Extreme Life?

Felix Baumgartner is attempting to set a new free-fall world record today over Roswell.  He is doing this as a promotional stunt sponsored by Red Bull.

Marketplace‘s slant on this story begins with pointing out that many likely sponsors would avoid such a stunt like the plague, but it fits well with the image Red Bull seeking to maintain.

We are more than a decade into “the extreme.”  The “X Games” launched in 1995.  The Goo-Goo Dolls released Iris in 1998, which includes these lyrics that I’ve always been hesitant to cite while preaching:

yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive

The desire, the strongly felt need, to feel something in the midst of perceived numbness is far older than this, though

We learn to build walls to protect ourselves from hurt.  Sadly, these walls can easily become so thick and so tall they shield us from feelings altogether.

I remember watching The Color Purple while a seminary student.  One scene that was designed to evoke emotion did so, and I began to cry.  I cried for 3 hours.  It may have been 4; that was more than 20 years ago now, and I find it hard to remember exactly how long that lasted.

What I remember as though it were yesterday, is the progression my tears took me through.  I had sworn off crying as a junior high student, and, now 23 or so, I revisited each episode of my life that had called for tears.  The loss of 3 grandparents.  Moving as I was going into high school. Leaving home for college.  Going out of state for seminary. Several failed relationships.

We have become people who want to feel only on our own terms.  Thus, we have developed industries around providing opportunities and experiences within which we can “feel” to make up for lives we have crafted to become devoid of feeling.

On the other hand, Jesus said in John 10 that he has come to give us “life to the full,” or “life abundantly,” or, I think, “extreme life.”  What Jesus offers, though, is not controlled opportunities and experiences where we feel to make make up for all of the numbness we have built for ourselves.  Rather, what I have come to understand that Jesus offers us is the ability to live into a life that can accept the reality of feeling as it comes.

This extreme life that Jesus offers does not look as extreme as a 22 mile free-fall.  But it doesn’t require cutting oneself to know one is alive, either.  The extreme life Jesus offers is the ability to live all the time.

Are you ready for that kind of extreme?

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