Later this year, I will celebrate having spent five years married to my best friend. Things are better now between us than they have ever been, and they started pretty damn good. Our marriage has become our “safe place” where we take shelter when the rest of the world is out to get us. We know how to make each other laugh, we know what to say when the other is hurting. We make each other happy. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this marriage is the best thing I’ve ever done with my life.
And yet, for years I’ve been carrying around the sinking suspicion that maybe I’m doing it wrong.
I grew up going to church. I can’t tell you how many sermons I’ve sat through in which the men were told it was our duty as Christian men to be the spiritual leader of our families. And what exactly does that entail? As it was explained to me, it seems to mostly consist of informing our wives and loved ones when it’s time to pray and time to read the Bible… Which is always. In fact, any words spent not telling someone you love to go pray or read their Bible are probably words that should be repented of.
And what of the women-folk? Don’t fret, they have their own roles to play as well: Obeying the men in their lives without question and certainly without challenge. Apparently, in some circles, women aren’t supposed to resemble Jesus as much as cook food for the men who do.
Hell. I’ve may have said too much. I should probably cancel my plans for the evening so I can stay in and properly flagellate myself to the tune of “Amazing Grace”.
Despite how ridiculous this sounds, some of it still got into me. I’ve spent bits and pieces of the past five years riddled with guilt because Leah and I don’t have “quiet time” together. We’ve only ever prayed together a handful of times. I think the last time I’ve simultaneously had Leah and an open Bible in the same room was back in Bible College.
And yet, more than any other thing in this world, my relationship with Leah is what leads me to new discoveries of God. What’s even more striking about that fact, is that we don’t even identify as “Christians” as strongly as “seekers” these days. How is it that a couple of heathens like us can have such an active spiritual life?
High up in the mountains, lies a quiet little village. The air is cool and clean and filled with the chatter of the good, honest, hard working people who have called this place home for countless generations. The village is called Christianity, and it’s where Leah and I met.
We were told stories of strange happenings and wondrous creatures. None moreso than the Wild Beast; a fierce and fearsome creature that made no secret of the fact that it could annihilate a man with a simple flick of its clawed paw.
And yet, strangely, we were told not to fear the Beast. It was kind and would never harm another creature. But don’t get too comfortable! Don’t forget, it could ruin you if it had the urge.
Some in the village told us we should be terrified of the Wild Beast and that it would only accept our very best behavior. If we were too loud, if we did our work too poorly, if we made any kind of mistake at all, it would send the Beast into a frenzy.
Others told us that the Beast was actually quite gentle. We were told if we gave it the chance, the Beast would nuzzle up against us. It would protect us as if we were one of its cubs.
Over the years, we began existing more and more at the fringes of the village. Occasionally, you could catch a glimpse of the outside world through the cracks in the wall. We spent less time doing our chores and more wondering about what laid beyond the borders of our home.
As we looked to the outside world, we were suddenly aware of a massive pair of eyes looking right back at us. We had seen Him. For just a brief moment; like a shadow. He was there until we realized we had just seen Him, and then He was gone.
Nothing would ever be the same again.
The constant debate over the nature of the Beast had grown stale. The same theories, the same questions, the same old stories. None of them made us feel even half as alive as we were when we were frozen in His gaze. The moment in which we saw Him was the same in which we decided to leave. The village offered safety and simplicity. It offered a kind and warm way to live out our days.
But that wasn’t enough. Not anymore. So we gathered what we could carry, and when no one was looking, we slipped away.
We left the village behind and began crisscrossing our way over the mountain in search of something that both elated and terrified us.
As we moved further away from the village, we were surprised to discover that others had gone before us. There were paths all over the mountains. I could walk these paths endlessly… But even a path can become a prison if you never leave it.
My wife prefers the untamed wild of the deep forest. While I follow the paths to grand vistas and underground caverns, she tromps through the forest. She finds things that I never would have seen from any of the paths. She teaches me which berries are safe to eat and which to avoid. She shows me how to track animals. She keeps us living in the moment.
But when we get too far off course, when it feels like we’ve gone too far or stumbled into somewhere dangerous, I’m the one that finds the path that leads us to somewhere new.
Sometimes we catch the Wild Beast’s trail and hunt him. Others, he hunts us. It’s not constant, or even consistent. But we’re closer to Him now than we ever were in the village.
I know this post was a little longer than usual, but I’ve got something for you since you stuck around to the end. If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to “Like” the Hunting for God Facebook page. Next Tuesday I’ll be posting details for an awesome giveaway. Until then, I’ll be showing off some sneak peeks of the prizes on the Facebook page throughout the weekend. Trust me, it’s totally worth taking the time to wiggle your mouse a little or poke your phone.