Been thinking again about the edge. I have wondered if I really believe what I wrote a few months ago.
In a February 16th post I wrote:
” 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 have been forced to go to the edge lately to take a different look and to get some new and needed perspective. I would view myself as a risk taker, someone who is not willing to settle and stay in the comfortable. But that perspective of myself has been challenged lately. Sometimes I think I am more likely to stay safe… stay back, and stay in a routine than I thought.
Yet I have seen time and time again that in my spiritual journey, in my key relationships, in the mission God has given me in Harbor Ministries, that minus some needed wake up calls in my life I can trend toward a safer view and stay back from the edge. Circumstances in these last few weeks have given me a push to the edge. My wife did some of the needed pushing recently in our relationship and it has caused me to re-engage her in some better ways.
I have also felt flat in my spiritual journey recently and I’m realizing I’ve been going down a path I have journeyed before…. where I am so busy doing…. that I have neglected a passionate pursuit of God myself. That pathway lead to near disaster in my past. I was beginning to forget again what that passionate pursuit needs to look like in my own life, so I am trying to take some steps to bring some needed wind back in my sails, before things get real crazy soon.
I know this. It is time to be challenged and not coast. Time to not just encourage others, but to pursue this mysterious God of ours myself with the same level of intensity that I am challanging others with. Time to get up to the edge and see what steps God wants me to take from there. For now, one of those steps I think, is to just enjoy the view…
When was the last time your tank was really full? A time when you could say I am right where I need to be. I’m not looking elsewhere. I’m not restless or thinking about something else. A time when you where just fully in the moment, and you sensed you were gaining some much-needed energy
It is something we talk to guys in leadership about all the time. In order to lead, to engage people, to have a life of deep impact, it is critical that we are leading from a place of strength.
One of the things I have neglected over the years is recognizing this truth: To be a effective leader, we must lead with strength and courage, steadiness and balance. To do that well, our lives need to take on a certain “weightiness” — a weightiness that comes from a full tank. So I have found myself thinking lately about those things that really fill my tank: The things I love, that I’m passionate about. The things that actually give me energy, not take it away. Things that are just plain fun. When I have neglected these things, I have trended toward coasting, drifted toward becoming mediocre and even feeling some entitlement.
Recently I had a number of tank-filling experiences converge. I had just finished a RHYTHMinTWENTY gathering in San Diego with a great group of young leaders from all over the country. Even though those days take a ton of work and so much goes into them, they are incredibly life-giving. When I’m at a Rhythm event, I feel like I’m right in the middle of what I should be doing. After the gathering, my son stayed on and we hit some sights, including a Cubs/Padres game at Petco Park. It was a collision of so many things I love and am passionate about: time with the family, sports, time on the Mission Beach boardwalk, time with some awesome young leaders, working with great leadership teams for Rhythm and Rogue, San Diego..
I came back from those few days, NOT spent, but with a full tank.
So what is it for you? What brings you life? What energizes you? What fills you up? Make a bucket list for the summer. I bet you will see some huge impact as a result..
It was a day like so many other days in the 40 years he’d been shepherding sheep. Everyday had to look really similar. The weather, the scenery, and the job… get the sheep up the mountain, get them fed, keep them safe… then take them to the next spot and do it all over again.
Forty years he had been doing this, and you have to figure that Moses had settled in; that he had to be thinking this is what life is going to be, and this is how things are going to play out. But then, on a day like so many other days, something radical happened and everything changed.
Coming down the mountain on this day, Moses noticed a burning bush, and turned aside to see the sight. When I was preparing a talk on this incredible story in Exodus 3, it struck me that perhaps the significant moment in this story happens in Verse 4: “When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called him from the midst of the bush…” You get this sense that maybe that bush was burning all along and that God was waiting for Moses, waiting for him to turn aside, to move away from the task at hand and listen to what God was going to say. That is pretty incredible when you think about it. Seemingly out of nowhere on what looked like a very ordinary day, Moses was given the mission of his life; the mission that made sense out of all the events, seasons and themes to his life at that point.
It makes me hope and ache for God to show up. I need that right now. It makes me wonder as well if there are some places in my life that I am missing it. Places, times, moments, where I need to slow down, get off the beaten path, turn aside and and just listen.
Can you think of a time in your life… a unique moment/place/conversation… a time when life seemed to slow down and God’s story intersected your story in such a way that maybe your thoughts/actions/perspective were different as a result? I have been reminded lately that there is power in remembering; that as we remember, it can give us the strength, courage, confidence and inspiration we need to face the moments ahead.
I am drawn back today to a particularly dark time in my life. I was in San Diego planning the next phase of Harbor Ministry and the launch of the RHYTHMinTWENTY events. I had nothing to offer. Life’s circumstances had put me in a very dark place and honestly I was ready to walk away and be done with this God stuff. But at a critical moment on the San Diego boardwalk, God met me in a unique way. It was in the quiet moments at sunrise that day that hope and a renewed sense of purpose began to come back.
Time and again I have gravitated to this passage in Lamentations 3:19-30 from The Message:
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.
Today I have a renewed sense that I need some of this time of quiet. So I am going to do my best this week to again find some of that space that I need.
April Fools Day makes me a little reflective. I think it’s because my dad loved that day. In fact, if it was a holiday, you could make the case that it was his favorite. He was a notorious practical joker and he somehow always pulled something off on family and friends on an annual basis. Sometimes his ploys were simple moments, and other times they were very extravagant.
My dad had a passionate connection to his work. He loved the land and he loved working the land, but none of us questioned that he loved people the most. It was his ability to balance work, play, fun and relationships that set him apart from most of his peers. At his funeral I had five different men tell me that they lost their best friend the day my dad died. There were many reasons that this farmer had such a deep impact on so many people. He had depth, a strength, wisdom, and just a presence that drew people to him. He had an unwavering belief in me and was able to model an unconditional love that I have seen rarely in my life.
But he also knew how to laugh, how to enjoy life, how to create experiences… and how to play hard. I was recently traveled to our family farm and was flooded with memories of the many things he did that in some ways made no sense. He just created space that made life a great ride for many of his friends and family.
When I played baseball as a kid he had equipment that would smooth out the barnyard just to keep a great infield-like surface to practice on. He was one of the first guys in our area to buy a boat and he loved being on the water. He built a little cabin on a lake in 1971 as a place to create some memories. He got a pilot’s license just for fun, and he converted an equipment shed into an indoor basketball court, even though it made a lot more sense to use that space for work.
So when I think of spring and April and April Fool’s Day in particular, I think of a man who did it right.
He worked hard.
He laughed harder.
He played well.
He embraced the moments he was given on this earth.
And he made the journey a lot more fun for all of us.