I’ve been reflecting a lot on the last several years. Not for the sake of considering my weaknesses or faults, or even to glory in my triumphs and strengths, but to take inventory of significant moments. I’ve been thinking through the subject of identity and so my reflections have primarily been trying to isolate events, incidences, details, and moments where I felt fully myself and completely alive.
Do you know those moments I’m talking about? When you all-of-the-suddenbecome aware that everything that is happening is perfect? You’re shocked as you notice those imperfect people around you and in your life, that even the conditions and atmospheres are less than desirable, but there’s something about the moment that you’re in feels so right. It swallows up the less-than-perfects and your heart feels like it’s singing a brand new song that you’ve never heard. You know? Maybe not. That’s how I feel sometimes in those moments.
I think these moments define us. They shape us. They give us a glimpse of who we are deep down and if we pay attention to them, they can become the external reality that we omit because of the depth that they have taken on the inside. So, my quest is to take cues from these moments, and to hopefully discover more fully my core values that are based off of who I am. Not really sure how to figure out what my core values are/should be, so I’m starting with this: moments that I have felt fully alive.
So, this blog is moment #1 (Not in order of importance, but of remembrance):
1) Walking on the Beach in Harvey Bay, Australia circa 2008.
I had a mug off coffee and a warm hoodie to combat the windy, cool early Australian morning. It was 5:15am and I was up and about— eager to continue my conversation with my Father, which is a miracle in itself. For me to get out of bed at that time requires the fortitude and resources of a large metropolis. I left my shoes at the tent I was camping in and my feet gloried in the cool sand. I walked along the beach, sipping my coffee (by french roast, yumz), taking in the beginning of the sunrise and letting my soul bask in the sounds of the tide drumming against the shoreline. I let the water tickle my feet from time to time, but it was too cold. I started talking with my Father about some dramatic events in my life and then stopped. I asked Him if we could just not process difficulty and be together. I sensed a smile. So, I dropped that. Then I just started to realized the overwhelming Presence on the beach. From the moment I had stepped out onto the sand, I had felt Him— as if He had been waiting in eager anticipation for me to shuffle out of my sleeping bag and let the caffeine carry me to the Australian shoreline.
We chatted about nothing in particular. I was extremely thankful for a moment to unwind with Him, just to enjoy who He is and all the wonderful things happening in my life. Lots of laughter and sighs of satisfaction ensued. At some point I said a seemingly random thing outloud— I guess it had just come to mind while we were talking— and I said something along the lines of, “You know, Dad, I really want to live a life of adventure. A life of risk. I want to stop listening to the voice of fear and listen to your voice of trust.” After I said that, there I just sat in the silence that followed that declaration as the sun started to break through the morning clouds a little more fully. And a small, quiet whisper of a voice replied, “Do you trust me?” And I responded, “I think so.” And again, “Jump in the ocean.”
At this particular point of time, there had been an drastic resurgence of box-jelly fish on the coast— a type of jellyfish that was dangerous and potentially fatal— so many in our crew were recommending to DTS students that we not swim without a full body suit. I didn’t see any jelly-fish this morning, nor was I entirely ridden with fear about being stung by one as the cases had been relatively few and far between, but the recent resurgence did bring some gravity to the situation. All that to say, the choice to jump into the ocean wasn’t life threatening, but it was uncomfortable, especially since I was fully clothed and it was cold.
After a few moments consideration, I dropped my mug and ran into the ocean. I jumped into an on-coming wave like it was a hug from heaven and laughed all the while. As my body was submerged in cold water and the early morning wind ambushed my body, I was overcome with an even deeper sense of His Presence from head to toe— it was almost as if His smile grew bigger. I walked back onto the shore, changed my clothes and finished my devotions on the beach with a new coffee in hand, warm and full of joy.
My takeaway from that encounter was this: not all of our risks for the Kingdom will be as easy and fun as jumping into a cold ocean, but all of them will be marked by God’s overwhelming pleasure in my saying “Yes” to Him.