, and his clothes look nice. That teacher should give him back in the same condition!”
“Only if I tied him to his chair and wouldn’t let him do anything all day!” I said. “But we love Mikey, and we want him to learn, and play, and live at 100%. Learning around here isn’t sterile, and it never will be. Your son is full contact, rough and tumble, over-the-top; he’s a handful. Mikey learns best when he’s hands on. He loves to play, and interaction is great for his social skills. The day you need to get on the phone and complain to the principal is the day he comes home squeaky-clean. A clean Mikey is a Mikey who has wasted his entire day and a teacher who hasn’t done his job.”
I made an ally out of the child’s mother that day, and the incident taught me a strong lesson too.
Life is a full-contact sport! And living our faith out loud is an all-in scrum! We are not designed to live genteel, unscathed, comfortable lives. Living at it’s best leaves us muddied, bloodied, and satisfied. By the time we’re done, we should be – at least figuratively – breathless.
When I go home I want God to meet me off the bus and shake his head lovingly at my appearance. “That child’s one hot mess,” God will say, “I’ll bet he had one glorious life…”
“WOW WHAT A RIDE!” – DEREK