Good Morning Brothers…
As I get ready for the New Year, I think back on this year and reflect. Now…I’m not much of a New Year resolution guy because I try to steer clear of setting myself up for failure. Any list I may write of resolutions involving losing weight or memorizing Psalm 119 are doomed for failure. Outside motivations break over me like waves pounding against coastal rocks. My feet don’t move unless the motivation, the fuel, comes from within. Some of you would characterize me as hard-headed and that may be true, however, I am what I am. The key, is seeking after things which provide spark and fuel to my internal engine. This last year, I found motivation in two places: outside in the back country, and discipling men.
First, the back country. I was fortunate enough to hunt many different places this year, yet my freezer remains empty. I can rationalize the empty freezer a number of different ways, try to apply God’s will and decree to it, however my mind always falls back to this simple principle, “It Happens.” All of the time spent hunting without physical award has resulted in a bounty of spiritual awards. Would I trade revelation from the Most High for a Bull Elk…? No. I would not. The woods helps me see the great paradox of life. When we shut off the noise of the world, the physical realm links us to the spiritual realm.
Case in point:
It was a Sunday morning and the storm hit hard the prior night. Men and women all over town were getting messages about cancellations and delays for church services. It was 6am and I was driving through the snow out in the field weaving around cedar trees to check my trap line. I had to get to the church in time to teach my early morning class but first, I had to take care of my responsibility. A trap line has to be checked everyday regardless of weather or schedules. Even though the weather outside was frightening, none the less, the line calls. The repetitive nature of running the line, everyday, has become a physical thing which links me to a spiritual thing.
Second, discipling men. This is much less a class and much more a relationship. The class establishes trust and leads into relationship. The classroom time expands our knowledge of Christ but not for the sake of knowing information. To increase in Godly wisdom is to increase in “knowing” Him. To increase in “knowing” Him is to forge a relationship. Relationships are filled with conversation, laughter, sharing, and sorrow. Learning to “know” Christ, and not just “about” Christ, is the difference between relationship and knowing information. Again, the forging of the relationship links the physical to the spiritual.
Seeing the links, physical to spiritual, shows us our strengths and weaknesses. This last year has shown me where I am weak…where I am weak in my relationship with Jesus. I see a link between checking the trap line and revving my RPMS. When the storms come, when the snow falls, when the flood waters rise…I get into my truck and check the line. (the physical side) When the storms come, when my kids act out, when temptations come calling…I MUST find my knees, read the Holy Word, engage my battle buddies, and stay ‘one body’ with my wife. (the spiritual side) Remember, I am like the coastal rock that breaks the waves of outside motivations. The desire for spiritual food, right relationship, Godly wisdom must build inside of me.
You know what…it is.
And not in the way I had thought.
I thought my relationship with the Lord would continue to be forged by teaching, by leading, by organizing. However, as this new year breaks, I feel a need to be quiet, to be still, to recede. I have a list of wonderful Bible mysteries that “someday” I want to dig out. My understanding of church history is limited and fragmented and “someday” I want to connect all of the dots. I would love to take the next year, climb up to the top of the mountain, let my beard grow long and white, and make that “someday”…this day. However, (there is always a ‘however’) I have responsibilities that I must meet. The proverbial trap lines must be checked, the relationships with my wife and kids can’t be sacrificed, the teaching and discipling can’t be ignored. The physical pulls me back from the spiritual and causes me to live in the tension of both.
Which is right where God wants us…in the tension of both. God wants to motivate us through His love, power, and glory to seek the spiritual in all the physical. This causes us to seek Him when our kids act out, when temptations come, when work gets scarce, when schedules get tight, when the storms come…and come…and come. As Christians, we should live in this tension. Living in the tension is seeing the spiritual side in everything physical. It is seeing with God’s eyes because a relationship has been forged and we not only “know” Him but our “known” by Him. This relationship is filled with conversation, laughter, sharing and sorrow because Jesus Christ, the Son of God Almighty, is walking with us through this physical realm. He becomes the inner waves of motivation that causes coastal rocks to move.
May the God of the physical and the spiritual bless each and every one of you with ‘tension’ this New Year.