Christmas could not have come fast enough this year. I think I’m safe saying that we all need a bit of a boost. But I’m not talking about fluffy optimism from a Hallmark movie. That stuff is designed to manipulate warm, fuzzy feelings and has tricked the world into thinking that the love of family and friends is what Christmas is all about. Now before you dismiss this post as my version of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, hold on a minute.
Run when the wind is against you
Run when rocks and debris get in the way
Run through muddy waters and stormy weather
Run when the sun beats down and your spirit breaks
I just finished watching the ESPN documentary, “The Last Dance” that chronicles the final season of the Chicago Bulls dynasty in 1998. After they won their 6th championship, I listened as they played scenes from the locker room. In all the celebrating, the great Michael Jordan laughingly said, “They can’t win till we quit!”. That phrase stuck with me, and as I considered it more, it sank in.
This Thanksgiving was extra special on many levels. I’m not going to say it was because it brought our family together, or because of the amazing food, or that the Chicago Bears actually won a football game. No, we spent the majority of this year’s holiday recovering from a trip to the ER. Though I wasn’t the one who was ill, and thankfully no lives were in danger, we were forced to slow down. There’s nothing like mandatory down time to make you realize how busy you’ve been! I’ve come to learn that when things like this happen, sometimes it’s God’s way of making me stop and get the rest I need. That rest has helped remind me of why the Thanksgiving season holds such a special place in my heart.
I heard this question over and over again growing up. If left unchecked, my fallen state takes over and I’ll get passive in group settings. That is not uncommon for many, but I’ve been giving it some thought and . . . well I think I’m on to something. Often, the number of people in a group might determine the extent to which we fade into the background. I say “might” because while I may have made blanket statements such as “I feel comfortable speaking up in a group of 10 or less”, I’ve come to realize that it’s not the size of the group that matters, but the extent to which I feel a part of that group. Does that resonate with anyone else?
It’s March 28th. So? Well to me March 28th is what I call “Bike Day”. Thirty some-odd years ago on this day, I was returning from a bike outing along the main beach road in South Florida, Hwy1. We finished up our ride and everyone turned toward their homes. They asked if I knew how to get home from there and I said I did. Of course I knew – sort of. Too embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t sure, I was also confident that I could figure it out. I knew what street I was looking for, and once I found that street, I knew exactly how to get home. The problem was, I walked for hours in the early afternoon sun and never found that street.
What drew me to follow Christ was the joy and community I felt among believers. Even at 4 years old, I could sense the comradery that I saw a church, and around the table at home. I was part of an amazing family, that treated strangers like lost relatives. And yet, I grew up believing that I was less important, less worthy, and just “less” than everyone else. Those were lies. In my head, I knew those were lies, but I still believed them. Especially through middle and high school, they felt true. I wasn’t enough for my friends, even if I was enough for God. And that wasn’t enough for me.
I came to trust Christ as a believer when I was 4 years old. I remember every detail of that moment. I know what I was doing and the comment I made to my mom that prompted her to explain salvation to me. I know where I was in the room and that she was folding laundry at the time. It’s funny how God can use the most routine moments to change someone’s life forever. Over the years, I learned that the testimony of someone who came to Christ young and never strayed far from the path is a powerful one. I would wonder though, what it would have been like to experience that moment of freedom from an adult perspective.
For as long a I can remember, people warn against having tunnel vision. They tell you to “gain a broader perspective”, “open your mind”, or “take in your surroundings”. In general, yes, those are very good things. I’ll always be the first one to take in the scenery and the last one to make a decision if I haven’t considered all the options. But I’ll tell you one thing I learned last weekend: sometimes tunnel vision isn’t such a bad thing. It can save your life when what’s going on around you is too much. I’m alive to prove it.
What is it about water? I was asked recently where my favorite vacation spot would be. The more I thought about it, harder it seemed to provide an answer. I love to travel and can be happy in pretty much any environment. I love mountains, beaches, cities and wilderness. But then it struck me. If I truly want to relax, I need to be near water. Being around water cleanses my spirit. It lets me exhale and release every ounce of anxiety and stress. Jesus talked about sending rain on the just and the unjust in Matthew 5:45. As it did then, water means crops, prosperity, and life.