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God…Knocking Your Socks Off. With Socks!

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It was Crazy Sock Day at our Upward game today. My week leading up to today was CrAy. Zee. To say the least. So I woke up this morning unprepared, having forgotten about Crazy Sock Day, until now.

After twenty minutes searching the house, the only thing I could find was my 4year old’s mismatched soccer socks. Thinking to myself, “there’s no way I can show up without some kinda crazy sock”, I throw them on and head out the door.

Let me just say…socks designed for a 4-year old’s foot do NOT bode well with this 40 year old large man’s body. 🙂 Twenty minutes in, I can’t feel my toes. No, literally! I can’t feel my toes! I’m driving down the interstate, and my toes are completely numb. Obviously, I’m not going to make it ten hours in these, so I’m praying…asking God for an answer. I stop by the church office on my way to the gym to pick up some supplies. Now twenty minutes late for having spent my morning looking for socks that are soon going to amputate my toes, I’m hurriedly walking down the hall past the office when God says something to me…and when I say He said it, I mean He actually grabbed my ear and whispered directly at me. “Slow down. Just. Slow. Down.”

So I stop, dead in my tracks, at the office door. Standing in the hall now, I remember the secretary emailing me earlier in the week to tell me I had a package delivered. Not expecting anything, I pushed it aside thinking I’ll get to it next week. So now, I walk in and open the package. To find this pair of socks from South Carolina! Meant as a marketing technique from Upward Sports with the intent to “knock my socks off” at this summer’s leadership training, I’m literally standing in the office laughing at how funny and amazing God really is. God reached into the life of someone thousands of miles away this week and said, “send that man some socks.” Amazing doesn’t begin to cover it.

Not the craziest pair of socks I’ve worn to Crazy Sock Day, but by far the craziest story I’ve shared about how God answers prayer in the smallest, yet biggest, ways. Can I just say? My God is an awesome God! Always there to meet my need, no matter how big or small. He’s there for you to. If you’ll trust Him.

God…sending socks in the mail so my toes wouldn’t fall off after ten hours in my 4-year old SI’s socks. God is funny! Keep your eyes open for those God Moments. They’re all around us. Keep your sense of awe and wonder and be ready! He may just knock your socks off. With socks!

Love,

Dad!

My Son is My Brother

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I read Romans 8 in my quiet time this morning. And prayed. I’ve been praying for you for some time now. In more ways than I could ever share in just this note. You’ve had a handful of other Godly men praying for you for over a month now. An army of believers has prayed for you…and today I write this and etch into history the account of how those prayers have been answered.

A SINGLE PRAYER CHANGES EVERYTHING…

It was just over a month ago that we were sitting in church listening to the message when out of the corner of my eye I saw you clasp your hands, close your eyes and subtly move your lips as if whispering. Fifteen seconds later, you opened your eyes smiled like only you smile and whispered in your mom’s ear. As she smiled and whispered something back, motioning my direction, you leaned over and whispered,

“Guess what I just did?”
“What?”
“I ‘axeded’ Jesus into my heart.”
Heart knowledge…you first received it that day over a month ago.

FROM HEART TO HEAD…

As I mentioned earlier, I’d been praying for your faith to grow to the point of understanding and acceptance of the free gift of salvation through Christ for long before this moment. Now, as your heart became filled with the Spirit of God, it became time to begin praying for the understanding of what that means for your life and how to apply it. Over the course of a month of more in depth conversations…lots of questions. You’re so analytical and inquisitive. Finding ways to explain it in ways you can understand was a fun challenge. And then it finally sunk in.

FROM HEAD BACK TO HEART…

I read Romans 8 in my quiet time this morning. And prayed. God’s timing then to arrive at church this morning and have you tell me you were ready. Who am I to stop the Spirit from moving a person to action? 🙂

A NEW BROTHER…

I read Romans 8 in my quiet time this morning. And I read it again this afternoon. In a whole new light. The light of the joy found in having a new brother in Christ. And I share a part of it here now as my prayer over your new walk of faith (with emphasis and underlining added by me for effect.)

