(Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Arkansas)
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit." Psalm 51:10-12
Spring Break 2014 was much needed...not necessarily to get away from work, or from home (i.e...the real world) or to set off on another fun adventure into the wilderness. No, this break was needed because I found myself stuck in the mundane, dried out, lifeless world of everyday fruitless Christianity. No, Christianity in itself is not lifeless...on the contrary...it centralizes on Jesus, which in turn means its full of life...and hope, and joy, and love...through real, meaningful, and connected lives. The things we desire most in our hearts...
However, here recently, I've turned my faith into a lifeless chore. My prayers, devotionals, readings, church, and even my relationships with people...they've all turned into chores. I've found myself living to fulfill a spiritual quota if you will. I got into the habit of doing things that I was "suppose" to be doing...and just kept doing them because I felt like that's what I needed to do...period. I've read best selling Christian books, attended Church, listened to KLTY, had my "quiet times" (BTW, does "quiet time" not sound corny?), prayed, talked to other Christians about Francis Chan's latest book or have debated Armenianism vs. Calvinism once or twice...blah, and more blah! I've done all this not to be a "better" Christian for myself...or to make sure my spiritual ducks were in a row...I've just kept on doing this because it's the only way I know how to be a Christian. Truth is, this has been my lame Christian experience as of late...Does this make sense to anyone? It does in my head...I don't know. I digress...but bear with me because I'm just typing my thoughts now.
Anyways, I figure, if things aren't broke...why fix them? It's not like I am struggling with anything more than usual...I'm still struggling with the same things, so I'm holding steady. That's got to be worth something, right?...Also, everything else seems to be lining up the same. Family is doing well...work is steady...friends are there...and I seem to get my daily fill of food and drink. Can't complain about much...matter of fact, there's much to be grateful for. And I am.
But man...I've gone bone dry! I've turned my life,...(the life that is real and important and did I say real? As in, my life that is real and pretty stinkin' cool) my walk, my calling...into a freakin chore. You know, things are bad for me when the highlights of my day are when I read or watch someone else do something cool in their life. How did this happen? How do I get more excited about watching a news story about other dads sacrificing their lives to save their kids or an officer saving the lives of at-risk kids through mentorship? How am I getting more caught up in a sappy romantic love story than my own marriage? Get this...how am I getting more jacked up about watching another climber climb some other climb on youtube than I am about my own climbs!?!?!?! What the hell is happening!? Seriously? How did I get to the point where I see other people's lives as more important, more relevant, or more exciting than my own? Half the time...the stories I read or watch on the web could be my stories. Yet, I'm missing my own stories because I'm more pumped about watching DFWRockStarClimber1981's Youtube video post on last week's climb...
I don't know...but I do know that I have a wife that wants to be swept off her feet...daughters who need a valiant, brave daddy to protect and love them...kids at work that need to be loved on and mentored...friends that need to be served through laughter and tears...a community that is in desperate need of a heroes...and in addition to all of this...there still exists an entire world of wilderness for me to climb and explore! My life is the news, or a romance comedy, or youtube...yet, I've turned all of this excitement into a dull existence as of late. How have I fooled myself? How does my heart not see that the life God has called me to is an awesome Romantic Action Dramedy with the cinematographery of National Geographic. How? Because...
"The Heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9
(A sample of Red River Gorge or "The Red" Walls look like)
So here's the thing. I need a break...a clean break from my heart. I looked forward to this Spring Break, to get away from my routine, to get as far away as possible from the faith that I created for myself. I need what the Psalmist knew...a renewed spirit. I asked the Lord to restore the joy of salvation in me again...To know and understand the desperation needed for salvation...and to uphold me with a willing spirit. A spirit of servanthood...not obligation. To serve my friends and family with a clean heart...not a burdened one. To live out the life I'm called to live...the only way I know how...passionately. And furthermore...to get as far away as possible from the chores that have chained me down. This week, I prayed for a re"New"ed heart! I need it badly...
So this week...I traveled to Kentucky and Arkansas for 9 days. There was much to see and do...but I asked the Lord to keep me aware of His presence and for me to remain in Him. I wanted this trip to be a weeklong prayer...and the start of a new season and transformation for me...To have a clean break from the old...a Break much needed.
First Part of the Spring Break: The Red River Gorge or "The Red" as climbers fondly know it as.
When: March 8-10, 2014
Where: Outside Lexington Kentucky, Red River Gorge
Who: Jeremy Hendrix and myself...note, selfish Brad Hardin did not join us.
What: Climb sweet sweet sandstone
Unfortunate mishap: Only two people on this trip...not three, which means a serious lack of photography...lack of credit goes to Brad Hardin.
So "The Red" is a world class rock climbing destination with over thousands of routes to climb...The Red is broken down into the Upper/Lower Gorge or North/South depending on who you talk to...Most climbers stay (sleep and eat) at Miguel's (pictured above). For a few bucks...you can camp on the property, eat good pizza, and meet all kinds of climbers from all over the world. Miguel's also serves as the local gear shop too!
As you can see...you can place your pizza order and buy rock gear...pretty cool set up.
Some more of the Red...
When: March 11-16
Where: HCR, outside Ponca, Jasper, AR...Buffalo National River area, We stayed at West's Cabin
Who: The Gilberts, The Reyes-Ortiz (dont know which one or both), Hendrixes, Stokes, Pasquels
What: Family outdoor time, relaxation, Spring Break!
So after a full week of being with friends and family...and a full week of being outside, I feel pretty good about breaking away. I had the opportunity to serve my family, share in good fellowship and conversation with many...and more importantly, a time to reflect on myself. I don't know what the Lord has in store for me moving forward...but I can say, that I'm tired of where I have been spiritually. I want more...and if anything, I can say the Lord has given me this week to kind of start over. To seek Him more...and to ask for a new heart. I know my life is an adventure...I know God has called me to great and wonderful things...now I need the Lord to connect my mind and spirit.
(BTW, I love the picture above...each of these families have a special place in my heart. I just now need to figure out how to photoshop the Hendrixes in.