so, He did it again to me this morning. yes, by "He" i mean God, and by "it" i mean speak to me while trail running. this happened a few months ago, and i've not forgotten exactly what he said, and where i was. well, i desperately needed to take today off. i've got my hours in for the week at church, will get more in tomorrow, and have my work done that needs to be done today. so, with my wife's help, i decided i would go trail running this morning while my youngest was in preschool, instead of putting in 3 hours at the office.
i hit up a different spot today, one i don't normally go to because the trails are............well there's no nice way to put it. they are wimpy. the preserve is definitely very scenic; overall a great place. but the trails just aren't as challenging as the ones i normally run. so, this was a perfect place for me to retreat to this morning, to get some good mileage in off road and not worry much about the effort. the trails were amazing today, muddy, wet, slick, sloppy, just all out aweserous. it was so much fun! temps were in the 50's which meant shorts and a tshirt, unheard of for mid january! i ended up going somewhere between 8 and 9 miles overall. i remember distinctly, around mile 4.5 a leaf falling from a tree, and suddenly a wind kicked up, holding that leaf about head high, suspended for what seemed like forever. as i passed by, the leaf dropped, gently brushing my shoulder. immediately i felt as if God was tapping me on the shoulder, suggesting He had something He wanted to say. He was trying to get my attention.
well, i kept that in mind as i continued on. within a minute or two, i came to an opening that overlooked homer lake. there was a bench there and i decided i'd take a break there on my way back through the area. so, after finishing up that trail, i turned around and headed back, and stopped at that bench. i sat down, and immediately God said the same thing he did months ago at Kickapoo. "Don't you know Thad? Don't you know how much I love you?" somehow i knew there was something else coming after that. for some reason, i kept lowering my head, almost in shame. not sure why. i kept feeling God lift my head back up to look out over the lake. this went on for a few minutes. then, He got me. oh boy, did He get me! talk about a gut punch.
"stop performing for me Thad. stop trying to earn my approval. i'm not grading you. i already love you. i love you as much as i love billy graham. i love you as much as i love mother theresa. i love you as much as i love adolph hitler. i love you, period. stop your performance, as if i could love you any more than i already do. just enjoy being with me."
some of you might be stuck right now on the adolph hitler part. don't stay there, just move on. i believe God loves us all, whether we accept that and allow it to transform us or not. that word, "perform" is what really got to me. yes, i'm always thinking that God will be more pleased if i do a task well at church. if i love someone well, if i finish a project on time and my superiors love it. this was so freeing for me today. i want to stop "performing" for God. i want to live in the complete understanding and revelation that there's nothing more i could do to make Him love me more. thank you for that time this morning Jesus.
and now, part two. how to be happy for a friend. i've been meaning to write this one for awhile now, because i think so many of us struggle with it. well, i know i do. have you ever shared something great that happened with a friend, only to have them crap all over your parade? you know, they turn it into something about them, how life sucks for them right now. let me give you an example.
today, a friend sends me a message on facebook, saying he's having a tattoo artist work up another tattoo for him. i was stoked for him! but how did i respond? by saying how jealous i was, and how i wished i could get one but money wasn't there for it right now. that was my first response. what the frick! i totally hijacked his good news, by pissing all over it with my own junk. what a tool thing to do!
i wrote him back a little later and apologized. but it reminded me of something i've been thinking about for awhile. why is it so difficult for us to be happy for others? why do we become jealous so quick? romans 12:15 came to mind this morning, and i wanted to share it here.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."
now, that seems pretty clear cut. rejoice with those who rejoice. well, that's my tip today on how to do this. remember this verse. paste it somewhere that you will see it. there's very few things that will hijack a friendship faster than a joykill. your friends will quit sharing their good news with you if you continue doing this. let's commit to being better friends by being the biggest cheerleader of our friends this world has ever known.
got a friend who got a Christmas bonus? high five them for crying out loud! someone just got pregnant, but it reminded you of the two miscarriages you went through in the past? give them a huge hug and offer to throw them a baby shower. friend got a huge promotion at work? throw them a friggin party to celebrate! come on friends, what are we so threatened when something good happens to someone else?
let's pull the stick out of our own rears, and begin to be known as a joyous people. when someone has something to celebrate about, let it be known that we as Christians are the first to throw down a great party for them. i want to be one of the first people my friends want to share good news with, because they know i may just cheer more and louder than they did at their own good news. i want them to be happy they have someone like me they can share stuff with, someone who won't rain on their parade. as my boss recently told me,
"be the change you want to see"