God speaks in many ways. Sometimes He reveals truth through the Bible. Sometimes through a sermon or an insightful word from a friend. Sometimes He doesn’t even use words but leaves an impression in your spirit. And sometimes He straight up Jesus Jukes you. If you’re not familiar with the concept, allow me to explain. To Jesus Juke someone is to take an ordinary situation and over-spiritualize it. I went to a Christian college so I experienced this phenomenon on the regular. So much so that it became a game to suck the transcendence out of a moment by pointing out the obvious transcendence of a moment. “Hey guys, this mountain trail reminds me that life with Jesus is a journey with many ups and downs, but always made better if we travel it together.” Collective groan. That is a Jesus Juke. It trivializes an otherwise profound realization by saturating it in cliche. And unless you’re being ironic, and everyone KNOWS you’re being ironic, it’s the lowest form of spiritual exhortation. So you can imagine my surprise when the Father used this technique on me.
I have a friend who for anonymity’s sake I’ll call Brandon. Brandon and I are as similar as we are different. This has made for a colorful friendship. We both hate goat cheese and mushrooms. We both love good music and laughing too loudly in public. I introduced him to the value of committing early so you get the best seats at concerts and he introduced me to the catharsis experienced by firing a Glock. I think purging a closet should be an Olympic sport, for which I would win a gold medal, and Brandon hasn’t thrown anything away in the almost 3 years I’ve known him. He currently has 4 motorcycles. In his living room. And this is where our story begins.
Recently, he managed to get me on the back of one of his bikes, a feat I thought impossible since I had successfully maintained a life long fear of them. I love the idea of motorcycles, but hate all the leaning. Call me crazy, but I don’t think getting closer to the asphalt while going 60 mph should be part of one’s morning commute. Nevertheless, he managed to convince me, and after a few short rides, I was comfortable enough to agree to longer ride.
On one particular Autumn afternoon,we decided to take his Honda Shadow to the mountains. Up to this point, I’d only ridden Blue, that’s what I named her, on Main St. Those rides consisted of going 15 mph down a straight road, 1 block at a time. But not this day. No, this day would be a real ride. I was as terrified as I was giddy. As we set out, Brandon looked back and said what he always says to me when we are on the bike. “Remember to lean with me. If you don’t, we’ll get off balance.” And with that, we set out.
Side bar: I think the allure of motorcycles is the intrinsic cool factor. It’s impossible to look like a tool when you’re on a bike…unless you’re me. I managed to strip all of the cool out of being on one. I tried to assimilate to bike culture, but I’m a sedan girl and everyone knew it. Did you know there’s an actual method to waving at other bikers and it doesn’t consist of grand hand motions and an uninhibited, I’m-new-at-this grin? I had no chill. Eventually, to Brandon’s relief, I stopped trying and just let him handle all the coolness. It’s important to know your gifting and liabilities. But I digress.
As we headed north, I started experiencing an emotion I’d never felt in my life. It was a mixture of total excitement and consuming anxiety. Careening through traffic on highway 25 wasn’t the time to process this with Brandon, so I took my feelings to Father. The conversation went something like this.
Me: Father, are we going to be ok? Was this the dumbest idea ever? You told me to read Ecclesiastes and it says wisdom is futile. Maybe I’m misapplying this…
Father: Relax about it. (He’s been saying this to me a lot, lately)
Me: But I’m scared and what if we have a wreck? (I started having visions of the Lifetime movie that would be made about me, The Girl with no Skin.)
Father: You’re going to have fun today. Just enjoy it. I’ve got your security detail on this. Don’t let the fear of something that’s not even happening keep you from enjoying the fun that is. I want you to enjoy this. (He’s been saying that a lot, too.)
Me: Main St. is straight, and I know it, and if something happens, we’re going 15 mph, so how bad could it be? But I don’t know this road. I don’t know what’s coming or when Brandon’s going to lean. And I can’t protect myself. I’m completely out of control right now.
Father: (and He said this playfully) You have control issues….
Me: That doesn’t even make any sense. How can I have an issue with something I don’t even have. (So glad He is ok with speaking in sarcasm and irony. That’s the kind of relationship we have. He is GREAT at banter.)
Father: You know, Cheryl, if you’re going to have any fun, you have to let go and trust that Brandon knows what he’s doing and that he’s going to take care of you. This is exactly what your life is like right now. So much is changing around you. You don’t know what’s coming so you can’t prepare yourself. You’re allowing fear to rob you of the enjoyment I want you to have. It’s true that you have no control. But that’s ok. If this is going to be any fun, you have to let go and trust that I know what I’m doing and that I’m going to take care of you. I’ll do everything. All you have to do is Lean With Me.
And there it was. A divine Jesus Juke. Ok, for the sake of full disclosure, I rolled my eyes a little, but it’s ok. Like I said, we have that kind of relationship. But mostly those words sank deep into my bones. Lean with Me.
I spent the rest of the ride relaxed and in the moment, learning how to lean with Brandon, not anticipating and leaning early, or allowing anxiety to keep me stiff and inflexible. We got to the bottom of the mountain where the curves got more…curvy and the leaning got more…leany. Brandon looked over his shoulder and calmly implored me. “Cheryl, this is where you really need to trust me.”
Alright, Father! I hear you!
This past summer brought one change after another. Most were unpleasant and all of them were totally out of my control. I’m embarrassed and sad to admit that I spent much of the time complaining, scared, exhausted, wallowing in self pity, and clamoring to find some stability and control through my own efforts and paltry wisdom. Father and I were off balance. Since that afternoon on Blue, since He juked me hard, I’ve been trying to see each change as an opportunity to trust the Father. More changes are coming. I can feel it. But I don’t want to only have faith in hindsight. I want to rest knowing that every change, every turn was known and planned by Him. I want to trust His faithfulness now, on the unknown road, not just looking back from the perspective of the mountain top. I want to move with Him when He whispers Lean with Me and enjoy the ride.