I was taking some extended time of solitude and space this morning in one of my favorite places.
I wished it was this place!, but today I had to settle for a lodge in eastern Nebraska to escape the cold.
But as I sat in some extended time, I found myself reminded of just how important it is to fight for this time to quiet down and listen. This morning , my mind did wander to one of my favorite places on the planet… Crested Butte, Colo.
- It might be because it is so darn cold outside, and I am already sick of winter… and I found myself daydreaming about this great place where I often find adventure, and the clarity I so often need.
- It might be because I have felt myself stuck lately… frrustrated, disappointed in God, angry about some of our current circumstances.
- It might be because I have wondered why God so often seems quiet and uninvolved, and I found myself asking why he seems to make it so hard to find Him. And lately I have struggled with the role of prayer and questioning if it even makes a difference.
Mostly this morning I just felt like I needed to hear something from Him. So as I sat ,I recalled a time last summer when some things came to me in a very clear way. With 2015 under way, it seemed like the right time for me to look this over again, and see if there is anything I need to do. It strikes me that in some ways I already have some direction. Why would He give me more until I have taken some needed steps?
Whatever the case, this post from last July was worth another look for me this morning……..
July 10, 2014
As I have sought out some wide open spaces this summer, I have been challenging myself with some questions. And the first one I have wrestled with seems pretty foundational. It’s a simple question, but not easy to think through, and, it strikes me as significant right now: What do I want out of life?
There likely are many ways to answer that question, and sometimes the words don’t come easily. I could look at how I spend my time, how I spend my money, or what I spend my time thinking about. But the answer I think needs to come from a deeper place.
So I spent some time in one of my favorite places on the planet, Crested Butte, Colorado. I found myself wrestling with and thinking about what I want from this next season of life. And like the rush of the waterfall I was staring at, a few things came to mind very fast:
- I want to keep pursuing the mystery of God wherever that takes me.
- I want to keep seeking out beautiful places. I want to take them in; to be still and really soak in those moments.
- I want to fight for, cheer-lead and encourage my kids and my wife to chase their dreams.
- I want to fight for the dreams of others, and help them take the steps they need.
- I want whatever years I have to count. I want them to matter. I want to make a difference.
- I want to inspire others to be quiet, to listen, and to keep chasing the “wild goose,” the “holy wind”.
- I want adventure and challenge, and friends to seek those out with.
- I don’t want to settle.
- I want to laugh, to travel, and somehow to write and capture the crazy thoughts God seems to give me, and hope those words can encourage others.
- I don’t want to get stuck in disappointments and struggle.
- I want to take steps that seem impossible.
It’s a simple enough question, but a question that will could impact my life in a big way. Consider finding a great spot, a quiet place, maybe a spot on the water, and ask yourself the same question. You may be surprised at what comes to mind.
I had a chance to take a couple of days of space last week. I have a strong sense that God is readying me for a significant year in a lot of different ways. A few things came to mind that I am thinking through in more depth this morning. I think this year for me needs to be about indicators. About movement.
It is this dance between waiting… listening… attending, but not getting stuck… not waiting to long… moving when I need to move.
I went fly fishing this last summer with my sons in Montana. It was a bucket-list experience for sure. Now that I’ve done it, it is back on my bucket list for the next year in a big way. It was incredible! We were on the Yellowstone River fishing with double flies. It was the dry fly on top that was the key. It was the indicator. With the rush of the river, the action of the boat, and the natural beauty around you, you could really easily miss the great hits under the surface — unless you were attending to the dry fly. Paying attention, watching, listening to the guide were critical. I can’t tell you how many fish I missed because of the many great distractions around me.
This idea of indicators has become a major theme for me in 2015. One thing I have noticed in my own journey over the last few months is that I quickly become bored. In my spiritual journey I am easily frustrated and often find myself disappointed in my relationship with God. In the past, those times for me have led me to some really hard spots, as well as some awesome times in my journey. I wonder why there are such long times where God seems so distant. I wonder why people I am close to have experienced such disappointment and struggle, and such long periods of time with unanswered prayer. I have found myself wondering again about the role of prayer and if it really makes a difference.
I find myself needing some clear indicators as we think about taking some significant steps of faith in Harbor Ministries this year as well. Is it finally time to take some significant steps in securing a Harbor “anchor site” in Estes Park? As we launch new Rhythm and Rogue groups in 2015, what do we need to do to come along side strategic leaders in these new groups, and to continue to have impacting relationships with current leaders?
I have a lot more questions than answers right now, but I think some of what I need to be about in 2015 is around these themes of indicators and movement.
So here is hoping I don’t set the indicator too soon, or too late, because in either case, I may miss the moment.
Here is to not wanting to get stuck in a tired, boring place in my relationship to God.
Here is to hoping, waiting, listening, and seeing the indicators… then setting the hook… and then creating movement when the time is right!
I have always enjoyed these few days before the New Year. It is likely a combination of things. For years there were holiday basketball tourneys that our kids played in, and always lots of great football to watch. But for me one of the highlights has always been having the schedule slow a bit and then taking the time to find one of my favorite places, seek some quiet, and listen. Listen and learn from some of the lessons of the road of the last year, and then start to dream about what is next.
