This coming week represents one of those significant moments in life. For me, these moments of significant change in close relationships have always been a challange to navigate.
I have loved being a parent. Even before I was married I remember being really excited about someday being a dad. I always knew that it was a role I was gifted for and passionate about. Though some of the transitions and changes have been hard, I have loved all of it. (Well… most of it.) I have poured myself into being a dad, and I have few regrets. But through the years, those significant moments of transitions like the 16th birthdays or sending my kids off to college, have pushed me into some deep reflection. I have sometimes personally struggled with releasing my kids into that next season of life. No matter what my personal desire in those moments has been, change still came. Change is always the constant.
With my daughter, there has always been something special, something extra to protect. She tends to love the things I love: travel, hiking, biking, the mountains, new adventure, impacting people.
Well, in a couple of days I walk her down the aisle.
It is odviously an awesome moment for her, she is excited, and it’s an incredible moment for them to begin to tell a new story with their lives going forward. But there is no doubt things are about to change. These last few weeks I have felt like I am in a fog, , not really ready to face or embrace the change that is coming. I feel like I am in this scene in the second Lord of the Rings movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
There is this great moment between the main character Aragorn and Théoden, King of Rohan. The enemy is attacking, fully intent on destroying the people of Middle-earth. The King is ignoring the reality in front of him, and has decided to gather his people and retreat to the mountains. When Théoden says that the risk of engaging the enemy is too great, Aragorn looks him in the eye and says, “Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not.”
So in my reflective moments, I am facing the reality… change is upon me, whether I willingly face it or not.
Given that reality, what is my next step? Well for now, a little more time with my journal and another cup of coffee are in order….
What do you do when God is silent? I mean extended wilderness kind of stuff. The kind of silence that makes you doubt.
I know a lot of the stories. I have actually preached on many of them. Moses spends forty years in the desert doing pretty much the same thing every day… forty years! Then one random day God seems to show up. Noah hears from God, then spends forty years building the ark before there is confirmation of the calling. Sarah waits for decades until she has the son she so longed for,David runs, hides and waits for his time to be king… you have to wonder how quiet all those years of waiting were.
I wonder why it has to be that way. I wonder why God seems to stay so quiet, so mysterious, so silent. I wonder why we have to endure those lonely times, those long times in the wilderness wondering if He is real, asking if He still shows up, or if he still speaks to people. I recently had a talk with one of my kids who feels God has never really “shown up” in his own life. I have seen God in his life time and time again over the years, but that is my perspective. He wants to know if this spiritual journey is real, and if it is, why God seems so uninvolved, so silent, so seemingly disengaged in his life and in his perspective…in the lives of others around the world.
I have asked that question many times myself. Over the years, I have walked through deep disappointment at God’s silence after relentless prayers. I have watched the fate of so many around the world who are suffering and dying just because they are Christians… and I wonder why God doesn’t show up and make things right. I have a lot more questions than answers today, so I am not even going to try to wrap this up well. But I do know that throughout history this faith journey has been a struggle for many who chose to follow it. I do know that there have been times when people just needed to move to the edge, and take a step on faith alone. Those often are the times when God showed up in incredible ways, and the times when there was a crack in the deafening silence. That has certainly been true in my own life. What I have seen in others is that those who keep moving, keep believing, keep taking steps of faith that seem to make no sense, those who keep pursuing God through all of it… they have a peace, a strength, a weightiness to them that is different. They act as almost an anchor to others when times get really tough.
I want to be like that. Sometimes it is the only thing that makes sense.
I was back in San Diego this week. Back to a place that holds a ton of memories for me both personally and for the work I am so passionate about. This place has been the setting of some iconic moments for my family, friends, and for the guys who have been part of the Rhythm and Rogue groups that have journeyed here.
San Diego is a place of incredible contrasts in my own journey. It represents perhaps the most difficult season of my life, and at the same time, it was the place of my most profound spiritual breakthrough. We have now brought fourteen RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue groups to this place. Here we have wrestled with what it looks like for a leader to drop anchor and deeply connect with God, and with others and with things that bring us life. We have discovered how important it is to listen and to follow the unpredictable “holy wind” when it comes.
