Reckless Pursuit: Ch. 10 – Are You Still There?

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Do you remember the last time you sat in your grandfather’s lap? Do you remember the comfort of it? The joy of being engulfed in his arms?

The following is a snapshot excerpt of the upcoming book…

Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love – Chapter 10: Are You Still There?

                   Buddy is my grandfather. I have strong childhood memories of him because of our holiday vacations at my grandparent’s home each year. The unmistakable smell of his pipe as we entered their house. The recliner he was almost always found in, sitting as a king on his throne, watching sports. His flattop hair cut. His infectious laugh that shook his whole body, much like the image I had of Santa Claus. But my most enduring memory of Buddy is his gentle, loving spirit. This is what drew me to him the most. He completely enjoyed just about any interaction he could have with the grandkids. He would turn his hands into a pretend man named “Tom Walker” and walk his forefinger and middle finger after us – which would send us, for some unexplainable reason, running into the next room. He would take turns asking one of us, “Do you know how Josh eats corn?” And then proceed to clamp his powerful hand down on a leg, just above the knee and squeeze; resulting in uncontrollable laughing and squealing. While we were still small enough, he would grab us up, put both of our ankles in one of his hands, turn us upside-down and tickle us with the other hand. This would instantly cause us to flop around like a trout dangling from the end of a fishing pole.

                   And then, there was the awe and wonder of his magic hands. He could make money appear from behind my ear! And more than that, he could put his hands together, pull on his finger and make the first knuckle completely separate. There would be a full inch of air in the middle of his finger. Then he would put it back and it would be normal again! 

Oh, the magic of childhood! Could there be a life available that is constantly that alive? That free? That exciting?

Reckless Pursuit is currently being prepared for publishing. It will be made available to the public early this fall. Keep coming back here for more updates and teasers.

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Reckless Pursuit: Ch. 1 – It’s Really Good

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Do you remember the joy of sweets from your childhood? The smell of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven and the anticipation you had as you waited for that first bite? How waiting for your mom to finish icing them was almost torture? And then, as you bite and experienced the first rush of flavor hit your tongue – fulfillment! Complete satisfaction!

Now, as an adult, I don’t experience cinnamon rolls with quite that amount of passion. No, this is emotion that is saved for greater things, one of which is my kids. I’ll never forget the overwhelming experience of watching each one of them come into this world.

The following is a snapshot excerpt of the upcoming book…

Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love – Chapter 1: It’s Really Good.

…recalling these experiences, I am overcome with the thought that God’s initial moment of becoming a father was similar to mine but yet so different. His moment was complete and utter joy. There was no struggle. No concern of sickness, disease or death. No fear of the worst. No heartache of watching the one you love in pain. It was the purest moment of love the world has ever known. It was the God of the universe becoming a daddy.

Oh, how I would love to have seen Yahweh’s face during these moments of creation! How incredible it would be to see his escalating joy as he moves from completing one masterpiece to the next. The wonders of a universe filled with stars and galaxies beyond our imagination – joy. The beauty of the sunset – more joy. The fresh fragrance coming out of a newly formed meadow – overflowing joy. On and on it goes, from one remarkable design to the next. Dolphins – joy! Eagles – joy! Camels, dogs, chimpanzees – indescribable joy! And then…can you imagine how he could hardly contain himself as he unveiled his final masterpiece? 

Reckless Pursuit is currently being prepared for publishing. It will be made available to the public early this fall. Keep coming back here for more updates and teasers.

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I Hate That Guy!

I have known what it is to live for myself, to choose me over those I love and to pursue every desire of my heart. I hate that part of me. I can’t stand it when that voice emerges in my head and encourages me to grab at what I want or to defend my rights. Truly, I hate that guy. I know him so well but also feel like he is an alien and a stranger in my own body. He does not belong there. And he is not welcome.

I used to invite that guy in. Knowing that he would ultimately do me harm but thinking I would enjoy his gifts. However, I have come to the place that his gifts are torture. Even the thought of them causes a physical reaction in my body. My back gets tense, my legs feel heavy and tight and I can feel my freedom beginning to slip away. I can actually feel death creeping into my heart.

As a result, my eyes dim. I walk with my shoulders a little lower. The cadence of my speech is altered. Little moments that would normally make me smile and fill my heart with joy are now lost on me or even irritate me. In my submission to the voice of that old guy, I am defeated and broken. In my pursuit of selfishness, I am actually destroying everything that I love. Yeah, I hate that guy!

But this is not the way of my Jesus. He has taught me a different way to live. One that is free. A life that is defined by comfort, intimacy and joy. A life of overwhelming love.

This is the life that dominates my heart and my thoughts. When I am living in it, I hear the voice of Jesus reminding me, encouraging me and celebrating with me constantly. I find myself smiling at young children and laughing freely with friends. I see people’s eyes and respond to what seems to be an unmistakable need, whether it be a hug or a probing question or a high five.

What’s amazing is this is a life that is not about me. I am constantly led to consider the person in front of me. To offer care and concern and challenge and love. This new life seems to be an upside down way of living. The more I think about other people, the more my heart comes alive. The more I serve my wife and my kids and my friends and the guy at the grocery store, the more my heart leaps.

It has even led me to a new way of dealing with conflict and struggle. I am reminded that the person I am dealing with has a heart that matters and I cannot be the reason for the lack of freedom in their life. That if humility and submission can serve them – then I can offer it. And I am challenged to not allow that old guy to rise up and attack both of us. Freedom is too precious for that!

The attitude of Jesus…no, I don’t always live there. But I love the days that I do!

It’s More than Mario!

This summer I have watched some amazing people put down their pride in order to love on children. Some of them have transformed themselves into imaginary people. Some have given a weekend to kids from another part of town. And some have traveled to another country – just to share their love and increase the joy of children.

