Lent 2011 - The Jesus Interruption
Each week of this season, we will be entering into the experience of an individual whose life was interrupted by an encounter with Jesus. This week - Nicodemus (John 2:23-3:17)
It is the tenth day of the season of Lent. It is also March 19, which usually means a windy Spring day. And today is no exception.
Wesley and I flew kites today, and it was great! Strong, steady wind kept our kites flying high above our heads for almost an hour. All was well, until ...
A gust pushed my kite over the string of Wesley's kite, another swirl looped my kite sharply downward, and when the strings crossed, my kite's string cut right through Wesley's.
Untethered, Wesley's kite immediately made a beeline for the highway, rapidly losing altitude as it fluttered away. It cleared the fence, and came to a halt on the ground in between the fence and the shoulder. Wesley was a bit worried, thinking it might fly into a car and cause a real ruckus. Fortunately, it did not, so I handed Wes the handle of my kite and started off after his.
I hopped the fence and retrieved it, then hopped back over. I retied the ends of the string together, and soon Wesley's kite was up and flying beautifully again.
Spiritual growth is a process of becoming untethered from what we know, experiencing the chaos of new understanding, then synthesizing it all into a new knowledge. Not just head knowledge, of course - I'm referring to a relationship with God.
Like a kite untethered, this growth can make us worried, nervous, even scared. Any change usually does that. And if it goes on forever, it can cause a real ruckus. But it is necessary for growth, and growth is necessary for discipleship.
Nicodemus was untethered by his encounter with Jesus, and he went to him by night to try to reconnect himself. But we leave the story not knowing how or even if Nick ever got tied back in. He just kinds of fades away. Later appearances in the Gospel of John reveal spiritual growth, but John never tells us explicitly that Nicodemus has become a believer. We are left to wonder.
Growth is change, and change always seems to freak people out. So instead of growing, we tend toward unthreatening, non-scary, comfortable stagnation. But it seems to me that, if you compare a person who is always seeking answers to life's new questions to a person who is satisfied with the answers they already know, the person who is always seeking is actually the one who is more spiritually mature.
May we never fall into the trap of thinking that there's nothing else to learn, no deeper to grow in our relationship with God, no new step to take along the spiritual journey that is Christian discipleship. Let our prayer be for God to untether us from our preconceived notions so that we can continue to mature into the people that God desires us to become.
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