Beginning last Thursday night, a member of my family got sick with the stomach flu each night. Cyrus was first, then Zeke, Breena, Eisley, and finally me. But now the sickies are gone, and there is much rejoicing in the Holt household.
As a way of celebrating my recovery, I bought myself a book: Run with the Horses by Eugene Peterson. The book title is taken from a passage in Jeremiah that absolutely rocked my world earlier this year. If you haven’t read Peterson, I highly recommend him to you. His book, Under the Unpredictable Plant, was given to me at a major crossroads in my life, and his words greatly helped me to take the best road. I hope that, in this season of life, his words will be of equal encouragement to me.
Peterson’s words at the end of the first chapter absolutely sliced me in half. Read this:
It is easier to define oneself minimally (“a featherless biped”) and live securely within that definition than to be defined maximally (“little less than God”) and live adventurously in that reality.
I know, right?! It’s so much easier (and safer) to set expectations for myself so low that, regardless of what happens, I will always meet those expectations. It’s easier to see myself as a featherless biped, a mere cosmic accident, then to define myself as “little less than God”, created by him in his image, and being remade by him into the image of his son, Jesus Christ. The former definition offers safety, but the latter definition offers adventure. The former will be worn out walking with men, but the latter will outrun the horses, or die trying.
How are you defining yourself? Do you define yourself minimally, as though you were nothing more than a featherless biped? Or do you dare to define yourself maximally, as the Bible defines you, being “little less than God”, created in his image and being remade into his likeness? Your self-perception has no relevance on reality, because the truth about you is that you are made to live adventurously in the reality that you have been created in God’s image.
I’m often afraid to see myself as more than a featherless biped (sounds like something an alien said about humans once on Star Trek…). I think I’ll just disappoint myself or (worse) others. Ironically, I regularly encourage people to see themselves as Spirit-empowered imagebearers of God who can “outrun the horses.” But I think and feel I’m the exception, the one who doesn’t measure up. And that’s arrogant – to think that I’m especially un-special! In this context, I need to remind myself that I’m not “that special,” that is, I’m not the exception. Like ALL Jesus’ friends, I’m filled with His Holy Spirit and am equipped to do the Father’s will in lots of cool ways as I depend on Him.
Thanks for sharing these reflections, Andy. Advent and Christmas blessings to you and your recuperating family! – Stan