How long has it been since you had a moment that was really awesome? I mean a jaw dropping, stop you in your tracks kind of great moment.
I have had a few lately.
Just a couple of months ago, I got to baptize one of the leaders in a RHYTHMinTWENTY group. He wanted to mark the moment and tell the guys how God had deeply worked in his life since joining the Rhythm journey. It was a deeply impacting time by a small waterfall in Rocky Mountain National Park. I remember it being really cold… and unforgettable for all of us who were there.
A few weeks later I was at a Mumford and Sons concert. When they broke out Awake my Soul, well , it just doesn’t get much better than that. I found myself wanting to send a picture, record it, or call somebody. But I knew that unless you were there at that moment, there just were no words that could describe how great it was.
Then, almost a year ago to the day, my son Dylan and I were in Munich, Germany. It had been a tiring and stressful couple of days (it’s a long story). But while we were there, someone told us that we had to go downtown and see the Christmas markets that Munich is famous for, and the castle at the center of town. So that night we wondered downtown and came around the corner of the city square. Snow was lightly falling, and there was this incredible castle with Christmas carolers singing from the third level. It was like we walked into a Christmas card. But it was more powerful than that: It ended up being this surreal, hard to describe, moment of unique and surprising worship that I will never forget.
It just seems important tonight to remind myself of the great moments of the last year. Times that have surprised, encouraged, and inspired. I think remembering those moments can give us strength, and even some anticipation and excitement for the times ahead.
I went to the Hunger Gamesmovie with daughter recently. Katniss is an intriguing character. She is a leader by actions more than words, resilient, strong, passionate, tenacious. She overcomes tons of obstacles to not only survive but flourish. But she is also a compassionate warrior who puts others first and protects those who need it most.
It was fitting to be there with my daughter because I see a lot of those qualities in her. She, too, has been resilient, and she is someone who overcomes obstacles and flourishes in challenging circumstances. Since she was in middle school she has had a passion to reach and work with the kids coming out of tough environments. A lot of people talk about doing something like that, but she actually did it. This last year she stayed true to the burden and calling and accepted her first teaching job in a tough school in a very difficult and challenging area. And everyday she wades into the mess with those kids.
One of the great lines in the movie that really stuck with me was near the end. The participants are battling to the death in the dome. They are trapped in this surreal environment that the government has created for these “games”. The alliances are starting to break down and Katniss is literally taking aim at someone in her core group of allies. It is the critical moment in the movie, when that character yells out to her and says “Katniss, don’t forget who the real enemy is…” In that moment she remembers they are in a dome and the real enemy is not in front if her; the true enemy is beyond the dome.
When I heard the line, it struck me as profound. So often I look at what is in front of me, and I think the opposition is what I see or feel at the moment. I am struck again today to not get locked up in disagreements with those close. There is so often a much bigger story playing out than what is right in front of me. Seems significant to me to not get stuck in the small stuff — the stuff that often seems so big — and to take those words to heart.
Remember who the real enemy is.
I went for a good long bike ride yesterday. It was likely my last ride for a while. With the unseasonably warm weather this last week, I have been riding every chance I get, because I knew change was coming. When I put the bike away last night, I knew I would likely be done with it for a few months.
Yesterday’s high was 60. Today’s was 20, as a winter storm rolled through. This is the kind of storm that is a game changer in Nebraska — the kind that says winter is settling in, so I may as well get used to it… so the bike went up to the rafters.
I am not a big fan of the cold. I would much rather be on the boardwalk at Mission Beach in San Diego. For the last several years when winter set in, I could move from some of the things I love to do outside, and go into a gym and watch my kids play basketball. For several years that kept me pretty warm. Those years of coaching and watching them play were as good as it gets. When our youngest graduated from high school this last year, I knew this winter may be a bit colder.
Biking for me has always been great therapy. It is a chance to get alone, get quiet, think, get a good workout, and enjoy the sights and sounds of a ride on one of my favorite trails. I always feel better, more refreshed, often more inspired after a good ride. But for the next few months, I will need to find a replacement: something to fill the gap, something to replace the bike… and the gym.
This will not be easy.
I need some ideas, maybe some perspective. So what do you do to get out of the doldrums? How do you bring some joy, refreshment, fun, exercise, and inspiration into the cold and gray of winter?
Today, I watched the sun rise over the Atlantic. It was incredible. Quiet mornings by the ocean always offer me a great mix of reflection, awe, and anticipation. This morning was no different. The colors were incredible. The only sounds were the rhythm of the surf. I was pretty locked into the moment.
Then came the noise…
…some equipment to clean the beach, a few workers doing their jobs.
Things really changed after that. In fact, the noise changed everything.
Sometimes we have to focus, do your work, get things done despite all noise around us. That’s just life . But sometimes we need to make some sacrifices, move, change things up, and make some adjustments to take some of the noise away.
I found another great spot this morning, got away from some of the noise and just listened. It was worth it — way worth it to find another spot .
So it raises the question: what is causing confusion, disruption, noise, in your life and what do you need to do about it?
Have you ever gotten to a place where you felt dead in the water? Just no wind in your sails? A place where you just really need to hear from God; you need some direction or some sense that He is directing you. You need His holy wind to fill your sails. I have been there many times, and I found myself there again a few months ago. It is a hard place. It was a long time of stillness, a long time of just waiting, searching, hoping for a sense of His holy wind.
I think through the years I have realized there are those times — sometimes extended times — when there is just no movement, and seemingly no sense of His voice or direction. But I have also found there seems to always be a breakthrough. Sometimes it comes in the most surprising and unpredictable ways. I also know it is important to keep searching for it, keep waiting for it, keep expecting it.
I find that I am really thankful not only for those times that His wind blew through, but also for the times of stillness, because it is in those times that I keep searching and seeking him. It was in those times that Harbor Ministry was launched, and in those times that I came to grips with the loss of my parents. It was in those still times that I wrote journals for my kids as they went off to college. As I think about it, it was in those times when I felt He was most silent that He was speaking pretty clearly.
Over these next few weeks I am determined to go and to listen, and to wait for the holy wind.