when you have a dad as great as mine it's hard to find the right words on Father's Day to express what you want to say. a tie would not do it justice. neither would a gift certificate to play golf. not even a card with sports objects and super creative wording would work. Perhaps a surprise trip to a Nascar Race, but that's been done. A mug that says #1 Dad would only look like every other kid's gift. One time i drew a picture for my dad and cut out pieces of fabric for the clothes. One time i gave him a cool t-shirt. Candles are great for mom's but not so much for a dad, especially when he has allergies. Perhaps i could get him an autographed picture of his hero... too bad he's dead. Although my dad loves to read, i'm not sure a book would be special enough. if i was rich i would buy him a new car or something fancy. if i was 6 i would paint him the best picture ever. if i was famous and had connections i would get him great seats to a great show. if i could write a poem i would make sure it could make him tear up. if i didn't have to work i would drive up to see him. if he lived in Bend i would take him to my new favorite spot. because i am poor, and live too far away, because his tie collection is larger than my shoe collection, because he has more mugs than we can count, because his t-shirt drawer is too full, because he has allergies and candles are for girls, because his hero is dead, because i'm not rish or famous, because he's already been surprised with a trip to a Nascar Race, because he doesn't even play golf, because i am not a poet, because i have to work and it's an 8.5 hour drive, the best thing i can give my dad on father's day is my Facebook status: "my dad is better than your dad. your dad doesn't have 13 kids. booyah!"
i know a few things for sure: #1. God is Good. #2. His plans for me are good. #3. Nothing can stop the plans of God. #4. No matter what, i will not fail if i am on His team. #5. Above all seek wisdom. #6. Patience is hard to come by but the reward of it is beyond words.
sometimes a certain phrase or word will come into my mind and make a home for a few days... or sometimes weeks. 2 such certain things have built a home and are now on the verge of taking over my every thought. in times such as these a blog post about them is inevitable.
"i am a fighter."
i do realize that upon first reading the above one may think they are connected and in many ways they are, but in my life right now one is producing the other in very different ways. Immediately upon writing that i realized it actually could go either way, so i better explain how it is true in my life and then see where this train of thought takes me.
i fight. the closest i've come to a fist fight is the time i slammed my bedroom door on my older brother's arm so hard he cried; i know it is one of the only time i have been the cause of tears from my older brother. sorry Gregg. Other than that insane moment of strength and passion in the fifth grade, i don't ever remember getting into a physical altercation... unless of course you count the tickle fights that end with one of the members of the party yelling at the top of their laughing lungs "i'm going to pee!". And yet i fight. i could jump into a super spiritual rant about fighting on my knees in prayer. i could talk about waging a spiritual war. i could even paint some awesome picture that would make you want to watch the battle scene's in Lord of the Rings or Narnia. However the holes in my jeans from prayer, the un-imaginable affect of a spiritual war and the thrill of victory after a battle scene would not exactly get my point across.
on saturday of this last weekend i went on a hike. i consider myself an out-doorsy type, and i also am no new comer to the world of Saturday hikes. For some reason May 30th 2009 was different. I can't exactly put my finger on it, even now... and leaving the house on Saturday i had NO idea the challenge that awaited me across the river. Now mind you i was going on this hike with some dear friends.... and the 8yr. old and 11 yr. old expressed how they had just done this hike the weekend before. i grabbed my camera and bottle of water and was ready to hit the trail. I knew going into it that it was almost 8 miles round trip, and i new that the view from the top was something words could not describe, however what i did not account for was the sweat and pain that would ensue on the climb to the top of Dog Mountain.
i remember gasping for breath and thinking, "if Philip (8 years old) can do this, i can do this!". i stood in the middle of the dusty trail. we hadn't even gone a 1.5 miles yet and i was panting for air. Sweat was pouring down the side of my face and pooling in my collar bone area. Now either i was more out of shape than i thought i was or this was a lot harder than i anticipated. Looking back it was more the second one than the first. Onward and upward we went. Not a lot of talking on the way up.... we all were focusing on breathing and going. pressing past the pain in our knees and the desire for more water than we had. and there it was: perseverance. perseverance. perseverance. perseverance. perseverance. perseverance. perseverance. perseverance.
