Do you ever feel like you live a passionless existence? What happened to the days when my heart was so full it would cry out in song or frustration or even in tears? When did my heart become cold and numb? I dread that sluggish, sedated feeling. It’s a place where I linger on the edge of apathy and wonder what became of my resolve. Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? What brings fire into my soul and moves me with passion? Where did that fire go?
In the battle with apathy I know I am not alone. What has become of the soul of man? I wonder. In my minds eye I see a crowd pondering these questions with a lost look in their eye. Have we become lost souls after all?
On the days when I can no longer will my mind awake, I turn to the classics. I can’t help it. It seems that there is a place or maybe a time when people were allowed to suffer and in their suffering they somehow gained passion.
George MacDonald is hands down my favorite author (well, next to the Holy Spirit lol). When times are tough for me internally, I turn again and again to his books for fellowship and encouragement. I am in good company. C.S. Lewis called George MacDonald his master (teacher). Lewis was so affected by the writings of George MacDonald that much if not all of his own work reflects MacDonald’s teachings. It must be telling that I have poured through 4 of his books in the last two months. I have a growing hunger for something. It is a familiar hunger but an unfamiliar fog that lies between me and it.
So what am I looking for? In a word, courage, that is the courage to be offensive. I have purported for many years that Satan is constantly at work in our lives with the goal of making us afraid of the very thing we were created to be. In my case, I’ve been called to be the burr under the saddle; that maverick child who always asks, “Why? Why must things be done as they have been done before? How do you know? Couldn’t there be a different way to look at this? What does God say? Where does it say that? What if we??? But by definition a maverick is an outsider and being an outsider sucks! I live and work on the outside of the gate and though I wouldn’t trade my calling for any other today the loneliness is so intense it’s suffocating.
In the past I have tried to conform, even contort myself in such a way that I might find welcome. But contortions are grotesque to say the least and I am tired of feeling so out of joint. I have been around that mountain before and here I am back at the start remembering what God said, “I have called you to be a burr” (which means in literal terms a pain in the butt.) Geeze, it’s not a very glamorous calling that’s for sure. When I open my mouth, (which is always full of impertinent questions) I face a chorus of contempt. There is no way to prevent it. Believe me, I have tried. But to be honest, when it was my time to stand, I lost my nerve, I flinched. Oh, I stood for a while, but eventually, I lost my footing and gave up my passion. Maybe, instead of fearing the proximity of a saddle to the butt of everyone’s contempt, it’s time for me to look at the motivation a burr can be when attempting to move a stubborn, dispassionate mule or wake up a distracted rider.
The thing is, no matter what we are called to do, it takes courage to accomplish the task. Like the leading character in the movie “The Truman Show”. Truman’s capture built into him the fear of water then placed him on an island so that his fear prevented him from ever finding the door to freedom. In order to be free, Truman had to break free from the fears that held him captive.
So back to George MacDonald, I have lately been reading a book by him called “The Prodigal Apprentice”. Listen to this quote of a man speaking to another who is struggling to see God the father in a different light than that of his own wicked earthly father,
“No, You are afraid of [your father]. As soon as you have ceased to be afraid of him, you will no longer be in danger of hating him.”
“I can’t help being afraid of him.”
“You must break the bonds of that slavery. No slave can be God’s servant, for His servants are all free men. You must not try to call God your Father till father means something very different to you from what it seems to mean now.”
The bond of slavery… that is fear-- is it not? Fear is the thing we all must face and conquer if we are to actually take up the place God created for us. For me personally, it means being again the burr under the saddle and remaining there until God comes and pulls me out. It means asking all those annoying questions because the questions need to be asked. It means being a person of courage, as well as a person of passion, kindness and grace.