Month: April 2013

Pebbles in Your Shoe

I was halfway through the race and I was increasingly aware of a sharp pain in the bottom of my right foot.  I am sure the adrenaline rush of the excitement of being in competition had masked any pain at Runnerthe beginning of the race.   But with every stride, the pain was growing in my heel. The nerves were sending little messages to my brain.  I was interpreting those messages and they were informing me that not only was there “something” in my shoe, but it was a sharp and painful “something”.

If this was a practice session, I would have stopped at this point and taken the time to remove my shoe and dump the “something” on the ground. But not today. No, today I was racing and I was running fast and I thought I had a great chance to win the race, so I continued to run because I didn’t want to take the time to stop, untie my shoe, take it off, shake loose any object in the shoe, put my shoe back on, and then tie the laces again.  I chose to ignore it and continue running.

But ignoring it didn’t work.  I tried to pretend it wasn’t there. I tried to move forward without dealing with it.  I first  tried to spring ahead, but the pain revealed its power.

I have felt this kind of thing before.

It was a tiny pebble in my shoe.

With each stride the stone began to grow. With each step, it seemed to get larger and more painful. I then began to flex my arch and rotate my ankle a little, thinking I could “bounce” the rock to another part of my shoe and eliminate or reduce the pain. That actually worked, but only for a short while. After a few steps, the now sized “boulder” would “bounce” back to another painful spot.

As the pain continued to mount, my running pace started to slow down.  Soon I would be overtaken by other runners and any hopes of winning the race were now dashed.  But I could still place pretty high in the meet so I continued to run.

Pressing on now became a challenge.  It was me versus “the stone”.  I’m sure to anyone who was watching, it must have looked very weird: running on the outside of my foot, then the inside, then the heel, then the toes.Stone   The harder I ran, the more I felt its sting. Before long, the payoff wasn’t worth the pain – and I stopped.  As long as that rock was in my shoe, running wasn’t an option. I took the time to clear the stone and as you already have guessed, when I did finally take off my shoe, the “boulder” wasn’t much more than a tiny pebble. It was barely visible.  How did this irritant get into my shoe in the first place? I was so angry because I really was in position to win the race and now I had to deal with losing, not to mention the pain in my foot as well.

As I reflect on this event that took place close to 40 years ago, I think about the applications of this to my life in general. How often do I neglect to deal with the small “pebbles” that work their way into my life because I am just too busy to stop or think I can work around them? So much better to deal with them as soon as they arise.

I was thinking that my shoe is like my mind. I am not always quick to deal with issues early on and most times I would rather than let it bounce around and eventually become a bigger problem than they ever needed to be.  Sometimes, to be very honest, I think I have actually allowed those pebbles in my life because I did not want to deal with them in my life.  Prideful thoughts, vengeful thoughts, self-hatred thoughts, “poor-me” thoughts, worry, bitterness, anger, lust, jealousy… there is no end to the list of pebbles that could work their way into my thinking.

Runner2The Scripture admonishes us to not let these pebbles hang around. For example, we are told to not let the sun go down on our anger. That means, if you have a pebble of anger in your mind, deal with it before it consumes you. Hebrews 12:15 addresses how a root of bitterness can grow up to “cause trouble and defile many”.  I’ve seen the fruit of bitterness in people’s lives and it can destroy them…often starting with the smallest and most insignificant of a pebble, but then growing and festering until it consumes them.

In James, we are reminded of how these small things, left to themselves, will follow a devastating path: So, let us consider how to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5) and stop at the first sign of infiltration and remove the little pebble. The rest of our walk or run will be so much more pleasant!

You can’t run with a rock in your shoe. You can try, but you won’t get very far.

It stopped me dead in my tracks. I couldn’t believe something so small could be so powerful, but it was.

I wonder what is hindering me from getting where I want to go? 

What have I been ignoring, fooling myself into thinking it’s too small to affect me? 

What is the pebble in my shoe?

