Growing up my dad and I took time each summer to backpack. I look back on those times very fondly and hope that I will begin backpacking with my kids as they get older. Almost all of my backpacking took place in the Adirondack Mountains
in New York State. Some times we would hike 15 to 20 miles in a day so that we could ascend to the top of one of the 46 high peaks
. The views were always so wonderful once you got to the top.
As a young kid much of what I stopped to enjoy was the views from the peak. I always thought my dad was goofy for taking pictures of flowers and spider webs. As I would rush up the trails to get to the destination and then fly down the mountains to get back to camp my dad would always try to get me to slow down and enjoy the views along the way. I remember times when he would stop and have me come back to him so I could look out over a cliff and see a beautiful view. For me it was always about the destination and never about the journey. I couldn’t wait to get to the top to say that I had completed the journey and tackled another of the 46 high peaks.
I have found that it is so hard to stop and enjoy the journey! I want to get things done and play when the task is completed. This causes me to be driven to get things done. At times this can be quite valuable but I find that it also means that I get to miss the enjoyment of the process. I miss the joy of the people along the way because I push hard to get things done. This push relegates people to tools to get things done. Parenting is another things that I often want to see accomplished rather than enjoying the journey with my kids. By God’s grace I have been given a view of what I would like to see our kids be like as they grow older. I work towards that view understanding that the view can change. Understanding the importance of each moment, of the journey means that I will also maximize the enjoyment of life for both myself and my kids. God is also helping me realize this and to slow down. To enjoy the journey leads to us getting the most out of everything that is accomplished. When we complete the task without the joy of the journey we not only miss out on many teachable moments but we also miss out on the opportunity to grow with others. As my dad (of course the statement isn’t original to him) would always tell me:
Stop and take time to smell the roses!
In my next post we are going to explore further this idea of smelling the roses but next time we are going to explore why this idea is not complete.
Over the last few months God has allowed us to be on a crazy journey as we have sought His will for our lives. I always use to think that God’s will was supposed to be revealed in some magnificent way so that we could be sure that we were in the center of it. Then I came to realize that it was not the case but practically I still lived that way. As we would come to new junctures in life I kept waiting for God to speak but always in the end He never spoke that clearly.
The pattern that I have seen in my life has been a continuous battle to remain patient as I wait for God’s will to unfold. When I am in those waiting stages I find that anything sounds like it would be a lot of fun and as long as God is included I begin to think that it might be His will for me. Therefore I begin to pursue different things with passion that overwhelms me and possesses me until I find the answer. In those times when things don’t work out I am reminded that those pursuits became my idol. Once they began to possess me I should have realized that it probably wasn’t what God wanted, but rather what I wanted as I sought for significance and meaning. After those times of waiting where I allowed myself to be possessed, God then steps in and moves us to what he had originally planed. Then when I look back with 20/20 vision I see how God’s sovereign hand has been involved and that because I could not be patient I missed out on enjoying Him and His peace.
Recently we hit a new intersection in life and had some major decisions to make but by God’s grace I handled it much differently. God calls us to be faithful and because of that I knew that I needed to proceed with caution. I also knew that I longed to be used by God and didn’t want to wait any longer to pour my heart and life into people. Instead of pursuing a position I simply realized that the best thing to do was to be faithful where God had placed us because I knew there was much to be done.
As a result we have been led to a place where we have been desperate for God to provide. We have been in a place that does not give us luxury or opportunity for advancement but rather it has been a place where I am continually humbled. The place my family and I found is one that is seeking first the kingdom of God in our most imperfect ways. I find myself daily looking at the promises of God and asking do I really believe this. At least a few times a week I find that I want to jump ship and pursue something that has more earthly benefits. In those times God gently rebukes me and pulls me closer to Him.
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). This summer as we have sought the kingdom, God has been sanctifying us. In times when I felt like I needed encouragement from God, I found Him revealing in greater ways the depth of my sin and how it repels people from Him. In those times by revealing my sin, He also revealed how amazing His grace is and that apart from it I am hopeless. In this process He has been sanctifying me. I pray that the lessons that God has been teaching me this summer will stay deeply planted within my heart.
