Archives For Trust

I’m Here For You

randomlychad  —  March 10, 2014 — 4 Comments

Hi. How’s your day today? If your night was anything like mine you went to bed far too late and were awakened far too early.

Since:

Becoming a parent

Entering my forties

Being diagnosed with sleep apnea

I have more nights/days like that. Rest is a fleeting commodity. Add to that work pressures, comitments, obligations, family issues, and sometimes I want to pull the escape hatch.

I’m sure you’ve felt the same, right?

Sometimes life is too much.

But I’m a guy. I’m supposed to be tough, stong…

I’m suposed to be able to handle it. Thing is, I don’t always. I don’t handle it at all well. Sometimes, my coping strategies involve just about exactly the wrong thing.

I have struggles I don’t want to have.

My prayer of late, after trying to lay ahold of kingdom promises, has simply been:

“I’m not strong, I don’t have it altogether. God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

How about you?

If you’re a guy, and you’re going through something you’d rather not be, I want you to know:

YOU’RE NOT ALONE.

I’m here for you. This blog is a safe place. It exists for our mutual comfort and encouragement.

I’m here for you.

Can I count on you when life is hard?

It has been said that age is but a number. That we are only as old as we feel. “As a man thinketh,” etc.

There is a certain truth to this. And having a positive outlook certainly has benefits. In this sense, age is just a number.

But aging is cold, hard fact. I first became cognizant of this in my late twenties: a few of the whiskers in my beard took the inexorable spin on the color wheel to gray.

But I didn’t feel any older. (The gray has since spread like a disease, slowly making its way from the center of my chin up the sides of my face).

A little later, the early thirties, my metabolism showed signs of decline: I could no longer eat what I wanted without consequence.

And then one morning I awoke to find that, while they never had before, consuming too many sweets precipitated nausea. It was around this same time I discovered that any amusement park rides which involved spinning introduced a rather greenish cast in my otherwise lily white skin.

The late thirties brought with them: bladder problems, sleep apnea, and hypothyroidism. All treatable, but all nevertheless leaving me (subjectively) feeling much older than I ever had.

The last several years have been a time of transition, evolution, and entropy:

I’m objectively, quantifibly becoming something: older.

My body is evolving (or devolving) as time goes on (evolution=change over time).

And I’m slowing down. Entropy–the second law of thermodynamics. “Things wear out, the center cannot hold…”

Just at the time when things are heating up professionally, and personally, my get up and go has got up and went. I have ideas, but no stamina to execute on them. Such cruel irony.

My son recently asked if I wanted to live forever. My reply? In this body? God, I hope not. I want an upgrade! I want one that doesn’t get weary, one that doesn’t have sleep apnea, one that doesn’t have upper eyelids that are puffy and drooping.

I want an upgrade.

Thankfully, one is coming. It’s only requirement is that I die. That’s the deal: birth requires some kind of death. Sperm cells and ovum, once united, are no longer what they were–have in fact died to their old natures to bring forth be life. So it is with the Christian: “though the outer man is perishing, the inner man is being renewed day by day.”

So in the meantime, between now and when God calls me home, I will practice the only death afforded me:

Death to self. Pressing on in spite of life’s hardship and frailties. Trusting that what He says is true. And I’d like to think that, because I need it so much more, I understand grace just a little bit better. His grace suffices, and I fall upon it everyday. I fall, and He makes me to stand.

I can–because He did, and does.

I’m not too old, too busy, or too tired to dream. Sure, I’m older, and my body is (as is yours) marching towards decay, I’m not dead yet.

And neither are you.

Let’s choose to die daily to the desire to give up, to throw in the towel.

A story is written one word at a time–line upon line. Likewise, a painting is made one brush stroke at a time. Weight is lost one pound at a time, walking happens one step at a time…

Dreams are achieved when all the small steps we take are added together into a new whole. We can do hard things.

So take the next step, my friends. There is always grace sufficient for that. We can do it.

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We often lack perspective on how close we are to achieving our dreams. We toil in seeming obscurity, and are ready to give up just before that big break. Why do we do that? Why are ready to throw in the towel? More apropos, why do we feel we are deserving of notice at all? The world is full of artists vying for attention. The Internet is a noisy, crowded place. So many voices want to be heard.

What makes us special?

