Our third and last child was born in the month of December. When the nurse brought him to me the next morning he was wearing a tiny red Santa hat and I remember feeling I was being given the best Christmas gift ever! He has brought our family so much joy and laughter but sometimes parenting him was a challenge because he always thought outside the box. In fact, what Jordan says about himself is that he LIVES outside the box!
Because his perspective on things is always a little bit different it makes for interesting conversations and interactions. And because his insights are uniquely his own, I love discussing spiritual topics and experiences with him. Sometimes statements which seem counterintuitive to my sensibilities help me see things in a fresh and different light.
Truthfully it was both frustrating and fun raising an “outside the box” child. Sometimes I just wanted to say, “Ya know, life would be so much easier if you just followed the norm and did what you’re told to do in the way you’re told to do it”, but I knew that wasn’t Jordan’s style. Nope. He was a trend setter, an innovator, determined to do things his own way no matter the cost. We jokingly refer to Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” as his theme song.
Statements which seem counterintuitive to my sensibilities help me see things in a fresh and different light.
On days when my patience ran low as a mom I would remind myself that Jesus was an “outside the box” guy as well. Wanting him to fulfill his destiny, Mary was nonetheless flustered when Jesus disappeared for days and was found later in the temple discussing religious law with important teachers. His response seems perfectly honest and logical when he replies to her, “Don’t you know I need to be about my Father business?” (My guess is Mary still had a little “business” to discuss with her son once they were home!)
This defying of the rules and norms became a hallmark of the Lord’s ministry while on this earth. Lunching with lepers. Socializing with sinners. Replacing rules with radical forgiveness. Who does this kind of thing? An out of the box kind of savior, that’s who! He wrecked holy havoc on the religious status quo of the day and brought to the world a whole upside down way of viewing things. “The last shall be first.” “If you have done it to the least of these you have done it unto me.” “Blessed are the meek in spirit for they shall inherit the kingdom.” And to the thief hanging on the cross . . . “Today you shall be with me in paradise.”
I sometimes wonder what kind of shaking up Jesus would do to our ways of thinking and being if he were to show up on the religious scene today? Are we guilty of falling into a cultural norm that is just as restricted in its own way as that of the Pharisees? Are we seeking HIS voice, HIS views and HIS “out of the box” thinking on our modern day issues or are we merely seeking the answers in a well written book or blog by someone whose opinions we hope to be truth?
What kind of shaking up would Jesus do to our ways of thinking and being if he were to show up on the religious scene today?
As I celebrate His birth this Christmas, I am asking Jesus to open up my mind, my heart and my spirit. I’m asking Him to invigorate me with “out of the box” thinking, to possibilities of His power and His potential which I have failed to unleash. To miracles. To signs and wonders. To all the purposes He desires to fulfill in each and every one of us! To the life of abundance He came to give.
About a year ago this time someone I love dearly was in a dangerously deep pit of depression. She had visited several different doctors, tried multiple medications and various forms of therapy but nothing lifted the darkness that was engulfing her. At some point in my logical-next-step thinking I decided to step out of the box. I decided to have radical faith to believe Jesus could do what He said He could do on her behalf.
For five days I fasted and prayed (and a five day fast is, in itself, somewhat of a miracle for me)! “God,” I prayed, “the logical resources of medicine, science, supplements and rest are just not doing the trick. It looks like it’s YOU or nothing! So I’m placing all of my faith in you and believing that YOU will bring life where there is threat of death, hope where there is only despair and joy where there is only sadness. I trust you to be ALL YOU ARE in this situation. In your name I ask and believe. Amen.”
Believe me, I’m not taking any credit for the dramatic and noticeable change that occurred within the next few weeks. I’m just saying that when we step out of the box of usual possibilities and actually BELIEVE that Jesus will perform a miracle He sometimes actually DOES. This next year I am hoping I will pray fewer ho-hum-let-me-pray-because-you-asked-me-to kinds of prayers and more “I BELIEVE! I RECEIVE!” kinds of prayers.
I’m asking God to help me explore new ways of praying, to expand my expectations in HIM and to increase my outlets for expressing my faith to others. And yes, this year I am asking Him to help me where my faith is concerned to live outside the box!