Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Experience vs the Expectation Pt. 2- Visionary Blindness

Jesus grew up as the son of a carpenter- sawing logs, planing wood, and generally doing all that woodsman stuff.  For 30 years he found himself picking sawdust from his skin at night as he lay down to sleep, shoulders aching from a hard day's work  For 30 years, he smelled the scent  of cedar and birch as they filled his nostrils, and felt his hands callous with each stroke of the saw and each strike of the chisel.  For 30 years, this was all he knew.  For many, this could appear to be all he was, but Jesus knew there was more.  In Luke 2:42 we have the beginnings of one of the more popular stories in Biblical history.  Jesus' mother and father have returned from Passover in Jerusalem, sans Jesus.  Presumably and understandably frantic and panicking, they return to Jerusalem only to find Jesus sitting with rulers and leaders of the synagogue talking about the Torah, impressing and amazing them all.  When asked why he had left them so worried, his response was both prescient and profound, “But why did you need to search? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  Confused, I'd imagine that his parents shooed him home, upset that he had caused such a ruckus and made them come so far to find him.  If they were like other parents of special or gifted children, I would imagine that they kept Jesus sheltered, especially knowing that there was quite literally a price on his head (see Matthew 2:16).  For them, his disappearance had to set off all sort of alarm bells and leave them wondering if their son would be ok on his own.  I mean after all, he was the son of a carpenter, not a street savvy or scholarly boy- why would he be amongst the leaders of his day?  More importantly, how would they respond to him?  That's a digression from the main topic though.

Jesus was by all accounts a man of hard work and long hours, someone who was ostensibly destined to pick up the mantle of his father after Joseph's hand had become too old to continue.  In the midst of all this, Jesus knew there was more.  Yes, one could argue that, being the son of God he didn't give his destiny a second thought, but the prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane belie this wasn't wholly true.  Jesus was human, and as such, plagued by the same doubts as the rest of us.  He was tempted in every way, and still didn't sin (see Hebrews 4:15)- meaning that even doubt came knocking at his door.  Jesus was the son of a carpenter and he knew it, so how did he juxtapose what he knew about his background with what he also knew about his future and his destiny?  How did Jesus deal with the dynamic tension that existed between the experiences of his upbringing and the expectations of his calling?

In Matthew 3 we have the account of Jesus coming to his cousin John to be baptized.  An all too common practice at the time, it is unclear whether Jesus knew that something major was about to go down.  After hearing the chastisement his cousin doled out to the leaders of the day for their hypocritical ways, it is still unclear what Jesus' full intentions were on this day- even though this is the day everything changed for Jesus (and arguably for the rest of us).  Walking into the midst of the water, Jesus finds himself suddenly getting the greatest endorsement of all time.  The heavens part, birds swoop down and voices boom from on high.  Imagine for a moment you're one of the spectators of this whole deal.  "What?  God is well pleased?  Huh- this is His son?  I thought he was that Joseph guy's know the one who does the stuff with the wood. "  

We have the benefit of looking back on the story knowing the entire thing.  We have a birds' eye view, but those who were in the midst of the story have no such benefit.  To them, all they see is the confusion of having a carpenter's son suddenly thrust into the limelight as the son of God.  But for how many of us is this also true?  How many of us have spent our lives toiling away at a vocation, gaining skill and ability that make us the go to person for this or that, all the while knowing there was something more?  How many of us have heard the words of others telling us that we are no more than where we are and what we've done, all the while believing there was something more to which we are called?  Further, how many of us have attempted to step into our calling only to have people look at you and say, "This is just the carpenter's (or baker's, or plumber's, or...) son- we know his mother (see Matthew 13:55)?  Most importantly, how many of us hear the scoffing, and see the disapproving looks in people's eyes and accept that what they say must be true, all the while feeling the burning passion for more deep within our chests?  You know that there is a destiny for you, you can see it, taste it and it fills up the entirety of your vision, but find yourself so focused on what people are saying that you fail to see what God is showing you.  You suddenly and inexplicably suffer from visionary blindness because the lies being told speak all too loudly in your ears.

I'll say again (and in closing because I know this post is forever long)- you are more that where you've been.  You are a destiny and a purpose that God set in motion before the world was ever formed.  You are called higher and farther than you can possibly imagine and, if for a moment your eyes could focus on the vision and shut out the cacophony of self doubt, you would find yourself stepping into a destiny that far surpasses you because, quite frankly, it was never about you in the first place.

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