I have the fun and privilege of talking to many people each week by phone, email, chat and in person at Base Camp, retreats, on radio interviews, podcasts and over a cup of coffee. Each person’s story is fascinating and their questions both profound and common. So, from recent conversations, let me offer a few thoughts that may be helpful.
Adjust with the seasons. Life continually changes and when we lock our self into one particular way of living, we will become stuck, frustrated, disappointed and questioning. There are times when we can navigate our days by clarity and desire. But there are also times when the fog is so thick that we doubt that we ever had either. This is when discipline is needed. Yes, discipline…that word that seems to be in opposition to desire. C.S. Lewis wrote, “A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people), like a crutch that is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times: but of course it is idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (our own loves, tastes, habits, etc.) can do the journey on their own!” You see, there are times when “desire” looses it legs, and discipline must carry us. There is a beautiful dance between desire and discipline.
Develop your splendor. It is easy for us to neglect the development and training of our particular glory because it comes fairly easy to us. Instead, we put out time and resources into the development our weaknesses because they are painful and difficult. As a friend said me, we will almost always choose the relief of pain over the increase of pleasure. We need to take the time to enhance, focus and hone the God-given splendor / effect of your life: read, experience, ask questions, offer and reflect. Erwin McManus wrote in Uprising, “Our capacity to run free is related to our commitment to stand firm. There is a discipline of the heart that marks the free spirit. All of us long to play the song in our souls, and more of us would do so if it didn’t require endless hours of studying the notes.”
Live fully in your world. All to often we disengage from our surroundings and friendships because we live in the “what about” world. You know, “what about what missionaries go through”, “what about the hardship those in Haiti and Japan are experiencing”, “what about the Middle East situation”. Dallas Willard wrote in The Divine Conspiracy, “Every last one of us has a ‘kingdom’…a realm that is uniquely our own, where our choice determines what happens…in the range of our effective will…In creating human beings God made them to rule, to reign, to have dominion in a limited sphere.” So, don’t let that which is not within in your influence (other kingdoms) diminish or deter you from offering your glory to those in your world (your kingdom).
Utilize what you’ve got: We are all longing and looking for that group of people whom we can create, battle, achieve and journey with. For most of us, the cry of our heart has been the U2 chorus, “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” We look for something that we believe “should be” vs. “could be”. We believe that finding and developing this “fellowship” should be easy, since God wants this for us and we need it. I’ve found that we always possess more than we are aware of. We look over and around what is already available to us. Of those whom I create, battle, achieve and journey with, some are local while others are distant. Some of these friendships are fairly new and some historic, but regardless of longevity, we need each other and we’re turning into something.
I hope that something I have written here has been helpful. It has for me.
Wanting to learn, move, offer and advance,
This was helpful indeed. It takes discipline sometimes to make space for desires I’ve found. Thanks for the permission to live in the kingdoms we find ourselves in. They may expand over time, but there is plenty to live our where we are. Acres of diamonds as it’s told. Blessings!
Well said Michael.
Great post,I love it. Is there a printer -friendly version? 🙂
Thanks Rosa. I don’t think we have a printer-friendly feature. Sorry.
Gary thank you it was very helpful, so wise you are & so blessed am I. Sorry I don’t have more mentally to write more, just thank you 🙂
food for the soul
Your so welcome.
Over the years I have discovered that often the simple truths, like the ones you wrote here Gary are usually the ones that have eluded me simply because I am too busy seeking the ‘profound’ truths. Yet it is the simple truths that truly have freed me to grow as God intended.
Gary, once again you have stated the simple God given truths clearly and in doing so you have made them profound, thank you.
Thank you Paul. You know, I learn things when I stop and reflect on what God has been saying to me through my conversations and my journey.
I love your final, concluding line, “Wanting to learn, move, offer and advance.”
Those are powerful, action, direction, purposeful words. They make me want to learn, move, offer, and advance.
Sam, I know you well and that these are you words as well.
The line ” So, don’t let that which is not within in your influence (other kingdoms) diminish or deter you from offering your glory to those in your world (your kingdom)” is one of the most helpful things I’ve read in a while.
Cynthia, I glad. I can spend so much of my time worrying about what I can not influence, ignoring what I can touch.
Gary, I find myself mutually defining my desires and focusing my discipline to face problems immediately so that my desires don’t get sidetracked. I used to tend to avoid problems, mostly because I used my own strength, but now I include the problems in my prayers and witness God’s way of working through things.
Each day stoking the fire of desire and having friends willing to help in the battle to define our splendor are crucial. I’m thankful for those near and those far like yourself that keep fanning the flames.
Well said Jim.
Andrew posed a question to me the other day, “Do you believe that the change of one mans direction has effected us” That happened to us 4yrs ago and since then we have been walking around in the fog not realizing what had happened, we were angry and hurt, Our course had changed but we also allowed our direction to be effected.
We were both gobsmacked at the realization of what we had allowed to happen to us.
We know what our calling is but we were blinded by what we had been thru.
We have been stuck in a rut feeling terribly alone and not sure how to move. We lost desire and discipline.
But one single question, no doubt from God, cleared our heads, I feel like the fog is lifting and we can see again. When, where and how, not sure, but with our relationship with God and direction and encouragement from men like yourself we will find our feet again.
I’m not sure what you would call what happened to you…possibly betrayal, deceit, manipulation…but those thing definitely mark our heart in a wounding, debilitating way…all of us. We must work to stay Alert and Oriented x 3 and keep journeying.
The evil one wants to guilt us that we aren’t doing enough. I realize I’ m not made to go and be a missionary. I need to be me to those I’m in contact with daily. Thank you for reminding me to let go of guilt.
This is good …
> there are times when “desire” looses it legs, and
> discipline must carry us
Living in a world of interrupt it’s easy to get off track of what I should be seeking after. Between work, family, ministry opportunities and everything else in life, one can pulled in many directions. Thats where discipline allows me to hang on to what I should be doing and why it’s important to figure out my “calling”. Just as a business plan keeps a company on target so to will a personal mission plan keep an individual in on track.
Good stuff .. .Keep em coming …
I’m doing a lot of speaking and teaching these days on “seasons” so, not surprisingly, your article caught my attention quickly.
As a child, I spent a little bit of time growing up on a farm just north of San Antonio, Texas. Grand-daddy was a farmer, his brother was a farmer, and my dad even did a little farming work. And, while I was much too young to do much of anything except ride in the back of our old Chevy pickup while chewing on a long blade of straw, one thing I learned is that farmers are masters at understanding the season that they are in.
And, while an inexperienced farmer might try to rearrange or repurpose the seasons and do things their own way, the experienced farmer knows that to receive the abundance that is available, he must submit to the season.
I was leading a tele-conference a few evenings ago and when I opened up the lines for Q&A, a lady from Ohio, in between her sobs and tears, admitted that she was avoiding the season that God had her in. As you might imagine, that was creating an internal storm.
If God has us in a season for healing, we need to let Him mend our wounds.
If He has us in a season of renewal, we need to let Him work in and through us.
If He has us in a season of harvest, we need to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Great words, Joel. I especially love this phrase: the experienced farmer knows that to receive the abundance that is available, he must submit to the season.
Gary, it is just stunning how the Holy Spirit works among us and between all of us. I met our son for dinner last night, and what he needed to talk about was really, how painfully (but with great results) he has spent two years investing in his weaknesses, but realizes now, he should go ahead into the joy of efforts toward and into his strengths. I forwarded this to him. Thank you Gary. But even more, I thank God, who alone knows exactly what we need exactly when we need it! He is beautiful!! Gary… thanks for what you do.