Nothing, and yet everything. If you feel a burden to share, if your life feels empty when you don’t: write, paint, make music–in short, create art–by all means put it out there.

But realize your are competing in a very noisy arena. In the case of blogging, there will always be those who have a larger following, get more comments. As we discussed yesterday, it serves no one any good to compare ourselves with our heroes. Our job is to create the best art we can, do our utmost to remove any roadblocks, and leave the results to God.

That is faith, my friends.

Trusting the God Who gave us the abilities, talents–in short the desires in our hearts–to provide the increase. We sidestep the hard roads on the way to our detriment, for it is in them that character is forged. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule–there are seeming overnight successes (even so, we often don’t know of the years to toil that went into them)–but they are just that: exceptions.

The simple fact is this: there is no shortcut to character. You don’t want to be one of those people who we altogether too frequently see, having achieved success, their lives then implode–because they weren’t ready for it. You only need turn on the nightly news to know this is true.

I have been there, my friends. Back when this blog was at Blogspot, I had some early successes. I wrote something about how Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz helped me through a hard time, and somehow it came to the attention of Penny Carrothers. Yes, the Penny from BLJ commented on my blog! And so did Michael Hyatt’s wife, Gail!

I thought I was special–that if I wrote it, they would come. But that didn’t prove to be true. It only proved how immature I was, and the depths to which I would stoop for attention. And when attention didn’t come, I was ready to give up.

I lacked perspective. Talent, and ability, I had–but not character. I had not been tried, forged in the fires of obscurity.

Even now, this blog is not huge. But that’s okay–because I get to sing my song, and tell the truth. And that, my friends, is what we need to be about: telling the truth. Whether it’s to an audience large, or small, tell the truth.

And trust God to provide the increase. He either will, or won’t, in His time, and way. But work hard along the way. By all means: don’t give up, but stop looking for shortcuts. There is no substitute for time in the trenches. Honor your art by taking the time to do it right.

The results are out of your hands.

How about you? Have you had any false expectations shattered by harsh reality? Have you wanted to give up?

How Much More So?

randomlychad  —  July 15, 2012 — 10 Comments

'God is good, all the time' photo (c) 2010, David Woo - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Things have happened this year for my family and I—wonderful things. God has moved in amazing ways! We’ve seen needs met, and things unlooked for delivered—as the scriptures say—unto our bosoms. We have truly been blessed.

You have been a large part of this.

And yet there is a part of me that wonders when the other shoe will drop. Because of all the great kindnesses received, I’m looking about like a caged animal wondering when my world will fall in upon itself, and how can I get out?

How messed up is that?

It’s not that I’m questioning the goodness of God (although I guess I am), it’s rather more about experience.

It’s a place where faith runs smack dab into the exigencies of living in a fallen world.

For instance:

At thirteen, my dad took my brother and I to see Return of the Jedi, only to tell us afterwards that he was leaving my mom.

My wife and I married with hopes and dreams of family (which have since been fulfilled), only to be told we would never have children.

Those are but two of a lifetime of examples of something good always getting knocked back by a chaser of “bad.” The spoonful of sugar did nothing to abate the cadaverous taste. (A part of me wonders if God allows these things to teach a lesson about not getting too comfortable “down here.” Like maybe there’s a reason all of our joys are shot through with sorrow… Like the “dream home” that turns out to be nothing so much as quite a lot of work?).

The point is, somewhere along the way, I internalized this message: be wary of the good things that come your way, because something will always come along to chase the joy away. That is the voice of experience.

And it often screams louder than the voice of faith.

But God is not that way.

He is not the parent that takes a child to the movies just to soften the blow of bad news. Like the one will counterbalance the other? No, God speaks the truth in love—lovingly telling me who I am, and Who He is. His mercies may at times seem severe, but He is neither capricious, nor malicious: what He does He does for our ultimate good. He is epitome of good—the sum, and source, of it.

It is not for nothing that the Scriptures say:

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11, ESV).

Indeed.

“How much more?”

He is good, desires my good, and yet I hedge, anticipate the bad.

Why don’t I trust Him?

Why am I looking for the other shoe to fall?

Why do I feel guilty being blessed?

Why can’t I rest in the fundamental goodness of a good God?

Why these mistrustful eyes, darting about to and fro?

Why do I look for the cloud in the silver lining?

Why?

How about you?