In this place I am reminded again of just how mysterious this God we follow really is. Sometimes this faith journey seems so unpredictable and filled with extreme contrasts, yet I long for the consistency and steadiness that faith brings. For me San Diego is a constant reminder of the best… and the absolute worst of times. Years ago, I was on this boardwalk, trying to make sense of some of the worst circumstances I likely will ever face. Yet it was in that place that God showed up in a radical and real way. Somehow through that time, I gained new resolve to stay the course.
Yes, this faith journey seems filled with contrast and extremes. Things that make sense… and things that absolutely make no sense. Times of deep disappointments… and times of incredible breakthrough. It is good to be back, and remember. In the remembering I am gaining some needed perspective and resolve to take the next steps.
Being here again reminds me to keep coming back….and it stirs me to keep chasing the moments, no matter how illusive they may be.
TIme for me to revisit trail 401……..
The last few days I have felt flat, unproductive, unmotivated. During times like these, I’m often reminded of a devotional I once read by Oswald Chambers. He talked about the importance of learning to live in the ordinary gray days according to what we saw on the mountain.
That continues to be a great challenge to me, because I love the mountains. For some reason, I think more clearly there. It’s a great thing for me to leave business and stress behind and head to Colorado for the solitude, the silence, the great times, and moments of clarity I often experience there.
For many years I have hiked and biked in one of my favorite spots in Colorado, Trail 401. Right above Gothic pass, you have to hike, or push your bike up this single-track trail. After an aggressive stretch down the bowl and through a meadow, you emerge through some aspen trees and you can see for miles down the valley to Crested Butte. On the other side, if you climb a little higher, you are on top of the world, and can see the Maroon Belle Mountain Range. In fact I just made that climb a few weeks ago with an awesome group of RHYTHMinTWENTY guys, as we closed out our three-year journey together. it was a pretty epic time.
I’ve had many great moments with guys on Rhythm journeys, with friends, and with God at the top of that trail. It’s where I came to somewhat of a peace with the loss of my parents years ago, I have caught ideas and thoughts on my future and gained strength for some needed steps of faith up there. Just a few weeks ago I gained a renewed passion to continue the RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue journeys, and sensed some clarity on the next steps to take. For whatever reason, I just feel closer to God up there.
But, at least for now, I don’t live in the mountains.
For now, I have to remind myself often of the whispers I’ve heard from God up there. I have to believe in those God moments and live according to what I heard , sensed, and experienced there. Then, those days that are gray and flat, seem a little easier to navigate.
Here is to not forgetting,
Here to to remembering those breakthrough moments, and those epic places that God seems to speak to us.
Here is to continuing to chase Trail 401…
…..An update of the first post on this blog on April 3, 2014
I cant seem to get that picture from my last post out of my mind, there is just something about it……
There could be a lot of reasons. Maybe it’s the road… well traveled, a bit worn, but still inviting…
Maybe it is the lure of that familiar yet mysterious mountain range… a constant reminder for me of this mysterious God who continually invites us to step out, to take a risk… stay on the journey and continue to pursue Him. It might be this adventurous pursuit of the unknown that I have so often been ready to give upon, or at least been tempted to take an easier road.
Maybe it is the tension I feel when I see it, There has been so many times when disappointment, fatigue and frustration at God’s silence have set in. at times I have felt beat up, and have wondered if it is worth staying on the road.
At the same time there is this pull, this invitation and challenge, the need for risk, the call to not just settle… to not give up, or give in, but to keep seeking out that mountain range all the way to the finish line…
Maybe it is just the pure love of the mountains that keeps me moving, seeking, hoping for more.
Last week as we finished up a RHYTHMinTWENTY group in that mountain range , I was reminded that those glimpse we get of God—those brief moments when the windows to what this life was supposed to be like open up—make it all worth it.
It keeps me on that well-traveled road looking for more.