I’m no footy head. I do read the newspaper, but to be completely honest, as far as I’m concerned it ends after the classifieds. What’s that? There’s a sports section? Nope. Don’t believe it.
So it was hubby who alerted me to an article on former rugby league player Jarryd Hayne (aren’t we the stereotypical couple!). This guy used to play fullback for the Parramatta Eels here in Australia before deciding to switch codes and countries at the height of his career. He’s kind of a big deal.
To clarify – for those who, like myself, start to glaze over when sporting acronyms are bandied about – Mr Hayne now plays for the 49ers, an NFL (National Football League) team in the US.
Everyone’s been like, ‘Why’d you do that?’ And Hayne gave an answer recently for an official 49ers podcast.
“Every person in the Bible got put out in the wild,” he said.
“God wanted to test their faith and see what they would rely on. And I felt like that, for me, was to come over here. To test my faith and who I am as a person.”
I always get goggle-eyed when I hear a famous person sharing about God – about their faith, their relationship with Jesus, as being something more than warming a pew of a Sunday.
That takes spunk. Saying you love Jesus to an international audience. There was the roar of applause in my head as I continued to read what this fellow believer shared.
“What I was worried about is, can I have the courage to make the first step?” Hayne continued.
“That for me is success. Being able to push yourself places that you never thought you’d go.”
He spoke about “the wild”, about the wilderness experiences of people in the Bible and how we all experience them to varying degrees. I was most struck by his (and his family’s) desire to SEEK the wilderness in order to experience God more.
Seems to me there are two kinds of “wild” experience in the Bible:
ONE: Being in creation.
Separated from distraction and immersed in the wonder and awe of what our Creator God is capable of. This is time to channel focus on God, to seek Him for direction, to honour Him with our time and energy.
TWO: Being removed from the known.
In some ways, this experience can be the opposite to the above. This experience is often painful and pocked with confusion and difficulty, things that will either draw us nearer to God or wrench us away from his healing presence. The clamour of need has the potential to grow our faith rapidly.
Even Jesus experienced the “wild” – the untamed character of nature and humanity in one, 40-day sitting.
“The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.”
Mark 1:12-13 (ESV)
Can you imagine it? After that length of time, I know that my body would be screaming at me for food, for a nice soak in a bath, for a shave and a haircut, for some luxuries of hand cream, chats over coffee, a bit of chocolate before bed, a bunch of flowers on the table. My mind – it would be at its wildest, second-guessing, taking stabs at my faith, feeding me lies, enticing, tempting, driving me downward. That’s not to mention the creepy-crawlies and sharp-toothed creatures that shared my abode for 40 loooong days.
Yet. Yet. Yet, the space. Not to wish it. But the result. Time when we are tested and proven faithful. The fruit of it.
Do I huddle in a hole thankful for its safety, or do I leap into the treacherous expanse and thank God for carrying me?
I want wild. Like Hayne, I want to be ever ready for God’s call to set sail for another place, to consider a different reality, to give it all up so that God can…
So that God can what?
I don’t know.
That’s the thing with obedience to God. It could come as a small whisper to come alongside a neighbour, or an indisputable message to pack up and move to a war zone.
Either way, the wild is in us; the peace and beauty of creation, and the tension of good and evil. The power of God within our frail selves.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-10