Do you remember what it was like to be a child? The imagination you had? The capacity for play? Take for instance, your first experience with a gaming system. Do you remember the fascination you had with the images on the screen? And the new addiction that was created as you became determined to conquer the game or at least better your latest score?

My first exposure to this world that effortlessly combines imagination and competition was at a friend’s house. As soon as I walked in, he told me he had just gotten an Atari and asked if I wanted to play. I said, “Sure!” – not really knowing what I was getting into. And then, for the next few hours, I was introduced to the now classic games of “Pong,” “Pitfall,” and “Centipede.” I have to admit, I wasn’t that good but it didn’t matter. It was an amazing experience and I couldn’t wait until I got to play again.

A couple of years later, I got my own system, but it wasn’t an Atari. It was the next generation…the new and improved system…you know, the one that was going to put Atari to shame with its updated graphics and more expansive game options. You know…Colecovision! I was so impressed with my parents for getting me such an advanced system. My brother and I dove in. We were totally consumed with all the newness and wonder of games like “Donkey Kong Jr.,” “Lady Bug,” and a game we affectionately came to call “Bomb & Burn” – simply because the only way we could get through the maze of obstacles was to go guns blazing as fast as we could.

But then, it happened. My family was invited over for dinner to a young couple’s house. They had become good friends with my parents and my brother and I thought they were pretty cool too. They were in their late twenties, didn’t have any kids and always made time for us.

We had dinner, talked for a bit and then Bobby, the cool family friend, invited us over to see his new toy. He turned on the TV, plugged in a few wires and up comes a screen unlike anything I had seen before. The images were amazing! “This is the latest thing,” Bobby said. “This is a Nintendo!”

That was the first time I ever saw Mario. The first time I ever imagined jumping over a mushroom or intentionally hitting my head against a brick to gain more points. And to this day, if I hear the Mario Brothers theme song – there’s a little bit of joy that comes over my heart.

Childhood is such a magical time. It’s experiences shape us deeply. Both its joy and it’s struggles have a way of hanging on and working their way into the fabric of our hearts as adults. The love we experience. The lessons we learn. The time spent with family. The loving adults who gave selflessly to us – it all impacts us in ways we can’t explain but are forever grateful for.

Question: Who introduced you as a child to little but unbelievable moments of joy? Who is that person who loved you enough to invite you into their world? Who in your past deserves a really big, “THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME LIKE THAT!”

And possibly more important than that…Who are you offering yourself to as an adult? Is there a child in your life that you are pouring yourself into? That you are intentionally working to increase his/her joy?

Believe me, even if it’s just sharing a video game, it could impact a heart forever!

The Big Catch

Last month my family took a trip to Creede, CO for a relaxing week in one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. It was a terrific week. Lot’s of sleeping in, playing games, long walks and of course…fishing. For me, fishing is much like golf. I am constantly amazed at people who seem to master the sport. At the same time, I constantly try not to get frustrated with my consistent lack of ability. This scenario is only magnified when I am out with my dad. He regularly out performs all other fishermen in our cabin combined. On this trip, I believe the count was something like: Dad: 20 and Landon: 0!

Although he does like to tell his stories of victory, Dad is a good sport about it. He doesn’t rub it in  or make me feel like a bigger loser than I am. However, there are those rare moments that have to be shared. Moments of sheer excitement and joy.

I had the pleasure of experiencing one of those moments with my Dad on my last day of the trip. We had driven out to a remote lake where it was obvious that few fishermen had been lately. We unloaded and I ventured off with my kids to see if I might be able to help the two younger ones actually catch something. As usual, my dad took his time picking out the right lure and watching the lake for signs of life. He picked a spot and moved in.

About 5 minutes later it happened! The usual calm, collected fishermen became extremely animated. He yelled, “Fish on!” At first, I was a little surprised. He is rarely verbal when catching a fish – I’m guessing because he doesn’t want to scare the next one off. But this one was different. This one was special and he didn’t care about the future impact of his excitement. As he landed the fish, he continued yelling, telling us to come take a look.

I hurriedly rushed my kids over to him and saw him holding a 16″ trout. At first glance, it appeared to be a nice fish. Nobody is going to scoff at a 16″ trout but it’s not that uncommon. In fact, about 15 years ago, I saw him catch a rainbow trout that was almost twice this size. But that’s what made this fish so special…it wasn’t a rainbow, it was a brookie!

Brook trout are usually about 7-8 inches long and this one was 16″! Although it’s not going to set any world records, it is truly a special moment for a trout fisherman. And so we celebrated. We oohed and aahed. We took pictures. And all the kids took turns holding the treasure. The big catch!

As I retell this story and consider my dad’s joy, I can’t help but think about my God (click here to be taken to http://www.recklesspursuitbook.com). That he gave us these experiences. These emotions. These gifts.

But there is more here than my gratitude to the Father for these things. There is a glimpse into his heart. A heart that longs for celebration and joy. A heart that will not rest until it is fully experienced.

The drive that the most avid fisherman has to land that big catch is nothing compared to our Father’s pursuit of us. He is constantly chasing us. Watching for signs of life. Luring us with his love. Inviting us to take the bait, to allow ourselves to be caught by him and to be completely transformed. There is truly nothing else that matters to him. Nothing!

We are his prize, his conquest and his joy! We are the love of his life and he can’t get enough. He wants to empty the lake with us. A few great catches are not enough. He wants us all!

For those of us who would join him in this amazing pursuit, a word of warning: he is not after trophies to be displayed. It’s not about showing off or winning some imaginary contest. People are not projects to finish for our God. He simply loves us desperately and he will not rest until he has us. And oh, the party that erupts with every catch!