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bod(y) by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:1-17 (NLT, NIV)

SECURE FOR ETERNITY…

God answers prayers son. You are evidence of that truth. You are, now, not only my son, but now also my brother! My brother in Christ. My fellow co-heir to God’s glory! We have a date with eternity, you and I, that can never be snatched from us.

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’ No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35-39

I’m going to “carry my cross” (Luke 9:23) and embrace my responsibility to live my life raising you as my son, and I’ll see you in heaven brother!

Love,

Dad, and fellow co-heir

Ultimately Accountable Accounting

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Why is it that when we’re accountable to another person, we’re more apt to follow through on a promise or commitment? Why are we more likely to succeed when we share our struggles with another person and then walk through those struggles together than when we try it alone? Why are we less likely to give into temptation when we’re with someone else than when we try it solo?

I don’t know about you, but I imagine many are like me in that I don’t want to let the other person down. Years ago, I spent twelve weeks eating right and working out six days a week with a goal to lose weight and improve my health. I was successful in losing 65 pounds largely in part because I did it with a partner. I woke up early and met him at the gym several times a week. We worked out together more times a week than we did alone, so I knew he would be able to see if I’d been faithful to stick to the plan on my own when we couldn’t get together for a few days. I knew he would be at the gym at 5:00am, and I wasn’t about to give him opportunity to rib me for making an excuse to not be there on time, ready to go. The desire to not let him down motivated me to follow through on my commitment, even though it required a big sacrifice on my part. And I know from conversations with him that he felt likewise about his commitment to me…he didn’t want to let me down by not being there.

Likewise, when I recently joined a discipleship group with seven other men, I knew that we would meet once a week to review what we’d learned that week in our personal study time. And I knew that I would be asked questions that required my having completed the daily workbook assignments for the week. I am accountable to the group for committing to them that I want to grow in Christ and having expressed that I’m willing to take the necessary steps to become a true disciple of Christ. I don’t want to let the group down by not following through on my promise. That desire to not let the group down motivates me to sacrifice daily to meet the objectives of the study. And I know from conversations with at least one of them that he feels likewise about his commitment to the group…that it’s easier to make the sacrifice when he knows he’s accountable for his actions during the weekly gathering of us all.

Talking accountability with my accountability partner and good friend this morning really has me asking the question…”to whom am I really accountable?” In my head, I know the answer is God. Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” I’m accountable to God for how I live this life He’s given me. I’m accountable to Him for whom I share the news of Jesus with. I’m accountable to God for my choices and my actions. I’m accountable to God for fulfilling His command to go out and make disciples…to love Him and love people. (John 13:34-35) I know this as head knowledge, but have I made it heart knowledge? Am I living this knowledge out? To whom am I really living my life accountable to?

Why do I find it easier to resist temptation and stay the course when I have a human accountability partner than when I don’t? When the alarm went off to wake me for my morning workout alone, why was it easier to hit the snooze button and roll over when I already knew I’d be working out alone because my training partner couldn’t make it due to his work schedule? And now as my discipleship group takes a brief break in weekly meetings, when the alarm goes off at 4:50am to wake me for my daily quiet time, why is it easier to roll over and hit the snooze button when I know I’m not immediately accountable to a friend for having spent time with God daily?

Really, when I do that haven’t I just told God “I’M too tired to meet you right now…I’ll make time for you later…around MY schedule…I’ll come to you when I’M ready.”

Why is it easier to make excuses when we (I) don’t have someone in our (my) face pushing us (me)? Are we (Am I) really that unbelieving and unfaithful that we (I) need visual confirmation of that which we (I) say we (I) believe? Isn’t Jesus enough? Isn’t the thought of letting HIM down enough to motivate us (me) to resist temptation and get out of bed to meet Him daily? Do we (I) really need a human accountability partner when we (I) have Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Isn’t Jesus THE ultimate accountability partner?

