Created for relationship

I just finished a week-long break from my marathon training schedule. My knees were a bit sore and I wanted to give them time to recover a bit. We’re upping our miles and I wanted to make sure I was ready for the longer distances.

So, early this morning, I donned my “dry fit” shirt and shorts, running shoes and strategically programmed iPod and started back on my running program. It was such a great time! But, something interesting happened this morning. God spoke to me through his creation during my run.

Geese

As I finished my short warm up run and started stretching, I saw this flock of geese fly over me. They weren’t way up in the sky, like when I’ve seen geese before. No, this was a small flock of Canadian geese, and they were only 30 or 40 feet of the ground. It was amazing! They were swooping over the houses in their lopsided triangle formation, but perfectly in sync.

And when I saw them pass over, I had this thought, “Geese instinctively know that they’re created to live and function as a group.”

It was an interesting thought, and immediately I start thinking about how God has created us for relationship–relationship with himself and relationship with others. I mean, when you think about the two greatest commandments, according to Jesus, it’s all about relationship: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

You see, we too are created instinctively to live and function as a group. We function better, more efficiently, more effectively as a group. God created us for relationship.

As I started my run, I thought more and more about this need for relationship. As I turned this one corner in my run, I looked up ahead of me, and there they were–all six geese. They had landed in the grassy area of a closed school, and they were grazing off the fresh cut grass. I was pretty surprised to see those same geese from about 20 minutes earlier. And again, another thought, “Not only do that fly together, they eat together. Now, that’s something you can relate to.”

It’s true. I like to eat. And, I enjoy having meals with friends and family. Even in my business, I often have business lunches or coffees, and I enjoy the time of just talking and listening to people. We really are created to live and function as a group.

We are created for relationship.

The Mountain Path

In the mid-90’s, when I was young in the faith and working in corporate America, I would often spend my lunches in this quiet conference room upstairs at our offices. It was such a special time in my journey with God. I would slam down a sandwich for lunch and then spend a good half hour or so just reading through the New Testament, praying, listening. I’d just hang out with my Dad. It was a wonderful season of intimacy with my Father.

On October 7, 1995, something amazing happened in that room. Something so amazing that I’m still walking in the fruit of that experience today, almost 13 years later.

Here is my journal entry from that day:

During my quiet time at work, I felt the Lord show me two different paths. Currently I was on a single path, but ahead of me, there was a fork in the path—one to the left and one to the right.

To the left, the path was flat and smooth. It was a simple path, an easy path. To the right, the path was mountainous with hills and valleys weaving their way across the undulating landscape. It looked both exciting and dangerous.

I asked the Lord what it was, and He said, “You have two paths ahead of you. One is fairly pleasant, but longer (the one to the left), and the other is a lot of work, but shorter (the one to the right).”

Then, I asked Him, “Lord, which one do you want me to take?” He said, “The right.” I asked, “Will you be with me all of the way?” He said, “Right next to you, all of the way.” I began to weep. “Lord, then to right we go…”

I asked Him to confirm that this was really Him speaking to me. Before I opened my eyes, He whispered, “Look at the third drawing in this room when you open your eyes.” As I opened my eyes and looked at the third drawing, there was a picture of a road leading up into the mountains. I had never seen this picture before. Surely, he was speaking to me.

Nothing changed for me that day, nor that year. In fact, I wasn’t really sure what I had agreed to, other than this was the path God wanted me to walk, so I trusted him.

Up to this point, I had been an engineer working for a Fortune 500 company. It was a day-to-day job, not very exciting nor rewarding. My passion for the corporate world started waning. I was hungry for something fresh, something new, something challenging. I started to sense that the mountain path was something new, fresh, dynamic, maybe even a bit risky. But, I was ready.

The next year, a friend of mine showed me some new media production software and told me to check it out. I did, and fell in love with this new tool that would allow me to create interactive media with music and sound and video. I was a kid in a candy shop. What fun! The following year, I started dabbling in video production and visual communications.

What I found buried deep in the desires of my heart was this passion to communicate through video and media. My father is a professional photographer, so I was around the visual arts as a kid. But, not desiring that his children become starving artists like himself, my dad suggested that me and my brother become engineers. So, we did.

But, engrained in my spiritual DNA were these desires to communicate through media. I think about Romans 11:29, “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” It was like God had shown me this mountain path to pique my adventuresome heart. And, even after making the choice, it was still only a seed, with no obvious fruit in sight. And slowly, like a pregnancy, the seed took shape growing inside of me as I learned about this new desire.

Top Pup MediaOver the years, this passion for media would finally come to fruition, and even today, I now own my own media production business, Top Pup Media. And as a reflection of that decision years ago, our business logo is a mountain representing the path God has sent me down.

Another fruit of that decision is a movie that we produced last year called Fissure.

I think about where I was 13 years ago (an engineer stuck in a dead-end cubicle job) to a movie producer chasing his dreams.

Wow, what a journey!

Rain

The most interesting thing happened this morning: rain.

I know, that may not sound so interesting, but let me explain.

These past few days have been very heavy for me. Heavy. I don’t really know how to explain it except that it’s just heavy–heaviness in my soul. Heaviness in my heart. Heaviness, burden, lethargy, sadness, subtle gloominess. It’s almost like a low-grade depression.

