Tim Bohlke » // writings

Living Large, Part I

Chasing Mavericks” was an under-the radar-kind of movie that came out last fall. It was maybe an average movie, but it has had a big impact on me. It is the true story of Jay Moriarty. He had a deep connection with the ocean and a amazing gift for surfing. His passion was to chase the biggest, baddest waves in Southern California — waves called mavericks. So he trained, he studied, he waited, he dreamed, and then one day he became a legend when he took the risk and stepped out and rode a monster wave all the way in.

My youngest son has been a bit of a maverick chaser. His dream has been basketball. Before his junior year he was getting a lot of Division 1 interest and he had his heart set on playing for Nebraska. Then the end of his junior and into his senior year he had two major injuries and three surgeries. This maverick chaser took some serious hits. Yet in the last couple of months the dream re-emerged, and this last week he got his shot to try out for the Huskers. So he put his heart on his sleeve again and he gave it his best shot. Just today he got the call that he did not make it. Sometimes you put yourself out there, you take the steps you feel God has led you to take, you take a risk, you follow your passion and the wave  still slams you into the beach.

But this  maverick chaser has inspired me way more than the movie. Every obstacle he has faced has not taken him out. He stays positive. He knows God is watching out for him. He knows there is a bigger story and that he has been uniquely designed to chase that larger story no matter the outcome.

So where are you in the chase? Have the waves slammed you to the bottom or are you riding it in? Is it time to look for another wave?  My maverick chaser is pretty discouraged right now — actually very discouraged. As for me, I am more angry, angry at all the obstacles and discouraging  setbacks  he has had to face over the last year. And I wonder why he seems to be so gifted, yet blocked again and again from using those gifts.

But I have no doubt he will soon be looking for another wave, because I believe he knows that even with the risks,  even with the dissapointment, he knows he was made to live a big story. In his heart I believe he knows he was meant to chase mavericks. All of us were. So where are you in this chase?

Hitting the Wall

I usually post on Monday and Thursday, but this is weighing on me, so I’m just putting it out there.

So what do you do with disappointment?  I mean real disappointment. The kind that makes you question everything. The dream-ending kind of disappointment.

I wish I had a good response to that. It is a question I have thought a lot about during the last year and will write more about soon.  We all face disappointment in varying degrees, and in my journey there have been times when I  just hit the wall and I’m not sure what to do with it. Last summer was one of those times for me. As I write this someone close is dealing with some dream-crushing disappointment and  there are just no good answers. What do you say or do in those moments?

Last night I just stepped into the moment and agreed that this sucks. It’s not right or fair. It’s not the way things should have played out. I am having a hard time seeing where God is at in this.

Some of my favorite Psalms are Psalms 73 and 77. I love Asaph. He just puts it out there. He says what he is feeling. He is painfully honest with what he sees and struggles with. You get the sense that he is in a wrestling match with God over life’s circumstances — actually more of a boxing match, I think. In reading these Psalms you get a sense for his anger, sadness, disillusionment and his hurt.

But somewhere, somehow, each of these Psalms takes an amazing turn. Asaph’s perspective seems to change and the tone becomes hopeful instead of desperate. How do you explain the shift that occurs? In a lot of ways it does not make any sense. Was he just writing it to make a point? Was his intent all along to just write something dramatic and then just end it on a really spiritual note?

I don’t think so.

He was just being brutally honest, and it seems that the more honest he was with God, and probably with others around him, the more opportunity there was for healing, for movement, and for increased hope. The disappointing stuff was still there but his perspective changed dramatically.

That is how it was for me last summer. Once I found the right “space” to have it out, things eventually changed. My perspective deepened and I was at least more ready for whatever was coming next.

So here is to some straight up honesty, to naming disappointment and to the hope for some needed movement as a result.

Broken by Grace

I recently saw the movie “Les Miserables.”  I had seen the previous films and the Broadway play, but there was something about this re-telling that really struck me, and I don’t think it was the voice of Russel Crow!

The film paints such an incredible picture of the internal battle of how to understand and live in the reality of grace.

The worldview taken by the character Javert is rigid, legalistic and completely inflexible. It is a view that just cannot accept the freedom that grace brings with it. It is driven by rules, consequence, formulas and routines. He carries a heavy load.

Then there is Jean Valjean. His life is one filled with grace, forgiveness, freedom and passion for people’s stories. The load he carries is very light. Both characters seek God for strength but one crumbles when the weight of freedom stands in contrast to rules and law. The other thrives with the same freedom. Valjean understands that real grace and authentic forgiveness can be life changing, where Javert cannot see, let alone comprehend, its impact. One man is system-driven  with a very narrow focus, and the other is people-driven, with a much wider view of the world around him.