I pray daily He is…that He continues to grow inside me so much so that my desire to not let HIM down outweighs my desire to not let man down. Because in the end, you and I are not standing before man to be judged. We’re standing before a God that is holy. Righteous. Just. Faithful. A God that knows no sin. THE God whose Son took our place in death so that we may see life. And when He stands to defend me, I want to know Him so well that I can say “YOU!! You, Lord Jesus, are my accountability partner, and I claim YOU as my Lord and Savior.”

I pray this for you too…is He your accountability partner?

Love,

Dad

P.S. After reading this again, it seems that I’ve asked more questions here than provided answers. I think maybe that’s okay…because I’m okay accepting the reality that I don’t have all the answers. This I can say with certainty. Don’t mistake your making Jesus your ultimate accountability partner with forsaking your finding of an accountability partner here in this life. While we are accountable to God first and foremost and long to live a life that reflects that, we need people…other believers…in our life to challenge us to be better. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”Ecclesiastes 4:12

The If Changes Everything

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I’m reading through Exodus this month, and although I’m pretty familiar with the stories, something stuck out this morning that I had not known before now.

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I knew that God led the people of Israel through the wilderness rather than a more direct route out of Egypt. And I knew He took them that way so that His glory would be known through the parting of the Red Sea. But one word hit me like a rock this morning. Did you see it there in the picture above? No? look again.

And that one word changes everything.
Two little letters, “i” and “f”, when combined to form the word “if“, change everything. “If the people are faced with a battle…

This is the God of miracles!
The God of Abraham. The God who raises the dead and commands every living thing. The God who delivered Jonah via a whale! The God who breathed the world into existence and numbered the stars! Here, He’s brought His people out of Egypt and is directing their path with a pillar of cloud and fire! He’s getting ready to part the Red Sea for crying out loud! And here He says, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” Really? I get that the Israelites were slaves for hundreds of years and not ready for battle, but you mean to tell me He can’t lead them through the wilderness while simultaneously clearing the wilderness of all potential enemies?

I don’t buy it.
There’s a reason for the “if”. I know He took them through the wilderness to bring them to the Red Sea and deliver them from Pharoah’s army by parting the waters…so that all the world would know He is God. Yeah, He could’ve taken them a more direct route and done things differently. But He didn’t so that His name would be glorified through the various miracles He would perform. I get all that. But the if

I’m stuck on it.
That’s the thing with God. He doesn’t want us to be stuck on the things we can’t understand. There are just some things we’ll never know. Reasons for Him leading us down a particular path that we’ll never understand on this side of eternity, if ever at all. Reasons unknown to us for putting a road block in our path that force us to change paths.

Do you dwell on the what if’s?
What if I’d gotten that job? What if my wife hadn’t left me? What if I’d been a more involved father when they were young? What if I’d turned left instead of right? What if…if only. Yeah, I struggle with that sometimes too. We’re human after all.

What if instead we recognize what we should be recognizing. That God is God, and we are not. Because knowing the reason for the “if” changes everything, and the knowledge that comes with that…I could not handle.

Love,

Dad

Call Me Louder

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“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Two things stick out for me in this verse today:

1. We have the power and strength living within us (through the Holy Spirit) to bear any temptation we’re faced with. ANY. We can bank on that because He’s promised us here in this verse that “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” So, it doesn’t matter what temptation we’re fighting right now, we have the power to resist it.

2. This promise does not allow us to continue sinning. While we can rest on the promise that “he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it“, this verse is certainly not a blank check payable to “a way out” for us to use at our pleasure. First, God will provide the “way out“; but we have to be in close fellowship with Him to recognize the “way out” as a “way out“, not simply an annoyance that delays us from the gratification and pleasure we find in our sin. Second, if we continue to ignore His attempts to help us “out” of our temptation, He will eventually stop helping…or harden our hearts so that we don’t see the “way out“…or both.

