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 ended last week’s post with a commitment to keep chasing those much-needed wide open spaces. This week as I have prepared a talk on Joshua leading the nation of Israel into the promised land, I am struck by God’s words to Joshua as he readies himself and the entire nation to enter their new homeland.
What strikes me about this section of scripture is how quiet Joshua is. This warrior—this man of action—has found some space to quiet down and just listen. He has found some space to shut off the noise, get quiet, and just listen… listen to the words God has for him BEFORE he acts.
In the next few weeks, I am going to enter into some of those wide open spaces again myself. I’m heading into a few weeks of sabbatical. The pace of Harbor Ministry and my other responsibilities has really increased lately. It is an exciting and deeply fulfilling season of ministry. But at the same time, I sense it is critical that I slow down and do some listening. I’m not sure where some of those open spaces will be, but I am going to seek out time of the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, then I’m heading to southern Montana for a bucket-list road trip with my family. Likely there will also be some extended biking, kayaking, and time in those quiet spots closer to home.
I sense that Harbor is at an exciting, but important crossroads, and my kids are at some important crossroads themselves. I have no idea if I’ll get some of the clarity I seek, or if God just wants me to enter the wide open spaces for no other reason than to connect with him. Whatever the case, I am going into this time with the intention of shutting off the noise, getting quiet, and enjoying some wide open spaces.
I will likely start a regularly posting again after the 4th of July, but we will see what the next few weeks bring. By the way, if you know a good spot on the east side of Lake Michigan or southern Montana, let me know.
Here is to finding some of those wide open spaces we all need…
A couple of years ago, a friend sent me this quote about the wide open spaces: “There is something to be cherished in the wide open space, if only a chance to breathe in unknown air in search of a new way forward.” (author unknown)
When I first read the quote, it struck me as profound. Within days, I headed out to southern Wyoming and northern Colorado for some needed time in those open spaces. That trip helped get me through a pretty rough stretch.
Today I think of that quote again, on the heels of two of my favorite weeks ever in Colorado and some of those open spaces — and believe me, for someone who loves the mountains, and the open spaces of the west like I do, that is no small statement.
There was the challenge and deeply fulfilling time of starting new RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue Journey groups with 45 incredible leaders from all over the country. There was the challenge of creating the space and pace for others to engage some of those wide open spaces for themselves. There were the moments for me of just enjoying the quiet and beauty that God has created. There were those few hours I got to drive a jeep in those mountains and just soak it all in. There was the time I had to think about the next steps that I sense God may be wanting me and Harbor Ministries to take. There were the few hours of continuing to learn the art of fly fishing, and having this great guide cheer, coach, teach, listen, and celebrate every cast, every catch, and even every “almost” catch that morning.
There was the moment of seeing that same fishing guide stop and stare at the mountains, and me asking him, “After 20 years of doing this, do you ever get tired of the sight of this open valley and that mountain view?”
And then hearing his response: “Are you kidding?”
Getting away, getting quiet, finding the time to enter the wide open spaces is never easy to do. I am reminded again how important—how critical—it is for my own journey.
- It reminds me that there are times I absolutely have to shut off the noise so that I can really hear Him.
- In those opens spaces, I often find the clarity, confidence, and strength to step out, take a risk, and keep moving.
- It is so often in those open spaces that I find that elusive peace…. that peace that surpasses all comprehension.
- In those open spaces comes the permission to write… to dream… to create.
- Open space gives me a chance to remember that God really does walk with me through all that life throws my way. He reminds me He is right there… through the tears, frustrations, success, beauty, and disappointments.
So I don’t know about you, but I am going to keep chasing those wide open spaces.
There is something to being fully in the moment. Sometimes it just takes slowing down enough to not miss it. To not miss the surprising, sometimes unassuming, sometimes profound ways, God reveals himself to us.
The pace of life, family, work, and our culture as a whole, seem to always be pressing in. We work hard, play hard, and run fast. I know for me, it so often feels like I’m just moving from one thing to the next without any space.
We just finished launching new Rogue and RHYTHMinTWENTY groups in Estes Park, Colorado. One of the things we try and focus on with these leaders is learning to just slow down and seek solitude. In the quiet, it is just much easier to hear, see, and experience the things God may have for us. Yesterday, a fishing guide in Estes Park, told us about a day last summer when he caught the biggest trout of his life. He did not take a picture, he did not keep the fish, he did not start fishing again. He realized it was a moment that may not come around again, so instead of getting back in the water and pressing to catch another one, he just sat down and soaked in the moment.
It struck me as profound. There are times we need to slow the pace and just enjoy the moments. I find myself thinking of Pslam 63 . The Message translation says, “…if I am sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because you have always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.”
Life is tough. So many people going through such difficult things. So, when the good moments do come, I don’t want to miss them. Here is to slowing down. Here is to watching, and listening with different eyes and ears. Here is to the moments He may have for each of us in the days ahead
I am still here in Estes Park. In a few minutes, I’m heading out with that same fishing guide. I am going to do my best to enjoy every moment…
What is like to really be in the dark?
We can lose a lot of things, but if we lose hope we are in trouble.
We can’t lose hope.
I can’t let others lose hope.
What are times in the darkness really about? Can we look back and be somehow thankful for those times? One thing for sure: when we feel like we’re floundering, we have to hang on to the hope of seeing that flicker of light. We have to believe that God will meet is in those times or we really are in trouble.