I have noticed that it has become quite common in our religious talk to refer to the matter of following Jesus, seeking God, as being a ‘journey’. And there is a lot which is right about that kind of metaphor. It is better than an undue emphasis on the destination and getting there by all means possible. ‘We are marching to Zion’. The emphasis has moved a little to marching away from Zion’. All well and good.
But there is a danger about that kind of talk. It places the emphasis on our doing the marching, the journeying – our doing the seeking. The parable of the lost sheep teaches something quite different. What is important is that God is seeking us – relentlessly. The heart of the gospel is that we are found by God.
What does that mean? We all develop ways, often quite sophisticated ways of hiding from each other and from God. We develop a particular kind of persona and believe that it is truly us. We avoid difficult conversations. We avoid certain people, certain situations. We deflect by the use of humour. We barricade ourselves in behind our learning. Or perhaps our good works. We ignore our anger. Hide our tears. The strategies are endless. It is too easy to live our life in disguise.
We should not be too surprised then if on our well-planned route-march of faith we are ambushed – ambushed by God. Found. Confronted. Faced down. Perhaps by some sort of difficult situation in which our disguise temporarily falls.
I am not sure if we can want to be ambushed. I don’t think we can prepare to be ambushed. But we can recognize it and - perhaps painfully – welcome it when it comes…as part of the journey. We are lucky if we have a friend, a spouse or another family member who is willing to ambush us, refuse to speak to our disguise.
On Saturday 13 January 2018 17 year-old Samuel Lethbridge failed to return to his home in Port Macquarrie, NSW, after a party in Sydney. His father, Tony, worried about his son throughout Sunday. This behaviour was out of character. On Monday morning, following an intuition, he hired a helicopter to search for his son. He quickly found him trapped in the wreckage of his car. He was only 12 miles from home but the car had plunged in to thick scrub and was not visible from the highway. Samuel has multiple fractures but will survive well enough.
Teenagers don’t want their parents to interfere in their social life. In this case the father’s ‘ambush’ saved his son’s life.