Well, I missed the chance to link up with Ed Cyzewski's sychroblog by a long shot. This is a decidedly not-synchronized post. But, I am excited about his new book (with co-author Derek Cooper), Hazardous Faith: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus, and I loved the challenge he posed to bloggers: write about a challenge you face as a follower of Jesus. There are already a lot of great posts that were actually synchronized; you can find highlights here.
The truth is this: general busyness is not the only reason for my tardiness. Ever since I received an invitation to participate, I've been a bit anxious. Sheepish. As I wrote in a contribution to Catapult Magazine at the beginning of the summer:
I am living a life that is so good I am almost embarrassed by it.Those don't really sound like the words of someone living dangerously for Jesus, do they?
My family lives in a small, sturdy Dutch colonial house with a new roof and a 30-year mortgage. It is charming, as are the lilacs lining our driveway. We greet our neighbors by name and share meals with them. My husband stays home with our two daughters, who are smart and sweet and even more charming than the neighborhood. Juliette recently asked for more spinach (please) during supper, and Genevieve, the baby, rarely cries. I work at a thriving Congregational church less than a mile away, serving as the associate minister. I have a beautiful view of the courtyard garden and sanctuary. On warm days I open my windows to listen: to the robins, to the organist practicing Bach, to my daughter’s preschool class. My co-workers are fun. I am paid well to do creative and meaningful work. I have extraordinary friends, far and near. I am healthy, training for my first triathlon. I recently accomplished one of my lifelong dreams, to write a book. I am happy. We have our problems, but they are small: plumbing crises and marital arguments and never enough uninterrupted slumber. It’s impossible to measure, of course, but I reckon I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life.
(That said, things have changed since I wrote that. The baby cries more now.)
So you can understand why I dragged my feet a bit about this particular writing prompt. I'm too comfortable to write about hazardous faith.
The joke is on me, of course.
This is where we are supposed to be, where God has called us to live and serve. But the same comfort I receive as such a gift is itself a sort of hazard. There is such a thing as too comfortable. Complacency is insidious, and, though not as present a danger as, say, the earthquakes that unnerved me in California, it is native to the Midwest. The corollary danger of affluenza is also real. I could easily cultivate a covetous spirit in this neighborhood.
And, on the flipside, there's also the possibility that in an attempt to fend off the so-called dangers of the too-good life, I could set myself apart from the community in which I live. Even as I envy whatever cool new thing the family down the street has, I could judge them for spending their money on frivolities. I could believe the lie that my minor misgivings about suburbia somehow make me better than it.
I wish I had some brilliant nugget of wisdom with which to close this post. But the fact of the matter is this: Ed's challenge restarted the same soul-searching I experienced while reading and contemplating Jen Hatmaker's book, 7. I am two years into a new place. I have experienced profound change - personally, professionally, and not the least spiritually. What does faithful discipleship look like in this place?
(Perhaps I'll have some more answers after I read Ed's book.)