It wasn’t all pretty colors and scenic vistas, in fact most of the run was in a creepy mist. But there are breaks in the clouds and you have a beautiful moment, and isn’t that a lot of what life is?
It’s raining today. Normally I would be glad for a slow, rainy Saturday, perfect for coffee, a fire, college basketball, and reading.
But, I’m training for the Black Mountain marathon, and today is a big run day. 16-18 miles kinda big. In the rain.
When I got up this morning and let the dog out, my will began to waver. It was cold, raining, and besides that it wouldn’t be that “great day to be outside” feeling, heck it might be unsafe! Hypothermia at 5000 feet and 10 miles from the road is not appealing. I know that I can keep myself warm and safe, within reason, and maybe I run 12-13 miles on the trail and finish up on the treadmill. I mainly didn’t want to run when the enjoyment level wasn’t sky high for me. But that’s a bad reason to not do something. There are many worthwhile pursuits every day that may not get me terribly excited, but that doesn’t mean I push them aside. Even matters you’re passionate about, there are going to be cold, rainy days where you don’t feel like stepping out your front door to go make a difference. But you should!
To me, that is an important lesson, and the prevailing one in the training process. There is good and bad, love and hurt, pain and joy, all through life. But what is the thing we stick our identity to? When conflict naturally arises, do we go back in our office and lock the door? Do we accept the good runs and great times from the Lord, and not the steep hills and tweaked knees? The good weather and peppy mornings, but not the pouring rain and 12 inches of snow?
No my friends, we take it all, just like Jesus took it for us. We always see in Philippians 4:13,
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
But how can we as followers of Christ miss what precedes this iconic verse? Verses 11 & 12 read,
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
As a runner, I re-worked the verse like this,
I know what it is to run fast, and I know what it is to run slow and in pain, in great weather and in the pouring rain. I have learned the secret of being content on any and every run, whether having many gels or low on water, whether running for medals or just the morning sunrise.
So my friends, this is what we hope to learn. That no matter the circumstances, God is enough. He will give us the strength to step in to the mess of life and run the race set before us. This marathon is wonderful and challenging for many reasons, just like life. To set a goal, work hard, and complete the task is great, but not the whole reason.
I encourage you to ponder in what ways God has blessed you, and in what ways he may be teaching you to be content in his love and glory. It is a gift worth passing on.
My daily spiritual practice book for 2012 is A Year with C.S. Lewis, and I have already posted from it once here. The past few day’s readings have been thought-provoking, and I wanted to share it with you.
St John of the Cross once compared God to the ocean. To us, the oceans are the most vast, deep, and mysterious places on Earth. We still don’t know all about it, even with all our new technology. Yet what a speck it is compared to God! The temptation for us as Christians, is that since we acknowledge the ocean, are simply content to wade in to the shallow end, splash around, and enjoy the feelings of God spraying around us. We can do just fine there for the rest of our lives, having a little God, the spirit swirling around our knees. But we are still close enough to shore, to the temporal pleasures and things we hold on to in this life. Our castles made of sand. Of course the ocean can rise up at any time and wash our sand castles away, but most of the time it seems that it does not. Because to do that would make us see how fleeting they are, and how powerful the ocean is. But we hang on to our lifelines, and keep building.
The other option is to take swimming lessons. Sure, they’re awkward, you’ll choke on some water, and you’ll mostly feel uncomfortable for a long time. Then you’ll begin to swim, and feel that you can go a little deeper, perhaps make it out to the sandbar, then continue on. We become fully immersed in the ocean, and even though we cannot see when the next island or sandbar will appear, those are no longer ours to plan for.
In the Christian life, we can take swimming lessons by reading the Bible, attending the community church, sharing with others, having spiritual mentors, seeking out the poor, and daily showing up to swim. The idea of the ocean in spiritual life is quite apt, because God calls us to be fully immersed.
This idea also has application besides your spiritual life, because what ever you are passionate about will require that you become immersed in it. For writing, sports, eating well, your work, relationships, or whatever, do you want to learn how to swim, or are you comfortable piddling about in the shallow area?
What are your oceans, and are you taking swimming lessons? I would enjoy hearing your stories. Have a great day.
I work at Camp Rockmont for Boys, and like thousands of men who have attended, it has definitively shaped my life. I am very blessed to work at a place where the mission is important, necessary, and tangible. For several months, we have been working on an illustrated short film that communicates WHY Rockmont is such a meaningful and important place. I hope you enjoy it!
I would love to know what you think, and if you have any questions about Rockmont and our mission, let me know that too!
Have a great weekend.
In order to contribute in society, you have to spread something. For instance, people in different industries spread different products/services/information.
- Restaurants: Food, health, nutrition (or not)
- Banks & Financial Centers: Peace of mind, wealth, advice
- Fitness clubs: Health, wellness, self-confidence
- Schools: Education, ideas, self-confidence
- Google & Yahoo: Information, news
- Retail Centers: Products, clothes
- Entertainment: Trends, ideas, sex, fashion
Here is the deal though, there are countless people and companies trying to do the same things, not to mention competition overseas! Is this daunting? Depends on how you look at it. My hope is that it drives you to create better products, listen to your customers, tell your story, and create relationships. No competition means no incentive to do any of those things. So can you be unhappy about the unfairness of it all, or you can get to work on kicking their butts. You have freedom that they do not. You are an unstoppable force of creativity and personal art! They have a board of directors, middle management, and policies. You don’t.