Take the story of the man trapped on a deserted island. He prayed and believed that God would save him. Hours later, a passing boat came to the rescue, but the man told them not to worry about him because God would save him. Some time later, a helicopter flew over but again the man told them he was fine…that God would save him. Several days later, a plane flew overhead but again the man refused help, saying God would save him. When he died of dehydration, he went before God and was upset because he felt God had failed to save him. To which God replied, ‘I tried. Three times I sent you help, but you refused to be helped. All you had to do was grab my outstretched arm, and you would have been saved.’

In my addiction, I can look back at each time I was ever tempted to slide into that sinful behavior and see that God provided an “out“. Many times, I recognized it and succeeded in resisting the temptation. Unfortunately, more times than I care to admit, I willfully ignored it and went right down that sinful path. And every time I ignored it to continue in my sinful pleasure, it got easier and easier to ignore His voice the next time…to the point that I was so far out of fellowship with God that I stopped seeing the signs He was giving me.

For me…right now in this moment…I’ve been fighting my temptation all day, and simply writing this note is my “way out“. Temptation sucks, and it knows no bounds. Except one…that that Satan and his ability to tempt us has no authority in the life of the believer who calls on the name of God. The temptation will always be there, but we can have success in it…through the power of the Spirit in our lives.

What sinful temptation are you facing today? Does it feel like more than you can bear? Rest on the promise that God will provide you a way out. And then open your heart to see it and stick your hand out to grab it.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

Love,

Dad

Gracious Abba Father, I come to you with a burdened heart. Burdened with the temptation to walk down a path I don’t want to follow…a path I know leads to my destruction, yet calls me with so loud a voice that I cannot help but turn my head its direction. As I stand here tonight on the edge, I pray. Holy Lord, I pray. Call me with a louder voice and draw my attention away from this temptation, and instead to You. For I know that when I am looking at You, I am walking toward You…and with You. Call me louder God. Please, I beseech you. Call me louder.

The Tomato Soup Changes Everything

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I tried something different today. I’m not a soup guy, but my throat has been sore…so I ordered the creamy tomato soup, hoping its warmth would provide some relief as it went down. And as I sat down to enjoy my lunch at Panera Bread, I jumped right into my normal routine of checking emails and browsing the web as I ate…ya’ know, the monotonous, time-consuming activities to keep my self-diagnosed ADHD mind constantly moving. Because simply enjoying a meal while doing three other things simultaneously just isn’t normal for me…it ain’t right. And then a fleeting thought popped into that over-tasked head of mine. Am I alone in my constant need to be multi-tasking? Are there others like me…people who just find it difficult to sit and do nothing but eat? What do those “simple-minded” folk do when they eat? Just eat?

So I tried something else different today. I put my phone down. Now if you know me…or are anything like me…you know that me doing that is like asking a bird to not fly south in the winter. It just ain’t normal. But I did it anyway. After the initial shock to my system, I began to notice something. Something I rarely see most days. I saw people. I saw the people all around me. I saw:

  • coworkers on a lunch break,
  • a businessman eating by himself,
  • a mom on a lunch date with her two young daughters,
  • a college student studying while he ate,
  • an older gentleman leisurely reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee,
  • friends meeting up for their weekly get-together,
  • a pregnant woman picking up lunch to take back to her coworkers at the office,
  • a business meeting between two coworkers and a prospective client,
  • a husband and wife enjoying their lunch break together…what may well be their only hour together as husband and wife between work today and their kids tonight.

And as I watched, I began to have a heart for complete strangers that I’ve never had before now. You see, I go through my day, completely immersed in what I need (or want) to do at any given moment. Me. Me. Egocentric me. At any one time, a perpetual to-do list is running through my head as I’m running through my day. I go from task to task, focused on what I need to do to accomplish my goals for the day, and I rarely take time to just stop and notice what (and who) is around me. Yes, I’m that guy that’s got his head buried in his phone as he’s walking down the street…or through the store…or pretty much everywhere I go.

