I was wondering the other day if maybe the problem really lies in perception—ours. Maybe the challenge is not so much in coming to grips with a God who is ‘wild’ and ‘crazy;’ maybe the real perception struggle is that our view of ‘normal,’ our view of ‘home,’ and our view of ‘wildness’ or ‘wilderness’ are all mixed up. Maybe God only seems “wild” in a negative sense when our understanding of ‘wilderness’ is backwards as well. Let me try to explain… Let’s say “home” is a dwelling place intended for safety and comfort. And let’s say “wilderness” is any time and place where we are separated from the safety and comfort of that intended dwelling place. Now, on a larger scale, if we consider earth and this life on earth as ‘home,’ it is only natural that anything and anyone that threatens or attempts to separate us from the safety and comfort we expect it to provide will be looked at as a threat, as threatening. God becomes a “wild,” threatening being, out to make your life miserable. But consider, for a moment, what happens if you and I share Abraham’s perspective? If we look at ourselves as pilgrims only, and this earthly life as our pilgrimage, and “home” as being somewhere/something else? In that scenario, where is the wilderness? It’s earth. It’s this life.
Abraham’s perspective is sound; but just to be sure, can we cross-reference that perspectivewith the life of Jesus? What did He expect life on earth to be like? How comfortable and ‘safe’did He expect to be? “Earth had been a wilderness to Him,” says Marcus Rainsford. Even for Jesus, life on earth seems to have been wild, unsafe. Even in God’s dealings with His own Son there were times when the will of the Father had to lovingly overrule the will of God the Son when it came to pain.
“Earth had been a wilderness to Him, and He was about to be trodden in its winepress; the baptism with which He was to be baptized, and of which His soul was straitened till it should be accomplished, was about to begin. ‘He lifted up his eyes to heaven’; His rest was there, His throne was there, His angels were there” (Marcus Rainsford, Our Lord Prays For His Own). Jesus had as hard a life as anyone who has ever lived. But He lived it ‘with His eyes lifted to heaven’— because that’s where and how He ultimately defined “home.”
How about you? Where and how do you define ‘home?’ This is an important question because you can call a spade a spade, but if God calls it a hamster, you’re in for a long day of gardening. What does God say about this world?
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (Jn. 15:19) Christian, God does not hate you. The world does, and you are not of this world, it’s not your home! God is not the antagonist in your life story, trying to keep you from your potential, your best, your dreams; the “world” is— because this world is the wilderness, and heaven is your ultimate home.
We can be grateful to God for all the safety and comfort given while on this journey through life, because these are good gifts of grace!— and we have permission to ask for them, and to do so boldly. Just remember that we ‘do not judge God by circumstances,’ but rather, like Jesus, and because of His power in us, we can live ‘with eyes lifted to heaven,’ trusting the promises of our Father that all things will one day be made right, and that the best is yet to come.