John Eldredge Waking the Dead

ISBN 13: 9781589267329

Waking the Dead

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9781589267329: Waking the Dead
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Wild at Heart helped men get their hearts back.  Waking the Dead will help us all find the life Christ promised.  Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s the offer of Christianity, from God himself. Just look at what happens when people are touched by Jesus the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life. In other words, to be touched by God is to be restored. To become all God meant you to be. That is what Christianity is supposed to do for you make you whole, set you free, bring you fully alive. But Jesus also warned that the path to that life is narrow, and few people would find it. You’ll notice few have. Waking the Dead will help you find that life, see the fierce battle over your heart, and embrace all that God has for you. There is so much more. Do you want it?

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About the Author:

John Eldredge is the founder and director of Ransomed Heart Ministries in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a fellowship devoted to helping people recover and live from their heart. John is the author of numerous books, including Epic, Waking the Dead, Wild at Heart, The Sacred Romance, and The Journey of Desire. John lives in Colorado with his wife, Stasi, and their three sons, Samuel, Blaine, and Luke. He loves living in the Rocky Mountains so he can pursue his other passions, including fly-fishing, mountain climbing, and exploring the waters of the West in his canoe.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

chapter one

 

 

 

Arm Yourselves

 

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

—Jesus of Nazareth (John 10:10)

 

We and the world, my children, will always be at war.

Retreat is impossible.

Arm yourselves.

—Leif Enger

 

 

 

We were running low on fuel, and still the fog refused to lift. Icy Straight spread out below us, beautiful and threatening. I’ve always loved the ocean, the wilder the better. But clearly, this was no place to run out of gas. If by chance we survived ditching the small plane, we’d last about seven minutes in those waters. The nearest chance at rescue lived more than forty minutes away. Great. This is just how it happens, I thought. We’ll make Reader’s Digest. “Family on vacation lost in fatal crash. Rain and mist smeared the windshield as we strained our eyes ahead, searching for a break in the clouds. There’s no radar in these planes; bush pilots fly VFR—visual flight restrictions. If you can’t see where you’re going, well, then, mister, you can’t go there. And you can’t keep trying forever, either; the clock that’s running is the fuel gauge. Three more minutes, and we’ll have to turn back.

“We’ll give it one more pass.”

“Fairweather Mountain” is a total misnomer. With a name like that, don’t you picture some lovely place in Hawaii or maybe Costa Rica—balmy breezes, gentle green slopes, the weather always, well, fair? These mountains explode 15,000 feet or more above sea level, right off the coast of southeastern Alaska, sheer cliffs and foreboding glaciers. Some of the world’s worst weather hangs out here.

The pilot was yelling above the drone of the engine, “They get their name ’cause you can only see ’em in fair weather.”

How cute. What idiot came up with that cleverness? Raw fear had swallowed my sense of humor whole. They ought to have named them the Peaks of Frozen Death or the Don’t Even Think About It Mountains. Fair weather? Around here, that means maybe twenty days a year—if you’re lucky.

We got lucky.

And I have never seen anything more breathtaking in all my life. We banked along vertical granite walls that rose and fell thousands of feet on either side, like a sparrow gliding among the Himalayas. “Are those waterfalls?” I asked, pointing to several cascades of white falling through thin air over the black cliffs.

“Avalanches. It must be warm up here today.”

Massive crevasses in the glaciers below held pools of clear water—a color I never knew existed, something between azure and cerulean blue.

“Those cracks are so big we could fly right down ’em.”

I pretended not to hear. I felt we’d slipped through Death’s grasp, and I didn’t want to give him another swipe. The beauty that now engulfed us was enough.

 

In Desperate Need of Clarity  

Twenty clear days a year—that sounds about like my life. I think I see what’s really going on about that often. The rest of the time, it feels like fog, like the bathroom mirror after a hot shower. You know what I mean. What exactly are you perfectly clear on these days? How about your life? Why have things gone the way they have? Where was God in all that? And do you know what you ought to do next, with a deep, settled confidence that it will work out? Neither do I. Oh, I’d love to wake each morning knowing exactly who I am and where God is taking me. Zeroed in on all my relationships, undaunted in my calling. It’s awesome when I do see. But for most of us, life seems more like driving along with a dirty windshield and then turning into the sun. I can sort of make out the shapes ahead, and I think the light is green.

Wouldn’t a little bit of clarity go a long way right now?