My hope is to spread ideas and build relationships. To create belief in people and the gifts they naturally posses, and to help us see that what the world needs out of you is to be who you were created to be. Ideas and personal worth can never be outsourced, they are what makes a person unique! I want people to see how their own stories play in to the rich tapestry that is the story of this world.
Speaking of story, I would encourage you to contemplate the type of story that your life has been playing recently. At different times in our life’s story, we can be the hero, the villain, a supporting actor, but hopefully not an extra. We all have a story to tell, an idea or belief to spread. Simply by living and interacting, you have a voice and an influence. Use them well.
I also want you to think about how your work tells it’s story and connects with customers. Presently, there seem to be limitless options to what we can buy, where we can eat, and who we do business with.
The product or service you provide is not at the top of the list.
And neither is price.
Sometimes, I drive to 70 miles (one-way) to shop at Trader Joe’s. I pay $14 a pound for Dynamite Coffee. I drive across town, wait in line, and happily pay $10 for Huevos Rancheros and a biscuit at Sunny Point Cafe. And no, all my purchases are not food related!
Product and price are important, of course. You can’t charge an obscenely high price (well, usually), or make a bad product, and certainly not both.
What is important is the story you share with people, how you connect with them and provide a reason beyond price and product. Because there are plenty of businesses that offer similar products and services for less. They are in America and overseas. If you are in an industry that is threatened by overseas outsourcing, you should really pay attention. People want to feel a part of your story, that they are in on a secret, and that you care about them.
This is true in your family, with your friends, at work, and with the random people you are around each day. Your story, your art, your love, these traits cannot be outsourced or replicated, because they are uniquely YOU.
So, are you spreading joy, health, and love? Or something else?
Let’s start with today.
This post was influenced by a few authors and bloggers, which I would like to share with you.
- Seth Godin – Read his blog for free, or any of his books (like Poke the Box), and get on board with the Domino Project.
- Jeff Goins – I already wrote about Jeff. But you should check him out, he’s pretty awesome.
- Daniel Pink – His book A Whole New Mind was very important for me, wish I had read it during college!
- Jon Gordon – I’ve read a few of his books, favorites are Training Camp and The No Complaining Rule. Great reads on positive thinking and the impact of your attitude on others.
I got an email yesterday from a friend that follows this blog. He was kind, saying he was enjoying my writing, and that I was writing too fast to keep up! I thought about that, because I had not considered the possibility that I was writing too much. I saw that he had included the email feed that is delivered whenever I “Publish”, and it gave me a new appreciation for the trust people have put in me to write about content that enriches and provides value in their own lives.
Since I have been writing more, part of me has wanted to post a lot, and put more content out in order to get my name and writing “out there”. But when I think about the 14 people who currently receive an email containing my posts, I take a step back. Am I providing them with something worth reading? On one hand, I can’t get caught up with trying to write to their wishes, I have to write what is speaking to me and the things I’m passionate about. On the other hand, I can’t get post-happy and decide that I’m going to post random, meaningless drivel that doesn’t add value to my life or theirs. I found this article on ProBlogger very helpful as well (How to Write Great Blog Content).
To me, this writing is not a status update, tweet, or text. It cannot be “I had some great BBQ today!” It is something of value and importance to me, and while I plan on posting regularly, I also intend for each post to be something that challenges the readers and add value to their lives.
I hope you will do the same in your contributions to the community. Have a great day!
If you have been reading along with me for the past several weeks, you remember my post on the books that we received and bought over Christmas. The book that has been a daily constant so far this year is A Year with CS Lewis. I have greatly enjoyed it, the daily readings are short, and usually leave me with something good to chew on for the day. Today’s reading was particularly compelling, and I would like to share my initial thoughts on it.
The reading was titled “We Couldn’t Make It Up”. It being Christianity. Lewis points out that the tangible reality we experience is usually odd, not neat or obvious, or something you would expect. I feel that we do fantasize about reality as something that makes sense and is orderly to us, but every day our reality presents something that we did not expect. Whether it be in relationships, work, weather, or any number of things, reality behaves in ways that are not orderly to us. All of those things are just the present reality of what goes on in our own little sphere! What about the videos we watch or scientific and research journals that are available, every issue with news about something unexpected or unexplainable that has occurred! Why do we expect differently from our faith?
Lewis notes that this lack of order as one of the reasons he believes Christianity. It is a religion we would not have guessed, not something you make up.
The God figure comes down from the Heavens and lives among his creation as one of them, turning all their beliefs around. He celebrates the weak and poor, while chastising those in power. Then to round the story out, he dies for all their sins, regardless of their behavior, so they may be saved in him. He rises from that death, and calls us to repeat the process in following him.
Yeah, that’s weird. Lewis goes on to say that if the universe were something you expected, he would feel as if we were just making it up. But just like the universe is a little weird and unexplainable, so is Christianity. In way, that makes sense. That the God who created an unexplainable reality would also have an unexplainable plan for rescuing it.
For a beautiful picture of reality though, here is a picture of the rising dawn over our mountains. I know you can scientifically explain the colors, but it still leaves in awe of how it’s possible. Have a great day!