My near-constant companion is the voice that says, “Wait! Why don’t you…(“do it the other way?”, “consider that obstacle?” “think about that outcome?”). It’s a voice that imagines I should have paused, delayed or considered, or in all ways, do something different.
That voice is one that often sounds so measured and grown up. I suppose it’s Freud’s super-ego full on. It appears reasonable and sensible and makes you think that if you don’t follow it then you are acting irresponsible. And whew, I don’t think I’d have made it to adulthood without this voice. It’s the voice that tells me to lace up my shoes and run a few miles; it directs me to finally put the ice cream away and to not swear at the driver who just cut me off. All great contributions to a long and holy life.
It’s the voice that very reasonably told Jesus “I will absolutely leave to follow you, but first I have to bury my dad.” Sounds sensible to me.
A few months ago when I learned how much our church was receiving from a long-ago real estate deal, I thought “It’s a miracle. We are behind on our annual budget. This will really plug the hole and then some! I thought about the pet improvement projects I had – repaired stain glass windows, roof top garden to grow vegetables for our food program. All very sensible projects. Even when it became clear to me that the Lord wanted us to tithe on the money by entrusting it to church attenders to give in whatever manner God so desired, I still wondered if we could ‘hold a little something back’ for these very sensible, sound projects.
I realized I wanted what the grave-digging man wanted – I wanted to follow Jesus AND my plan. I wanted to step out in bold faith but only in a way that allowed me to look and feel responsible. Or, to put it in the language of Luke 9:62, I most certainly wanted to put my hand to the plow…but I just wanted to look back to make sure my rows were straight.
Sometimes Jesus just asks us to act. Now. In ways unconventional and uncomfortable. Like when The Simple Way folks dropped coins onto Wall Street. Or when the woman poured out her love by anointing Jesus with expensive perfume. There was a super-ego voice in that scene too wasn’t there? Someone responsible who very carefully reminded the woman that the money should have been spent in more appropriate ways — like feeding the poor.
Oh yeah…that was Judas.
It’s at this point that I start to look deeper. Seeing the ways Jesus seemed to regularly upend the super-ego voices of his day and asking his followers to do the same. And I realized there is something worse than being perceived as incautious…and that’s to never push past that voice that will always say wait!…why don’t I….