Let’s start with why life is so dang hard. You try to lose a little weight, but it never seems to happen. You think of making a shift in your career, maybe even serving God, but you never actually get to it. Perhaps a few of you do make the jump, but it rarely pans out the way you thought. You try to recover something in your marriage, and your spouse looks at you with a glance that says, “Nice try,” or “Isn’t it a little late for that?” and the thing actually blows up into an argument in front of the kids. Yes, we have our faith. But even there—maybe especially there—it all seems to fall rather short of the promise. There’s talk of freedom and abundant life, of peace like a river and joy unspeakable, but we see precious little of it, to be honest.

Why is it that, as Tillich said, it’s only “here and there in the world and now and then in ourselves” we see any evidence of a new creation? Here and there, now and then. In other words . . . not much. When you stand them side by side, the description of the Christian life practically shouted in the New Testament compared with the actual life of most Christians, it’s . . . embarrassing. Paul sounds like a madman, and we look a little foolish, like children who’ve been held back a grade. Why is it that nearly every good thing, from taking the annual family vacation to planning a wedding to cultivating a relationship, takes so much work?

It’s almost as if there is something set against us.

Shell Shock

Some dear friends of mine just returned from a three-week vacation in France. It had been their dream for nearly twenty-five years. What could be more romantic than strolling the Champs Élysées in the evening, as lovers do? It seemed an ideal way to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. They’d both served God faithfully for decades, but over the years a European rendezvous seemed about as reachable as the moon. Then, late last fall, things suddenly came together. Friends of theirs were headed to Europe and offered two tickets to come along. Time off was available. They were going to France. And right after they made it to Paris, it all fell apart. Craig came down with walking pneumonia; Lori wanted to leave the third day. All sorts of issues in their marriage surfaced, but since they were with friends, the issues mostly played themselves out in their own thoughts—which tended toward divorce. It wasn’t romantic; it was hard. Afterward, as we talked on the phone about the whole thing, Lori said, “Life never seems to turn out the way you think it will, about 90 percent of the time.” No kidding. Haven’t we all got a story that goes with that little bumper sticker?

Just the day before, I received another call. That was the morning our son Blaine was to have his final cardiologist appointment, and I was anxious to hear the news. Now, I know that every parent thinks his child is head and shoulders above the rest, but I’m telling you—Blaine is a special one. He turned eleven this year, and he’s one of the healthiest, happiest kids I’ve ever known. His heart is so good, so spiritually aware, so keen to the hearts of others. He’s surprisingly compassionate for a boy his age, and he’s also the most courageous one of us all. When it comes to rock climbing or cliff jumping or skiing, Blaine is always the first to go for it. He’s a great athlete and a talented artist and a riot when it comes to his humor. He plays the violin; he memorizes cowboy poetry; he blows stuff up; he wants to be a Jedi knight. I love this boy.

And it’s a long story of prayer and hope and worry over Blaine. When he was young, his pediatrician picked up an anomaly in his heart during a routine checkup. The cardiologist confirmed through a battery of tests that, indeed, Blaine had several holes in his heart. “He’ll need surgery,” he said. We opted to wait until Blaine was older, to give God a chance to intervene. The thought of putting my son under open-heart surgery gave me the shudders.

Over the course of those years we spent many nights in prayer that God would heal Blaine’s heart. During one of those times, Stasi, not usually given to visions, had a picture of a light penetrating his heart. At that moment, she felt certain God had healed him. And just this morning, the day for his annual checkup, as I began to pray for Blaine, I sensed Jesus say, I’ve healed him. My heart rested, and I waited for the good report.

“Hi . . . it’s me.” A long silence. “Blaine needs surgery . . . right away.”

Hope vanished. I felt that sick-in-the-gut feeling of an imminent free fall, that feeling you get on top of a ladder that’s starting to sway under you. All kinds of thoughts and emotions rushed in. What? Oh, no . . . Not after all this . . . I . . . I thought . . . My heart was sinking. Despair, betrayal, abandonment by God. Failure on our part to pray enough or believe enough. I felt moments away from a total loss of heart. It seemed inevitable.

These moments aren’t a rational, calculated progression of thought; they’re more like being tossed out of a raft in a storm. It comes fast and furious, but the pull of the current is always toward a loss of heart. Most of the time we are swept away; we give in, lose heart, and climb out of it sometime later. Some never climb out.

