I Recommend the Way of the Lamb

 I just finished reading The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb, by Jamin Goggins and Kyle Strobel. I highly recommend it.

The literary style is atypical for the run-of-the-mill, Christian spirituality book. A majority of the chapters are built from the authors' sit-down interviews they initiated with a league of veteran, Christian pilgrims whose legacy is marked by faithfulness to the Way of the Lamb (in the authors' views). At least three of the interviewees - Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson and Jean Vanier - have since passed away (regrettably, as you may know, leadership abuses in Vanier's ministry have come to light since his death). The authors also sit down with Marva Dawn, John Perkins, Jim Packer and James Houghton.

Willard, Peterson, Vanier, Perkins and Dawn have all be influential voices in my own journey with Christ and in ministry - so this book was quite a joy for me to read!

I was struck by the subtlety of the Way of the Dragon (the Way from Below) and how easy it is to travel that road in my life and in the Church. Sadly, as Goggins and Strobel demonstrate, the Church in America is awash in Dragon-Way traveling.

I want to walk the path of the Lamb, the Way from Above. Though, it is one that exposes my weakness, the weakness is redeemed and incorporated into the beauty of the Story of God's kingdom.

Here's a reflection I wrote after I closed the book:

I feel intoxicated by the way from below. Drunk on self-actualization, performance, productivity, success, ambition, control, image-maintenance, self-protection, fear, people-pleasing, criticism, suspicion, arms-length manipulation, pretense, security, comfort, slander, a chasing after the wind.

I want to drink from a different well.

My cistern, fabricated from the world's synthetics is porous, dirty, contaminated, foul, putrid, and leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I'm still thirsty after long draughts from its reservoir.

I want to slake my thirst with the font of your wellspring of life.

My job, my church, my family, my house, my city, my friends; I attempt hostile takeovers to reform them as hosts for my idolatrous zeal that each would give me what they can never produce.

The Way from Above alights on the road I trod, an alternative map to orient my steps toward a surer path. This path is fraught with danger, no doubt. It undulates through shadowy, dense forests, along exposed plateaus, across chilling precipices, through craggy terrain and into haunted valleys. But it also takes me to oases of delight, along springs and breathtaking vistas and toward multichromatic ribbons of light strewn along the horizon.

The road of the dragon may be paved and brightly lit, its routes strewn with companions and glittering sights, but its trajectory is circular - a road to nowhere but the desolate island of self.

The Path of the Lamb may feel lonely at times, but it is not a solitary footpath. Its way is not for lone pilgrims. No, it is a path beaten down by the soles of countless wayfinders who've gone before and who journey beside you toward the destination. The path brings its sojourners to the lush, tree-lined garden city from above.

To trod this Path of the Lamb is to eschew road trip rituals such as hurried road side selfies; instead, the rituals of this stick-to-it-path are a re-enactment of the great story of those Exodus pilgrims, whose journey took them out of Pharoah's enslavement and into the wilderness of liberation as they awaited the given-land of milk and honey.

The road from below is paved with self-congratulation and guarded by fear and shame, but the Path of the Lamb leads to the surest goodness, beauty and communion which every soul craves and was made for.


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