Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Training Wheels - Ideas versus Reality

I think each and every one of us a great idea. An idea that we have nurtured for so long that it may become even grander and greater than the actual event, an idea that has become mythic in the absence of reality.

For me that was a Harley. I don’t know when the idea took root, but as long as I can remember that low rumbling sound could stop me dead in my tracks causing me to scan the horizon for a better look. Every time one rolled by I felt that pain of longing for my own. Now, you would probably have to have been curled up under a rock not to know that a Harley is more than just a way to get around. There is certain aura and mystique about the bike. To most people it means so much more than just steel and leather, it is a statement.

It is a statement of freedom and independence that few people can mistake. Just straddling that machine is a declaration that you choose to be who and what you are with no apologies. The rumbling sound announces that you have chosen this life and live it on your terms. Owning one proclaims that there is an adventure you are willing to chase. Freedom, independence, and adventure, something we all crave deep within us. Or at least that is how I saw it.

For me the idea was escape, complete and total escape. It was the wind in my face, the world rushing by, and feeling of leaving it all behind. It was what I wanted, to be able to run from all the things that threatened me, to immerse myself in sight, sounds, colors, and smells of new places. I wanted to leave behind the cares and responsibilities that filled my life, leave my fears behind, and find that new horizon one free of past cares and worries. It was a great idea.

The thing is it was just that. It was an idea, not reality.

The reality is riding with Ty is hot, and jarring, rough on my back side, and often leaves me sore and tired. The reality is that you get to smell every rotting animal carcass on the road way, and bugs splatter on your face with amazing force at 65 miles an hour. The reality is rain is not your friend and is highly unpredictable here in Oklahoma, semis pepper you with road debris, and the wind tangles your hair until a comb won’t go through it. It is riding with the knowledge that one stupid driver could end it all, forever.

But lest you lose heart-

The reality is also the pleasure of the wind on your skin, the warmth of the road, and the cool of the distant rain. It is the scent of the honeysuckle vines, and hawk that soars along side of you. It is the moon shining through the clouds, the brilliant sunsets, and the thrill of a curve well taken.

The reality is more than the idea. More beautiful and satisfying, more difficult and dangerous. It is everything I hoped it would be and the experience is too great to be captured in words. The idea was born naiveté, reality is discovered only in experience.

So many of us approach God the same way. We have this idea of who he should be, what he should do for us, and we like our idea. It is one free of worry and doubt, there is nothing to fear and everything that is pleasant. We search after him in hopes of finding our idea, but lose heart when we discover reality. God isn’t safe, following him isn’t without risk or unpleasantries. Often following him means that the danger or discomfort we avoided for so long must be faced.

So we think, “This can’t be God,” and we go in search of something or someone who fits our idea. Something that does not demand so much of us, something that would never allow us to be uncomfortable or upset. Or we try to tweak reality to make something more like we hoped it would be. Something more like a SUV or mini-van. Sure it might get you to your destination, but how much did you miss along the way?

But we like our air conditioning, the radio, and fully adjustable seats, and that’s what we want our relationship with God to be like. We want it to be safe, easy, and mostly we want him to be comfortable. So we are content to keep our relationship at this level, one that means we may know him, we might even be going where he is leading, but how committed are we if we stop there?

Do we trust him enough to take us out of airbag protected environments? Do we believe that he will protect us when we step outside of our steel cages and experience a different type of freedom with him? Can we experience that type of intimacy or are we content to be safe?

I am not saying that knowing God means you have to ride a Harley. But maybe, we need to consider that really knowing God means taking a risk, doing something scary, and trusting him to show us the beauty in the reality, because it is far greater than any idea we may have of him.

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