More than half my life has been lived as a Christian and, Lord willing, I will have many years yet to explore the vistas of God's grace. I am filled with anxious wonder about what God will reveal next. I have frequently said that in the nearly 30 years since "I was ambushed by Jesus", to steal a phrase from Brennan Manning, I have learned much more about the Bible and yet I know much less about God. His vastness is never ending. The boxes in which I previously tried to contain Him I keep finding too small.
Over the years, I have been interested in the development of Christians. How is it that we come to believe certain things? How do our beliefs mature over our lives? God knows.
Today I came upon a few paragraphs in Eugene Peterson's book Travelling Light (1988). He wrote, "The word Christian means different things to different people. To one person, it means a stiff, uptight, inflexible way of life, colorless and unbending. To another it means a risky, surprise filled venture, lived tiptoe at the edge of expectation.
"Either of these pictures can be supported with evidence. There are numberless illustrations for either position in congregations all over the world. But if we restrict ourselves to biblical evidence, only the second image can be supported: the image of a person living zestfully, exploring every experience--pain and joy, enigma and insight, fulfillment and frustration--as a dimension of human freedom, searching through each for sense and grace. If we get our information from the biblical material, there is no doubt that the Christian life is a dancing, leaping, daring life" (p. 57).
In my experience and observation, the early Christian life often represents the former, inflexible way. The focus is often on sinfulness, and particularly the sinfulness of others who do not seem to be pursuing righteousness quite as zealously as the young believer thinks is appropriate. They stay far from the edge of the cliff and cast critical gazes at those who do not.
But with life lived and daily infusions of God's unending grace, we begin to discover the robustness of the Christian life for all circumstances and that the Spirit goes with us as we go. When we begin to understand that he will never leave or forsake us, our feet start tapping and we begin to dare to dance at the edge of expectation.