Down the Rabbit Hole

Why I'm Really Here

Have you ever fallen down a Rabbit Hole?

Perhaps you found yourself completely fascinated by something: a band, a book, a movie, or even a movement. Maybe you clicked on a Facebook post, which took you to a fan site, which took you to a subreddit, which took you to a Wiki page, and on and on and on, to places where fanatics love to fixate on every detail of the topic they love. But here’s the thing about Rabbit Holes: no matter what medium they inhabit, it’s the stories they tell that make them powerful.

Since you’re being honest with me, I’ll return the favor. Allow me to confess to a story-based obsession of my own (from which I’ve largely recovered): the Lord of the Rings saga. In J.R.R. Tolkien I found a master storyteller, who weaves a thousand threads together, and leaves no loose ends.

When I got pulled into the Lord of the Rings Rabbit Hole, I began to see it everywhere. An unlikely friendship would remind me of Gimli and Legolas. A news story about military alliances would call Rohan and Gondor to mind. A visit to the dentist might vaguely resemble the ascent to Mount Doom. But more importantly, I would place myself in the story. Frodo’s journey becomes my journey. Aragorn’s victory becomes my victory. Boromir’s fear becomes my fear.

The more layered and rich and interconnected the story becomes, the more places I find to insert myself. This is the power of the Literary Epic. As the plot thickens and the characters grow, so grows our faith in the author to tie everything together in the end, and continually pull us along for the ride. Eventually we believe with our whole being that justice will be done (Saruman defeated), old friends will re-unite (Gandalf and Frodo), and evil will be overcome (the One Ring destroyed.) And the deeper we go, the more we become invested in the protagonists. If you don’t believe me, look what happens when a TV series kills off a beloved character. It would be bad enough to feel as if the writers murdered a friend, but we become so invested that it’s more like they murdered a part of us.

My fixation on Lord of the Rings ended around the time the Hobbit movies came out (sigh). Fortunately there’s a much deeper and grander Rabbit Hole, which pulls me in more strongly every year I live: the redemptive story of God in Yeshua.

This narrative gripped me from an early age, with so many colorful characters doing fantastical things like building towers to heaven or enormous boats for every animal on earth. The signs and wonders created a pull all their own, as I tried to imagine what it looks like when five loaves and two fishes become a banquet, or what it feels like to put one’s feet down on the surface of a lake and stand upright.

“Surface” is a good word here, because that’s exactly what it was. I was dipping a toe in the water, and it felt right. I could have stayed there my whole life, kicking at waves and soaking up the vibes. But beneath me there was an ocean to explore.

I started reading books and commentaries on the Bible. I enrolled in classes. I studied Hebrew. I explored the unique perspectives of Eastern thought. As I went deeper, I started to find the connections between things that seemed independent on the surface. Much like discovering that a grove of Aspen trees is actually a single massive organism, I could never look at things the same way again. Rather than seeing Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David, Yeshua and Paul as isolated characters, I discovered the links that tied them all together into one sweeping arc.

I started off by calling this a Rabbit Hole, and it could have been simply that—a pastime, a hobby, a fixation. But something shifts inside your heart when you draw that tremendous narrative arc from one Bible hero to the next, from one epoch to the next, only to find that it intersects with you.

It’s no coincidence that I compared this journey to oceanic exploration. As I write, I sit in the café at the Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri. It’s a brand-new facility already earning international acclaim. The collection and display of the specimens alone would probably be enough to garner this kind of attention, but it goes so much further. The dream of founder Johnny Morris, in virtually everything he does, is to provide an “immersive” experience. He doesn’t want his guests to simply walk up and look at a River Otter. He wants them to feel like they’re part of the scene. At several points in the experience, it’s actually hard to tell whether I’m here to look at the fish, or they’re here to look at me. (We humans can be quite a spectacle.)

Whenever we experience true immersion, we come away changed. And that is exactly what happened to me, as I dove deeper and deeper into the historical and cultural context of Scripture. Every time I thought I’d finally understood a teaching to its fullest, or wrapped my head all the way around a parable, I would realize there’s another layer beneath it.

Sometimes these discoveries cause delight, and sometimes dismay. But taken together, they’ve made me who I am. And they’ve shown me a picture of a Master Craftsman who delights in the brilliant threads he weaves into a stunning tapestry of redemption. And when I find and follow my own thread through his intricate patterns, I know in my heart that he put it there for a reason. When all is said and done, he leaves no loose ends, including mine.

This is why I believe in the vision of Our Father Abraham. God has immersed us in his epic love story, but so few can really see it. We just want to show you, no matter your background, the thread that runs from Creation to Israel to Yeshua to you. And once you’ve seen it, you can’t un-see it. Once you’ve gone down the Rabbit Hole there’s no coming out. Every relationship, every current event, every visit to the dentist, is bathed in a whole new light.

You matter to God. It takes one second to say, and a lifetime to understand. But what kind of a life would this be without it?

TOPICS: Narrative, Redemption, Scripture, Story, Yeshua