Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On the Road Again

"Misery is how God lets us know we are on the right track."
Michael Kelso, That 70's Show

Those of us who seek out the place in life called the #NarrowRoad do so because we seek a deeper relationship with God, the Creator of everything. We walk with Jesus because we believe him to be the shining example all all we could hope to be and because he is the King of Kings and LORD of Lords who bridged the gap between our sinful nature and God. The message he came to bring us in often called the GOOD NEWS. We should be a joyful people, full of hope and wonder even when the sky turns dark. And yet...so many of us are not. Kelso may be the King of the Idiots, but we often buy into his words in our own ways. We think of the #NarrowRoad as dark, quiet and lonely. If we are having fun on the path, we are dong something wrong...

On the road again.
I just can't wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is making music with my friends,
and I can't wait to get on the road again!

Willie Nelson may not be a theologian, but in this case he does have a great theological point. Christianity is at its best, its brightest and its boldest when it is done in community. This is true of life on the #NarrowRoad as well. Jesus began his journey in ministry by gathering a group around him with whom to travel and share life. The good times become so much better and the bad times become so much less daunting when we are surrounded by people we care about. They push us when we need pushing, hold us back when we begin to get too self-involved, hold us when we feel broken and laugh with us as we discover the joy in the journey. Making music- sharing life- with our friends is an important part of our spiritual growth. If you feel alone on the road, then perhaps you have chosen the wrong path.
On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again

One of the problems people have when they consider the #NarrowRoad is a real misunderstanding of the path that Jesus calls us to walk. Far too many of those outside the church, and even more tragically, far too many of those who call themselves Christians, think of the #NarrowRoad as a joyless, dismal path where every road sign reminds us of the things that we are called not to do. The markers along the trail all read Thou Shalt Not for these folks. To them, God is the great judge and a cosmic killjoy, and fun is forbidden by hidden biblical passages they have heard about but never read. Yes, there are commandments that we should obey because they were given to us by our God. But so many others that too many people hold near and dear are man made. Nowhere in scripture are we told not to have fun. Paul writes that we should find joy in everything. Following Jesus should lead us into great adventures, new places and unforeseen moments of life. If you think life on the #NarrowRoad is boring and drab, then perhaps you have made a wrong turn.

On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way and our way
Is on the road again

The slideshow I put together featuring students from my years in youth ministry to the soundtrack of Steven Curtis Chapman's The Great Adventure has been through dozens of changes, but the picture you see above has always been in the same spot. They lyrics to the song are "Let's leave long-faced religion in a cloud of dust behind." Look at those faces. Do they look somber or bored? Does it look like they are worshipping a joyless God? My youth groups did indeed travel like a band of gypsies, friends bound together by God's love. Life wasn't perfect, but it dang sure was never boring! Life with Jesus should be anything but bland. There are highs and lows for sure, but they come with knowledge that in the end, God wins. Think about the events of the last week of the life of Christ on earth. What a rollercoaster ride! And at one point, Jesus was arrested and then killed, the disciples dispersed, Peter denied knowing Jesus and all hope seemed lost. Far too many Christians live as if the week ended on Friday. But it didn't. And Sunday always comes, no matter our circumstances, when we travel the #NarrowRoad. And what an amazing, joy-filled day it is- every single time!!!

Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for every purpose under Heaven. A time to mourn, a time to grieve, a time for suffering and a time for letting go. But Philippians reminds us that we are to count it ALL joy. Remember the old children's song "I've got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart?" That should apply to everyone on the #NarrowRoad. And for some of us, if we've got that joy in our hearts, we need to notify our faces. The world needs to see our smiles, hear our laughter, and know that we are on the road again- ready for them to join the family!

Because of Jesus,

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