I didn’t come up with any resolutions for last year, and so nobody can blame me for not keeping them. I spent late December in Florida. I would wake up early and walk to beach and shoot the sunrise – it’s so nice to listen to the ocean: not just the waves that wash on the shore, but the sounds of it churning in the deep. The morning would bring the dolphins near the shore and the sound of the seagulls squabbling over their finds. When I would walk the pier great pelicans would follow with me.
It was beautiful; the grace to endure and the adventure, I felt prompted to attempt something different than just flat resolutions and so I wrote areas of want: for myself, my career, and romance, and sat over coffee on the even of the new year and wrote a purpose statement for guidance. But to kick off the new year right, I got home, became bored, and went to sleep… enter 2013.
… for I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus – Philippians 1:6
The sum of 2013 came in two words: sufficiency and reclamation. I complained to a friend in late May that the year had been boring: no adventures, no leaving the state, no real excitement – I felt like I was in a season of waiting, not to some uncertain end in the season, but like a race horse standing in the box at the line of the Preakness Stakes waiting for the shot and the gate to signal the start of the race. Everything felt like training and lessons, but I was ready to move forward. I had my plans, I had my vision, but very little played out by those intentions. It became a year of change that happened almost overnight.
I ended up traveling to 14 states; driving around 7000 road trip miles, across wide open grasslands, through mountain passes and canyons – I climbed mountains and jumped off of them, fished on a mountain lake in Idaho, canoed in the ocean off the coast of North Carolina, and went white water rafting in Tennessee. I built a wardrobe. I began working with youth ministries at church: baptizing 6 and leading 1 to the Lord, and now I lead a small group and mentor students. I spent a majority of November in Texas working with a ministry that disciples Dallas’ homeless.
… the LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11
I want 2014 to be defined by a few different things. One being discipleship. Student and homeless ministries have brought into focus my interest in church development and growth, but specifically discipleship. I was browsing through the Young Adult section at Barnes & Noble the other day; which plays into some of the worst literature in the history of the planet, but I like to see what voices my students are hearing, and I couldn’t help but notice that most of the authors are women – even the books intended for guys are written by women. Even sitting in church on Sunday evening I can’t help but notice I’m one of only a few guys: excluding couples and families.
Where are the men?
I’m not trying to invalidate women. Some of the greatest truths I have ever heard have been taught by the women in my life; however, the words that grew my heart as a boy, or tore it apart, have been the words of men: my father, my brothers, my mentors. Boys need women, but boys really need real men these days. I think it convicts me in my on heart in areas I need to grow and spaces I need to step up. I spent time at the start of the year in prayer and have developed resolutions with more of a long term focus. I mean, I still have practical goals. I want to get through about 50 classics this year (don’t pressure me, that’s a lot!), I want to be more deliberate with my writing, and I want to build more furniture. I may even enroll in grad school. I’m planning adventures through New England, Iowa, Florida, and Texas, so we’ll see. I am passionate about photography and so I want to weave some of my goals and trips to enhance that. But mostly, all to point the focus back to a Biblical model for a Believer.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. – Colossians 3:1-4
The story of the cross is the story of redemption – not erasing what has been broken, but healing it and restoring it. Almost every interaction in the book of John focus on Jesus meeting people where they were and reclaiming their story. We cannot come to God unless we come to the cross. We cannot come to the cross until we acknowledge our own need, brokenness, and His beauty. As we behold His beauty, we are changed to be like Him. We take on this love, this passion, and this life.
This year was not free from disappointments; things that felt like failures along the road – my expectations had to be exhausted. There are things that have happened in my life, things about myself, that I have been ashamed about, or some I was worried about. In those moments, I start to feel I am not good enough, or not trying hard enough; almost to say that I had a better idea for how things should be, or who I should be. We crave change because we are always looking to something else for salvation, for a sense of control, a statement of purpose. Yet we come into the world with nothing and nothing belongs to us. In the best of my intentions I control nothing. Accepting this leaves me not seeking change for control, but seeking solace for release. The passing seasons, the warm and the cold, only cement in my mind that life is a process of letting go.
We cannot come to God but by the cross, and we cannot come by the cross without accepting Jesus’ truth. He is always faithful and I only need to be still and know, to let it be. He is sufficient.
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now – African Proverb