The Great Provider

“Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise.” – Joshua 10:9 NLT

This verse from the Book of Joshua is one on which I lean when I am going through a tough time. It is a reminder the realization of God’s glory is a two-way street. God delivers on His faithfulness, but only after we’ve moved to where He wants us to be so His glory can be realized. Only after we’ve marched all night long.

I have been training since December in preparation for the Gasparilla 5K on February 20. It will be the first 5K I’ve run in well over a decade, and I hope it is the starting point of a new running routine in this stage of my life.

The workout runs have left me tired and sore. Even though I have not been running every day, I am tired every day. This morning I woke up suddenly at 4:00 AM. I could feel how tired my body was, and I literally cried at the knowledge my alarm would be going off in 90 minutes, because the last thing I wanted to do was get up and run.

I prayed that God give me rest. It was that whole, “C’mon, God, you help me and I’ll obey you” kinda prayer. That’s not how faith works, but that was my mindset at that moment.

5More

At 5:30, when my alarm went off, I felt – quite miraculously – amazing. I got up, got dressed, read my Bible plan for the day, and headed off to the gym.

Now, it’s been my experience that God speaks to me through the music to which I listen while running. Today was no exception. I was working hard to press through fatigue and the pain in my hips from carrying this extra weight around my midsection (i.e. beer gut). But there I was, on a treadmill facing East, watching the dawn give way to a beautiful sunrise. Just as the sun cleared the tree line, washing my face in His glorious light, the song The Shadow Proves The Sunshine by Switchfoot came on my playlist. No doubt it was God delivering His glory, rewarding me for my obedience, and giving me the strength to get through my run.

Sunrise

The burning in my thighs, the pain in my hips, the tightness in my tendons: all were reasons for me to end my workout early, something I’d done before on more than one occasion. But today, God gave me the push to keep going. To persevere. To march all night long.

When you feel you can’t go on, remember the shadow is proof of the sunshine, and God is always there wanting you to trust in Him, asking you to surrender that burden to Him. Lean in to the knowledge that He is faithful, and that we, too, must do our part to realize the joy He has in store for us.

XL Commitment

I still get a kick out of going into Starbucks and ordering coffee with their crazy names for sizes. Venti this and Grande that. I just recently found out they have a new, even bigger size called Trenta. It’s pretentious and awesome all at the same time.

So when I title this post ‘XL Commitment’, I wish I could say it had something to do with and extra-large sense of dedication. I guess in a way it does, but the real meaning behind the XL is not linguistic but, rather, numerical.

The number 40 is mentioned 146 times in the Bible, and it is of significant importance with regards to its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement. Having just turned 40 myself, I feel there is a spiritual symbolism that’s calling me to make a change.

I’ve written before about my vocation and how I feel I am called to be the best dad I can possibly be. I’ve even done so while patting myself on the back. Even though I still take pride in my kids and my parental abilities, I also feel there’s not a whole lot for me to celebrate about myself.

My high school English teacher loved to break down literature, and he’d challenge us to determine the tragic flaw of the main character. The idea that everyone has a tragic flaw fascinated me, and it has me thinking of what mine may be. Upon reflection and introspection, I believe my tragic flaw is complacency. It’s a laziness that has rationalized the comfort of ‘good enough’ as success.

What I’ve come to realize is that in surrendering to my complacency, I am failing God in terms of what He has destined for me. Much like the book by Steven Furtick I am currently studying through my growth group at church, I believe God wants greater things for my life. I heard once that good is the opposite of great, and as I keep embracing the safety of good enough, I won’t be able to achieve great things in my life.

So the real question is do I have what it takes to let go of good enough? This translates to do I have the discipline to allow myself to become greater? Can I be faithful in my destiny?

It’s no surprise then both the words discipline and disciple share the same Latin root, one that refers to instruction given, teaching, learning, and knowledge. The disciples followed Jesus to learn from his teachings and model their lives after His. Similarly, being disciplined, to me, means not so much having to sacrifice as it does learning ways to be better and more effective. In short, being disciplined leads to becoming greater.

I’ve struggled with a lot of behavioral traits that result in negative consequences in my relationship with my wife and kids. Particularly, managing my anger and frustration has been quite the challenge. I am sometimes left feeling like Dr. Bruce Banner in the Avengers, except I don’t have the luxury of being able to smash alien life forms that are attacking Earth.

So instead I’ll start with a simple premise: K.I.S.S. >> “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

And one way I know I can simplify my life is by unplugging from the medium that I feel helps contribute to my inner rage. So as Lent arrives and we begin another 40 day period of probation and atonement, I have decided to take a hiatus from Facebook. I know that most people may see this as a small sacrifice, but for this self-proclaimed social media junkie, stepping away from Facebook is an extra-large leap for me. It is something I do with painful trepidation, yet it’s something I know I must do in order to quiet my mind and better prepare myself to hear what God is asking me to do.

Steven Furtick’s first book, Sun Stand Still, calls for us to live with audacious faith. It is centered around the story of Joshua asking God to stop the sun from setting so he could complete his battle against the Amorites. It was an audacious prayer and God delivered Joshua’s request. The key, however, is not so much the audacious faith Joshua displayed at that moment in battle. Rather, it was the work Joshua did before hand, marching his troops all night long to be in position to fight. To borrow a quote from the book, “If you’re going to pray for God to make the sun stand still, you’d better be ready to march all night!”

Over the next forty days, I hope to be “marching all night long” in preparation for whatever God has in store for me. It’s my own little sabbatical, and I know that through it all, the experience will be great(er).

discipline