So, I've been studying to preach a message on 1 Corinthians 13 this week and, as usual, the Lord is challenging me in some good and unexpected ways.
I suppose this could be filed under the "Lessons From Noah" category but there is absolutely no question about it; my wife is a gift.
A few weeks ago I saw something that was incredible.
I was at the airport waiting at the gate where the plane from my connecting flight would arrive. It turned out that the flight was filled with veterans that had fought in the military. One by one, these brave individuals exited the plane.
This, right here. This is good stuff. I'm so thankful for the folks that God has placed in my life that have invested in, challenged, encouraged and loved on me.
I've had a lot of conversations lately that, at some point, had the individual that I was chatting with point out how "tired" they are. In moments of honesty and vulnerability, they've pointed out that their journey toward connecting with and understanding who God is has them feeling burnt out. These have been conversations with people that are "established" in a church and folks that have never stepped through the doorway of one. Some of these folks are people that believe that they have been "doing all the right things" and are still feeling empty. Some are searching for a point of entry that would establish a connection with God. This makes me sad but I'm hopeful because there is a remedy that provides rest. The interesting thing is that the remedy is the same, no matter what the reason for fatigue.
Oh, the love of a father for his son!
One of my favorite times lately is at about 6am, just after Noah finishes his morning feeding. It is an opportunity before the start of my day to allow Monique some extra rest and to spend some time with my son. It is the most incredible feeling when she passes him to me and he gives me that big smile.
This is our first go 'round as parents but I think I can safely say that Noah is a great baby. He loves to smile and laugh. He loves to talk to his mommy and daddy. He loves to explore with his eyes and discover new shapes and colors. The only thing that seems to unsettle him beyond consolation right now is the longing for food. When he is hungry, he will immediately let you know. (I certainly can relate at times). Once Noah gets some food in his belly, though, he returns to the content and joyful little baby that he usually is.
I was in line at the coffee shop this morning and I happened to see a guy quickly scrolling through and clicking in and out of news stories on his phone. (I know, it was kind of shady to be staring at the guy using his phone but it was early, it was a long line and it happened. Let's move on for the sake of the story.) In that moment, it hit me how easily accessible and readily available information is.
Last night I flew into Maryland and rode about 30 minutes into Ocean City to serve at the Metro Maryland Youth For Christ Impact Conference. Admittedly, I was very tired when I arrived and the night was dark and overcast. I went straight to the room, called my bride and fell immediately to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I looked out the window and had no idea I'd be waking up to THIS VIEW: (!!!!!)
I heard it so many times before we had our son. "When you have kids, they will teach you so much about The Lord." "Kids will help you to understand the Father's love in a whole new way." "Kids will help you to see scripture in a new light."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." It's an amazing reminder to me that this life is not about me and all about His glory. When I got married, one of the first things that I realized is how selfish I was. I have loved embarking on the journey of trying to understand how to serve my bride. I believe that the primary role that I play as her husband is to help prepare her to meet Jesus one day.
We have a son. It's still feels unreal to say it. The past few days have been awesome, humbling, exhausting and exhilarating. So many people have made comments along the way in effort to prepare us for what was to come. I can say unequivocally that there are no words to properly communicate the emotions connected to this experience. I am in love in a way that I never thought I could be. My love for my amazing bride has an added depth and richness to it that I didn't think possible. It's awesome.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to share the story of God with people all around the country. It’s an honor to be invited to speak in any venue. I’ve been blessed to have opportunities to do this in various settings. I know that there are a lot of different reasons that people have for speaking at different events and engagements. It’s certainly easy to make assumptions about what those reasons might be for different individuals. In my season of evaluation and introspection, I’ve attempted to assess those reasons for myself.
I know, I know... it's been a while. It doesn't change the fact that I'm thankful! After going to the doctor with my bride this morning, I cannot help but express how thankful I am that I'm going to be a dad!
It’s the beginning of a new year and I’ve been doing some self-evaluation. I know that there are different circumstances that can lead us to a place of asking ourselves some good, tough questions. The reality of the impending birth of my first child, Noah, is an obvious reason for calibration in life. This, along with some other life situations, has me asking some healthy “why” questions. Henri Nouwen once said, “The main obstacle to love for God is service for God.” This is a beautiful point of reflection for me in this current time of my life. The idea of “pausing” for a second to truly reflect on and examine my heart’s motivations is so appealing.
The last half of this year has been quite the whirlwind. (Hence the lack of blog posts... poor excuse, I know.) As I sat and reflected this morning on what I'm thankful for, (I know the holiday was last week... I'm still thankful!) one of those things was the support and prayer community that I'm fortunate to be a part of online and through social media.
Rest. Reflect. Think. Dream. Enjoy. These are all words that reflect my time over the last three days. After a year filled with change, transition, travel, loss and difficulty, my wife sensed that it was time for us to have a sabbath. She was ABSOLUTELY right.
There have been a few words that have continued to echo in my mind recently as I commune with the Lord in study, prayer and meditation; dancing, mystery and wonder. At last writing, the beauty of dancing was at the forefront of my mind.
I had a thought this morning that made me smile big while sitting at the table in the coffee shop. The guy sitting across from me was probably weirded out a bit but I couldn't suppress the grin. Of course, like every other thought that is meaningful (or not) that we think others need to share in, I tweeted it.
It's always good for me to be reminded to fight to be fully present. God has certainly done a work in my heart in freeing me from the bondage to gadgets and technology. Though I understood that technology was in an improper position in my life, I need to continue to examine the tension of utilizing the amazing technology we have while not wasting the opportunity to experience relationships and community in person. Here are a couple of interesting videos that were a great reminder for me.