IntroductionBeauty on the Other Side of the Brink
I love pure speed and pristine mountains, and one of my favorite places to combine the two is Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Jackson Hole is a bit off the beaten path when it comes to snow-skiing resorts, so the town isn’t overdeveloped with fast-food restaurants, nor are the slopes jam-packed like a shopping mall on the day after Thanksgiving. It’s still a relatively unspoiled Eden, where the local elk population outnumbers the tourists.
One of my favorite ski runs at Jackson Hole is called Timbered Island. Just after you exit the lift, there’s a spot so steep it’s essentially a cliff face. As a matter of fact, if you stop on the catwalk and turn your skis downhill, the tips will jut out into thin air. However, that alarming pitch levels out into a gently sloped field flanked with towering pine trees.
Therefore, if you’re daring enough to go over the edge, you’re rewarded by the feeling of flying—of weightless freedom—followed by cruising into a soft playground of white crystals. It is absolutely exhilarating! Every time I’ve gasped in slightly terrified awe at the top, but I’ve ended up laughing in sheer delight while zooming to the bottom.
Yet despite the spine-tingling payoff, I’ve noticed that most skiers glide right past the precipice without stopping to consider the view, much less consider jumping off. Perhaps because the trail map designates Timbered Island as a “blue run” (which means the terrain is negotiable for skiers of average skill level), they’re seeking a cushy, nonjarring ride. Maybe they’ve become so accustomed to moderate inclines that they’re not even tempted to consider a riskier, more vertical route.
Choosing the safe but boring path is an apt metaphor for the years I spent rather numbly and halfheartedly pursuing God. As Francis Chan candidly describes in his book Crazy Love, I called myself a Christian, was pretty involved in church, and tried to stay away from all of the things that “good Christians” avoid—drinking, drugs, sex, swearing. Christianity was simple: fight your desires in order to please God. Whenever I failed (which was often), I’d walk around feeling guilty and distant from God. In hindsight, I don’t think my church’s teachings were incorrect, just incomplete. My view of God was narrow and small.
Thankfully, I came to a spiritual cliff face that challenged my small, narrow view of God. I got to the edge of who I’d previously understood Jesus to be and risked going beyond it. And the reward has been much more liberating and exhilarating than anything I’ve ever experienced on skis. Choosing to explore past the boundaries of my incomplete perception has led me to a bigger and better view of our Redeemer. I’ve discovered Jesus to be much more confrontational and provocative than the pale imitation of Him I had settled for!
As we explore some of His wilder aspects for the next two hundred or so pages together, I really hope you’ll get a bigger and better view too. I hope you’ll sense the Holy Spirit drawing you into a riskier, more intimate, and less religious relationship with Jesus. I hope that it’ll reawaken the sense of adventure God hard-wired into your soul. That you’ll find yourself awed by His power and glory and laugh out loud with sheer delight over the fact that this majestically untamed Savior is madly in love with you!
Furthermore, although Untamed
isn’t formatted like a traditional Bible study, I hope it will encourage you to experience Scripture in a fresh way. Each chapter includes an icebreaker question to prompt you to connect your own experience with the topic at hand. At the end of each chapter, you’ll also find questions in the “Living and Loving with Abandon” section geared toward helping you reflect on how the “wild side” of Jesus can impact your heart today. These questions are especially stimulating when discussed over coffee with friends! I believe you’ll find Untamed
to be an interesting book-club selection, an engaging Sunday school curriculum, or even a useful tool to help your women’s Bible study group explore the life and ministry of Christ. I sincerely pray it’ll help you experience some of the same freedom God has been lavishing on me lately.
Most of all I pray it quickens your heart to wonder and worship over the mind-blowing miracle that King Jesus chooses us as the objects of His affection!
Excerpted from Untamed by Lisa Harper. Copyright © 2010 by Lisa Harper. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.