This is a post about freedom.
Not a belated July 4th celebration. A different kind of freedom.
We all have ways we define our lives. We claim things for our own. We fill in our incomplete sentences and pick identities from the moments of life God had placed in our past. Make your way around a party and talk to people. You’ll find the spoiled one, the beaten down and abused, the rich and privileged.
I remember playing on the golf team in high school. One of the guys was the son of a family that owned a pair of furniture stores in town. He wore the best clothes and had the most expensive golf clubs. His name was his identity.
There is a danger here.
The crucifixion scene in the Bible always fascinated me. The imagery was harsh and dramatic. I could picture the wind and rain-swept hillside, the trio of crosses with thunder crashing in the background. I could see the guards and the brave few supporters of Jesus gathering at his feet. The part that fascinated me was his words:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
There are volumes of debate and analysis on the meaning of this question. We understand that, in the moment, Jesus had taken on all sin to be the living sacrifice for our salvation. God, in perfection, could not assist. His Will be done.
The Son had to move on without the Father to complete his ultimate journey.
I believe we are all called out on the water. To realize our destiny, we throw off the chains of our past and step forward.
We are shaped by our past, defined by our future, and driven by our dreams.
Tonight I pray you know freedom from the things holding you back. I pray you find new life and look in the mirror and know you are okay. You are strong. You are able.
You will make it.
The term hero is thrown around way too much. We pin it to idols, to sports stars and celebrities. We value those who spend their careers on the stage and in the spotlight.
We think they are different from us.
It is a huge mistake.
I know two things are true.
First: you are called out. Jesus tells us to be the salt of the earth. We read that the lukewarm churches are spit out in the book of Revelations. Jesus said to follow him, to take up our cross and start walking. This means we leave things behind. We move away from the old stuff pulling us under the surface and start to soar.
Second: you will have your time. God puts moments in our lives. You’ll know when it happens, when you stand at a crossroads. All eyes will be on you waiting for a response. The stage can be large or small, a living room or a conference room. Your dreams and passions will see fruition. Yes we will all account for our lives when they are over but I’ll say this, you’ll get many chances at a preview.
When your child asks you what to do about a bully.
When your work wants you for a specific project that could make or break your career.
When you have a chance to stand up for someone suffering financially, personally, or spiritually.
Heroes make the most of every single breath. Embrace your calling, step out and don’t be afraid to fly.
This year, as a family, we decided to change our mindset. Inspired by a post I found on Reddit, we are taking every day to note down one thing that makes us happy that day. The notes are going to be stored in a box and, next year, we will open it up. Val, Carter, and I are each doing it so, in the end, we’ll have over 1000 cards of moments that made us happy.
Yesterday, my mother took Carter to her house to spend the night. Val told me he did his Happy card for the day before he left. She held it up to show me:
Val had picked up one for him from Wawa in the morning and that was his happy moment for the day.
As parents, believers, writers, creators, and dreamers we tend to get trapped in complications. We find our big ideas and, in our insecurities, can find trouble just as easily. The voice of doubt waits to strike the instant it gets a chance.
Want to know one of the most critical points in life? That minute after inspiration. That second you articulate your dream and the silence that follows.
I want to…write a book, change my career, join a life group, be a better spouse, find love…but…
at this point we need to fight the followup. Ignore the excuses. Quiet the noise.
Soak in the joy from giving your dream voice and permission. Allow yourself to dream. Visualize your success. What could life look like on the other end of the journey? On the way, don’t forget to enjoy the small things and have a donut every once in a while.
I love freelance writing. It has provided some side income and offered a chance to work with people around the world. I’ve participated in a few different side projects and genres. You get the chance to test your limits as a writer and see just how far you can go.
You also learn to say no.
As an entrepreneur, I’m still learning my limits, learning when the balance of work and compensation leans too far one direction. I’ve learned that my time is valuable and there are moments when you need to walk away, to pivot a different direction and keep moving.
We are raised to accommodate, to listen to every authority figure and follow our marching orders. We are told to submit to the status quot. Our fear keeps us from setting boundaries. If we say yes, everything will be okay. If we don’t make waves, we can go with the flow.
Then life happens.
Jobs are lost. Family members get sick. The car dies. Our kids get in trouble at school. Favor seems to pass for someone else. We read the Bible and are told, more than once:
What if God is calling us to something greater? What if we need to step out on the water? Peter had to and this man, first person contact with Jesus, caught sight of the waves and starting sinking. His fear pulled him down.
That dream, that passion that sets your heart on fire, is not just a passing moment. That desire you see staring at the ceiling at night, it is a hand reaching out from the divine, pulling you towards a future more than you could imagine.
This journey starts with saying no.
No to the old ways, the old life, the old body. You turn away from the chains of the past, from destructive people and relationships. Weigh everything and, if you find it lacking, have the courage to set it aside.
The apostles, after the Great Commission, went out into the world. They faced harsh opposition and every single one died for their faith. They set the world on fire. They stood up to the established world and changed it forever.
Do not fear. Do not lose hope. Don’t be afraid to say no.
It can be the start of something big.
Soundtrack Inspiration: Tenth Avenue North, a great band with powerful music. Check it out!
I’ve had a few jobs since college. I remember graduating and thinking that companies would somehow get this grand email announcement that I was available to work. I had no idea that you needed to chase the jobs. My first position was going door to door in the city of Philadelphia selling credit card processing machines.
I learned a lot from my time in the city, and it was enough to know I needed something with stability. I went from there to a bank and a lawn service company. I transitioned to a hospital through a family connection. I’ll never forget the day that I decided to start my own business and chase the writing life.
I believe we all have a calling, a purpose on this planet. We have dreams on our hearts and reasons to wake up in the morning. We must find the courage to chase the dreams.
I had a line I identified with past jobs: when it was worth more to spend time searching than working, I knew it was time for a transition. Every journey starts with one step, yes it is a cliché, but it is true. Choices are powerful things. Momentum can sweep you and those around you towards a common goal. Story creates movement and engagement. Stories are driven by dreams. It is one large cycle that keeps rotating until you finally decide to take the leap of faith and go for it.
I believe that God has his hands on our dreams and he will bless our progress, even through the dark times. So, if you are feeling the tug on your heart, have the courage to follow it through.