Monday, December 17, 2007

Swinging-Bridge of Grace

I recently read a quote by Jim Fowler and I thought I would share:

It appears that the majority of Christians, if given a choice of working on a chain-gang or walking across a swinging suspension bridge with no handrails, would opt for the chain-gang labor. It is tiring and monotonously predictable, but you can't fall off. It may kill you, but it's a methodical way to go! The swinging-bridge of grace is scary. It is as unpredictable as God Himself. Security is only found as we "fix our eyes on Jesus" (Heb. 12:2) and are "led of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18), trusting Him to keep us standing by His power (I Pet. 1:5). That requires faith! Many there are who will choose the chain-gang of religion over the swinging-bridge of grace.

How often do we see Christian's try to put God into a neat little box; to try to and construct a God of their own choosing who is tame and predictable...a God who is safe. Their God is one who expects nothing more of us than to slavishly follow a prescribed ritual regardless of the attitude of our heart. But this isn't the God we serve. The God we serve is a consuming fire that leaves nothing that it touches unchanged.

Our God causes the comfortable to be shaken and the shaken to be comforted. He causes the proud to be humbled and the humble to be exalted. He causes the strong to be made weak and the weary to stand tall. He causes the mouths of the bold to be made silent and the mouths of the timid to speak with power. He confounds the wise with the foolish and gives mercy to the sinner and sorrow to the self-righteous. It would seem that our God is a God of opposites, a God of contrasts. On the surface that would appear to be the case, but each of these “contrasts” all have one thing in common…they bring glory to God.

It seems that the fear of falling has kept too many Christian’s working on the chain-gang. There is a certain amount of comfort there. But God isn’t interested in our comfort and He is unimpressed by how well we do the “religion thing.” God wants us fearlessly abandoned to Him. Fearless of what man can do to us! Fearless of what tomorrow will bring! Fearless even unto death! Fearless of stepping out and living in the freedom He has given us! But this will never happen while the fear of falling has us in its grip. It’s a scary thing, this fear of falling. It keeps us off the swinging bridge, it keeps us off the ledge, and it keeps us safe. This isn’t what the “God of Opposites” desires for us, for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline.

To be continued…

17 comments:

Aida said...

WOW, Gary, and double WOW!! This is great!! Lately, I've been thinking that God is a wild God who has created us with a similar wildness. Religion has tried to tame us and instead of seeing the Lion of Judah, people see a tame pussy cat.

Thanks for this post. You've stirred up the wildness in me. What a way to start my day!!

Aida

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Great word here Gary! It is encouraging and exciting.
Yes, the freedom in itself is risky but the people who are ready to take that risk get two things - the freedom itself and the wisdom on how to handle it. Both comes from the same God who is only interested in freeing people in His Son, not binding them in religion.

lydia joy said...

This is good stuff, I like the illustration alot...! I had a friend, a legalistic minded live life in an orderly fashion type, who couldn't understand why our life was so all over the map...she told me God's not skitsophrenic....in other words why can't you get it together!!! I actually am grateful to not be in a box anymore,but it's true grace is wild.........WE have no control in grace, it's all on God!!
Can't wait to read part 2.....

Joel Brueseke said...

Over a year ago I lent my "Wild At Heart" book (John Eldredge) to a friend and I haven't seen it since. So... the other day I saw the book on sale at one of those traveling bookstores that was set up in a hospital, and I repurchased it. It's well worth the price of two books! That book, along with a few other things in life, helped me to leave behind once-and-for-all the religious box that I'd been in and that I'd had God in, that seemed safe and secure (especially when I was trying to please everybody with my outward appearance), and to start on the adventure of the wild life that our wild God has laid in front of us.

The sad thing is that I had been teaching and preaching pure grace but in my personal relationships I was still bound up religion! I broke free from that, but have felt myself starting to slip back into it lately, so this post is a great reminder to get back on that swinging bridge and enjoy the journey!

One of my favorite quotes from the book actually comes from a man who is a friend of my dad. Eldredge writes, "To borrow Walter Brueggeman's description of God: 'wild, dangerous, unfettered and free.'"

This is our heavenly daddy! We're the children of this wild, dangerous, unfettered and free God!

Aida said...

Joel, I read "Waking the Dead" by John Eldredge and thought it was great. I understand "Wild at Heart" is written from a man's perspective. Do you think it would be helpful for a woman to read it?

Aida

Gary Kirkham said...

Thanks everyone for the comments.

wild, dangerous, unfettered and free.

I like that!

Lydia, I can't wait to read part 2 as well. When I wrote "to be continued," I had nothing in mind to write about, but felt that God will give me something.

When I write stuff, I often feel like I am doing it to try to help others, to persuade others. But a funny thing usually happens...I am the one that needs the help. Like Joel said, it is easy to slip back into the bondage of religion.

Joel Brueseke said...

Aida, I definitely think Wild At Heart would be a great read for women, for a couple of reasons. I think it could help women better understand the men in their lives (not just their husbands but their fathers, sons, friends, etc) and also it could aid women in encouraging men to be who they really are and not falling for the church's or the world's view of men. Also, there is simply a lot in the book that spans the genders and that is not just for men.