God has also taught me much about trusting His promises. He has taught me that often times the hardest thing about trusting God’s promises is dying to my own desires. Jesus taught that, the first must become last in His kingdom and so when He teaches us those lessons it is painful because we have to die to our desires. The thing is that often times our wants can sound very godly, so when we are asked to die to them it seems wrong. I know I have found myself saying to God, “I want this so I can serve you more or so I can give more to you.” The truth is in those things there is a hint of selfishness that is repulsive to God and also makes it so difficult to die to those things. The great thing is that God keeps showing me that the results from trusting His promises are so much greater than what my desires would have produced.
God’s provision has been amazing as we have surrendered to Him and sought to do His will by seeking first the kingdom of God. Yes it has been hard and I have often found myself in a panic and moping around waiting for God to respond. Then He rebukes me through the Scriptures, my amazing wife, a life situation of a friend or a close friend and I come back to reality that my purpose in life is to know Jesus and to lead others to know and experience Him. That is my mission. I am convinced more than ever that I do not need a position or title to ever fulfill the mission that God has clearly called me to.
May I encourage you be faithful to what God calls us to in the scriptures and He will reveal His will to you only when it is necessary. Pray over the scriptures for what God is calling you to do as His disciple and start doing it. Don’t wait, do it now. When you do this it will not be easy and at times it will be scary but you will come alive and experience life more fully than ever.
The last few years have been marked by this idea of being in the Hands of the Almighty! However over the last week I have had a heightened sense of how real this is. This last week we have been placed in situations where we have to make life-changing decisions and rest in the reality that God must provide for us.
So often we have great plans and we hope that God will come and join us in those plans, but it seems that rarely God works this way. Rather God is at work fulfilling His plan and we must patiently wait for its unfolding. This week has again revealed to me how true this is. To be honest at times this brings great comfort to my life but many times it keeps me siting on the edge of my seat praying. At the end of the day this is great because we grow more dependent on Christ.
Tonight I find myself praying for faith to trust God. To understand and know His promises in regards to His provision and His plan for our lives. I so badly want to trust in promises like, “seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you,” or the great promise of Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not harm you…” I am amazed at how hard it is to be patient and wait for God’s plan to unfold. Recently I was reading a Psalm and I apologize for not remebering which one but I was struct by how many times it said to wait on the Lord.
Hear my family and I sit, waiting on the Lord! Striving to live by faith knowing that God is in control! Really it is hard, deep inside though I find it exciting because at the end of the day there is no more excitig life than the one that rests in the hands of the Almighty!
Over the years I have had few opportunities to go skiing. I have always enjoyed it but I had to go a few times before I really got comfortable! One of the things I remember more than anything is the feeling that you get when you are at the top of a new slope and get to the edge and begin looking down. From your vantage point the slope can look very steep and overwhelming. At that moment you know if you go any further that there will be no turning back. You stop and reconsider should I go and risk life and limb or do I turn around and go to the bunny slope! You know deep down that the bunny slope will be comfortable, safe and enjoyable. On the other hand you know that the black diamond you are looking down will be an amazing thrill that can only come from tackling the slope. The other thing is that if you take the slope and make it happen you will have improved your skill as a skiier! In the end riding the black diamond will be a whole lot more fun than the bunny slope!
I know that God has called my family and I to church planting and over the last nine months we have been trying to discern God’s location for us. Just recently Amy, the Wilson’s and I have been looking at a city very closely and have had some positive things come out of discussions with those who currently minister there. All of us are starting to feel as though this may be the place God is calling us to, oh how exciting! Even in the excitement though I feel like the skiier sitting on the edge of the black diamond trying to move forward but knowing once you do you are beginning a ride of a lifetime! That is what it feels like to make that decision that this is where we are to plant! I know that once it begins it will be a thrill ride with many ups and downs that will last for many years to come!
So what a great place to be- sitting at the top of the slope looking down on what will be an amazing ride! A ride that will teach you many great things and is filled with great joys and great dangers! A ride that will never be forgotten!
Please pray for us as we continue to discern God’s will and vision for this church plant!