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Monday, February 05, 2007

16 Below Zero Is Cold

As the airplane began to make its descent into Minneapolis/St. Paul, I was awakened by the voice of the pilot informing us that we were preparing to land. I was in a pretty groggy state by this time, but was aware enough to hear the pilot announce that it was 5:30 AM local time- only 3:30 AM back home. Normally, I would have been distressed by this early hour had not the second announcement made me forget completely about the time. In a rather matter of fact tone, the pilot continued to inform us about local conditions, stating rather dryly that the local weather was -16. I laughed a bit and turned to my seat neighbor; "Wow, I must be tired," I said, "I could swear the pilot just said it's -16." When she didn't laugh, I realized that the pilot was being serious. My next thought was to inform the stewardess that I had changed my mind- I would not be de-planing in Minneapolis after all! My plan was to sit resolutely in seat 16F until the aircraft landed somewhere with temperatures more suitable for life to occur. As you may have guessed, this kind of plan doesn't go over real well with the airlines, and so I begrudgingly grabbed my bag and braced myself for the arctic chill that was about to greet me.

The weather here my not be to my liking, but it is good to immerse myself in studies and to consider what God wants to teach me. This week's class is a venture into the world of theology, the study of God. And I can't help but think about the similarities between this kind of study and my attitude towards the weather today. Sometimes we are so willing to stay simple and basic in our understanding of God that we are like a person who would rather stay on the airplane than venture into the cold. But the irony is that no one was made to live in the cozy confines of an aircraft hull. These flying vessels are a means to take us somewhere- to take us places where the journey can begin. If we stay on the plane, we may keep warm, but we miss out on the grander adventure outside the doors.

Sometimes I hear people talk about "having faith like a child" in a way that Jesus never intended. Jesus' intention was that we come to him in simple obedience to follow wherever he leads. We think it means we can stay elementary in our understanding of God and leave the hard work of more mature Godly wisdom to others. But if there's anything the pursuit of theology is teaching me, it's that God is much bigger, much grander, and much more dangerous than we realize. When we get a glimpse of this, it can be a bit frightening and leave us wanting to stay "safe on the plane." But God is calling us to step out of what might be a childish understanding of Him in order that we discover him more and more in His "holy otherness."

God never intended to make us safe or comfortable. He invites us on the ultimate adventure of following Him; a Being who is dangerous, majestic, and awesome beyond all human understanding.

Button up your coat and step out. God is waiting- journey on!



Anonymous said...

Ooh! It is so hot here we are planning a BBQ for breakfast! It's a toasty 45 degrees above zero.

I am interested in your description of God as dangerous...that certainly runs counter to my favorite image of Him as a loving caring Father. ~Ann

Pastor Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pastor Nick said...

Even "loving caring fathers" can be dangerous, in a healthy way. They make us learn to ride a bike when we could fall and scrap our knee. They make us work and perhaps even get a job to learn responsibility. A good father will lovingly put his kids in all kinds of situations that may be difficult in order that they can grow. God is dangerous in that he does the same- he doesn't shelter us, but encourages us to move into all kinds of risky situations so that we will grow and learn to trust Him more.

Linda G. said...

I can relate to your weather shock, Nick, but on a lesser scale. I was in Spokane at 9 degrees, then at midday, 20 degrees. Then, flying above the clouds the sky was blue and clear, and arriving in Portland I had to shield my eyes from the sunshine coming through the airplane window as we turned at an angle to reach the desired landing space.

Kelso seemed balmy at 40 something!