There is also a book called "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge. They say this book will do for women what Wild At Heart does for men. I haven't read it, but I would guess it's quite, um, captivating... :)

Not that I have agreed with every single ounce of theology from John Eldredge, but I do think that many people, including myself, have found much freedom through the resources of Ransomed Heart Ministries. Ok, commercial over. :)

Aida said...

Thanks for your comments, Joel. You did a good job with the commercial. I'll add "Wild at Heart" to the ever growing list of must read books.

I tried reading "Captivating" but couldn't relate to what they were saying so I never finished it. The funny thing is last week I went to a women's fellowship and we had a book exchange and I wound up with a copy of "Captivating". Now, you've suggested it. Maybe I should give it another try.

Aida

Anonymous said...

You're so close Gary! If you can find the courage (perhaps persistence?) to take the next step along this road...

Gary Kirkham said...

Hello MA,

Long time no see. How have you been? I have had a few anonymous posters since you last graced my blog. I usually don't publish them, but I decided to publish yours since we are "old friends." I figure that if someone writes something for public consumption then they ought to have the courage to sign their name to it.

But yet, you speak of me needing courage. I've heard the "almost there" line before, but still I haven't changed. You seem to think you have a good bead on where I am, but I suspect you are pretty far off the mark. So, before you try to get me to walk off down some road, why don't you tell me what you think you know about me and where I am.

In Christ,
Gary

Aida said...

Gary, I forgot all about this blog post and I'm glad it was brought up front again. I re-read it and again was stimulated to live wild and free in Christ.

"wild, dangerous, unfettered and free" - that's our God and that's what he created us to be.

I hope part 2 will be posted soon.

Aida

Gary Kirkham said...

Hello Aida,

Thanks for dropping by. As you already know, it has been a while since I have posted. There are several reasons for this. I have been very busy at work, sometimes getting in late and when I'm not late I have been too tired to read other blogs much less write. There have been changes to our IT system at work and updates have been made to add new websites to the block list. Unfortunately, blogspot was added the list so I don’t get to read during breaks.

But primarily, I have been going through a period where God has been revealing to my heart some of the motivations I have had for posting some of the things I have posted. I do want to get back into writing and Lord willing I soon will. I hope that part 2 will be in there. I believe it will because I scratched out some notes for part 2 after I wrote part 1, which is something I never do. It looks like the Lord knew there would be a dry spell even if I didn't.

Please keep me in your prayers.

In Christ,
Gary

Aida said...

Hi Gary,

I have missed you and wondered what was going on so again I'm glad this blog post was brought up so that you could give us an update.

I'm sorry to hear about all of the changes at work but I certainly understand how that would limit what you're able to do. Of course, Father knew all about this before it happened and I know he's got you firmly in his grip. This might be a time to just rest in him and not worry about giving to others or trying to blog. Seasons come and go and I'm sure in time you'll write again with greater insight than before.

I'll certainly be praying and I look forward to your return.

Aida

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Gary,

Its great to see you after a long time. I have missed you. Hoping to see you writing soon. I understand when you say about IT job. I am one of them and sometimes it can be very stressful and tiring. Fortunately blogs are not blocked in my office so I get to read them. Its hard to find time while at home unless I give up some sleep. 2 little kids, both my wife and I are working in IT jobs, you can pretty much imagine. My primary source of encouragement and fellowship is these blogs and the people here and its wonderful when people share their Grace journey.
Hoping to see you soon here...

Aida said...

Bino, I can relate to what you said. Except for Nicki, I haven't known any of you very long. Yet this group is also my primary source of encouragement and fellowship. Also, everyone's blog has now become one of the primany ways that Father teaches me.

I have found the wisdom in this group to be amazing yet, there's not one super star in the bunch. God's ways are really different than the world's ways of doing things. The world picks the ones with the highest degrees or the most influence but Father looks at the heart not at the outward accomplishments. In this group, I see hearts that are totally open to Him who are willing to share His life with one another. That I believe is the reality of the church.

Sorry to go off on a side road but what you said, Bino, just seemed to bring these thoughts up in me and I just had to speak them or actually type them.

Aida

Gary Kirkham said...

Hi Bino,

Thanks for dropping by. I just wanted to correct one little thing. I don't work in the IT department even though I have worked as a software developer in the past.

I read your "A personal note..." post. I didn't comment on it, but I do appreciate your openness and honesty. I would say that I am an honest person, but I am not very open. So I know it is a difficult thing for you to do. It's even harder, I think, in a church setting because we don't know how people will react. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone would take off their mask of piety and be open and honest about their struggles and failures...no judgment or condemnation...just people bearing each others burdens and restoring each other in a Spirit of gentleness.

I know that wearing a mask is a human trait. Even in the secular world, people only show you what they want you to see. They put on a carefully constructed persona that avoids exposing some weakness that may be exploited.

Christians are supposed to be different. We are all part of the body of Christ. If one part suffers then the whole body suffers. If one part of the body is condemned, then where does that leave the rest of the body?

In Christ,
Gary

Andra said...

You write very well.