Don’t expect to have God in your life and then remain the same. It’s not possible. Well, maybe it is if you treat him like a parakeet, caged up in the corner. The God who created the world ex nihlo, is not a caged bird; he’s more like a raging lion. Before there was a world or space or dust, there was only God. He gave time permission to tick and space permission to open up. He told the dust to be formed and the light to shine. He is present and at work so much more than we could ever dream.
Some of us treat God like a wonderful addition to our lives, to bring a little meaning and joy into our worlds. Otherwise, we’re basically the same. We have our work and our school and our family and our dreams…and, oh yes, our little Jesus. We’ll open his cage and put him on our finger when we need cheered up.
I love the line from the U2 song Stand Up Comedy: “Stop helping God across the road, like a little, old lady.” How often we treat God like a little old lady!
Remember that scene in Genesis 32:22-32 when Jacob wrestles the angel? Actually, the angel is God. And God goes easy on him. They wrestle all night long and by dawn, Jacob is messed up. When God is done with him, Jacob limps for life and he has a new name. Talk about change! Not only is Jacob affected physically, but also his identity is altered. He is no longer who he once was, after meeting the raging Lion.
College wrestling was like that for me. Every practice, somebody got hurt. A twisted knee, a split lip, stitches, a burst ear drum, chipped teeth, popped shoulder, abrasions, bruises, bumps, scratched cornea, broken nose. When you left practice, you weren’t in the same condition as when you started. Those guys were not tame.
When you meet God, you’ll never be the same. It’s not that he’ll mess you up for the worse, however. He’ll mess you up for the good. He’ll hurt you back to health. He’ll take your self-orbit and straighten you out, so that your life orbits around himself and others. He takes us navel-gazers and turns us into God-and-people-gazers. He wrestles our despair away and gives us joy. He causes our inability to limp so that his ability alone can sustain us. He roots out our deepest guilt and shame and replaces them with forgiveness and hope.
The Lion of Judah devours the dead man in us and leaves behind the eternal man.
He takes away our old name “Deceiver” and gives us our new name “He wrestles with God.”
So please don’t treat Jesus as just a good teacher, as C. S. Lewis warned. He did not leave that option open. Don’t treat him like a fine example to follow, either. Realize that he is the raging Lion who flew headlong into death in order to seize you from its jaws.
© Samuel Kee, 2012