Joe DiMaggio, hall of fame baseball player of the New York Yankees, was once asked why he hustled on a play that didn’t seem to matter much to the outcome of that particular game. He responded by saying, “Because there is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time, I owe him my best”. Understanding our gifts and the responsibility we have in sharing them play a crucial role in what we provide a particular moment in life. Joe DiMaggio wanted that kid to take in an experience that would mean much more than their favorite team winning. That seemingly insignificant moment could’ve impacted that kids experience in such a way that it may have resonated with them in a positive manner for the rest of their life. We may not have a stage a professional athlete has, but we all have the same moments and opportunities to make a lasting impression in someone’s life. It is our choice to make a conscious decision to realize every moment does count and it will leave a mark. Sounds easy enough on paper, but marrying the gap between thought and action can be difficult. It’s what fills that gap that either gets in the way or spurs us on. Everybody’s gap looks different when it comes to the road blocks that get in the way of behaving in a manner that will be a blessing to others. But if that space is open to be filled with God’s presence and His love, the gap seems to disappear. Your hearts cup will overflow and flood the lives of anyone who crosses your path with God’s love. So I ask, what if the people in our lives are seeing God for the first time? Kind of a scary and yet it’s an amazing and beautiful opportunity we are blessed with. Whether you believe it or not, our actions do matter. YOU MATTER, and are blessed with moments that can be a treasure to all who share your life in one form or another. Think for a moment of how you treasure knowing God’s love and his grace, and now imagine what that will do when shared with everyone. If you don’t know this yet, I pray that you will. I’ll be the first to admit I allow my gap to become a canyon at times. I have allowed it to filled with the bad seeds that were planted by my past. Believed in falsehoods about who I was and did very little to create opportunities for people to see who God truly is through me. I was a poor reflection of His love. We don’t have to preach on Sunday’s, be bible scholars, or hold a platform of professional athlete so to speak. All we are asked to do is plant seeds. Seeds of hope, love, and grace. So that one day those seeds bear fruit for God. So I’ll ask again (but in a different way), what kind of reflection of God are we going to be today, in this moment and in the moments that will come? The choice is truly yours.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:12-14 MSG)
Sometime last week God brought me this message. I wanted to write about it for so many reasons. It’s a beautiful message of what a new life in Christ looks like, a message of what redemption looks like, a message of what God’s love looks like. When I read it I immediately lost control of my emotions, and started to cry. An act of expression that is very new to me. I cried because I could cry. I cried because God has transformed my heart. I cried because God loves me. But, in all honesty, I also cried out of remorse. Remorse because I fought his wardrobe change in me for so many years. I guess the pain of my former self still lingers. I have forgiven myself for what I have done in the past. I have learned from my mistakes and the decisions I made. Even though I don’t even recognize or understand the person I once was, the pain from the consequences of my actions still tends to linger and show itself. I lost someone I love, someone that is special to me because I refused a wardrobe of love. I refused a wardrobe of compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. I was far from even-tempered, far from content with second place, and slow (if not refused) to forgive an offense. I felt remorse because of all that lost time and countless precious moments that I did not share God’s love with others. During my moment of self loathing, I was given a gift from a dear friend. A gift of what it looks like to not just wear this wardrobe, but to live and share it. He recently lost his father, and in the midst of his grieving, he asked me how I was doing. How am I doing?!!!! Talk about compassion, kindness, humility, and quiet strength. Moments like this transform lives (for the better). It certainly will mine. I was reminded that our lives are filled with these moments, and our reaction to them will leave a mark. The question is what kind of impact do you choose to make. It’s not arrogant to think that the gifts God blessed you with will make a difference in serving His purpose. It’s necessary to realize you matter, you play a big role in His plan, and through God’s grace you can have a new wardrobe. Trust me, it’s beautiful.
Have you ever stumbled upon something unexpected, something literally amazing, and just knew right away it was God? Sometimes on this quest I get stuck in “drive” so to speak. Forgetting that just as much ground, if not more, can be covered when I allow for moments to be in neutral or just flat out park. The city I live in has an art museum with an area around it that is ridiculous. They’ve made it a museum of its own. Central to the area is a pond with a path that can either be enjoyed by biking, jogging, or walking. Mixed among God’s artwork of nature are other pieces that local artist have added to what God created for us to enjoy. It’s a little sanctuary tucked inside a busy city of relentless pursuits. I’ve been frequenting this spot more often lately to enjoy, especially during this transition from summer to fall. I first came here a few weeks ago to make peace with a moment from my past that occurred here in this place. A moment where I vividly remember seeds of my past beginning to bear fruit, and where I started to believe voices and falsehoods that would later take me places I never really wanted to be. It was a moment that tormented me a little, and through God’s grace I’ve been able to make peace with it. I came here today, because it’s 80 here today (even though it’s fall) and just too nice to waste it inside watching football. Ha, that’s something I thought I’d never say. Trust me, once winter hits here, there will be plenty of time for that stuff. I had to get here today, almost craved it. Walking along the path around the pond, taking in today’s blessings, there it was… The moment I alluded to in my intro… God. Tucked under some trees off the path, someone put a series of hammocks up. I stopped and starred at them almost in disbelief, and finally thought “what are you waiting for?”. So I’ve been lying in one for about an hour now (I think, I did close my eyes for a bit). Just staring up at the trees above me, watching the first few leaves of the season fall down to their new home. Pausing. Being still with God. Taking in his beauty. All of my senses are alive. I’m in awe. Thank you God
There are three desires that have been revealed to me, during my time with my councilor, that make up a “deep longing” that we search for.