One of the things I like to do is keep this time pretty simple. With an open journal in front of me I just ask God if there is a word, a phrase, or a step he wants me to take in the coming year.
A year ago, three words came to me right away: Focus. Simplify. Have fun.
Often throughout this year I have gone back to those words as a sort of check up. As a result I have developed a pretty lengthy list around each one.
With all the leaders who come into the Rogue and RhythminTwenty leadership journeys, we call this practice SPACE. We challenge and invite these leaders to take a full day of space every month. Of all the things we do, this is the one practice that people continually go back to as a difference maker—as a time God often really breaks through. This concept is certainly nothing new. I have been reading about Irish Monks who made a type of space their critical practice more than 1600 years ago.
But today has been a great reminder of why this time of space has been so powerful in my own life over the years:
- It helps me get centered and steady.
- It helps me to stop doing and just listen and respond from a stronger place.
- It reminds me that life is not just about me, but I am a part of a much bigger story.
- It breathes life, energy, and vision back into my journey.
- It is a great space to remember the many times God has broken through in my own life.
Having said that, it is amazing how many obsacles come in the way of me taking this time. But today as I sat in a lodge and looked over a snowy river basin, I was reminded again of the WHY. Some needed clarity has started to come. It was just a beginning today, but a critical start for me as I head toward 2015.
This last summer we had one of our favorite family trips ever. In the middle of this high adventure trip of hiking, fly fishing, water falls, and incredible scenery were some quiet nights in Bozeman, Montana. Eating great food and having a blast playing corn hole each night at sunset was the highlight of the trip.
That is part of why I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks. It helps to have the calendar force me to slow down, evaluate some things, and just seize the moments around me. This Christmas, that is particularly true. Our extended family is spread out and the days around Christmas will be pretty quiet… just the five of us. Sometimes it is easy to convince myself that things are not going to change; that the family rhythm we have been in for years will always be the same.
But this Christmas I am reminded of a line from one of the Lord of the Rings movies. In The Two Towers, Aragorn is talking to the Theoden, King of Rohan. Evil is pressing in on his kingdom from all sides. Even as villages are being overrun, Theoden does not want war. He is ready to take his people and make a run for Helms Deep, where they have found safe haven in the past. In this moment, Aragorn confronts the king with the truth.
“Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not
That rings true to me this year. A few days after Christmas our oldest son moves to Los Angeles to chase a dream of writing and performing stand-up comedy. Our daughter heads to Florida the day after Christmas to meet her boyfriend’s family… hmmm.
Yes, change is coming, and with this new season of family life, the risks and rewards are high. You hope the coming transitions will be good, full of new dreams, adventure, and uncertain outcomes. Even though I know change is an absolute certainty in life, it can be tough to navigate sometimes. My tendency with my family can be to hang onto some of the moments and memories, and resist the change that is coming. So this Christmas, maybe more than ever, I am determined to seize the moments, be fully present, create some new memories, enjoy the slower pace , and ready myself…
Because change is coming, whether I want to risk it or not….
I’m not a big fan of winter. I just don’t like the cold. It likely goes back to the years on the farm and working with the livestock on those cold winter days. Despite the onset of winter, I absolutely love the week after thanksgiving because it means the start of basketball season.
That sport runs deep for me. I grew up watching basketball, playing it, learning it, and loving the game at every level. The first hoop I shot at was nailed up to the side of our barn. It was a scene straight out of “Hoosiers.”
But as much as I loved playing, the real joy came when we had kids. We were lucky enough that all three of our kids loved the basketball and had a lot talent. When our oldest was in third grade I started coaching his team, and got to do that for each of our kids in their early years. Our oldest transferred to the biggest high school in the state for the challenge of playing basketball there. It was a blast watching him through those high school years. Our daughter was a lights-out three-point shooter.
And our youngest showed his talent from a very early age. It was obvious to all who watched that he had some special God-given talent. The recruiting started early in high school. He was a varsity starter as a freshman. At the end of his junior year, just when things started to heat up and a Division 1 scholarship at a dream school was looking like a real possibility, injuries hit. The next two years included three surgeries and countless hours of rehab and training. Likely the dream of playing D-1 basketball ended this last summer on a recruiting trip when he realized his body just was not going to let him play at his former level
We have had plenty of questions and a ton of disappointment over the last two years. Why does God seem to gift someone, give him a heart and passion to chase that dream, yet seemingly allow that pursuit to be blocked again and again? And Dylan, and I often wondered where God was in the quiet.
But through this journey, a young man’s identity began to shift from being a basketball player to something much bigger. My perspective of his journey and what is really worth celebrating began to change as well.
Check out this short video a church did on Dylan’s journey:
I still love basketball but my perspective on the sport, and what it can teach has deepened a ton. So as the cold sets in this December, I still get excited for the season, but it is different. Maybe the answer for me now is to escape the cold, head to San Diego for a couple of months and watch some hoops there…
I’m liking that vision the more I think about it.