Nearly ten years ago a friend of mine shared a message he had wrestled with for weeks. It was not a message he was excited to share, but knew that God was compelling him to do so. The word he shared changed my life. God used this as a sledgehammer to shatter all that I thought was good and right in my life. This was the Master Potter taking the clay into his hand, squashing it, and starting over. The Potter is not finished with me yet—will he ever be before the resurrection?—and this word continues to be a tool he is using to shape me.
We often repeat the line that “Aslan is not a safe lion.” Of course he’s not. But how many of us actually want to encounter Aslan in all of his un-safeness? Aren’t we really more comfortable just reading about lions, then putting the book away where it can’t find us, claw us, scar us? We are much more at home with a safe God–-one who can be contained in Seven Secrets or Five Principles. One who wants to do nice things for us all day long, like keep the rain away while we hang out the wash. Do any of us really—really—want to meet God, as he knows himself to be, face-to-face? Do we want to hug a God who is an all-consuming fire?
God, it seems, has very little interest in making things comfortable and nice for us. Instead, he is intent on our freedom.
Here is what Joe Spann shared with me a decade ago. Be forewarned: If you truly embrace this, your world will be unmade. I don’t say that lightly. Mine has been. Freedom is a very scary and dangerous thing.
“There seems to be a growing feeling that God is ok with making us uncomfortable. In fact, I think He plans to. We worship a dangerous God and He is coming to threaten every area of your life. God is a loving God, do not be mistaken about that. His love, however, is unlike any human love; its chief concern is not to make you comfortable, but to make you free. And to be free is dangerous and the act of making us free is dangerous.
“I am sensing specifically the danger of the nearness of God. He is waiting in places you do not expect to approach you in ways that you think God shouldn’t and wouldn’t approach you. He is about to move in a way that will not allow Him to be a household idol on your mantel that you cherish and pass down to your children. Your here and now will be changed by His presence. If you want safety, then go back to your idols. They get their name from you, they don’t change your name, they don’t move without your leave, and they will never threaten your comfort. If you want safety, then go back to your idols but do not profess to worship the Creator of the Universe, because He will not be counted among your idols.
“He is about to become dangerous to your everyday trappings, dangerous to your comfort, dangerous to your retirement plan, dangerous to your schedule, dangerous to your social standing, dangerous to your secrets, and dangerous to your religion. The good news is, He is also dangerous to your limits, dangerous to your fear, dangerous to your addictions, dangerous to your sickness, dangerous to your unforgiveness, dangerous to the chains that bind you, chains that you have become way too comfortable with.
“The end result of this is that He wants to make you dangerous again; dangerous to your neighbors’ bondage, dangerous to the pain in the people around you, dangerous to the generations of abuse and pain in your family and the families you know, dangerous to the culture you are in every single day. And He wants to make us dangerous again. Dangerous to our neighborhoods, dangerous to our friends, dangerous to our culture, dangerous to the kingdom of darkness.
“God is about to overtake us, to leap from the shadows and subdue us, to wrestle us to the ground and change our names, and in the process to injure us forever. We will never be the same.
“Now, I grieve. I grieve because I am a rich young ruler and I am not so sure that I want this. I want it from a distance, but to actually be in the Presence of the un-nameable God seems increasingly dangerous. So many of us are rich young rulers. We have our problems solved, our needs met. If they aren’t met at any given moment, an alternative other than God is there to meet them.
“It will truly cost us everything to follow Him. The fact that we have to ‘lose our lives to find them’ has been relegated to a cliche and sapped of its power for most of us. God is about to move in a way that will no longer allow that to be a cliche for you. That means that both the losing and the finding will be at a much deeper and more meaningful level.
“So what should be our response to this?
- Brutal honesty. You may find yourself in situations in the future where you are not sure if it is God dealing with you or not because He has never dealt with you like this before. The best response is an honest one. Don’t pretend that you know exactly what to say to God—just be honest. But be prepared to wrestle all-night if you must.
- If you respond honestly, then God’s work in you will be completed.
- Recognize that He is a dangerous God. Look for the God-boxes that you have built and tear them down.
- Commit today to never pray another superstitious or insincere prayer. Your pretense dishonors Him and He doesn’t want it from you anymore.
- He wants you to have a dangerous relationship with Him. Tell Him all the things you’ve always been afraid to say to God. Meet Him where you are and reveal yourself to Him in ways that you never have.
“This seems severe, and I want so badly to say something to make it more palatable. But I can’t. He comes now, and He comes in force, and He comes to threaten us, His followers, in every way.”