Thinking it through, I am able to name some things that have held me back for years, and others that have held me back for days. But here’s what I realized.  It all matters.  We give our power away to anything we choose to ignore. And that choice could be what keeps us moving forward or standing still.

What is the thing that’s holding you back from running at full speed in life?

You can keep pretending it’s not there.

You can accept its limits on how fast and how far you can go.

Or you can deal with it and get to running.

What are going to do with the pebbles in your shoe?

Advertisements

Who Will You Trust?

King David wrote it so beautifully in the book of Psalms when he said…

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord,I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand  – Psalm 31:14-15

There are opportunities to fear, to panic, to worry, especially after a terrible tragedy like the one we all witnessed in Boston.

Each of us will make a choice about how we respond to the attempt by wicked men to create terror.

Each of us will choose a way to deal with events like this. Some will simply rationalize and convince themselves this could never happen to them.  Others will become fearful, worrying about everyone and everything.  

Each of us will make a choice.  

When terror knocks at the door, when tragedy happens, when fear overwhelms….we each deal with it in a different way.  How will you deal with the anarchy of a fallen world?  What will you trust?  Who will you trust?

“As for me”…what a great way to introduce King David’s decision when terror and death approached his life.  It’s a declaration of trust in God whatever happens.    As for you…when terror approaches you how will you respond? Who will you trust?

Words Are Easy to Write, It’s Living Up to Them That is Hard.

This is an acknowledgment that this post has taken a considerable amount of time to write.  Not because it was too long or that the subject matter was too deep to explain properly.  I have struggled with writing this one.  The reason why is file cabinetthe same reason that I have 175 to 200 posts that are written that I will probably never publish or post on this site.  More than likely they will forever be locked away in a file cabinet never to be read by anyone, only to be thrown out with the trash after I am gone from this world.

The reason?  Words are easy to write, it’s living up to those words that is hard. 

I have learned that you own every word that you write.  You cannot not really take them back like many do with the words we speak.  Many times we fly off at the mouth and say things that we shouldn’t and it seems as if a person can gain forgiveness a lot faster if they verbally ask for it.  It is like all a person has to say is, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.” and for the most part people forgive and forget.  Also, people have a tendency to “hear more” than what was actually said and can twist your words around to make something worse than what it was.  People also choose to “hear what they want to hear” and not really acknowledge what was really said.  Just a take a look at our political environment of today.  People only hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest and that is true on all sides of the political spectrum.

That is not how it works with the written word.  The written word is a permanent reminder of what you said.  You cannot deny nor can you take back those things you write down.  In a court of law, the best evidence is that which is written down and documented.

The challenges are even greater when you write about spiritual matters.  I am convinced that anyone who consistently writes about their relationship with Jesus Christ is prone to have the microscope placed squarely in their lives.  It comes with the territory.  Every word that tells of success or failure in your walk with Jesus Christ is there for everyone to read.  As I reflect on the past fours years or so of writing this blog, it never occurred to me that I would experience the trials and struggles that would come my way as a result of trying to get my life back on track and be used of God once again.

I would sit at my desk each night and old wounds would re-open with each written word. 

Like the burdens that we pick up and carry with us each day, I would do the same with the pain I was experiencing.    I would use my words to share the pain that I felt in my heart.  I would share my lack of faith.  I would express my struggle to forgive others.  I took considerable time to share my inability to forgive myself for my failures.  I would pour my heart and my thoughts into expressing the lack of forgiveness that I was not receiving from other believers.

I would try to be open as much as I could without naming names.

It was all leading up to the point in early December of 2012.  I was sitting down at my computer just thinking about how I could write something that would ease the pain for another day and find a way to focus on the meaning and without_words_ldepth of grace that God had placed into my life.  As I sat there staring at an empty page, I had this overwhelming feeling come over me.  I can’t explain it exactly… I just simply had nothing to say.

Without words. There were no more words that I could share that would ease my frustration of being on this long journey to find out what God has in store for me.  I couldn’t believe it. I  was simply without words to express what was going on in my heart and in my head.

