I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, which means, among other things, that I’m kind of weird about snow.
If we’re lucky, we get snow once a year down here. Because of this, we go crazy on Snow Day. Schools all over cancel classes. Businesses close. The only people out driving are either speeding recklessly or going fifteen miles per hour on the highways. We don’t know what to do with ourselves because HOLY CRAP WE HAVE PRECIPITATION AND IT’S NOT FLOWING INTO THE GUTTERS LIKE THE OTHER STUFF WE USUALLY GET.
Those of us who aren’t panicking and buying out WalMart’s supply of bread and bottled water are swept up in a sense of wonder and magic. This beautiful white stuff from heaven has transformed our drab world into a winter wonderland, especially if you look in the corner of the yard where your dog hasn’t walked around and melted all the snow with his feet. I remember one time when I was younger, we gathered every bit of snow we could find in the back yard to make the biggest snow man I’d ever seen. It must have been nearly three feet tall.
Even now, when snow days mean crazy traffic and de-icing my windshield and cleaning footprints of muddy snow out of the carpet, I still feel like a little bit of magic has left the world when the last traces of snow melt away. There’s something special about it, because it’s such a rare treat.
My wife, however, grew up in Iowa.
This isn’t to say she doesn’t still see the beauty in a peaceful, snowy day, or that she doesn’t appreciate how rare it is to get a good snow in Texas, but let’s face it: in Iowa, snow is a little more common than it is in Texas. It takes more than a few frosted leaves to awe my wife. She grew up expecting this stuff every winter. It was part of her reality.
In some ways, my experience with Christianity has been much like my wife’s with snow. I grew up in a Christian home, with Christian parents who had Christian parents. My dad taught and coached at a private Christian school, so I was able to attend there from preschool through my senior year. I went to a Christian college, and attended church fairly regularly all my life. I don’t remember the first time I was told that God loved me, or that the Bible is his word, or that Jesus died for my sins.
Much like snow in Iowa, the basic tenets of Christianity were just part of the reality I grew up in. Sure, I could appreciate what a good thing it was that I’d been redeemed and how cool it was that God loved me, but I’d heard it all for so long that it just didn’t wow me. It was towards the middle of my college career that I realized I had begun to adopt an attitude that said, “I’ve heard all this before. I know it all. I’m ready for something new.”
But deep down, I knew there wouldn’t be anything else truly new. I wasn’t going to suddenly realize two pages in my Bible had been stuck together, hiding a book that taught about a fourth member of the Trinity or that shared an extra command Jesus gave his disciples before ascending into Heaven. Everything God wanted me to know about himself and his plan for the world was in the Bible I’d been reading since I was five years old.
I was following a religion of old truths.
I realized I had two choices if I wanted to avoid spiritual boredom. I could start adopting some new ideas into my personal faith, regardless of how heretical they might be, or I could look closer at these old truths and try to see them in fresh ways. I wasn’t particularly interested in outright heresy, so I went with the latter option.
The book you are about to read is a collection of blog posts I wrote over the course of several years. The blog started as an assignment for a college class and quickly turned into a sort of spiritual journal, among other things. I don’t think I realized it for a long time, but this was the main way I went about seeing those old truths in fresh light. Each post represented a small epiphany, a moment when I realized I’d never thought about a story in a certain way or that I’d never thought to apply a familiar concept in a specific area.
I don’t think my journey is all that unique. I think a lot of people who grew up in church have faced similar struggles with boredom and staleness. Having a rich spiritual heritage has a lot of great advantages, but it isn’t without its challenges. If you’re like me, and you’re ready to move out of this staleness, this book is for you. You won’t find any new revelations that God shared with me and only me. There are no just-discovered alternate translations for a verse you memorized years ago. This is just a bunch of old truths presented in the fresh light that helped them come alive again for me. It’s my hope that they’ll do the same for you.