I've been awake since 6am on December 31st. For those keeping track, that's 39 hours and counting. To be entirely accurate, there have likely been patches of lost consciousness in there along the way. I marveled that the day's travels through subways, concourses, flights, terminals, and car rides flew by so quickly, and this is due largely to my body's ability desperate attempts to halt functioning and initiate the REM cycle. Still, I'm dizzy from the blurry signals my eyes are sending to my brain, I'm speaking slowly, and I don't know quite where to begin my re-entry process from the Urbana Student Missions Conference.
Tomorrow class begins, and normal life returns. And so my heart must process and purge now, before its passion is anesthetized by the comfortable routine of activity.
To obey is better than to fear. On the plane ride from Providence to Newark I was wracked with fear. You can ask the nine year old girl in the row in front of me, she stared at me with disbelief and horror as tears streamed down my cheeks with each bit of turbulence. I was tense in my seat and in absolute misery, under the control of my (irrational?) terror. Catching the Newark to St. Louis flight involved much running and stress and some crying to TSA agents, and I was spent when I finally sank into my sick. I was too tired to be afraid.
I spent the first full day of Urbana unwittingly mimicking this pattern. Hyperventilating each time I looked at the long list of seminars and exhibitors and prayer ministries and worship experiences and panel discussions and student lounges, I wondered how I could possibly make the most of this expensive trip. I sat in the general session quaking with fear that my selfishness and laziness would subsume my desire for obedience, that I would never be able to authentically respond to any of the invitations presented during the week. I was consumed by (and still fight) the fear of not being powerfully, profoundly changed.
The book of Luke is filled with invitations, hard challenges of obedience. Let down your nets, follow Him, be fishers of men. Come down from that tree, repay those you've cheated with interest. Go out, take nothing with you, stay in the homes of those you meet, proclaim the kingdom. Deny your home, deny your family, leave everything. Seek and save the lost. Repent. The charge Jesus has for those who seek to follow Him no small order of half-hearted devotion. It is all-in, go-hard, drop-dead sacrifice. Comprehensive surrender.
. . . I mean, yikes. Never mind the fear latent in a hunk of metal soaring thousands of feet above the ground through inclement weather and turbulence. Fear of flying is trivial compared to the commissioning of an all-powerful holy Savior. Fear is asking my coworkers to grab froyo with me, fear is hosting a Luke study with my friends who aren't believers, fear is cold-calling missions agencies looking for opportunities to minister to immigrants. Fear is showing up on a foreigner's doorstep and presumptuously asking if there's anything you can do for them. I CAN'T DO THIS STUFF GUYS. I CAN'T. The truth of this overwhelms me. A fuller revelation of my slavery to fear incapacitated my heart.
But oh, the light broke through. I love Him, and how could I not? How tenderly He seeks the one who was lost, how willingly He bore the wrath I deserved, how faithfully He stands before the Father to advocate on my behalf. He picked this trash from the gutter and in loving me He gave me real worth. He is a beautiful Jesus, and in the face of this Love I am compelled to love Him back. Is it not better to rejoice in my salvation, to act upon His promptings, to stride forward boldly in His callings than to cower in a cage of my own devising? Is it not better to go and do, because He says so, and because He is good? Why waste time tense in my seat when I am free to relax and enjoy the ride? It is not that the sacrifice is not difficult, but rather that the honor is so much greater. To obey is better than to fear.
"How can I stand here with You and not be moved by You? Would You tell me, how could it be any better than this?"