It is hard for me to focus today. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wanted to post this week. I had something in mind, but today I just can’t get by the fact that I feel frustrated and mad, SO why not write about that?
When I was little my parents gave me a “stomping mat” for Christmas. I think I must have had some issues with anger as a little guy, and so they bought me this mat, and told me as long as I was on that mat I could do whatever I wanted. I can vividly remember yelling, slamming stuffed animals against the wall… stuff like that. It was a brilliant parenting move. It taught me that anger isn’t a bad emotion, God created it after all, but I needed to find a way to control it and express it.
I know Jesus had some moments of anger. I think ransacking all that was going on in the temple that day was a pretty solid sign of righteous anger played out for everyone to see. Well today I feel like I need some time on the mat! Today I have gone from discouraged and somewhat disheartened to angry.
- I’m angry my son is going through yet another difficult journey physically. He has had four surgeries for athletic injuries over the last three years, then this last week even more tough news
- I’m angry that a kid who has tried to do things right, who had the gifts and was committed to use those gifts as a platform to impact others for God and has been an incredible influence on many others can’t seem to catch a break in this area.
- I’m angry that there may even be complications from an earlier surgery, and it all makes me question myself, and if I did the best I could have, and should have, at watching out for him through this season of life.
- I’m angry at the trash I saw along the trail as I was riding my bike this morning. It reminds me how badly we need to take care of this world God has given us. And it makes me want to do a better job of caring for this place.
- I’m angry that we have an enemy who wants to seek, steal from, kill and destroy the dreams and hopes that are in our hearts. And I wonder why the leadership journey seems so hard for so many spiritual leaders today.
- And I’m angry that ever since we started Harbor ministry, it feels like the leaders and our own families have been under assault. And I wonder why it has to be that way. This one is a post for another day.
Yes, I think I need to spend some time on the stomping mat… I guess I just did! So you know what? Part of me wants to shrink back… accept defeat… stay discouraged, settle, and take the easier road.. But the other part of me is just ticked off enough to engage this battle again. With seven RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue events coming up over the next few months, the battle is there to be fought.
I know it is time to turn the emotion to taking some positive steps and believing the truth. But sometimes before you can take those steps you need a little time on the mat.
What if the most risky and dangerous thing is not coming too close to the edge, but staying back where it is safe… staying in that place where things are known and more secure…
We have had some great family adventures over the years, but one of our favorites was a long road trip through Utah and Arizona several years ago. There were stops to see some awesome national parks, incredible hikes, and some jet skiing on Lake Powell (an absolute must if you have not been there!). But maybe the top spot was getting to the north rim of the Grand Canyon at sunset and taking a mule ride down the rim the next morning. Our kids were pretty young and one of the things I remember was how much time we spent reminding them to stay back from the edge of the canyon, to not get too close. With a risk-taking twelve-year old who often walked to the beat of his own drum,we were never all that comfortable. Our understandable instincts were to protect and insulate our kids from risk; to keep them safe.
As I thought about this lately, I began to wonder if these messages of safety, of pulling back, of not getting too close we heard as children, and this image of staying back from the edge and not taking a risk. have stuck with us as adults, especially in our spiritual journeys. I wonder if pulling back from the edge keeps us from experiencing the kind of life we were meant to live. I just wonder if there is a lot more to think about here.
What if the edge is actually the place we need to go? What if there is opportunity, adventure, risk, needed perspective, and life-giving mission and necessary vision that can only be seen from that vantage point?
What if it is actually more risky to settle in, stay safe, stay back in the places where we are familiar and comfortable? What if the most dangerous choice is actually staying a few feet back, settling in and allowing our view to be hindered?
I think it’s time for me to venture out, to get off the beaten path, and take a look at some things from a different vantage point…
It strikes me this morning that this idea of engaging in extended times of solitude and quiet is critical given the times we are living in. Now more than ever this world needs men and women who are preparing themselves to be attentive, listening , and seeking God with all they have got. I know in my own life these times of extended quiet have been the foundation that has kept me steady and even strong in the storms that have come my way over the last few years.
But these times of quiet… of space, as we call it in Harbor Ministry, have also been the catalyst for the steps of faith we have taken over the last few years. In those times of space, a quiet strength, a needed stability, and a sense of direction have come. For me, and I think for many who have entered the leadership journeys of RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue, these extended times of space have been a difference-making practice.
Over the last few years Moses has become one of my favorite men to study. His life, his leadership, and his relationship with God have been an inspiration for me. One of the things that has really stood out is the many extended times he had to wait and ready himself to hear from God. Perhaps that first crazy encounter in the desert wilderness is the most striking. After years in the desert, Moses comes across this burning bush… and God is speaking. What strikes me about this story in Exodus 3, is not only that God is speaking to him… but Moses’s attentiveness and readiness to hear. In fact, it says that when God saw Moses turn to him, He spoke. Incredible! It seems to me that his times of extended quiet played a role in preparing Moses for that moment. Why did it take so long for God to speak to him? He had been out there a long time. Given what was going on at that time in history and the mission that awaited him, I do struggle with that question. But one thing seems clear; his extended times of solitude, of quiet, of space, prepared Moses for that moment and helped lay the groundwork for a mission that would change history.
So I am re- committing to some extended times of space in my schedule in the months ahead. Why?
- The speed and pace of life demands it.
- There is just too much noise in the day-to-day, and for me to hear anything, I have to find ways to quiet the noise.
- The practice of space will help me be attentive, and ready.
- I hope it will give me needed steadiness and strength for the days ahead.
I do believe the world now more than ever in our lifetimes, needs men and women committed to this practice and discipline of space. I am ready to again enter the quiet…
A few years ago, just before Harbor Ministry was launched, there was this moment….
I was on top of a mountain looking out over Quito, Ecuador. I was there to speak at a conference of youth ministry leaders from around the world, on what it takes to finish well. The crazy thing was, at the time I felt like my personal and leadership life were crashing down. My spiritual life was empty. I was sure that I could not deliver. I just did not think I had what it takes to speak to those men who had gathered there. Everything in me wanted to bolt, and if I hadn’t been in South America, I may have.
Yet somehow in that moment clarity began to come. I had a very strong sense that I did have something to say, that my voice was needed, and I began to settle in.
Thoughts started coming. Help each man remember…
- remember the calling and mission that God has given him
- remember the key times in his own story that God broke through
- remember why he is doing what he is doing.
What followed that night was an incredible time of storytelling, and some moments I will never forget,
So I am reminded again today how powerful remembering can be—remembering the places, the spaces, and the moments where God has intersected our own stories. Today it has kept me inspired, and I find myself wanting more of it.
This thought comes to mind: “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Wait for hope to appear” Lamentations 3:28-29, The Message.
So I am determined to find a time to “enter the quiet” in the next few weeks. My life feels like it is in fast forward right now. I need the quiet bad.
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… frustrated, 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.