Saturday, August 28, 2010


"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have been altered" - Nelson Mandela

Last week I spent three days at my families cabin in Upper Michigan. It was a time of rest and relaxation with no phones, TV, meetings, schedules, or demands. I feel rejuvenated and ready for more of God's work. "The Cabin" is a place in the woods near Perch Lake, basically untouched by time and progress. A place that houses our families history and traditions and place that has changed little in comparison to the world in the 41 years of my life. It is a place I can count on, that is "home" to me no matter the circumstances of the world. I can go there and see life in a clearer way and see myself clearer also. It is a place where the haze of living disappears and I see things from a better perspective. This perspective hit me on Friday night.
As I sat on the shore of the lake on Friday night catching crayfish with my son, I looked up to the sky to see the stars. As I panned to the Big Dipper I thought of looking up at the same big dipper that I looked up at as a child, holding my Grandpa's hand, feeling totally secure. I thought of looking up at the same Big Dipper as a teen, with my cousins and friends laughing, goofing around, and feeling like life could not be any more fun than this, at night, on the shores of the lake. I thought of looking up from this same place and looking at the same stars with my new fiance as a twenty some year old, with an unwritten future in front of us. I thought about sitting on the same shore seeing the same stars with my family, after the funeral services of my brother, grandparents, cousins and so many close to me and feeling the grief of loss. As I looked at my son reaching into the lake from that same shore, the quote above came to mind. I began to see just how I have changed over my own short 41 years. It does become easy to see against the same backdrop. We don't often get that perspective, seeing ourselves at so many stages in the exact same place. I became grateful in that moment, to God, for His blessing. The blessing of the continual love I have known from childhood to now.
You see, that night at the lake as I looked back on countless moments from my own life, I realized that in every memory I had, there where other people with me, who loved me. In each memory I had changed, grown, and matured but what was unchanged was the loving relationships I had in each memory. God has always made sure I have understood how unwavering His love is, in the example of a family who has always loved me. I find it easy to trust God's love for me in large part because I have always been loved. I do not have bad memories of feeling alone, or not accepted, I only know the security of God's love, and the security of God's love through the love of the family He has given me. This security has helped me to trust; trust God and the people He has surrounded me with. In that trust I have grown. I believe that trust and growth go hand in hand. As I trust, I move ahead, in that movement comes God's circumstances to create change in me. It is only in the light of God's unfailing grace that I can grow, change, and become a little bit more like Him.
I have quoted my favorite song many times before, but it is once again appropriate for me sing; Tis' so sweet to trust in Jesus... Oh for grace to trust Him more.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hiking to the edge... and jumping off!

First you jump off the cliff and then you build wings on the way down.
- Ray Bradbury
The long hike which is our summer camp season, ended this past weekend, bringing to a close a very long tour of mission work covering three months and stretching from Minnesota, to Chicago, to Africa and back to NE Wisconsin. On this journey we have seen so many saved, so many lives changed, and so much growth in ourselves and those around us. To say I feel exhausted after this long trek is an understatement... I feel totally drained, burned out, and beat up. Yet in the midst of the exhaustion, I feel totally invigorated, God is closer than ever before. I see things more clearly than ever before, and I am excited to move forward into what God has next. God has broken me many, many times this summer to help me see things His way, and not through my clouded vision, and I am thankful He has. In fact, at this moment I feel like I have hiked through valleys, fields, mountain passes, through searing heat, rained swelled rivers and then to the highest cliffs and then been asked to jump off the edge of that cliff, into the arms of Jesus. There is a perspective only seen from the heights that God can carry us to, and only after we jump can God catch us and raise us to those heights. In my exhausted state, well meaning people, warn me that the pace I keep as I hike, is way too fast. But I know God is waiting to refill and refuel me as He is doing right now in this week spent resting with my family. He is making me ready to begin hiking again to another cliff, in order that I may jump into His loving arms.
I am used to being regularly warned by well meaning hikers to take it easy, to watch out for the coming cliffs and pitfalls. So many of those with warnings are afraid to even get close to the edge, so scared of the edge they never even want to to see where it is. These people often are found hiding in the valley, waiting and warning others to be careful of what may be ahead, or what may happen to those who move to fast or far. There are still others who do hike to the edge but are afraid to look at the vista, and others who hike to the edge to look and walk back away from it in fear in order to be safe and secure. They to, often warn of what dangers the edge can hold. Then there are the millions who take the long journey up to the edge and spend a lifetime camped on the cliff, surveying all of God's possibilities, but never jump. These people find connections with others at the edge, but never experience the connection to God that only the jump brings.
All of the places God takes us to as we climb mountains for Him are important steps. We must mark each peak we stand on and remember them as we continue our walk with Him. He has us jumping over small brooks, running over rickety bridges, climbing hills and walking through dark places in order to learn to trust His guiding. We must prepare ourselves to not be afraid to go where He is taking us next, it may mean hiking in the snow of despair, or clinching to a steep face of rock that brings fear, or skipping through a golden field of wildflowers that bring joy, whatever it is, we must continue to walk with Him. But we must not be so engrossed in the hike that we forget the destination. With each step we are brought closer to Him, yet each step God will eventually lead us to the highest cliffs and then expect us to jump into His arms.
So as I look back on the long hike this summer I am more sure than ever that my job is to help others on the hike, and more importantly to help them make the jump of faith. I am thankful for all those on the same journey, hiking to the peak and especially for all those jumping into the arms of Jesus, that encourage me to do the same. As I fall into Jesus arms I look back up and see so many of you on the cliff looking down...Don't be afraid.. he will catch you, I promise... you know who you are!