the night before i had a conversation with a good friend and we were going back and forth about taking risks and trusting verses waiting and fear. I didn't realize until that conversation that i can talk up perseverance all i want. i can shout TAKE A RISK! from the rooftops, but when in the situation that requires me to do either i had a HUGE fear of failing or getting hurt.
relationships are hard. they involve taking risks, no matter how much of a risk taker you think you are, just wait until you are pushed beyond what you knew was there. Trust is not as flowery and precious as it sounds. It's stinking HARD. As Christians we put a filter on our mind set and try to make trust an easy thing.... i have discovered in the last month or so, that it's because we can trust Jesus with anything and everything and he will NEVER EVER let us down. And so trust must be easy. wrong. Trusting a person is not a requirement of the Christian faith. It's not something anyone is required to do for another person... it's a choice we make to allow someone to come close to our lives and possibly have a lasting affect on us. I don't want to get into the theology of trust, i just want to say trusting people can be hard to do, especially when you(or i) have been hurt by people. I am also not here to say "throw yourself out to anyone".
now moving on a little bit. Waiting and fear. Waiting is BEAUTIFUL and wonderful and should at all time be practiced!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOWEVER, when it comes to taking a risk that you know God is asking you to take, waiting (and hesitating) can be a very dangerous thing. almost 2 years ago i fell nearly 30 feet off a cliff. On the way down i hit a rocky ledge and landed head first into water. the reason i fell was because i waited and hesitated. Always jump on the count of 3 and nothing more. It's funny because this situation has become a corner stone for illustrations about jumping and going and taking risks but until this weekend i didn't realize that in a couple areas of my life i am afraid to take risk and i am afraid to trust people.
and so i fight.
now based on the last couple paragraphs you may be thinking a lot of things about me and my life. (feel free to leave a comment) Regardless of what you are or are not thinking i consider myself a fighter. when i hear the call of God, when i get a vision for something beyond what i can see with my natural eyes, i will fight until i see it come to pass or until i am the last one standing and i have to give it back to the one who gave it. When i see the call of God on a couple's life and they decide that marriage is too hard or they give into sin and it tears something apart my heart beats faster, and i want to scream "fight for it." When i know the call of God one someone's life to change the nations and i see them not pursuing the call, or someone who has a call of God they don't quite get yet but they are running in circles trying to figure out how to make themselves look good, i want to stand up and scream "fight for it." Somewhere we have lost the urge to fight for what God has called us to. Somewhere along the way we got stuck at the top of the cliff waiting for the water to rise and the sun to set. Somewhere we stopped trusting the people God lined up in our lives to help us go after our dreams because we were afraid of getting hurt (again).
and so i say; "fight for it."
i fight. i fight to be brave. i fight to trust. i fight to fulfill. i fight to move forward. i fight for a change i cannot see but believe with all my heart Jesus can bring. i fight to jump. i fight to wait. i fight the urge to give up. i fight.
back to the Mountain. With each step that brought us closer to the top, the sun rose above our heads and peaked through the trees, sometimes seemingly hotter than the moment before. With each drink of water that refreshed our insides and kept us going, the sweat poured down. Dirt sticks to sweat. Sometimes i would look up the trail for a horizon and all i would see was more trail, it seemed only to raise in front of me and never level out. I would pick out a tree or stump as my next "goal" or "stopping point". Once i made it there i would look up and pick another one. i stopped a few times to take pictures of flowers and views, but mostly i kept one word in my head: perseverance. i knew there was more in me that i had not given. i knew there was more strength deep inside.
when i heard the words "this is it." i thought my heart would burst. i turned to the right and in a second it was all behind me, all the sweat, pain, thirst, sweat and wanting to quit. the view was breath taking. nearly 4 miles, and it was the most amazing sights i have ever seen. i had never seen wild flowers like they grew in that place. i have never seen a river look so brilliant with the sun shining like it was. the statement perseverance pays off never made sense until that moment, because for me i don't remember the last time i was physically challenged like that with a reward so sweet! There are things i am hoping for, look forward to and expecting and what it has cost me thus far will have been worth it if the view from the top is anything like it was that day.
and so perseverance makes me stronger.
and i fight.
and i know that when all is said and done it will have been worth it.