I have  found that when radical grace is extended real movement happens. This is when hearts turn, this is when people take necessary steps. It seems grace is a catalyst, a force, propelling people and stories and spilling over to extend that same compelling invitation to others.

Some people believe that if you offer grace people will take advantage and run over you; they will do what they want to do and ask for forgiveness later. But I have seen time and time again, most importantly in my own life, that amazing grace breaks people. It creates movement.  It draws people. It is this indescribable, intangible thing that creates dynamic and deep change.

Amazing Grace. Brokenness. Forgiveness. Movement. This process has been true in my journey, without a doubt.

When you think of your own life, when have you seen this kind of radical grace create change and real movement?

Does My Story Matter?

I’m still in a reflective mode, looking back over some of those moments when God caught my attention in the past.  One of those was sitting on my favorite rock at the Alluvial Fan in Rocky Mountain National Park last year. I was struggling. This had been a place of restoration, refuge, clarity and celebration over these last couple of years.

In 2012, we launched our first Rogue gatherings, and our fourth group of RHYTHMinTWENTY with guys from all over the country who embarked on a dangerous journey of pursuing God, listening and taking steps that are changing everything.

A few years ago, who would have thought that God would use the successes and failures of my life to help launch Harbor Ministries? Who could have guessed that at some of my lowest moments, the insights, clarity and inspiration that would come could impact so many in such deep ways?

As I sat again at this great spot in Colorado and thought about starting something as simple as a blog, doubt sat in.

Do I really believe there is value in my ordinary story?

Are there really words and insights from my journey that could benefit others?

But as I have listened to the stories of others who have come into the Harbor and the Rhythm and Rogue journeys, I’m reminded that there is great value in all of our stories. There are many moments, words, thoughts and memories in all of our lives that can encourage, challenge and inspire others. For me, the times that I have found the direction and the confidence that I have needed to step out, to speak, to move, have come out of the quiet…

When I have really quieted down, changed things up, and really listened…the words have come. One thing that came to mind on that rock was how writing and capturing my thoughts have been a big part of my life and story as long as I can remember. There have been times when my words and memories have encouraged and challenged others, and I was reminded again that there are parts of my story that, on occasion, others need to hear.

If not for the quiet, if not for a season where I stepped off the treadmill and was forced to look at some things, to take a step back, I would have been in real trouble. So, I am going to give it a shot; ordinary words and thoughts from a guy who has seen some ups and downs, some success and failure, but through it all has done his best to keep moving.

My prayer is that as I share parts of my simple story, God might stir something in you. Maybe he can bring you back to that place, where you have deeply connected with him in the past. Where is that place? Where or when has God broken through and reminded you of something significant in your own story?


SharonMay 6, 2013 - 11:15 pm

Always enjoy reading your insights, Tim. Thanks.

ChadMay 7, 2013 - 11:45 pm

Tim, changed my life by starting RhythmnTwenty. Thanks for having the courage to struggle and the wisdom to allow God to use your struggle and failures for his kingdom.

DerekMay 8, 2013 - 4:02 pm

You’re story has impacted me. Glad you’re sharing…
- D

Leaning Into the Rock

Frustrations and disappointments are an unavoidable part of life. We have run into some obstacles/frustrations with getting the book “Harbor Seven,” out. It has been one step forward and three back but stay tuned…we are still moving forward. I will be posting regularly on Mondays and Thursdays as soon as the book is ready to go. In the meantime, this setback reminds me of a memory…

of a raft, a river, and an over-adventurous dad ready to take his son on a ride.

What could go wrong?

My wife, Marcia, and I decided to take our three-year-old son, Drew, on a rafting excursion down the Taylor River near Gunnison, Colorado.  I know…don’t ask me to explain why. Our guide, who had led white water raft trips all over the world assured us it would be fine. He boasted that he had never fallen out of a raft and we would be okay as long as we followed one instruction:  we were to lean into any obstacle in front of us.

The rafting started fast and hard. Drew was terrified and begin to scream within about 30 seconds, and moments into this thrill ride we ignored our guide’s one instruction and failed to lean into the first boulder in our path.  We struck the rock dead on, spun and launched the guide like a rock out of a slingshot, into the river.

Our failure to lean into the obstacle in front of us, and to balance the raft at the moment of crisis caused us to go off course and led to our guide swallowing some water and his pride. It was an intense moment, as the river was faster than anyone had anticipated. But the truth is that things a lot worse things than the bruised reputation of our guide could have happened at that moment. And I learned that sometimes doing the most natural thing –leaning away from the rock, — can do the most damage.

When my life gets out of balance, when things get tough and I go back to what is natural…avoiding, putting off,  leaning away from the obstacles that block my way, I think about that raft.  And I wonder…is there anything I need to lean into today?