Gary’s opening question on Thursday night was this: What three words describe your story in the last year?
My first word was “movement.” I tell everyone that my wife Cyndi experiences the world through movement, and if you know her, you agree. However, I’ve learned that I’m no different. Just like her, I have to keep moving to stay alive and engaged. I have to keep running, cycling, hiking, reading, learning, writing, teaching, and loving, or else I will go to seed.
My second word was “speaking.” I’m learning how to speak into the hearts of the men and women God has circled around me.
My third word: “retraining.” This past year has felt like a retraining time for me as an engineer, as a runner, and as a cyclist. I suspect there are also other categories where I’ve been retraining, but they aren’t as obvious to me, yet.
Why was I answering Gary’s questions? I spent the weekend high above Colorado Springs at the Bear Trap Ranch, at a men’s retreat with Noble Heart. It was an entire weekend full of questions. Hard questions, to be exact. They were the kind of questions that dig deep into your heart; that demand close listening to insights from God.
The retreat was called a Base Camp Gathering, and it was a great time of deep and serious experiences with God that left me feeling light and free.
I was also reminded that we are all individually important for the work of God. Too often, we look at a ministry or a church and all the spiritual leaders seem to have the same skills, personality and talents. We don’t see a place for us, with our different set of skills, personality, and talents. It can make us feel useless.
But at a weekend like this, surrounded by guys with different personalities and extreme stories, it was clear that God needs all of us to live as he has called us.
It occurred to me that when we talk about our calling from God, maybe we should use the word “obligation” instead. It isn’t enough to be called, we have to step up and live it out. Not merely to feel successful, or useful, or better about ourselves, but because the community around us will suffer if we don’t live our calling.
And that thought leads me to Gary’s second question form Thursday night: What desires are you most aware of (at this moment)?
I wrote, “My desire it to leave a deep wake of changed lives. I intend to spend the rest of my life giving away all that God has given me.”
Gary’s third question was this: Where do you sense God has focused his training of you during this past year?
I answered, “I feel like God has been training me to concentrate on those closest to me. That is where my “giving away” begins.”
Saturday afternoon they asked me lead one of the sessions, and I was so happy. It’s always good news when the cool guys give you a turn.
To settle my mind before teaching, I decided to go for a run. I had prepared enough, didn’t need to go over my notes again, and I knew a run would blow out the cobwebs in my mind and burn off excess adrenaline.
However, the fact was, we were at 9,100’ elevation. Not only that, all the roads and trails out of camp went straight up. So what I did could hardly be called running. I was short of breath even on the downhills. But even a wheezing shuffle calms my brain and my heart and opens them to new ideas.
My session went great. And as usually happens I learned more from the guy’s responses than I did from my own study. That’s the best part about teaching: the teacher always learns the most.
Gary Barkalow reminded us that a base camp is the place where alpine climbers cache supplies and shelter to prepare for the next level of the ascent. And so for this group of men, the purpose of our Base Camp Gathering was to reorient our hearts, recalibrate our efforts, and resupply our courage for the next level of ascent God has for us.
Your personal journey can take you deeper and closer to God, resulting in eternal significance, but you have to live your life on purpose. I am stronger and braver because of my time with these men. I can’t wait for the next opportunity.
QUESTIONS: What three words describe your story in the past year? What desires are you most aware of (at this moment)? Where do you sense God has focused his training during this past year?
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32