This is the 8th instalment of our ongoing Wednesday series, unpacking the #JesusProject…. Today: John 4:35 of #TheJesusProject “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, & see that the fields are white for harvest.”
The kid went but there was no way he was sticking up his hands.
Not the first night anyways.
He kept those hands of his drilled deep into his pockets, like he was some farm boy quietly drilling seeds deep into the earth.
They beat the drums loud in a place like Passion, like they’re parched and praying for rain and get blunt honest, who of us isn’t?
Tens of thousands of kids from around the country there with their hands in the air, music thundering, raising up this yield of worship, tasting the quenching coming down.
I kept to the shadows, a back row.
The old mother who doesn’t know how she turned one day at the stove with some dripping soup ladle in hand looking for those boys crawling at her ankles, only to end up looking up at broad shoulders, squaring jaws, me looking up at fresh men. The old mother dwarfed now by the smallness she once carried, by the boys she grew up into men when she was still a girl. Flat-out confounding, how time disorients you.
It’s that unexpected moment after Mr. Giglio speaks, after we’ve gathered in groups of 3-4 to pray together, after we’ve stilled, when the two country boys stand up on the fringe rows and I hear their baritones sing it,
“So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned,
In awe of the One who gave it all,
So I’ll stand, my soul Lord to You surrendered,
All I am is Yours” —-
It’s then that I watch my two farm boys pull their hands slow out of the pockets of their Levis and raise, raise surrendered.
Why does their letting go to God let go of something in me?
Call me a fool, but I don’t even try to dam it.
I can’t tell Joshua’s voice from Caleb’s, can only hear them together letting it go from the deeps: “So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, In awe of the One who gave it all.”
They look like their father. They look like men who’ve shirked off the false bravado, their hearts bare and gloriously small and vulnerable and bravely surrendered and perfect. That’s all I can feel, this lifting —-
You’ve got to take your hands off your life if your life’s ever going to take wing.
We fly the Sunday after Passion. Head home, after our Caleb got to ask Mr. Piper this question that was burning up the innards of him about Ayn Rand. After their hands got flailing in the art of the discussion.
It’s our Joshua who says little, who keeps his hands in his pockets, who stands off to the side not letting anyone know what’s going on in the centre of him. It’s Joshua who sits behind the wing. The girl that gets on the plane and sits down beside him, she’s gotta be no more than 22-23.
“So — you flying home or flying out?” I can hear Joshua ask her that after she stuffs her bag under her seat. Huh. Joshua doesn’t usually talk much?
Flying out, she tells him. You?
“Flying home. Was at a Christian conference for youth. Passion. Ever heard of it?” He could have just said he was flying home? He could have just said he was at a conference? He used the word Christian? Looks like he’s actually flying out — far out of his comfort zone. I’m gnawing the side of my lip.
”Nah, never heard of it. I’m more Buddhist.”
And Joshua nods slow. And the farm boy’s takes his hands out of his pockets, like there might be seeds in his hands.
“Yeah? Tell me about that?”
It’s a 2 hour flight. And the farm kid in his Levis listens and the down-to-earth city girl in her tattoos listens and they talk Buddhism and Big Bang and Creation and the Bible and what Louie preached and how Christine Caine brought down the house and about a God-man named Jesus who hung on a Cross.
I watch how it unfolds, how our boy surrenders his comfort and opens up what is at the centre of him. I watch how they are just two people talking and listening and unpacking the meaning of being and there is no shame.
There is no anger. They’re not caricatures. They don’t dash off acidic columns about each other. They don’t label, box, mock, shelve each other.
They do what the internet rarely does —- they have different view points and they have a conversation. They ask questions and genuinely listen and they laugh warm and honest and they’re both real and they’re both breathing the same air.
One’s thinking most likely experiences a conversion when two people engage in a conversation… not alienation.
And I’m sitting there watching our stoic boy with his hands open and surrendered, sharing Gospel after Passion, and I’m choking it back. That’s the thing: The Good News isn’t angry news.
Sure, anger sells. Anger sells news and anger gets microphones and shares and anger is what goes most viral.
That’s the thing: Anger goes most viral —- because it’s what makes you most sick.
Read all the angry and share the madness and spread the viral and it isn’t healthy —- it only further polarizes real people and freezes your soul to death.
Read all the angry and sign up for the culture wars and pump your angry fist and you sign up to take down the very people that Christ took nails for.
Read all the angry and go ahead and sling a bit of mud and you find yourself the one going a bit blind. Been there, done that: You forget how to see people as souls, you forget that you’ve never once talked about a mere person, but always and only about God-fashioned souls so handle with care.
You forget that the person you’re slamming is a person who Jesus loved so passionately for, He busted open His heart and bled for.
Sure, anger may sell — but anger doesn’t win. Ask Jesus.
Standing at the baggage claim, I glance up at Joshua but I don’t ask the new man anything.
But Joshua sees the questions in that brief look, the ones I didn’t ask, and he surprises me. Joshua peels it back a bit quiet, “She was just hurting in lots of ways. And I just listened.” The kid shrugs.
“Just shared Jesus. How Jesus’s meets in the hurt and He heals.”
Man — that lump burning in my throat.
Our boy who keeps it all shrouded so you don’t know what’s unfurling on the inside — he’s got the passion to share Gospel.
The tattooed Buddhist on the plane, she’s got tender wounds and brave questions and an open heart.“It is what it is” — is not really how it is.
There is always more happening than it seems because there is always more God happening around you than you can imagine.
And there are things worth getting passionate about. There are fields ripe white for the harvest and there are hope seeds in your hands and
there is the passion of the Christ that begs you to see people long enough to love them — not crucify them. Christ already did that for them.
There is the passion of the Christ that begs you to love people enough to suffer with them — not make them suffer.
There is the passion of the Christ that whispers that when you get passionate about something — it’s not about getting angry at people. It’s about this loving suffering with people.
The boys grab our suitcases and I can hear them humming, “I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, In awe of the One who gave it all…”
Call me a fool but I don’t even try to dam this passion that’s brimming…. I want to stand in the crowd and raise my hands —-
just reach out my open hands.
Next Wednesday, we are memorizing and unpacking the 12th verse of #TheJesusProject
1. Print Out all #TheJesusProject Memory Prints from the book of John here: Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us: #TheJesus Project
2. Week 1 of #TheJesusProject’s Study: The #1 Organizing Tip Nobody Tells You
3. Week 2 : How to Get Through the Dark Places: #PullACliffYoung
4. Week 3 How to Live When Life Just Hurts
5. Week 4: How to Get Through Snowmaggedon & Everything Else that’s Burying You
6. Week 5: The 5 Words Guaranteed to Change Your Life #DWHTY
7. Week 6: The One Big Question Today is Really Asking You [And Your Answers Changes Your Life]
8. Week 7: Why You Need the Unlikely Principle of Ruby Worship