I’m connected in so many ways, that I’m actually very disconnected. We’re living in a fast-paced, non-stop society where the pressures and demands for our time are constantly vying for our attention. The tools we have at our disposal now to keep us more connected than ever before are actually creating a disconnect that, I believe, is contributing to the moral decline of our country and the disconnected state of our communities. We’re emailing, texting, IM-ing, Facebooking, tweeting, and pinning like never before. And although it allows us to connect in ways we’ve never been able to connect before, all that virtual contact with others is breeding up a generation that doesn’t know how to connect with people. And even my generation is losing its ability to really connect with others on a personal level. I am losing that ability. I’m losing it because, like any skill that’s not used, you lose what you don’t use.

Connecting relationally is crucial to our survival, and I fear that I’ve unknowingly been sucked into a world where it’s become all too easy to be connected without connecting. Every single person in that restaurant with me at lunch today has similar goals to mine. I have to admit, though with some hesitation, that it was kinda fun to just sit and watch, wondering what their story is. I found myself really studying each person, asking what brought him here today? Where is she going? What’s going on behind the scenes in their lives? Do they have school-aged children like me? What health concerns is he facing? Will they make that sale to the prospective customer? What’s he hope to do once he’s out of college? What’s his passion and how is he going to change his part of the world?

And as I began pondering those questions, allowing the warm tomato soup to soothe my sore throat with each bite, I was able to better see the hurt. The pain. The despair. The joy. The loss. With each bite, God revealed to me that it’s not enough to sit behind a phone or computer and expect that our communities and country will miraculously turn toward God and be restored. If we want change, we need to go out and be that change…and that might just call for something as drastic as ordering the tomato soup and disconnecting so that we can connect.

So…what will you do to connect with the people you encounter today?

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:37-39

Love,

Dad

A Burning Bush Moment

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#1. “But Moses protested to God…” – Exodus 3:11(a)

#2. “But Moses protested…” – Exodus 3:13(a)

#3. “But Moses protested again…” – Exodus 4:1(a)

#4. “But Moses pleaded with the Lord…” – Exodus 4:10(a)

#5. “But Moses again pleaded, ‘Lord, please! Send anyone else.'”- Exodus 4:13

Here’s Moses, standing before a bush that’s on fire…but not being consumed by the fire…and it’s talking to him, no less!! Once he knows it’s God, he still doesn’t fully trust. Five times, Moses protested, finally pleading to God that He send someone else. Anyone.

We wouldn’t be that mistrusting would we? I mean really if a burning bush is talking to us claiming to be the one true God and calling us to do something, we’d jump right on it, right? Well, my question to you is this…what is God asking you to do? Have you pleaded that

1. what He’s asking of you is too big for you?
2. you’re not qualified?
3. you’re not worthy?
4. you’re too busy?
5. He send someone else?

Guess what? You’re right. To a point.

1. Out of our comfort zone is precisely where God wants us…because when we realize it’s bigger than our ability to do it alone, we have no choice but to call on Him for help…and to give Him the glory afterward.

2. God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

3. You’re not worthy. None of us is. God doesn’t NEED us to do anything. He WANTS us to serve Him…because we want to, not because we have to.

4. & 5. If not now, then when? If not you, then who?

Not everyone gets a “burning bush” call from God. And even if you did, would you really believe it was God anyway? Or would you stand there talking back to and arguing with a fiery bush? So stop waiting for it, because while God can certainly talk to us through a flaming bush if He wanted to, He sent us His Spirit after Christ’s death on the cross for us. And it’s the Holy Spirit – dwelling within us – that He uses to call to us. All we need do is turn off the distractions of this world and slow down so we can hear Him. And then trust Him to do His part in it all.

Love,

Dad

So…what is God calling you to do? Are you pleading your case or jumping on board? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Will you pray this prayer with me today?

