Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Go (Away)

"Go" is certainly a hard one. Because inherent in the word "go" is "away." It is a sending. And it feels like it leads us away from something vital.

Think about the disciples and the Great Commission. Jesus appears to them after the resurrection, and they are huddled in the Upper Room - the last place they shared together. This is the place where their memories of Jesus are most powerful. They're probably telling stories with wary and weary hearts. They're probably recalling what the past three years have been like. They're probably talking about this ministry they've been involved in, unwilling to leave it so easily and go back to life as they once knew it but unsure what happens next. Then Jesus shows up, and His word to them is a simple one: go.

Go out of this place where you're trying to hold onto Me. Go out of this room where you're hiding from the developing world around you. Didn't I tell you the harvest was near ripe and I would need some workers? The time has come! Go into the fields...and make disciples of all nations.

And I can just imagine them saying, as they had so eloquently before, Lord, to where would we go? 

No place on this earth had as much of Jesus's story in it as the place where they already were. To them, it seemed perfectly reasonable to stay. Here, they could hold on to everything they knew. Here, that story made sense. There was, out the window, the streets where He had entered Jerusalem on a colt, fulfilling yet another prophecy. The memory of that day made them start talking about all the other prophecies He'd fulfilled, and all the ones He'd given. There was, out another window, the courtyard of the Temple where the crowds had come together to condemn Him. They could almost still hear the echoes of the mob. There was, a little further in the distance, a place called Skull Hill. They could remember running back to this room and watching from a distance, door locked, eyes fixed on the horizon. The whole story was tied neatly into this place, and Jesus dared stand here and tell them to Go? AWAY?

Go away from here, into a world that hasn't lived the story. Go away from here, to a people who have only heard the rumors. Go away from here, to nations who didn't stand in condemnation of the Son of Man but who felt the earth tremble on that Good Friday just the same. Go away from here, to men and women in need of a Savior who don't even know how to conceptualize such a thing. Go away from here, to blind men and beggars and bleeding women and the demon-possessed and the clean and the unclean and the Jew and the Gentile and the Samaritan and the Greek and the Roman and the world...that don't know that hope has come. Go away from this place where the best you can do is hold onto Jesus.

And go into the place where you have to hunger for Him. Where the world is hungering for Him.

That's really the struggle of go. Go means you have to walk away from this place where you understand God so well. Where you're looking into His eyes and holding His hand and hearing His voice. It means taking a step into a place He hasn't yet led you, but has still given you, where you'll have to learn all over again how to have Him. It's the kind of thing I've been talking about for the past couple of weeks. Go is hard because we have to let go of everything we understand and ignite our passion to search, to study, to seek again.

At the very moment we find Jesus, at the moment we feel like we start to finally understand, He sends us away. He tells us to go. I don't want to leave; I want to linger. I want to stay in that place where God makes sense, where I know how to find Him, where I recognize His voice. I want to be there where His feet have walked and left footprints in the dusty road, where His tears have watered the tender ground. I even want to walk by the shriveled-up old fig tree, just to remember. That's just the truth; I want to stay.

But then I go because God says to go, and I find Him all over again. And when I find Him all over again, I get to fall in love all over again. It's the most incredible feeling. It's the most wonderful thing. Have you had this moment? All of a sudden, God hits you in a new place and it's like you're meeting Him for the first time. All these things you never knew about Him, here they are - right in front of you. And just because you dared to be in a new place. 

I think that's why God sends us away. It's too easy to hold on to what we already have of Him, but He's always longing to give us more. We have to go in order to let go, so that we aren't holding onto the little bit we have but we're hungering for more. 

It doesn't make it easy. It doesn't mean we jump with joy when God tells us to go (away). We always take our questions with us. We always hesitate. We always hem and haw. We still want to linger. 

But God says go. It's one of the two things He ever asks of us. It's a hard one.

Although the second isn't much easier....

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