Archives For June 2011

This morning I stepped outside and looked out at my back yard.  The coffee was just right and I decided to take a stroll around the yard.

I stepped into the grass and my foot became engulfed with dew.

Those steps became a reminder of my summers when I was young.  I was blessed to move at the age of 8 across town in Kansas City to a little nine-hole golf course.  It was there that I spent most of my summer mornings waking up early and hitting the dew soaked tee-box to begin a fun round of golf with my neighborhood friends.  We were blessed with one of the finest junior golf programs in the city and it was in those years that I fell in love with the game.

Occasionally none of my friends could play so I would join a group of retired gentlemen.  These men loved having a “youngster” join them to play.  They played a relaxed pace but still kept score and honored each stroke with patience and routine, while paying close attention to the rules.  They kept accurate score, called penalties on themselves, and would laugh and talk about all sorts of things in life.  Most importantly, they took the time to invest in me by teaching etiquette and that golf is a great game to play by yourself for a challenge.  With that, they taught me by example that relationships you can develop in a golf-foursome are invaluable.  Last, watching these gentlemen play showed me that the game was a sport that could be played until they day I die. Even at the age of 8, it was clear to me that this game would never go away.

I’m pretty sure I became a morning person because of the game of golf.  This is why I’m writing this now in the wee hours.  I don’t play much golf anymore since I have a young family and my mornings are spent clowning around with them.  My kids will soon be spending their summers at sports and other craft camps so it will be interesting what connects with them.   Their stories will be written in the next few years and I can’t wait to read them.

The circle of life continues…

Tell me your favorite summer sports story when you were young! What did you learn from it? 

Who hasn’t asked this question,“Will they remember me when I’m gone?”

The question haunts all of us.  I often feel like I am surrounded by people constantly bothered by that question so they are frightened and fighting incredibly hard for relevance.  I am one of them I must confess.  The question implies that we should have “worth” if we are to be remembered.  There is great truth to that feeling.

When watching the movie Troy (2004), the cheesiest line but perhaps the most important one is the war call from Achilles,

“Do you know what’s there, waiting beyond that beach? Immortality, take it, it’s yours!”

Achilles knows well that the battle he fights is not about that day but for ages to be told.  Odysseus in the movie goes further,

 “Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. And so we ask ourselves: will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we are gone, and wonder who we were, how bravely we fought, how fiercely we loved?”-Odysseus

*Disclaimer folks, these are great sensationalized Hollywood lines and not pulled from Homer’s The Odyssey. Be nice to me because we can still learn from them. 

My father recently took our family to go visit our grandfather’s tombstone at Jefferson Barracks outside of St. Louis.  It was Memorial Day so we were honoring his life and service for our country.  It is safe to say that hundreds of years from now that tombstone will continue to be there.  I’m sure my grandfather would be proud knowing that we continue to visit his grave to remember his sacrifice.  I imagine also that my other deceased relatives appreciate us remembering their lives.

There is a deeper part of this question we must examine.  It isn’t just being remembered on a tombstone, a memorial, or in a biography.

It hit me about 10 years ago when I was a Young Life leader and I was talking to one of my students who just accepted Christ.  He told me, “Chi Chi (my nickname), I just love that my name is now written in God’s book.”  I learned more from him about eternity than a thousand theologians.  This Psalm sums it up,

“your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

We may be haunted by the vastness of eternity but be confident that according to this above promise, we are written permanently into His book. 

After D-Day…

June 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

After D-Day, it wasn’t over.  It took the Allies over a month to finally break through inland.

General Dwight Eisenhower, then Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, wrote two letters to release the morning of June 7th.  Thank God he didn’t have to finish this letter and but send a report of initial victory.

Prior to the invasion, he gave this encouragement knowing well that this was just the beginning.

“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.”

You can read his full inspiring message here.

In life we have to keep pushing to the end.  The enemy is strong and with God’s help we will achieve victory.

After you secure the beachhead, keep moving forward.   You’re not alone.

 

I recently went to a local playground with my young girls.  I walked around casually following them as they explored the array of colorful pipes and swings.  When I saw my oldest daughter struggling and I offered to help, she shouted “I can do it all by myself.”  Meanwhile, she kept calling on me to help so I was oddly confused.  I’m definitely not God but I wonder often if this is how he feels when we do the same thing. Nevertheless, it got me thinking about how we as humans view the adventure and struggle of life.

I recently re-watched two amazing survival movies, 127 Hours (2010) and Into the Wild (2007).  I’ve always been curious by books and movies like these along with Call of the Wild, Alive, and Unbroken.  Perhaps my quest of manhood is revealed through their stories.  What amazed me most about these stories is that they are based on real events while not entirely dreamed up by Hollywood.

127 Hours features Aron Ralston a 20-something adventurist out west.  He became widely known in May 2003 when, while canyoneering in Utah, he was forced by an accident to amputate his right arm with a dull knife in order to free himself from a boulder.  James Franco did a terrific job playing Aron and the movie was anchored by director Danny Boyle with dream-like cinematography.  It is a difficult movie to watch due to the amputation scene but like many I’ve spoken to about it, it still captivates you.

Into the Wild features Chris McCandless played by Emile Hirsch, a recent college grad who packs up his car, leaves his family and heads west to the Alaskan wilderness with little food and equipment, hoping to live in solitude.  In only a few months he died of starvation.  While a disturbing movie, it is beautifully helmed by Sean Penn and the soundtrack by Eddie Vedder is inspiring.  I catch myself on weekends driving around town and opening up the windows to listen to Big Hard Sun.

The question after watching these two films is “Why” go on these adventures alone? 

Like these two characters, I love being out on my own whether it be hiking, traveling, or playing golf.  I haven’t been able to do that in a long time but I know the power it can have in restoring my soul, spending time with God, enjoying time to reflect.  I am reminded by a powerful line from John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, which stirs me.

“Men need to go on a safari of the heart to recover a life of freedom, passion, and adventure.”

It is good to go on that journey.

Here is the problem: Man is misguided by the world.  

The world says that he should be an island.  The world says…Go it alone.  Rely on yourself.  Don’t admit weakness.

In 127 Hours, Aron becomes stuck and recognizes that he must go to extreme measures to return to the people he loves.  He fights to get back to them.  In Into the Wild, Chris feels like regular society has left him so he must leave it.  People should not be part of this equation, only nature.  In the end of the story as he literally is lying on his deathbed, Chris reflects on the people he loved and who loved him. That is what mattered most in the end.

There is a reason that men ultimately love movies like The Fellowship of the Ring and Band of Brothers because the adventure is about being together.  It is the similar with women and movies they love focusing on deep and enduring friendships.

It is important to go on that “safari of the heart”.  

But that safari is meaningless without sharing the spirit of it with people and God that inspires it.