Gracious and holy Lord, I pray that I can put the worries and distractions of this world aside every day so that I can come into closer fellowship with You. That I can hear the whisper of Your voice on my heart and know with certainty it’s You. I pray, oh God, that when I hear Your call, I would have the courage and passion to follow where You lead me without question. I long to know and follow hard after You. Dwell within my heart, soul and mind that I might always feel Your presence. I pray this in the blessed name of your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

No Longer Bound

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I close my eyes and the darkness envelopes me
I open them so I don’t have to see
that which lives in the dark…the memory
that crashes over me like a wave at sea.
 
 
Sleep evades me in the dark of night
as the fire inside threatens to ignite
an inferno that is too big to fight
alone…I need to stay in the Light.
 
 
In this pain, I feel isolated…alone
and every fiber of me…my every bone
longs to forget…to dethrone
this thing that makes me groan.
 
 
I asked for this…signed on the dotted line
never believing the things I’d see would haunt and confine
me to a state of paralysis…like standing on a land mine
waiting to blow me into the divine.
 
 
I don’t ask for pity, not gonna continue to go on
I have a Savior who loves me enough to have gone
to the cross and been raised on the third dawn
that my sins…and this pain…would one day be gone.
 
 
Wiped clean by the blood
of the Lamb, I pray come and pull me from the mud
of my past. Come over me now like a flood
oh Lord, and create a new life that will bud…
 
 
Inside me and push to the ground
all of me…so that when I look around
all I see and feel is You, crowned
with all authority and no longer bound.
 
 

Love,

a Dad and a child of God

A Mile High on a Rusted Coffee Can

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It looked fun…at first. From the bottom looking up, it looked like a nice, leisurely ride to the top. I bet the view from up there is amazing. And the only thing standing between me and the top of this mountain peak is a mile of cable line and one tram ride. And the voice in my head yelling “are you out of your mind!!??”

If you’ve ever had a fear of heights, then you’ll understand when I say that standing at the base of a ski lift that traverses over a mile straight up the mountain to an elevation of nearly 4,000 feet can be a daunting view. Looking around and seeing more rusted bolts and dry-rotted boards than I could find in an abandoned lumber yard as we make our way to the loading area does little to reassure the growing-louder-by-the-second voice in my head that is trying to remind me that if God wanted me to do something that required my feet leave the ground for more than two seconds, He’d have given me wings.

As I stand in the loading zone and the chair approaches from behind, I wait for the inevitable…and as it literally sweeps me off my feet as it knocks my legs out from under me, I plop down and feel the chair bounce and sway as the cable above us gives a little. Now we’re swaying back and forth as my feet leave the ground and we pull the bar over our heads…a bar that would no more hold me in this contraption than a paper bag would hold in a wild boar looking for its next meal. As the ground beneath us disappears and grows farther and farther away, I notice that this “seat” is no more than hollow metal pipes the thickness of a metal coffee can, held together by rusted bolts. Yeah…how’d I get here again?

Not Even Halfway Up

A Quarter Mile Up

Halfway up the mountain, it occurs to me that just about every muscle in my body is tense. I’m literally hanging on so tightly with one hand that my fingers are tingling because there is no blood left in them. My other hand is so firmly attached to my son that I’m sure I’ll be reported to DFS for child abuse when someone sees the hand-shaped indention I’ve surely left in his side. And my butt is clinched so tight, I’m pretty sure my two cheeks have become one. It does little to calm my mind when I’m looking down and realize that if I do fall from here, I most likely won’t die…just shatter a femur or two, blow out a knee, disintegrate my ankles, and maybe puncture a lung. I wonder how much my AFLAC policy pays per bone?

