Tag Archives: How do I overcome my discouragement?

Open Your Eyes To The Adventure

It wasn’t raining cats and dogs—it was coming down more like boulders and trees. Not something anyone wants when you and nine other people are crammed into a 40 foot houseboat.

Last week I made my annual pilgrimage—our seventh in a row—to Lake Powell in southern Utah. The lake is really the Colorado River with a dam at the Utah/Arizona border. Further south it becomes the Grand Canyon. So imagine a lake encompassed by Grand Canyon-like walls and 96 smaller canyons porcupining the edges.

If you spend much time with Kelley and me, you’ve probably grown tired of our constant references to our favorite vacation spot…unless you’ve been there. The views are breathtaking and the water is perfect for outdoor water sports, especially water skiing.

Hence our disappointment with the fierce mid-morning downpour. After securing our air mattresses on top of the houseboat and collecting our towels that were drying on the deck, we shoehorned all 10 people into an area no bigger than an average-sized bedroom. And we waited for the storm to clear.

Bored and disappointed, I poked my head out of the front of the boat, which was facing the canyon wall and looked to the side, awestruck by the immense volumes of water that were coming down. Then suddenly, I heard this shush-ing behind me. “Look!” someone cried out.

Immediately to my left, a huge waterfall began forming. A good friend had told me this happens during heavy rainstorms on the canyon, but I had forgotten. About 250 yards away, sheets of water were blanketing the monolithic stone wall. After a few moments, the cascade focused into a 20 foot wide, constantly shifting stream that began 300 feet above.

I could hardly believe my eyes.

Suddenly, my friend Charles jumped off the boat and began climbing over the rocky surface toward the falls. Why didn’t I think of that? I asked myself. Then I threw on my shoes and followed him. To my amazement, Charles’ 10 year old son was halfway between us, trekking toward the adventure. He wasn’t wearing any shoes, but he didn’t let that tidbit of trivia deter him.

Finally, after a 10 minute climb, I found myself beneath the streaming water. Overwhelmed by the exhilarating, once-in-a-lifetime experience, I began yelling at the top of my lungs.

Ten minutes later the storm ended and ten minutes after that, the falls subsided and we began our hike back to the boat.

Here’s what I learned from the experience:

We can watch the adventure or we can join it. All too often, I settle for watching the adventure take place. If Charles hadn’t led the way, I would have watched the unbelievable experience rather than joined it.

Disappointments can BE the adventure.  Initially, I was pretty disheartened by the morning rainstorm—it was upsetting my plans. But in the end, the storm presented me with a experience that I’ll never forget. Disappointments can be like that. I don’t want to overspiritualize it, but when Scripture tells us that “in all things God works for the good” (Romans 8:28), I think he meant it.

I doubt he sent a rainstorm solely so we could enjoy the waterfall, but on a greater level, our disappointments, our storms, our pain, can work toward a greater good. For our good. If we’re committed to his purposes and we keep our eyes open to the adventure.

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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The Deepest Truth About You

by Michael J Klassen

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Listening to the officer read me my Miranda Rights, my world began to spin. I was 16 years old and 750 miles from my home in Denver, Colorado.

“Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you?” the man asked me. His question jolted me back to this surreality.

“Yeah,” I muttered as I looked dejectedly at the ground.

That summer, my older sister and I worked for the company my dad owned. Most of our time was spent living in a motel in rural North Dakota. As our project came to a conclusion, my sister and I moved back home with much fanfare. Sipping from the cup of adulthood was exhilarating and satisfying. The pay was good, and Lori and I had gotten involved in a small church.

Never had I felt closer to God.

But before the summer ended, my dad needed me to venture out on one more business trip. This time, I accompanied another employee in his mid-20s.

We wrapped up our assignment early and decided to spend the evening at the Worlds of Fun amusement park in Kansas City. Unfortunately, we arrived 15 minutes too late. The amusement park was still open but they were no longer selling tickets. Despite our pleading, the park refused to sell us two more tickets.

That’s when my colleague hatched a plan to sneak into the park. Tom successfully transgressed the gates, but when I tried, a security guard caught me. That’s when the officer read me my rights.

Oh, and did I mention the t-shirt I was wearing?

Heaven of Hell, Turn or Burn!

The front boasted a picture of Yosemite Sam (from the Bugs Bunny movies) beside the words: HEAVEN OR HELL, TURN OR BURN. With my hands handcuffed behind my back, the ever-growing crowd of onlookers witnessed a new low in hypocrisy.

Long story short, I was never so humiliated and never so ashamed to be considered a follower of Christ. After agreeing to avoid the amusement park for the next 30 days, the security officers surprisingly released me…into the custody of my coworker who had enjoyed the amusement park at my expense.

Driving away, I promised myself that I wouldn’t tell my parents what happened for the next 10 years—and I didn’t. This defining experience devastated my walk with God.

Last week, I described the second deepest truth about you and me. Despite our best efforts and intentions, we’re all messed up. All of us are trapped in bodies and souls that cannot help but sin. Theologians call this “total depravity.”

Fortunately, this isn’t necessarily the deepest truth about us. In other words, our sins need not define us. If you’ve given the controls of your life to Jesus, then a deeper truth remains.

The apostle Paul wrote,

“To [the saints] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. ” (Colossians 1:27 italics added).

What is the mystery that Paul is extolling? Christ lives in you! The deepest part of you isn’t you, it isn’t your sin, it’s Jesus. Your value doesn’t come from your gifts, abilities, not even your sin. Your value comes from being created by God and having Christ live in you.

Elsewhere, Paul explains:

“But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. ” (Romans 8:10–11).

This is good news! Not only are you NOT defined by your sin, but you aren’t limited by it, either. That’s why we can say, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). We always have hope for overcoming our addictions, ailments, and emotional distresses—always—if Christ lives in us.

Thirty years after my transgression, I’m still learning what it means to allow Jesus to define me. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life discovering what it means.

But for today, I have hope.

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