Where do you go to work things out? Where do you go to understand daily life?
There is a Bible story about the Apostle Peter that took place after Jesus’ death and resurrection. It says, Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, (John 21)
The question is, why would Peter want to go fishing at a time like this? Was he reverting back to his previous life so soon after seeing the resurrected Jesus?
There are a lot of possible reasons for the fishing trip, but I wonder if the guys were merely going for comfort food, so to speak. Maybe they worked out their issues and problems and talked about the future better in a fishing boat than in the safe room where they’d been hiding.
I’ve had men tell me all sorts of private things while on a mountain trail together, as if the shared effort between us earned the privilege and safety to talk. Could Peter and his guys have been looking for that? Could they work out all that had just happened to them better doing something hard, something familiar, with their closest allies? Maybe they needed a conversation they couldn’t have in the safe room in front of everyone else, in front of the women.
One place where I go is an annual retreat called Base Camp Gathering with The Noble Heart Ministries at Bear Trap Ranch, in the Rocky Mountains just west of Colorado Springs. I have attended this event every fall since 2012, and this week I’m going again.
I always go to Base Camp with a heart full of questions about life and ministry and what to do next. Remarkably, even though I don’t come home with something as tangible as a bullet-point list of action items, I always leave with a sense of what to do next.
I know from experience if I go somewhere different, away from my regular haunts, I’ll notice different things and think different thoughts. I learned a formula from Mark Batterson, ΔPL + ΔPA = ΔPE, meaning a change in place plus change in pace equals change in perspective. It works for me even when the new place is not exotic or far away. The smallest changes in pace and place can trigger my imagination.
The questions on my mind this year are about ministry and timing. What should my teaching ministry and men’s ministry look like during the next few years? I don’t expect to stop doing either one, but there are beginning vibrations in my heart that change is coming. Does it mean a different teaching assignment, or deeper involvement, or doing more outside adventures, or turning more over to other leaders? I don’t know, but I’ll be listening intently while in the mountains.
My outlook on the future has changed significantly in the past twelve months. So many things I’d given up on as lost opportunities (such as running, hiking, backpacking, walking with a normal gait, etc.) have been reborn into real and hopeful dreams. Thanks to modern medicine and titanium, all of those are back on my goal list, and my list grows almost daily.
That alone has set my heart to wondering what will be next. How should I take advantage of this reboot? How much longer do I have to do the things I love? How can I use my new dreams to speak into the hearts of young men?
In addition, I just returned from a Labor Day backpacking trip into the Pecos Wilderness with about 15 men, and it was a mighty experience. We had a great time, and I can’t wait to go again. As part of this adventure I planned an attempt to hike to the summit of Truchas Peak (13,102’) as the next step in my year-long incremental knee-testing plan. Not only was it a successful climb, but it wasn’t as physically hard on me as I thought it would be. In fact, I looked back in my journal from the last time I did the same hike, in 2009, and I think I had an easier hike and quicker recovery this time than then. It opened my eyes to a brighter outside future.
It occurred to me I must not waste this second chance at influence. I should plan more frequent group backing trips during the year, making it my goal to get outside with more men more often. I should also recruit kindred spirits to travel to bike races, and quit waiting for someone else to take on that responsibility. When God gives us a burden, he is also giving us the assignment.
What about you? Do you sense changes ahead? Sometimes all it takes to glimpse the future is let go of certainties. Are you willing to open your heart and mind to big changes?
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32