I awoke this morning again feeling heavy. Lord, what is this?, I prayed. Then, off I went to make my morning hazelnut latte. As I sat down at the computer to journal, again I prayed, What is this heaviness? I don’t like it.

Quietly and gently, the Lord began to show me some of the internal thoughts I had just a few days ago, thoughts about my weight and my appearance. My wife and I have been training for a marathon, and I’ve enjoyed the morning runs–the increased energy and the weight loss. I started feeling pretty good about myself.

Then, as we got back from our vacation this past weekend, I saw a picture of myself in the river swimming. Up to that point, I thought this initial weight loss would have some outward appearance, but I still looked big, and it was very discouraging. Then, over the past couple of days, my knees have been bothering me, so I decided to slow down and not run as much, which again was a bit discouraging.

Lord, is it something I said or thought?

When you saw the pictures of yourself in the river, you were very discouraged at your weight. Even after running for so long, you are not happy with yourself.

He want on to explain to me that how I view myself is essential to the joy (or lack of joy) that I will experience. Joy is an attitude of the heart that we choose to receive or push away. Joy is not the result of circumstances–good or bad. It’s a choice. And, the moment I saw those pictures, I was hit with discouragement, the enemy of joy. Rather than fight it off, I chose to accept it. Nothing has changed. Here I am running and working hard, and for what? I still look the same.

So, I talked the Lord about it. I told him I was wrong for not fighting off those ungodly thoughts, for not choosing joy. I reminded myself that losing weight, training for a marathon, getting into shape takes time. It took time to get out of shape, and it’ll take time to get into shape.

After spending some wonderful time with my Father, the discouragement lifted. I feel lighter in my soul. Joy is coming back. Discouragement is leaving. It feels good!

So what does rain have to do with it? Here in Texas, it gets really hot in the summer. This week, we’re having 100+ degree days–dry, cloudless, hot, summer days. So, this morning as I’m praying through this issue with discouragement, it starts to rain. I heard trickling water outside but thought, That can’t be rain. The only forecast this week is hot, hot, hot.

Then, boom, the thunder rolls in–all this around the time that God is helping me deal with this heaviness. I peek outside, and sure enough, it’s raining. It’s raining when it shouldn’t be raining. Very odd. Very God.

Immediately, my mind goes to Isaiah 55:10-13,

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. This miracle will bring great honor to the LORD’s name; it will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

God is sending his word, his promises. I will live in joy and in peace. What an amazing promise!

Thank you, Lord, for the rain!

Heart Monitor

My wife and I are runners.   We’ve signed up for a marathon training program.  She’s training for a full marathon, and I’m training for a half.  I guess that makes me half the woman she is.  Not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing.

After coming back from vacation this past weekend, we couldn’t find our running watch and heart monitor.  It’s a cool little device that monitors your heart rate while you run, and then calculates calories burned (never enough) while monitoring your time (needs to be longer) and your heart rate (a little high).

We searched the house over.  Still couldn’t find it.  I’m starting to think that maybe we left it at our vacation spot.  While driving home, I had this thought, “I should check the red backpack.”  Then, immediately I thought, Is that you God?

When I got home, I told my wife to check her red backpack.  Sure enough, it was in there.  We had searched all of our bags quite a few times over.  But, for some reason, we missed the red backpack.

So, the big question–was that God?  Was he whispering that thought into my mind?  Did I hear the voice of God?  Or, was it just a memory, a coincidence, a random thought?

I believe it was the voice of God.  Why?

First, my wife and I often pray and ask God to show us where things are when we can’t find them, and we often hear him tell us where they are.  

Secondly, the followup thought I had was quite interesting–Is that you God?  That’s not a normal thought for me.  I didn’t necessarily pray for God to show us where the heart monitor was, but I think about that one scripture that says, “your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8).  It’s like I had this thought, I should pray.

And thirdly, we often think God is only concerned with big issues–world hunger, presidential elections, war in the MIddle East, getting along with my mother-in-law.  But, it’s not just the big things that God cares about.  I have learned that God even cares for the little things in our lives.  He’s not like man that gets burdened with many things.  He can handle them all–lost keys, electricity bills, should I take this job, help me with my mother-in-law.

He desires to be involved in every area of your life, even the heart monitors.

Where to start?

I have so much to share about my journey with God–things I learned, mistakes I’ve made, stuff I’ve heard from God.  Lots to share.

At the same time, I want to make sure there’s a solid foundation for what I want to share with you. It’s actually quite easy to say, “God told me this…”  But to substantiate it, verify it and confirm that it was really God–that can be a challenge.

I will start with this: if you don’t believe in God, then this blog isn’t for you. I’m not going to field questions, comments, rants or debates about the existence of God. There are other blogs for that.

Also, I will be using scripture from the Bible to support certain topics, experiences and any other posts that need Biblical clarification or validation. I use a variety of translations when I read, but often refer to the New King James Version (NKJV) for heavier studies. Sometimes, I will look up words in Greek and Hebrew to gain further insight.

I don’t want this blog to become an intricate Bible study on “hearing God”. Rather, I want to share my experiences with what it’s like to walk with God, to hear his voice and to experience him at a level that is life impacting.

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