“I rather wear out than rust out.” -Dick Bass, Mountaineer
I’m in shock. Surely I’m not 55 today. That’s only 10 years from traditional retirement age. Though I don’t expect to keep that tradition, the realization of how fast time is flowing is shocking. Yesterday it seems I was only 25. Just, Wow.
Over the last two or three years, I’ve fallen into the practice slipping one particular exercise into as many presentations as possible. Calling it an “exercise” or “activity” doesn’t do it justice, since it often leads to holy moments right there in the event or retreat or presentation. It’s very simple really. At the right time, when people are ready, I ask them what they know. “What do you know about God and God’s ways with our kind (human being Christ-followers)?” No, not what does your systematic theology tell you. No, not what you believe you should or ought to know (don’t should on yourself). No, not what your peers expect you to say. But what is your REAL theology? What do you know deep in your bones about you and God? When you wake up in the middle of the night, anxious and scared, aware of the fragility of our existence….what do you know then which brings peace and allows you to go back to sleep? When you run out of options and your back is up against the wall….what do you know then which empowers you to continue onward? When the wolf is at the door and the door is breaking down, what do you know then which calms the terror in your soul and gives you confidence for living this life? In other words, what do you know about how God meets you in your need?
So, here on my 55th, it’s a good time to share my answers. During those events wherein I ask this question, I provide 4 or 5 insights which I know. Yet today, I hope I’m still learning and engaging and experiencing God. I hope what I know now is what I used to know, plus more. Here’s what I know. Here’s what sustains, empowers, and generally keeps me hopeful as I traverse through this wild wide world.
God’s love is bigger and better than I thought. The boundaries I consciously and unconsciously set around God’s grace have been blown away by God’s fierce love.
Church breaks out in so many unexpected places. As I travel and engage Christ-followers in various places, we instantly bond around Jesus.
Human beings can stand more than they think they can stand. Our family has experienced deep pain in several ways, travelling through desert wastelands, and yet we were sustained by God’s enduring power.
The landscape on the other side of pain is richer, fuller, deeper, and more real than on the pre-pain side.
Everyone’s got a story. No matter how good, nice, or pretty their lives look, everyone’s got a story. Working as a therapist for 20 years blasted the illusion that anybody has it all together. And, we human beings are far more alike than different.
Strangely, God grows thick in a room when people drop their defenses and share their stuff.
Holy moments, times when the veil between us and God grows thin, cannot be manufactured. They have a life of their own. This makes them so much more real when they happen.
Holy moments; genuine “blow you away” spiritual encounters, don’t happen so often. If they did, I think they would destroy us. I can live off one holy moment for a long time. They are that powerful.
My belief that one can vision life, then plan it out, has gone the way of all things. Now I discern where the energy and passion are, and then follow. There are too many variables and moving pieces to do anything else. Peace fills my soul when I live by faith.
People are strangely beautiful. They come in so many shapes, sizes, and configurations. There’s no end to the quest to understand them. I’m more fascinated with them than ever.
People can hurt you when you get up close to them. Being in relationships requires courage. But it’s good courage and the joy of knowing and being known is worth the pain inherent in the experience.
My sense of mystery is growing. There is so much more going on in this universe than I imagined or was told. The more I pursue the mystery, the more wonder and awe fill my soul.
Jesus was so far ahead of his time that we still have not caught up with him 2000 plus years later. Living in the Way of Jesus is so dramatically different than how we actually live, the best among us is just flirting with it so far. And, simultaneously, we are hungry for living that way and connecting with others who are pursuing that life.
Conventionality is overrated. Every day I care less about the shoulds, oughts, and prescriptions about how this life is lived. The less I care, the richer life becomes. My aspiration is not to become unconventional (still a dependent life position), but to grow more authentic and real.
I could go on. And I hope I go on. I hope what I know will look very different 5 years from now. But for today, this is what I know. What about you? What do you know that sustains you day in and day out? I’m curious to know.