Driving north on 95 was not a problem until we passed a crash. First responders had yet to arrive so I pulled over and joined others rushing to the south bound lanes. Shaken up with a few cuts and bruises but this family was alive and well. So I climbed back into my van and we soon reached our destination.
After handing my girls over to their uncle I thought about the return trip home. My plan was 95 south, but I knew grid-lock awaited so I punched my home address into Google Maps looking for an alternate route.
Windows rolled down, beautiful blue sky and the radio playing hits from the 80s. Somewhere along HWY 561 I thought about the reliance I have on my iPhone. I really had no idea where I was but I totally enjoyed the drive. I simply had to read directions and occasionally listen for a voice.
I noticed things I would have missed had I been striving to navigate my own way.
Sprawling farmland and rustic old barns. Run-down elementary schools beside spiffy brick churches (wondering why this should be so?). Dust swirling around a pretty blonde girl driving a tractor in a field. Wind whipping my hair across my face as I sang along with Robert Palmer and Madonna. “Addicted to Love” and “Borderline” reminding of me of younger days…
A parallel carved its way across my heart as the miles wore on.
So much of Christ-following is plan A, stuck on 95 south, when it could be a glorious adventure.
I’m genuinely disenchanted.
Not with Creator. Not with His Son.
With religion. With, dare I say it…the way we attempt to produce Jesus in our lives as well as the lives of others.
Sometimes Jesus following is reduced to a set of directions and rules that define our experience with Him. A trip up and down 95 with no alternate routes considered. For some, growing up in church and/or private school is not about the love of Christ. Instead of grace, most become well acquainted with a form of legalism that can have devastating, life-long effects.
The length of his hair, the length of her skirt. Denominations, affiliations, memberships. Willingness to bend, conform and appease. No questions. Only Answers. Don’t be the one to crash or get stuck.
So unlike Jesus I wonder at those crafting this measuring stick of perfection. Do they know Him?
I’m not afraid to be disillusioned.
Jesus. He walks me through it.
He’s more than I can ever understand. So much more than any packaged idea of goodness. Far more than a haircut, a skirt length or any sin of my youth or adulthood. Jesus changes lives not by taking inventory of rule-following, but in pouring His own goodness into our empty, broken lives.
The grace and love of Jesus is so encrusted with the dirty lives of those He loves.
How can we be satisfied without knowing Him this way? Oh I see the residue of my crusty humanity on His hands and I know deep inside this is what changes who I am forever.
Interestingly enough, Plan A good-girl living came to a crashing halt for me around 22. While for years I grieved the shame of my imperfection it was Jesus who nursed my wounded heart. Jesus who whispered mercy, grace and freedom to my over-burdened, religious ears.
See, we all crash. Pretending otherwise is a lie.
If it meant the alternate route for me to really meet Him, then I’m so glad I took it.
In my most honest living I’ve known Him as close as my next breath. It has been, will always be, the nearness and incomprehensible love of Jesus that turns me inside out…
Mends my marriage
Waits for me
Breaks apart my hardness
Confronts my fear
Listens to my pain
Heals my hurt
Makes me brave
Speaks life to me
Perfection is the traffic jam of plan A, legalistic Christianity.
Give me winding roads and blue skies. Wind-whipped hair and a song on my lips.