What if the most risky and dangerous thing is not coming too close to the edge, but staying back where it is safe… staying in that place where things are known and more secure…
We have had some great family adventures over the years, but one of our favorites was a long road trip through Utah and Arizona several years ago. There were stops to see some awesome national parks, incredible hikes, and some jet skiing on Lake Powell (an absolute must if you have not been there!). But maybe the top spot was getting to the north rim of the Grand Canyon at sunset and taking a mule ride down the rim the next morning. Our kids were pretty young and one of the things I remember was how much time we spent reminding them to stay back from the edge of the canyon, to not get too close. With a risk-taking twelve-year old who often walked to the beat of his own drum,we were never all that comfortable. Our understandable instincts were to protect and insulate our kids from risk; to keep them safe.
As I thought about this lately, 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 think it’s time for me to venture out, to get off the beaten path, and take a look at some things from a different vantage point…
It strikes me this morning that this idea of engaging in extended times of solitude and quiet is critical given the times we are living in. Now more than ever this world needs men and women who are preparing themselves to be attentive, listening , and seeking God with all they have got. I know in my own life these times of extended quiet have been the foundation that has kept me steady and even strong in the storms that have come my way over the last few years.
But these times of quiet… of space, as we call it in Harbor Ministry, have also been the catalyst for the steps of faith we have taken over the last few years. In those times of space, a quiet strength, a needed stability, and a sense of direction have come. For me, and I think for many who have entered the leadership journeys of RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue, these extended times of space have been a difference-making practice.
Over the last few years Moses has become one of my favorite men to study. His life, his leadership, and his relationship with God have been an inspiration for me. One of the things that has really stood out is the many extended times he had to wait and ready himself to hear from God. Perhaps that first crazy encounter in the desert wilderness is the most striking. After years in the desert, Moses comes across this burning bush… and God is speaking. What strikes me about this story in Exodus 3, is not only that God is speaking to him… but Moses’s attentiveness and readiness to hear. In fact, it says that when God saw Moses turn to him, He spoke. Incredible! It seems to me that his times of extended quiet played a role in preparing Moses for that moment. Why did it take so long for God to speak to him? He had been out there a long time. Given what was going on at that time in history and the mission that awaited him, I do struggle with that question. But one thing seems clear; his extended times of solitude, of quiet, of space, prepared Moses for that moment and helped lay the groundwork for a mission that would change history.
So I am re- committing to some extended times of space in my schedule in the months ahead. Why?
- The speed and pace of life demands it.
- There is just too much noise in the day-to-day, and for me to hear anything, I have to find ways to quiet the noise.
- The practice of space will help me be attentive, and ready.
- I hope it will give me needed steadiness and strength for the days ahead.
I do believe the world now more than ever in our lifetimes, needs men and women committed to this practice and discipline of space. I am ready to again enter the quiet…
A few years ago, just before Harbor Ministry was launched, there was this moment….
I was on top of a mountain looking out over Quito, Ecuador. I was there to speak at a conference of youth ministry leaders from around the world, on what it takes to finish well. The crazy thing was, at the time I felt like my personal and leadership life were crashing down. My spiritual life was empty. I was sure that I could not deliver. I just did not think I had what it takes to speak to those men who had gathered there. Everything in me wanted to bolt, and if I hadn’t been in South America, I may have.
Yet somehow in that moment clarity began to come. I had a very strong sense that I did have something to say, that my voice was needed, and I began to settle in.
Thoughts started coming. Help each man remember…
- remember the calling and mission that God has given him
- remember the key times in his own story that God broke through
- remember why he is doing what he is doing.
What followed that night was an incredible time of storytelling, and some moments I will never forget,
So I am reminded again today how powerful remembering can be—remembering the places, the spaces, and the moments where God has intersected our own stories. Today it has kept me inspired, and I find myself wanting more of it.
This thought comes to mind: “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Wait for hope to appear” Lamentations 3:28-29, The Message.
So I am determined to find a time to “enter the quiet” in the next few weeks. My life feels like it is in fast forward right now. I need the quiet bad.
I was taking some extended time of solitude and space this morning in one of my favorite places.
I wished it was this place!, but today I had to settle for a lodge in eastern Nebraska to escape the cold.
But as I sat in some extended time, I found myself reminded of just how important it is to fight for this time to quiet down and listen. This morning , my mind did wander to one of my favorite places on the planet… Crested Butte, Colo.
- It might be because it is so darn cold outside, and I am already sick of winter… and I found myself daydreaming about this great place where I often find adventure, and the clarity I so often need.
- It might be because I have felt myself stuck lately… frustrated, disappointed in God, angry about some of our current circumstances.
- It might be because I have wondered why God so often seems quiet and uninvolved, and I found myself asking why he seems to make it so hard to find Him. And lately I have struggled with the role of prayer and questioning if it even makes a difference.
Mostly this morning I just felt like I needed to hear something from Him. So as I sat ,I recalled a time last summer when some things came to me in a very clear way. With 2015 under way, it seemed like the right time for me to look this over again, and see if there is anything I need to do. It strikes me that in some ways I already have some direction. Why would He give me more until I have taken some needed steps?
Whatever the case, this post from last July was worth another look for me this morning……..
July 10, 2014
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 had a chance to take a couple of days of space last week. I have a strong sense that God is readying me for a significant year in a lot of different ways. A few things came to mind that I am thinking through in more depth this morning. I think this year for me needs to be about indicators. About movement.
It is this dance between waiting… listening… attending, but not getting stuck… not waiting to long… moving when I need to move.
I went fly fishing this last summer with my sons in Montana. It was a bucket-list experience for sure. Now that I’ve done it, it is back on my bucket list for the next year in a big way. It was incredible! We were on the Yellowstone River fishing with double flies. It was the dry fly on top that was the key. It was the indicator. With the rush of the river, the action of the boat, and the natural beauty around you, you could really easily miss the great hits under the surface — unless you were attending to the dry fly. Paying attention, watching, listening to the guide were critical. I can’t tell you how many fish I missed because of the many great distractions around me.
This idea of indicators has become a major theme for me in 2015. One thing I have noticed in my own journey over the last few months is that I quickly become bored. In my spiritual journey I am easily frustrated and often find myself disappointed in my relationship with God. In the past, those times for me have led me to some really hard spots, as well as some awesome times in my journey. I wonder why there are such long times where God seems so distant. I wonder why people I am close to have experienced such disappointment and struggle, and such long periods of time with unanswered prayer. I have found myself wondering again about the role of prayer and if it really makes a difference.
I find myself needing some clear indicators as we think about taking some significant steps of faith in Harbor Ministries this year as well. Is it finally time to take some significant steps in securing a Harbor “anchor site” in Estes Park? As we launch new Rhythm and Rogue groups in 2015, what do we need to do to come along side strategic leaders in these new groups, and to continue to have impacting relationships with current leaders?
I have a lot more questions than answers right now, but I think some of what I need to be about in 2015 is around these themes of indicators and movement.
So here is hoping I don’t set the indicator too soon, or too late, because in either case, I may miss the moment.
Here is to not wanting to get stuck in a tired, boring place in my relationship to God.
Here is to hoping, waiting, listening, and seeing the indicators… then setting the hook… and then creating movement when the time is right!