The Great Departure
I have found that the moment I fell into the arms of Jesus became a template for the rest of my life. I would do it again and again — all to experience that old “rock bottom” and then the re-encounter that followed. The way Jesus pinned me to his breast and gave me rest that very first time would always call me back. But there would inevitably be another departure. The flashes and bangs of the world have always been hard for me to resist.
The Israelites were like this, too. They were enslaved to Egypt before God came and sprung them from the lap of Pharaoh. The splendors that drove a defenseless people from the abode of the Egyptian king ended with a pillar of fire and the gravity-defying split of the sea. The people of God crossed over the dry land and entered their freedom. They weren’t so defenseless, after all, with the very Lord of Pharaoh on their side. Hungry for deliverance and weeping for help, they were fed by the dew of angels in the wilderness. But even as they were being saved, they doubted. They leapt from the tender hands of God over and over, only to come back to his bosom once more when they realized that the earth was unyielding and lacking in friendship.
What leads a man to abandon the God who made him, who loved him into existence? We inherently know that we come from some place — or else life has no purpose. Some claim to believe there is no meaning behind our design, but they spend their lives trying to explain away their existence anyway. Who are they trying to convince, and why? The constant effort to feed and clothe themselves, to give a little bit of love to their closest friends or to make some relationship work — it all betrays their insistence that life means nothing. They are looking for meaning and hoping that someone will come along and convince them that it is indeed there.
I believe that Christianity is true and that there are many logical, historical and philosophical proofs for this religion. But what none of these account for adequately is the encounter we have with God in those first few moments of our second birth. This is the defining moment for us. We behold the face of God in a very personal way. He reels us in from our depravity and he brings us in for our first real rest. We lay our head upon his breast and it is in this place of surrender that we understand that we had it all wrong before: God had never left us alone, had never hidden himself away. It was us who made that first departure into the wilderness, looking for leaves to hide us and caves to shelter in. We found shame and cold nights of restless sleep in that old way.
The humanity of Jesus is what materializes the invisible and imposing reality of God. Jesus is the primogeniture of all faith. This unity with the will of God was the source of his wonders. We cannot understand the triune nature of God. But it is real — and we experience glimpses of it as we learn to unite our own will with the will of our Father. God surely saw, from his eternal mind, every facet of the reality we would come to inhabit. It was from this divine survey of the expanse of time and space that he dipped his toe into humanity at a precise moment and, in so doing, changed the course of history.
We are so far removed from the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus that even to those of us who “believe,” it seems like a fairy tale at times. We’ve seen nothing like it since.
But it is the resurrection that is the final word on our very last departure. When we leave this life, we will go to a place beyond the veil of anything we have known or experienced here. Jesus came to undo the fatal results of our first sin, to call us up out of the depths of our misery and into something far superior to anything we could imagine.
Charlie is a mid-thirties guy who resides in sunny Florida with his small (but growing!) family. Charlie holds a B.A. in Religion and Apologetics and works in the financial services industry by day, writing about recovery, the Catholic Faith and Taming the Wild places in the human heart in his spare time. His writing has been featured in places like the Catholic stand, SpiritualDirection.com, Catholic Exchange and in print at Shalom Tidings. Charlie serves as the Managing Editor for Taming the Wilds and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.