Day 24: "Die-to-live approach."

"After all, what use is it to win the world and lose your life?"

—Jesus in Mark 8:36

I long to live in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  To live with humble attentiveness to divine breathings, and also in the power of the Word/wisdom already given us.

I wonder: how do we fully embrace being so human and earth-bound in our relationships, body, mind, etc., but at the same time develop God-centric thoughts, which can at times “make sense” to our humanness, and at other times not make any sense at all?

As I read chapter twenty-four, "Human Thoughts"—which is all about Jesus' interactions with both "the satan" and with Peter—the theme of death as a path to life resounded with me. In fact, it's a theme that has resounded with me for quite some time.

I feel a certain reverence for the idea of life coming out of death, and reflect often on the beauty and pain of this idea—both in our human experience as well as in nature. One of the more recent and larger examples of that death/life process for my wife and me came over the last year as we embarked on a journey to a "foreign" place: Wisconsin, USA.

Having lived for some time in Boston, New England, and having been thoroughly soaked with love for our friends, community, and New England as a whole, we felt a divine nudge in our minds to move back to Wisconsin, where my wife and I were raised. 

But here's the odd thing: the distance of +1000 miles and +10 years of living elsewhere had created a strong feeling of "foreignness" for us. The nudges to take a risk, to start a new business, and to reconnect with our roots felt strange.

We wrestled to do what we felt led to do because: on the one hand, it looked so simple, and did not appear to be very faith- or adventure-filled to "return to our roots"... but on the other hand, to leave a strong, loving, and inspiring community; to leave the city we loved; to leave a premier job—these things did not compute for our human thought processes either.

For a time we had envisioned an inspiring and restful sabbatical in South America and then perhaps returning to Boston, but instead we were shown a risk-taking and uncertain path...back to the Midwest, back to our roots, back to some sort of foreign-familiar: Wisconsin.

Our heads were able to acknowledge timely encouragement of “leap before you look” and to take the steps of faith and risk, but our hearts were not quite there (and, frankly, have still not caught up).

However, in the same way that Jesus saw and showed Peter the depths of the Story of God in Mark 8:34-36, we too wanted to believe beyond the initial human thoughts as to what the next season of life would look like for us.  And in that journey, we have been reminded that life comes from death, that we are given the opportunity to "safely" take risks, and to sometimes leap before you look.

Life is too short and God is too good for us to play life too safe and sensible to our human thoughts.

Clearly Peter's outlook for safety and power changed from the times of Jesus' rebuke to the post-Ascension power of Peter's life that we see later in the Book of Acts. By then, Peter had better learned from and followed Jesus' die-to-live approach, and he went on to live a life of faith-filled risk-taking and boldness.

And in doing that, Peter shared in what I call the Fellowship of If-You're-Not-Living-On-the-Edge-You're-Taking-Up-Too-Much-Room.

Today's guest post is by Jordan Schulz (aka "the Jordanian" in the acknowledgements): Jordan lives with his wife Elizabeth and their three daughters Eva, Brooklyn and Louisa in Madison, WI. He spends time working as a real estate consultant on large projects, reading to and playing with his daughters, and fixing up his very old house. 

Photo credits: Chelsea Hudson