Some look for a Wild Time; I’m looking for a Wild Place

When our kids were growing up, they were fascinated by a series of books (maybe more so, their dad) called “Where’s Waldo?” (Christian book fans, you may remember the “Seeking Sammy” series – I’m guessing it was the Biblical Sammy the Prophet.)

In case you don’t recall spending hours searching through the red and white minutiae for the scarf and ski cap bedecked Waldo, These colorful books opened to panoramic scenes of tiny people in public places, and stuck in the crowd was “Waldo.” The winner found him.

At times, I feel the same way about Jesus. Where’s Jesus? In all the minutiae of life, where is He? Sometimes life’s details hide or push out the right stuff.

Luke 5 is a busy time in Jesus’ life. But it has an interesting aside. Jesus is in the midst of gathering a group of friends and he’s performing miracles (while already avoiding arrest, it seems). And Luke says, “Jesus would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” I imagine that, in their travels, the guys got up, rolled their backpacks, and someone would say, “Where’s Jesus now?”

Oh, he must have found a wild place.

Jesus was regularly taking time from the wild press of people and their needs, and drawn to seek a place to be alone with His Father. Is there a connection between a wild place, the alone-ness, and God’s presence? Maybe our willingness to go to a wild place can helps us see God’s hand and presence more readily? And it might be the questions become more real in a wild place?

Three things about a wild place: 1)It’s not a quiet place (the noise is different, but still there. 2) It’s not a normal place (we have to choose to go there; the “beaten path” and a wild place are exact opposites.) 3) It’s not a safe place. (Wild places have critters. And the dangers can refocus one’s mind.)

When I find a wild place – a place off the beaten path – to spend time with the Father, I expect that my life will be refocused, on Him and His purposes for me and for His world. And that can be dangerous.

Not Mine.

It takes a lifetime to get and a lot of reminders, but I don’t own my life. The SUV I drive? Not mine. The TV I watched last night? Not mine. The checkbook I paid bills from? Not mine, either. The kids I helped raise? The marriage? Not mine.The hobby I claim? The diversion I make time for? The secret place where no one else is invited? Not mine. The faith I claim? The church I attend? The office I spend time in? Nope. Not mine. The country I love? The world I pray for? No. They don’t belong to me, either.
Jeremiah reminds himself as much as anyone else: “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.”
Sure, I have obligations, even passions for all of the above, but they belong to another. If I don’t own my television, my hobbies, my checkbook, my family, my marriage, or my nation… then, they don’t own me. Freedom.
Property of God.

Me and Zumba

We (my wife, Susan, and I) joined a Zumba class last week. For those of you who have yet to be swept off your feet by the “rhythms of the conga beat,” Zumba is a dance-aerobics workout that forces non-dancers to move feet, hips and arms all together in a semblance of organized pattern. At least, that’s my take on it’s main purpose.

Yesterday’s instructor was a “fill-in” in many ways. She has been doing Zumba a long, long time, yet still could in many ways “shake her groove thang.” She promised us all a fun time.

She also promised, as soon as she saw me (the man in the class) that we would do a special song for the men (read: man, singular, though a couple of others rescued me before that special song.)

By now, we had danced to a latin “rock around the clock,” smoozed through a mysterious song about eyes, jumped around to the copa cabana, and jiggled our way through a Spanish song that talked about shaking our “huppa-bubba-bubba” or something like that.

Then she called me (and the two other victims) up to the front. It should be clarified here that we are really not in a Zumba class. Ours is called Zumba Gold… I think because the members are in their golden years, or perhaps because more of our body parts are  made of metal (though that should be called Zumba Titanium.)

Our instructor had us face the crowd of, what looked like eager grannies (surreal) who seemed to know what was coming our way (we were clueless.) The beat started – a latin-india influenced song… and we moved side to side waving our arms in syncopation first beside and then in front of us. Then it happened. The full force of women danced toward us waving their arms seductively at us, closer and closer (like a Busby Berkley moment.) The last move was a punctuation of three side hip thrusts (with much force.)

It was a brief song that seemed to last forever. Some had fun, I am sure. For me, it was memorable. I even took a bow at the end. After all, I even got my feet, my hips, and my arms to move in the right syncopation, at least once. I deserved the moment.

I just can’t get the sound of titanium squeaks out of my mind from that last move. (I will let you draw your own spiritual applications if you can from this one!)

Rhythmically yours,

On the Journey


Keeping It Together

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Paul to the Colossian Christians)

Six Part Harmony

One of the biggest struggles full time ministers and missionaries face is keeping a balance between all the roles or aspects of life. When I think of a normal (if there is such a person) missionary, this person works, leads, serves publicly, serves privately, is a student, a friend, a family member, and often also a spouse and a parent. Some ministry or missions teams may even includes people from practically every stage of life – young single, single again, older single, newlyweds, couples with no kids, couples with very young children, couples with many children (almost), couples with teenagers, couples with adult children, and maybe more.

So how do diverse team-members with all these roles and characteristics keep balance in our lives? It takes some effort, but the rewards and success are worth the work. Staying balanced is a lot like bringing harmony together. Each part of the music is different and must be in the just the right place at just the right level to make the music perfect. We might not get harmony in our lives perfectly; but we can work on each aspect of this beautiful gift of the Christian walk and ministry and, with God’s leadership, make it sing!

Centuries ago, the world looked at the stars, the planets, and everything above the earth and said they were situated within spheres. When these spheres moved, the mystics said, they created God’s harmony. I would like to present to you a model –  la SFERA – for getting balance into your life. (Disclaimer: this writer needs work on the whole balance and harmony issue more than anyone!)

Click on the link below to see the model, and comment on what makes each area of your life sphere work well. I will add verses and practical tools to each of the six areas in the near future.


As always,