There is comfort in the familiar.
Take your daily routine. There might be minor variations on it, but there’s something reassuring that you know what time you’ll wake up, how you’ll drag yourself to have a shower, then you’ll get your clothes on and might grab some breakfast, say good morning to the children waking up and then get on to work.
Then when you’re at work, sure some people like a bit of variety – but even that variety is within set confines within your control and your understanding.
The worldview you develop and your scope of life remains set. There are key conventions you operate by and as a result there’s little room for the truly unexpected.
That’s what makes it unexpected.
There is a way, however, in which you can open yourself up a little bit more to a way of life that makes you alittle open to the unexpected. Not just the unexpected as a one-off, but something far more – the unprecedented.
When I was a little younger, I was involved in an organisation where ideas, plans and scheeme were decided a lot by whether they were precedented or not. There was this administrative sort who had access to the records of how the organisation had been running since its inception. This adminbod was very helpful for letting us know if there was a precedent for certain moves we wanted to make. Even some of what we thought was fairly radical in nature, it turned out that there were key precedents in place already for that.
It was one very rare occasion when we came across something for which adminbod had no precedent at all to refer to. Seeing the look on the face of adminbod as they were cmpletely stumped was almost worth it in itself. Yet for others it posed something that got them very nervous. If there was no precedent, what could that mean, what would be the risk, how could things turned out.
That reminded me of an episode in the Bible. The children of Israel were on the cusp of the promised land, They sent in some scouts to check out the land and the reports that came back suggested that the undertaking would be very tricky especially because of the inhabitants of the land. Though the picture of the land looked good, the report on the people there sent the Israelites into such a frenzy they wondered why God had set them up like that and preferred to go back. There was no precedent for this kind of undertaking.
At this point, adminbod would have been great. Adminbod would have been in their element exactly because Israel’s experiences with God to this juncture had been full of the unprecedented. The plagues that struck Egypt? Unprecedented. The departure of the people from Egypt? Unprecedented. The manner of the defeat of the mighty Egyptian forces in the Red Sea? Unprecedented. Water in the wilderness? Unprecedented. Manna from heaven? Unprecedented. Even the victories in their various scrapes were unprecedented. The children of Israel should have caught up with the programme that their relationship with the God who delivered them from slavery was a voyage into the unprecedented.
Those kind of experiences should have prepared the people for this part of the journey, but their fear and innate ability to turn from God led them – to their downfall – to reject God’s invitation to go into the Promised Land.
The God of the Unprecedented was not limited to Israel’s journey to the Promised Land. There were hints as to what would happen, but Pentecost itself was something that no one could refer to as having a precedent. The work and mission of the apostles featured episodes which they learnt from the Messiah, but included elements that highlighted how they would be carrying out greater works – not better works than Jesus – but greater to such a degree that peoples in new places had experiences for which they had no precedent.
That’s to say, that the journey of faith is one that has it’s routines in which you can find your familiarity. There are the routines that you can fall into comfortably without having anyoen rocking your boat. Yet as this journey of faith is growing in knowing Jesus, there has to be room in your life to expect no just the unexpected – but even the unprecedented. The ironic thing is that the precedent of scripture is there to expect the unprecedented. Life in Christ is far too massive to enjoy to believe that the precedent will always be there.
Something to consider.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden