His Favorite Fish was Probably Salmon
Lately I've felt a bit of a funk inside. I can't quite describe or define it, but its something that has me a bit uncomfortable in my own skin, in my own life. It longs to slow down, to re-focus. It craves beauty and awe and peace. It wants to feel things deeply.
So I did something last night that made me feel a whole lot better: I crawled in bed with a cup of tea and immersed myself into a new fiction novel.
Which isn't the most wise, Christian solution. In fact, it's convicting and almost embarrassing. It's almost like a food addiction or retail-therapy, surface-level quick fixes to distract you and let you escape the reality of what's really troubling your soul. And, don't get me wrong, I love stories. I think people reflect God when we create and tell stories and I have been challenged and encouraged by a good fiction book. But something is missing when I'm "happier" with my thoughts drifting into a make believe world than I am in my every day life, which is God-given and wonderful if I only have the eyes to see.
But despite everything, as I flipped off the light and laid in the darkness, staring at that deep crack in the ceiling that used to scare me and make me worry about the roof caving in, I started to wonder why reading about Jesus isn't more like a good fiction novel.
Why, if we humans so enjoy the details that carry our imagination into another world, did God not put just a little more story in his Story? A little more of the useless, elaborate descriptions that have no theological purpose whatsoever? A little more of the "meanwhile" narratives? A little more of a glimpse into Jesus' secret thoughts and feelings and irritations? I'd love a little more of all that to help me feel captivated with the drama of the greater Story.
I'd love to read an entire chapter about what Jesus did when he woke up in the morning.
I'd love to know what kind of games he played with his brothers and sisters when they were kids, if he played just as hard as any other kid in the neighborhood.
Or to know what it was like to potty-train the Son of God.
Or what he and the disciples talked about at night when they sitting around a campfire.
What made him laugh out loud with his friends? Did he have any pet-peeves? Did he like pomegranates?
I suppose God is too smart for all that. He probably realized that if we knew too many silly details about Jesus, we'd elevate the unimportant things into overly important things and totally lose our heads. He likely foresaw that if we knew Jesus' favorite type of fish, we'd call ourselves Salmonites or Trouticans and condemn people if they didn't eat likewise.
But God is kind and creative and clever, and he doesn't leave us with a placid manuscript of dry facts, either.
It may not be flowery, but every now and again I stumble upon glimpses of behind-the-scenes Jesus that are just enough to stir my curiosity, and I let my thoughts linger and soak up whatever small scene that he has allowed me to enter.
The way he says Mary's name in the garden, tender enough to lift her head from weeping and look into the face of the resurrected Christ.
The way Peter throws himself into the sea when he sees the resurrected Jesus on shore, and the way Jesus is waiting with a warm fire and a breakfast of fish and healing words to mend the trust that lied broken between them.
The look in his eyes when he stares directly into the eyes of the Pharisees who tested him, into their hearts even to perceive their craftiness, and responded with such wit and intelligence that they were dumbfounded and embarrassed.
The sound of the coins spilling into the streets and cries of the greedy money-changers as he overturned their tables and kicked them out of the temple.
The silence in the room when he rises from the table, ties a towel around his waist, fills a basin with water and begins to wash their filthy feet.
And so many more. So many more little glimpses, so many more subtle invitations to enter fully into the drama of Jesus's life, heart, mind, and emotion. Just enough to provoke my imagination and make me hungry for more of this man, this enigma, this Jesus.
And maybe the mystery remains as a testimony to the truth that Jesus is not dead, he is alive, and he still extends to me the unfathomable possibility of knowing him - of getting to know him. Not through stories but through relationship, through time spent with him.
And I know it's true. I know that when I wake early and sip tea and jot notes into my journal as I read the Scriptures, I'm hanging out with him. Getting to know him. Letting him know me.
Entering into the one Story that makes everything else worthwhile.