I'd like to recapture astonishment. That's what I've been thinking lately. I'd like to be surprised again. By rain. By the color green. By anything so familiar that I've been looking past it for years.
I've been thinking that same way about faith. When it devolves into a mere set of presumptions, a tick-sheet of assertions about Jesus, rather than an encounter with His shockingly real self, well, that's how the American church has become what it has become. Different groups with slightly different tick-sheets, bickering over what should and shouldn't be on the list.
This is when I want to say, what about Jesus? Is he alive? And what does that mean for me and you now? That Jesus is alive.
Well, that's where I'm at these days. So this week I picked up the Gospel according to Mark, because Mark is simple and direct. I was wondering if perhaps I could let the words, the truths, of Mark's Gospel astonish me again. Open my eyes. Make me occasionally put the book down (well, the ereader) and say, "Wow."
This was, and is, my prayer. It sprung up from my heart in the form not of words but of pure desire. Wake me up, God. Astonish me. It is something like Moses saying, "Show me your glory." Or like the Psalmist's, "Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things in your word."
Yes, it's like that.
"Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things in your word." Please.
Theology is important. At some level I am a theologian too. But theology comes in behind wonder and attempts to wrap words around the ineffable. In some ways, at some level, it is a betrayal.
So, yes, to Mark. Who is young and excitable (or so it seems to me). He starts his document out this way.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."The Son of God"! Have such words (and words like gospel, and even Christ) grown dusty, familiar, merely religious markers rather than indications of something that cannot be adequately dealt with on the rational level alone? Or, in other words, have they lost their power to induce wonder? Have we, have I, lost my capacity to see the wonder, and to bow down?
This is what I desire. To be loosed in a world of wonders. Both as I read Mark's account, and then again when I look up from the page (or from the screen) and into the world around me again. The world He made. Or when I encounter another man or woman, made like me in His image. Fearfully made. Wonderfully made.
Ravish me once more, world (and Word) of God.
[Update: so this morning I come upon this: Michael Card is teaching a seminar down in Asheville, calling it The Gospel of Passion. Here's the summary: "The gospel of Mark conveys the passion of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry like no other book in Scripture. In it the Savior’s emotional depth and caring nature are strikingly portrayed. Allow your imagination to be captured by the Holy Spirit as you explore Mark’s revealing testimony. See the facts you know in your head come to life in your heart as you experience this gospel anew from the perspective of those who first heard it." That's what I'm talkin' about!]