Authors: Ted Dekker
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TRUE SPIRITUALITY cannot be taught, it can only be learned, they say, and it can only be learned through experience, which is actually storyâall else is only hearsay. Surely this is why Jesus preferred to use stories.
For ten years, I dreamed of entering the life of Jesus through story, not as a Jew familiar with the customs of the day, but as an outsider, because we are all outsiders today. I wanted to hear his teaching and see his power. I wanted to know what he taught about how we should live; how we might rise above all the struggles that we all face in this life, not just in the next life after we die.
We all know what Jesus means for Christians on a doctrinal statement in terms of the next life, and we are eternally grateful. But we still live in this life. What was his Way for this life other than to accept his Way for the next life?
So I began by calling Jesus by the name he was called in his day, Yeshua, and I once again set out to discover his Way through the lens of a foreignerâa Bedouin woman who is cast out of her home deep in the Arabian desert by terrible tragedy. Her epic journey forces her to the land of Israel, where she encounters the radical life and teachings of Yeshua, which turn her world upside down.
As they did mine.
Although I grew up in the church and am very familiar with Christianity, what I discovered in Yeshua's life and teachings staggered me. It was at once beautiful to the part of me that wanted to be set free from my own chains, and unnerving to the part of me that didn't want to let go and follow the path to freedom in this life.
I grew up as the son of missionaries who left everything in the West to take the good news to a tribe of cannibals in Indonesia. My parents were heroes in all respects and taught me many wonderful things, not least among them all the virtues and values of the Christian life. What a beautiful example they showed me.
When I was six years old, they did what all missionaries did in that day and for which I offer them no blame: they sent me to a boarding school. There I found myself completely untethered and utterly alone. I wept that first night, terrified. I don't remember the other nights because I have somehow blocked those painful memories, but my friends tell me that I cried myself to sleep for many months.
I felt abandoned. And I was only six. I was lost, like that small bird in the children's book who wanders from creature to creature in the forest, asking each if she is his mother.
Are you my mother? Are you my father?
I see now that my entire life since has been one long search for my identity and for significance in this life, though I was secure in the next life.
As I grew older, all the polished answers I memorized in Sunday school seemed to fail me on one level or another, sometimes quite spectacularly. I began to see cracks in what had once seemed so simple.
I was supposed to have special power to love others and turn the other cheek and refrain from gossip and not judge. I was supposed to be a shining example, known by the world for my extravagant love, grace, and power in all respects. And yet, while I heard the rhetoric of others, I didn't seem to have these powers myself.
During my teens, I was sure that it was uniquely my faultâI didn't have enough faith, I needed to try harder and do better. Others seemed to have it all together, but I was a failure.
Can you relate?
Then I began to notice that everyone seemed to be in the same boat, beginning with those I knew the best. When my relationships challenged all of my notions of love, when disease came close to home, when friends turned on me, when I struggled to pay my bills, when life sucked me dry, I began to wonder where all the power to live life more abundantly had gone. Then I began to question whether or not it had ever really been there in the first place. Perhaps that's why I couldn't measure up.
So I pressed in harder with the hope of discovering God's love. But I still couldn't measure up.
And when I couldn't measure up, I began to see with perfect clarity that those who claimed to live holy lives were just like me and only lied to themselvesâa fact that was apparent to everyone but them. Did not Yeshua teach that jealousy and gossip and anxiousness and fear are just another kind of depravity? Did he not say that even to be angry with someone or call them a fool is the same as murder? Not just kind-of-sort-of, but really.
So then, we are all equally guilty, every day.
How, then, does one find and know peace and power in this life when surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses who only pretend to be clean by whitewashing their reputations while pointing fingers of judgment?
So many Christians today see a system that seems to have failed them. They have found the promises from their childhood to be suspect if not empty and so they are leaving in droves, causing leaders to scratch their heads.
What about you? You're saved in the next life as a matter of sound doctrine, but do you often feel powerless and lost in this life?
Think of your life in a boat on the stormy seas. The dark skies block out the sun, the winds tear at your face, the angry waves rise to sweep you off your treasured boat and send you into a dark, watery grave. And so you cringe in fear as you cling to that boat, which you believe will save you from suffering.
But Yeshua is at peace. And when you cry out in fear, he rises and looks out at that storm, totally unconcerned.
Why are you afraid?
Has he gone mad? Does he not see the reason to fear? How could he ask such a question?
Unless what he sees and what you see are not the same.
Yeshua shows us a Way of being saved in the midst of all that we think threatens us on the dark seas of our lives here on earth.
When the storms of life rise and threaten to swamp you, can you quiet the waves? Can you leave that cherished boat behind and walk on the troubled waters, or do you cling to your boat like the rest of the world, certain that you will drown if you step on the deep, dark seas that surround you? Do you have the power to move mountains? Do you turn the other cheek, able to offer love and peace to those who strike you?
Are you anxious in your relationship or lack thereof? Are you concerned about your means of income, or your career, or your status? Do you fear for your children? Are you worried about what you will wear, or how others will view you in any respect? Do you secretly suspect that you can never quite measure up to what you think God or the world expects of you? That you are doomed to be a failure, always? Are you quick to point out the failures of others?
I was, though I didn't see it in myself. As it turns out, it's hard to see when your vision is blocked by planks of secret judgments and grievances against yourself and the world. It was in my writing of
that I discovered just how blind I was and still often am.
But Yeshua came to restore sight to the blind and set the captives free. The sight he offered was into the Father's realm, which is brimming with light seen only through new vision. And in that light I began to glimpse the deep mystery of Yeshua's Way, not only for the next life, but for this life.
His Way of being in this world is full of joy and gratefulness. A place where all burdens are light and each step sure. Contentment and peace rule the heart. A new power flows unrestricted.
But Yeshua's Way is also opposite the way of the world, and as such, completely counterintuitive to any system of human logic. The body cannot see Yeshua's Way for this lifeâtrue vision requires new eyes. The mind cannot understand itâtrue knowing requires a whole new operating system. This is why, as Yeshua predicted, very few even find his Way. It is said that nearly 70 percent of all Americans have accepted Jesus as savior at some point, but how many of us have found his Way for this life?
Yeshua's Way is letting go of one world system to see and experience anotherâone that is closer than our own breath.
It is surrendering what we think we know
the Father so that we can truly
him, which is to experience him intimately, because this is living eternal life now. It is the great reversal of all that we think will give us significance and meaning in this life so that we can live with more peace and power than we have yet imagined.
In today's vernacular, Yeshua's Way is indeed the way of superheroes. In this sense, was he not the first superhero, and we now his apprentices, born of his blood, risen with him? Would we not rush to see and experience this truth about Yeshua, our Father, and ourselves?
In the Way of Yeshua we will bring peace to the storms of this life; we will walk on the troubled seas; we will not be bitten by the lies of snakes; we will move mountains that appear insurmountable; we will heal the sickness that has twisted our minds and bodies; we will be far more than conquerors through Yeshua, who is our true source of strength.
It is the Way of Yeshua for
life that I present in
. Whenever we find ourselves blinded by our own grievances, judgments, and fears, we, like Maviah, sink into darkness. But when we trust Yeshua and his Way once again, we see the sun instead of the storm.
This is our revolution in Yeshua: to be free from the prisons that hold us captive. This is our healing: to see what few see. This is our resurrection: to rise from death with Yeshua as apprentices in the Way of the master.
So enter this story if you like and see if you can see what Maviah saw. It may change the way you understand and experience your Father, your master, yourself, and your world.