1. To be loved unconditionally
2. To be loved eternally
3. To be totally known
I looked up “deep longing” and was floored by how it is defined. In all the sources I checked, it is basically described as a yearning or desire for something that cannot be fulfilled. At first I kind of chuckled. One, because this definition played out to be totally accurate when I look back at my previous attempts to find this. But two, because I know this desire can be fulfilled if you seek God, “for he satisfies a longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things” (Psalm 107:9, ESV). My attempts to find this failed because my approach was a failing one. I looked to be completed or made whole through relationship with others, through sports, through a career, and through my own strength. These were all at the center of an inevitably crumbling foundation. When selfish expectations were not met, hope was lost and I would retreat to a perceived safe place of isolation. Proverbs 18:1 tells us “whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment”. I urge you not to test this theory, you will not like the results. For me the result was abstaining from a relationship with God. The only place where a desire for deep longing can be quenched. As I’ve torn down my shack of isolation and began constructing a foundation with God at the center; I am unconditionally loved, I am loved eternally, and I am totally known. Not because of who I am, but all because who God is. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but by the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10, ESV).
Road construction is an ever present reality no matter where you live. It’s unavoidable and necessary as the places we live must evolve the streets we drive to keep up with the demand we put on our infrastructure. Just as one project finishes, another seems to break ground whether we’re ready for it or not. God blessed me with many opportunities this past week to realize that the same is true for the construction he has in place in me for Him. Even though I know that my former self is no more, the new person God is building is going to be constantly under construction in order to fulfill his will in the ever changing world we live in. I struggled a bit with this reality at first. Selfishly desiring a finish line or and end point to the process. Foolishly thinking that the work is done. Did I get frustrated? Yeah, I did. But I went to God, and he lead me to my mentors and to his word. Here, his voice was loud and clear. The final message was also delivered to me yesterday at church. It came through a passage out of 1 Peter 2:5 “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (ESV). The key words that our preacher highlighted were “being built”. At that moment the last bit of frustration I was holding onto seemed to evaporate and God filled me with the understanding that His process has greater meaning than anything I desire. God does this because he loves us, and needs us to be equipped for all the scenarios that will come our way as we live in our earthly home. More importantly, we will be equipped and ready to take on anything that God asks of us to fulfill His will.
Impulse spending is a regrettable hobby of mine. It’s a little bit of a rush. Standing in front of the item while it stares back at me on the shelf, almost taunting me, just imagining it gets me jacked up. I can’t wait to add this to my collection of useless crap I don’t need, but have convinced myself one time or another that I must have it. I must have it?! Sitting here looking around my living room full of these things, stuff that hasn’t served any real purpose in my life, fills me with buyer’s remorse. Imagine if we approached a relationship with Jesus with the same fervent mind set. A mind set and a way of living that yells out “I must have it!”. For too many years I fought having a relationship with Jesus. Believing a false narrative, convincing myself that I knew what was best for me, has led me astray. I thought I could make life easier and simpler if I did things my way. The reality was the exact opposite. Life was harder, complicated, heavy laden, and without any purpose but to attempt to protect myself. My life was all about me. As difficult as it was to hand my life over to God, the result couldn’t be better. But what I’ve now come to realize, it wasn’t for me. Early on in my quest I craved the moment I would receive God’s grace and love. Early on my craving was very selfish. I wanted these gifts for my benefit. Relinquishing my control has brought me peace, and life is simpler. But God has not blessed me with these gifts so that I would “feel better”. I was given them to share with everyone. Life is simpler, not because God promised me an easy life, but because my purpose has been made clear. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15, ESV). All I have on my plate is to share God’s love. When it comes to dealing with buyer’s remorse, I can just as easily return the item as easily as I purchased it. But when it comes to moments in life, we only get one chance within that moment to give to others what God has graciously given to us. Don’t hoard these blessings to yourself. Share with everyone, love everyone. It’s really is that simple.
Today is the last day of summer. It might not say so on the calendar, but where I am it is. We’re going to have our last hot day today, then boom, twenty degrees cooler tomorrow. I love all things “fall”, so entering into the season fills me with excitement, but also usually with and a touch of anxiousness. As much as I look forward to this time of year I typically find it hard to not be a little fearful about the approach of winter. It’s funny how we can embrace change, while trying our hardest to rebel against it as well. Change is inevitable, but at times I found myself fighting it. Fighting a battle I was never going to win, which subsequently was damaging to me and anyone that found themselves in the wake I created. Anything that I perceived to be difficult or challenging, that I didn’t decide to take on myself, I fought with everything I had. Label me a brat for not getting my way, or arrogant to think I knew better (the judges will also accept cowardly, selfish, childish, immature, and…) Whatever the label that can be placed with that approach isn’t going to be one that I am fond of, but badges of dishonor that are rightfully mine. The change of the season is a little reminder of the changes that are taking place in me, the changes that God is making possible. Some of the challenges that come with a journey like this are ones that I’ve willing embraced and ones that I’ve had to learn to embrace unwillingly. Accepting all challenges in order to maintain control over a foolish, deceitful, and mythical desire of independence hasn’t always been easy; but as always, all things that really matter don’t lead you down the easy roads. God has transformed me into viewing this new season as a season of hope. I will continue to work on myself, but past mistakes or who I was do not hold me down anymore. My journey is not over, but God has destroyed the person I once was. I pray that I continue to have the courage God has blessed me with to continue down the path He needs me on, and that my desire to fulfill His purpose and spread His love continues to grow with each passing moment.