Farther Than It Looks (75')

Don’t Be Deceived – That’s a 75′ Drop

We like being in control, don’t we? We like the feeling that comes with knowing that we have a say in things…that we have the reigns and even if we’re flying by the seat of our pants, the decisions are ours to make, and we’re piloting this ship we call our life. Our feet are planted firmly on the ground, and we have the power…we’re in control. But are we? Are we really? Let’s be completely honest here. The feeling of “control” I had when holding on for dear life to that coffee can dangling seventy five feet above the ground on its way to the top of a mile-high mountain did nothing more than give me a false sense of security. Had something failed on that rusted piece of metal built back when moonshiners ran these hills, I would have no more been able to keep from falling to the rocks below and shattering every bone in my lower body than I could stand on a street corner and catch a bowling ball falling from the Empire State Building. It ain’t gonna happen.

Yet we walk through life unwilling to let go, don’t we? We hold on to the things (and the people) we love so tight, that letting go becomes too much to believe possible. And when you boil it down to the core of why we struggle with letting go, it’s one thing. All too often, we let our fear of letting go overwhelm us. It’s not that we don’t want to let go. No, deep down inside…I believe at the heart of us all…we don’t want to be wound so tight that we can’t breath. We long to let go and feel the exhilaration of adrenaline pumping through our veins as we live life to the fullest. But despite that yearning, if’s the fear that drives us to hold on so tight…fear of what might happen if we do let go. Make no mistake, friend…if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen whether we’re holding on or not. And when it does, us holding on is not going to stop it from hurting when we hit bottom.

God is calling us to let go. Our lives are not ours, and we certainly don’t have the control and power we think we have. All we have is an illusion…a false sense of security provided by what we see, hear, smell and feel. We have to look beyond that illusion and realize that life happens on the other side of the fear. Will it be easy to let go? Not always. Will it hurt to let go? Sometimes. Will it be worth it to let go? Absolutely!!! It’s time to truly give our lives to Christ. To give Him the reigns and let Him take His rightful place in the pilot seat of our life. It’s time to let go and let God. If you can, you’ll see for yourself that the view from the top IS worth it.

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It IS an Awesome View

And yes…you’ll even find you can have a lot of fun along the way.

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“The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. – Proverbs 19:23

Love,

Dad

A Journey Through The Dark

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Driving through the very southeast tip of Missouri last night, just north of the boot heel, we were traveling unfamiliar roads well after dark. Winding and curving our way through the hills on roads we’ve never driven, I made note of how isolated we seemed to be. The rare spotting of fellow drivers along this route seemed refreshing. Looking to either side of the road, I remarked to my wife that one could easily drive right off the road and down a steep, tree and brush-filled embankment that would easily mask our existence from passing motorists…that it’d be days before we were found, unless we were somehow able to crawl ourselves to safety.

One can’t help but feel slightly uneasy about being in such a situation. Anxiety can quickly set in…and completely take over if you let it. Even for the most laid-back, easy-going person out there, driving such unfamiliar roads after dark can be unsettling and bring out the more cautious driver inside.

Marriage problems. Loss of a loved one. Health issues. Loss of a job. Experiencing trials and hardships in our lives can be a lot like driving a winding mountain road in the dark. We can’t see around the next corner or over the next hill. There are gut-wrenching, fist-clinching, knuckle-biting ups and downs and twists and turns that just seem to go on forever. We can quickly become so confused and scared that we just want to pull over and stop to rest our weary bodies until morning.

And then it happens. Just as we thought we could go no further, we see it on the horizon. The sun peeks over the hills and offers a ray of hope, piercing through the darkness and showing us the way. The path straightens, and we can look back and see some good in the journey we’ve been on. We’ve come out on the other side and can rest…and enjoy the fruits on the other side all the more for having travelled through the hardship that is now behind us.

You see, even if it seems you’ve been “in the valley” for longer than you can bear, don’t lose hope. God has better things in store for you on the other side of your current situation. He can…and will…use what you’re facing today for your good tomorrow. Even if you can’t see it through the present darkness you see now. He’s there. Walking with you. Follow the Light and He will guide you through to the fruits that await you on the other side.

“Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light…'” – John 12:35-36a

Love,

Dad

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