Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Old Man With A Staff

"All that unsuspecting Bilbo saw that morning was an old man with a staff."

"But I have no time to blow smoke-rings this morning. I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone." [Gandalf speaking].

"I should think so - in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them," said our Mr. Baggins.. [The foregoing is from The Hobbit].

I wonder how many times all I've seen in front of me is "an old man with a staff"? I wonder how many times I've missed Christ in the mundane, in the outward appearance, in the midst of my routine? I wonder how many people have been invisible to me that have been the apple of God's eye? 

And I wonder about this idea of sharing in an adventure.
A few years ago when I was facilitating an adult class on Narnia I asked the participants to describe the sense of adventure they had as children; after they had finished I asked them to describe their sense of adventure as adults - I think perhaps one person still claimed to have a sense of adventure. We had been taught to be safe, to conform, to stay within recognized parameters, to not stand out from the crowd.

I wonder what the men and women of Hebrews Chapter 11 would say about a sense of adventure? Suppose Abraham, and Moses, and Deborah, and the rest had replied to God, "Nasty, disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" Or there is Jesus by the sea of Galilee calling Peter, Andrew, James and John on the adventure of a lifetime and they reply, "Sorry Jesus, can't do it, got to be back for dinner."

I have worked with churches whose attitudes are, "We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures." And yet we have that disturbing teaching that they who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. It does seem like there might be a bit of adventure in that thought. 

As the scene with Gandalf and Bilbo unfolds, with Gandalf refusing to leave, Bilbo tries again to dismiss his visitor by saying, "We don't want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water."

That's kind of like me saying, "God, could you please go somewhere else and find someone else to share this adventure with You?" 

How many times have churches said, "Not here God - we don't permit the unexpected. Dinner is at 1:00 P.M. sharp - please come back next week but also please try to be good - after all - aren't you supposed to be good all the time?" 

What does your adventure with God look like today? What does mine look like? Am I willing to leave The Shire with Jesus - or will I spend my life in a Hobbit hole?

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