Eyes to See

When Spillane (The Perfect Storm) treats injured seamen offshore, one of the first things he evaluates is their degree of consciousness. The highest level, known as “alert and oriented times four,” describes almost everyone in an everyday situation. They know who they are, where they are, what time it is, and what’s just happened. If someone suffers a blow to the head, the first thing they lose is recent events—“alert and oriented times three”—and the last thing they lose is their identity. A person who has lost all levels of consciousness, right down to their identity, is said to be “alert and oriented times zero.” When John Spillane wakes up in the water, he is alert and oriented times zero. His understanding of the world is reduced to the fact that he exists, nothing more. Almost simultaneously, he understands that he is in excruciating pain. For a long time, that is all he knows. John Spillane is a para-rescue jumper sent into the North Atlantic, into the worst storm of the twentieth century, the perfect storm, as the book and film called it, to rescue a fisherman lost at sea. When his helicopter goes down, he is forced to jump into pitch blackness from an unknown height, and when he hits the water, he’s going so fast it’s like hitting the pavement from eighty feet above. He is dazed and confused—just as we are when it comes to the story of our lives. It’s the perfect analogy. We have no idea who we really are, why we’re here, what’s happened to us, or why. Honestly, most days we are alert and oriented times zero.

Has God abandoned us? Did we not pray enough? Is this just something we accept as “part of life,” suck it up, even though it breaks our hearts? After a while, the accumulation of event after event that we do not like and do not understand erodes our confidence that we are part of something grand and good, and reduces us to a survivalist mind-set. I know, I know—we’ve been told that we matter to God. And part of us partly believes it. But life has a way of chipping away at that conviction, undermining our settled belief that he means us well. I mean, if that’s true, then why didn’t  he _______ ? Fill in the blank. Heal your mom. Save your marriage. Get you married. Help you out more.

Either (a) we’re blowing it, or (b) God is holding out on us. Or some combination of both, which is where most people land. Think about it. Isn’t this where you land, with all the things that haven’t gone the way you’d hoped and wanted? Isn’t it some version of “I’m blowing it”? in that it’s your fault, you could have done better, you could have been braver or wiser or more beautiful or something? Or “God is holding out on me,” in that you know he could come through, but he hasn’t come through—and what are you to make of that?

This is The Big Question, by the way, the one every philosophy and religion and denominational take on Christianity has been trying to nail down since the dawn of time. What is really going on here? Good grief—life is brutal. Day after day it hammers us, till we lose sight of what God intends toward us, and we haven’t the foggiest idea why the things that are happening to us are happening to us. Then you watch lives going down with the Twin Towers, read about children starving in Ethiopia, and wham! If a good God is really in charge . . . all that.

I felt so bad that Paris wasn’t what my friends hoped it would be, but I wasn’t sure what to say. Like most Christians in that situation, I simply asked Lori how I could pray for them. “That we would have eyes to see what’s going on.” My heart leaped. Brilliant! Perfect! That is exactly what we need. Eyes to see. Isn’t that what Jesus offered us—clarity? Recovery of sight for the blind (Luke 4:18)? We need clarity and we need it badly. A simple prayer rises from my heart: Jesus, take away the fog and the clouds and the veil, and help me to see . . . give me eyes to really see.

The Offer Is Life

The glory of God is man fully alive. (Saint Irenaeus)  

When I first stumbled across this quote, my initial reaction was . . . You’re kidding me. Really? I mean, is that what you’ve been told? That the purpose of God—the very thing he’s staked his reputation on—is your coming fully alive? Huh. Well, that’s a different take on things. It made me wonder, What are God’s intentions toward me? What is it I’ve come to believe about that? Yes, we’ve been told any number of times that God does care, and there are some pretty glowing promises given to us in Scripture along those lines. But on the other hand, we have the days of our lives, and they have a way of casting a rather long shadow over our hearts when it comes to God’s intentions toward us in particular. I read the quote again, “The glory of God is man fully alive,” and something began to stir in me. Could it be?

I turned to the New Testament to have another look, read for myself what Jesus said he offers. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Wow. That’s different from saying, “I have come to forgive you. Period.” Forgiveness is awesome, but Jesus says here he came to give us life. Hmmm. Sounds like ol’ Irenaeus might be on to something. “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48). “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:38). The more I looked, the more this whole theme of life jumped off the pages. I mean, it’s everywhere.

Above all else, guard your heart,

      for it is the wellspring of life. (Prov. 4:23)

 

You have made known to me the path of life. (Ps. 16:11)

 

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:4)

 

Come to me to have life. (John 5:40)

 

Tell the people the full message of this new life. (Acts 5:20)

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