A few weeks ago we had our first snow of the year in Chicago. I’ve grown up with snow my whole life. Whether this was when I lived in northeast Ohio or now in Chicago. This isn’t anything new to me.
I learned quickly how to deal with snow. Every winter it seemed as though I was shoveling the driveway every other day. I had to learn how to drive in the snow. My parents live up a hill, so if there was even a little bit of snow on the ground it was difficult to make it up the hill in my 1997 Lincoln TownCar. I had to learn how to navigate my way home.
I have a friend who lives in Atlanta and she’s only seen snow a few times. She’s of course seen pictures of it and we’ve talked about it, but she’s never endured a winter of snowfall until 2010.
In 2010, it snowed in nearly every state across the country. I heard stories of certain areas, that never get snow, nearly shut down because they didn’t know what to do with this white powdery stuff that was falling from the sky.
I was a Junior in college at the time and I got a call. It was my friend, Erin.
“Hello”, I said
“Clayton”, Erin responded
“Yes. How are you doing?” I ask
Erin, skipping over my question with franticness in her voice said, “I have a question for you. It’s been snowing like crazy here in Atlanta.”
I understood full well “snowing like crazy” in her mind is much different than it is for me.
She continued, “My driveway has ice all over it. I’m standing out here with the water hose. I was going to turn the hot water on to melt it, but you’re from Ohio and you deal with snow all the time, so I thought I should call you and see if this was a good idea.”
Trying hard not to laugh, I quickly responded, “Erin you don’t want to do that because even if the hot water melts the ice, it will freeze the driveway all over again.” I continued, “What you want to do is get some salt to put down so that the ice will melt and then you can shovel the remaining ice off the driveway.”
After talking for a few more minutes I hung up the phone.
My first reaction was disbelief. Do some people really have no idea what to do with snow? Yes, Erin had never experienced snow, at least not to the point where her driveway was iced over. She didn’t know what to do with it.
Snow can be a lot like Jesus. In the past I expected people to act and believe in the same way I did because that’s what Christians are supposed to do, right?
What this funny phone call about an icy driveway taught me is that not everyone has experienced Christianity or Jesus in the same way. My expectation is, everyone should know what to do with snow because everyone has encountered snow, well, Erin didn’t know what to do because her experience was different than mine.
For a long time my expectation of what people, who call themselves Christians should do, say and believed worked the same way. There was a right and wrong way to see, believe, and experience Jesus, just like there is a right and wrong way to deal with an icy driveway.
What if they’ve never experienced Jesus?
What if they experienced Jesus differently than I have?
What if their encounters with Jesus have led them to have a different perspective or worldview than me?
Who is right and who is wrong?
The more I learn about Jesus the more I believe I’m asking the wrong question when I say, “what is right or wrong”? Jesus wants more than that. He wants me to continue to follow Him, walk with Him, and encounter Him each day, learning along the way.
Experiencing Jesus is like snow. Some snowflakes look almost identical, but each snowflake has something different about it.
The same with Jesus, no two people have the same experiences. No two people are going to have the same journey or story with Jesus.
I’ve been a Christian ever since I can remember. I grew up going to church multiple times a week. I have, at times, thought I had this whole Jesus thing figured out. Every time I thought, “I got this.” Jesus would step out from behind the corner and yell, “Suprise!” He showed me that I still have a lot to learn.
This whole following Jesus thing is a journey of discovery and rediscovery.
Following Jesus isn’t about a correct set of beliefs. Christianity is about inviting people into the story of Jesus, the same story I was invited into by my parents.
In celebrating different experiences is where I’ve encountered Jesus. I’ve heard stories of people who have had experiences that were much different than mine. They believe different things than I do but this doesn’t make it any less genuine or real.
They, like me, are trying to follow this guy they find extremely compelling. The compelling part about Jesus isn’t correct belief, it’s the personal adventure I get to have each day.
I’ve seen the most HD picture of Jesus when I’ve had real, honest, authentic conversations with other people. Tweet This
Understanding my experience along my friend’s experience has helped me more clearly understand Jesus.
I use to want concrete answers like what’s right and wrong, very black and white thinking, but I’m learning that like life, Jesus, doesn’t always give us black and white, right and wrong answers, because life is more complicated than that.
Each day for me is a new adventure to learn more about Jesus.
I always love hearing about people’s stories. I’d love to learn more about what your experience has been with Jesus: good, bad or anything in between. Leave a comment or shoot me an email.