By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
he did not know where he was going.
sometimes, every now and then when i am thinking about the community and all that we are doing, a question slips its way into my mind: what are you doing? it's usually followed by a few moments of panic. what am i doing? why am i down here? am i just crazy? and it's in these moments that i see the true foolishness of it all. it all seems so ridiculous. so contrary to conventional wisdom. how will this affect my kids? what happens when i get older? what if someone gets seriously hurt because of all that we're doing down here? these are not the questions that lead to peace of mind.
it's usually not long after those questions come that i remember something about being fools for Christ (i cor. 4:10) and something else about how the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God (i cor. 3:19). there is a little consolation in this, certainly. and in the precursor to those verses. but then again it can be easy to accept ignorance and irresponsibility on the pretense of being "fools for Christ." how could we even know the full weight of all that we're doing anyway? who's to tell what massive effects and impact this will have on our lives?
i don't find myself asking all this to be dramatic, but rather because the question sits before us: "what is at stake?" and the answers shake my bones.
fortunately they also shake my heart. there is much at stake. there is much to lose. oh but how much there is to gain! and then this is where it becomes difficult. because you ask, "ok, what is there to gain?"
before i try to answer that question, and even when i do it really can only be done with ideals and dreams, i remember that so often in the life of faith vision follows obedience. i'm not saying that this is always the case. but every now and then God calls us somewhere even though we don't know exactly where it is we are going. we are called to step out in faith. to take the leap.
and we're fairly comfortable with this as long as we know that it is just that one step. or the leap that we feel like will lead to us coming down on the other side pretty soon. but when that step is the first on a long path, it ceases to become a step and turns into a journey. it is no longer an action taken, but a life continuously lived. or to put it another way, if one sets out to cross a desert of unknown length, the first step will be difficult, but it will not be the hardest. nor will the final steps heavy with thirst and weariness. but just maybe the hardest will be those not long after the journey has begun, when your thoughts cause you to second guess, and you are still close enough to turn back. whether they are the very hardest or not doesn't really matter. what does is that they are hard enough.
you see because these days such a journey is no longer necessary. we have maps that can tell us how far it is, so we can prepare and know all that we need to complete the task. it's only practical. and we have the scripture to prove it. never mind it's about giving away your entire life. we should still be practical these days. after all, we an afford it. why take the risk when there are so many opportunities that are just as valuable and much more defined and accessible? like the ones with brochures.
we want to know the journey before we begin. we want to know the end of the book before we start reading, just so we know it ends well. we want the vision before we will act. in short, we want to know where we are going.
but this is so often not prudence or practicality. it is for our own comfort. so then faith becomes much less essential. we don't need to trust, fear, and obey. we have the vision and the promise. we know how it's all going to end. and unless we have that assurance we very rarely will even begin, or most likely we won't get very far. not without a purpose. we must have our clearly defined objectives and goals.
maybe that's just human nature. it's certainly in the books about vision casting and motivating people for a cause. sometimes i wonder if Jesus could have made it as a motivational speaker. it seems like too often his words and his demands caused people to walk away in sadness or grumbling.
who will go the way they do not know?
but here's the thing. our commitment is not a barrier to knowledge. no, our faith is not blind. often it requires great risk, but as that life is lived the clearer it becomes. or rather, the further along the journey you go the more the map begins to reveal the path ahead.
and so when i think about this community and how we don't have all the answers to the questions, and how we know more of what we're not supposed to do than what we are, and how we don't really know exactly where it is we are going--i remember that we're in some pretty good company. the path will unfold. and until then we continue to take the steps on the journey God has called us to begin.
we may not yet know our purpose, but we are not without meaning. and we believe there is so much at stake, so much to be gained. maybe another time i'll flesh out some of those specific things.
"If a man wishes to be sure of the road he walks on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark."
St. John of the Cross