Years ago, when I served on the staff of my church’s youth group, I had the privilege of attending a training with Mike Yaconelli. He was the Co-Founder of Youth Specialties (among many other wild undertakings), and had an infectious joy that drew in others. At that conference I met Chris Tomlin, worship was led by Switchfoot and David Crowder, and I listened to Louie Giglio boldly proclaim the gospel, but it was Mike Yaconelli who impacted my spiritual growth the most.
Yaconelli gave permission to those around him to love Jesus passionately even in the midst of their mess. This month at Anchored Voices we have spent time discussing how wonder works out in our daily lives, so for April’s book recommendation I couldn’t help but tell you about Yaconelli’s book “Dangerous Wonder.” It is almost 20 years old, but I reach for it often. I pull in off my shelf when I need to be reminded of the freedom of living with childlike faith, or when I need to tell my soul, “open your eyes to the beauty around you.”
With chapter titles like: Risky Curiosity, Wide-eyed Listening, and Happy Terror, Yaconelli constantly causes the reader to examine the assumptions they operate from daily. He does push some theological ideas to the edges of my personal comfort, but it is done as a challenge. He encourages the reader to engage with the biblical text on their own and dive into the mysteries of the Bible.
Yaconelli embodied a person of wonder, and lived out the truths found in his book. He reminds us:
“The nice, nonthreatening God needs to be replaced by the God whose very presence smashes our egos into dust, burns our sin into ashes, and strips us naked to reveal the real person within. A healthy, childlike fear should make us more in awe of God than we are of our government, our problems, our beliefs about abortion, our doctrines and agendas, or any of our other earthly concerns. Our God is perfectly capable of both calming the storm and putting us in the middle of one.” (p.111)
Mike Yaconelli died in 2003 in a car crash, but his books are still available and his legacy of following Christ with wild abandon lives on. I will always be thankful for the inspiration he was to me as a young believer.
To this day I am challenged by the questions he dares his readers to ask, so I leave you some of my favorite as you embark on your own journey of wonder.
“Shouldn’t followers of Christ also be dangerous? Shouldn’t everyone be awed and dazzled by Christians? Shouldn’t Christians be known by the fire in their souls, the wild-eyed gratitude in their faces, the twinkle in their eyes, and a holy mischief in their demeanors? Shouldn’t Christianity be considered dangerous–unpredictable, threatening to the status quo, living outside the lines, uncontrollable, fearless wild, beyond categorization, or definition? Shouldn’t those who call themselves Christians be filled with awe, astonishment, and amazement?” (p.31)
Readers, Do you have book recommendations for exploring awe and wonder? We would love to hear them! Tell us in the comments.
Chara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.