After four years of writing had I finally come to the end of the words I needed to write?  Was I done?  Had I said everything I needed to say?

At that time, I had over 410,000 people visit my blog and I was averaging over 10,000 visitors a month.  I had witnessed the blog grow far beyond my wildest dreams.  God had really blessed me with the opportunity to share my faith and I received a lot of encouragement along the way from other believers.  I have made friends that I will never meet in person until I get to heaven as a direct result of this blog.  I also have had my share of detractors.  There are those that have taken the time to be extremely critical of things I would write.  For the most part, I didn’t know those who would be so critical, but I have to admit there are a few  people I once called a friend that have made known their displeasure in me and in the things I write.

Over the course of the next few weeks in December I had deleted many of my posts and dis-connected all of the links to other blogs.  I was sure that I was going to move on to something else… I just wasn’t sure what that was. Immediately the volume of visitors to my blog disappeared.  The 10,000 readers per month are now running about 2,200 per month. It seemed as if overnight I lost 80% of the people who visited my blog.  I was shocked at how quickly it changed, but I did not blame them for it.  I was without words to share and I, in fact, told people I was going to stop writing.

I have loved writing for as long as I can remember.   It is something that I have always done.  But it is hard to keep a blog going for an extended period of time.  It probably is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my walk with Christ. 

It is common aspect in the blogosphere.   Dead, unfinished, incompleted blogs that were started with good intentions.  People who get the idea that they want to start a blog and start writing.  Some with the delusional idea that they even want to write a book.  It starts with the premise that they believe blog-failthey have something to say, something that will be a help and will be an encouragement to another person.  It is done with all the vigor and excitement that they can muster.  The ideas are just flying all over the place. They sit down and empty themselves into a post and when that first post is revised a 1,000 times they finally post it and in many examples it usually isn’t that bad.  

Then the problem starts.  It doesn’t take them long to realize that writing is hard.  They spent so much emotion and personal information in that first post that they find,as they sit at the computer, they are staring at an empty page.   If they are lucky, they may post a few more and then it happens.  They quit. 

As it does for the vast majority of those that start a blog it sits empty and eventually deleted because of inactivity.  It is like the one-hit wonder of a rock band.  They get one good song and they can’t seem to get past it and eventually the creativity is just a rehash of the original song.  They all just start sounding the same. 

That was what I was afraid had happened to me.

I love writing and the words have come pretty easy to me over the years.  As I stated earlier, what I have discovered is that words are easy to write, it is living up to those words is what is hard.  I do not want to deceive anyone, especially my family because they know if my words match my actions.

Four months have now passed since all of this happened and I have posted a few times over that period of time.   I have come to the realization that I have been focused on the results of what this blog was doing in terms of reaching other people.  I was getting caught up in the “ministry” side of what this blog could do.  While that has value to me, I now realize that I had strayed from the original purpose of this blog.  The words that I write are intended to keep me accountable.  I have to write and I have to post because it keeps me on track to “live up” to the words I write.  It doesn’t matter if anyone else reads these words because the words are directed at myself.

Simply put… writMyJourneying over the past four years has been quite the learning experience.  I have grown in good ways and God has helped me change my perspective on a few things that I would not have learned if I had not been writing.  I am not the man I was 20 years ago when I failed in my marriage and lost my ministry.  I am convinced that my story is one of caution.  Caution for all, because if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.  It is a journey that is more common than anyone wants to recognize.

If you’ve also made mistakes in your life and you long for restoration and wholeness, I hope you’ll come along and share my journey.  But please understand…these are my words and I am accountable for them.  They tell my story and my journey. 

MyStory

My story… follows a well-traveled spiritual pathway that leads from sin and failure right up to the Cross of Calvary, where our Savior died so we could know forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love.   That’s where you’ll find me today, gathered with all the other people who are scarred by their past but who’ve been forgiven, redeemed and gratefully clinging forever at the foot of the old rugged cross. 

You will have to forge your own path and tell your own story… with your own words.