• A Letter to Cara

    Posted on October 22, 2015 by in Uncategorized

    dear letterI have a friend who is doing something hard for God,  this is the letter I wrote to her.   I’m sharing it here because I think that sooner or later, if we’re serious enough about foolishly following Jesus—we all end up where she is.  And when we get there—we need these words

    Dear Cara,

    The step you are taking right now is brave and beautiful and oh-so-faithful, but you are having trouble seeing that.  Somehow many of us have gotten the wrong idea about being a disciple of Jesus Christ.  We fall for the lie that being a Christian is a reasonable way of living.  We believe that heeding God’s call on our life will be something that everyone around us will perceive as honorable and sensible.  We think that if we are on the right path, we’ll be absolutely certain of it—because the faithful path will be wide and well-lit and scattered with amenities.

    But the uncomfortable truth is—walking in faith looks like what you are experiencing.  Making a choice that everyone around you doesn’t understand, making it even though you know the risks and uncertainty better than anyone, making it even though you yourself wonder if you are good enough.  But making it anyway, for one reason, and one reason only—you heard a voice.   You are doing this because there is a quiet voice whispering ‘this is what you need to do.’  And you can ignore that voice by staying busy, and reasonable people can shout over it and drown it out all together—but whenever you get quiet and check—it’s still there, completely undeterred saying ‘this is what you need to do.’  Oh, that voice.  You can’t understand it.  You can’t argue with it.  It doesn’t take questions, it doesn’t respond to reasonable objections.  You have the power to ignore it, but you don’t have the power to make it stop.  It’s always there, every time you check, like a quiet holy broken record, ‘this is what you need to do.’

    But it feels like madness to make any sort of real-life plan on the basis of such a minimal little whisper.  And it is madness if you have devoted your life being happy, pursuing the American dream or trying to be a good person.  But if your heart’s desire is to follow Jesus Christ and offer up your one and only life as a canvas on which he can paint the gospel story, then listening to that little whisper is the only reasonable way to live.   Because that’s the volume Holy Spirit prefers.

    We celebrate them now as heroes of faith—but Abraham, Moses, Noah, David, John the Baptist, Paul—but what did any of these men do but turn aside from their reasonable well-ordered life to do something patently crazy for no other reason than they were brave and crazy enough to believe that God told them to?  We Christians aren’t called to be normal—the world has more than enough normal.  We’re asked to risk living differently, to make decisions according to different standards, to be guided by Kingdom values.  And if we live that way, our lives are going to have a different trajectory than other people’s.  We’re going to take detours that appear insane.   At the end of the story, everyone will understand—but right now, in the messy middle, it’s just you stumbling after that little voice, walking in the sheer audacity of belief that God has a call on your life.  Just you and that voice, and, really, that lonely intimacy turns out to be one of the best parts.

    And really, what do you have to lose? Nothing—that’s the curious and terrifying freedom we get when we surrender to God.  When our only desire is to be faithful, we’re free.  Because you know that you don’t have to succeed or win to please God, you only have to want to.

    It’s only in times like this that that beautiful prayer by Thomas Merton begins to make sense:

    ’My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. ‘

    Cara—I really really believe that our desire to please God pleases God.  And I know that desire is the only thing leading you down this path.  I have no idea how all of this is going to play out, but I do know three things.   I know that it is an incredibly holy choice you are making.  I know that it delights God’s heart.  And I know that it is beautiful and inspiring to bear witness to your life.

    God Be With You,

    Kate

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