Sunday, August 21, 2011

Taking the Back Seat

         Very recently while I was away working at a Camp (Crossroads what what) my parents informed me of a purchase they had made.... a motorcycle. Now that I'm away at school, they decided things around the house were a little too quiet so they bought a roaring mid-life crisis solving death machine on two wheels. My mom had recently told me how therapeutic it was. Now being a 19 year old thrill seeker I looked at her like she was crazy. A motorcycle being therapeutic? Maybe an adrenaline rush or at the very least a sense of conquering fear, but never in my wildest macho dreams would I have thought of it therapeutic. Seeing my bewildered face she continued to explain. She said that when your on a bike it symbolizes unity as passenger and driver are facing and consequently conquering the same twists and turns in the road together. She also went on to say that there is something so special about just taking off and losing yourself in the back country roads with nothing around you but mountains and rolling pastures. Still not being convinced she gave me a look that said "I'm tired of explaining, just try it yourself." But in my hustle and bustle I forgot all about it.

         Then exactly a week ago as I was preparing to preach for a College Night of Worship service back in my home town, my Dad asked me if I wanted to take a ride. My mind raced back to the conversations with my mother and I decided to give it a try. As I slid onto the back seat I was at first a little cautious and skeptical. Once again being a 19 year old guy, I know the back seat is supposedly the "girl seat" of the bike. Knowing this my pride almost stopped me from missing this experience, however in my 19 year old logic I thought "Well no one could really recognize me through this helmet right?" So with that in mind I sat down and we took off. My Dad leaned back and told me to trust him and to lean with him in the turns. If you have ever ridden on a bike you know that is the opposite of your reflexes. As the bike starts to lean in on the curves you want to lean the opposite way to avoid becoming road rash. So for the first 30 minutes or so of the ride I fought my Dad's instruction because I obviously knew better. After those 30 minutes I found that I wasn't enjoying myself, because I was too busy worrying about what people thought of me or trying to stay alive by doing the opposite of my father's instructions.
         It was after these first 30 minutes that I realized my experience was drastically different from my mother's. I started questioning why. My father was driving down the same roads, through the same country and mountains, and from what I could tell going the same speed. Then my Dad's words rung through my head, "Trust Me. Those are big words, and they are words that are not easy to follow. To give up control of our lives and place it in the hands of another. Something inside me pushed me to heed his request. To let go, relax, and go with him trusting that my father would take care of me. So I started to lean with my father in the curves, I stopped worrying about everyone else and simply let him take the wheel. (Pardon the Pun) And something clicked and a whole new world came alive. Once my mind was taken off of resisting my dad, I saw the true beauty mountains, I saw pastures that made me want to be a cow, and the twists and turns that once caused my strife now were providing times of enjoyment.
         It was in this time of exhilaration that God once again floored me with a lesson. Probably because I was seeing Him all around me, but my mind traveled to Matthew 16:25 " For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Christ will surely find it." I had heard this verse preached tons of times in church but I think it truly clicked into my mind for the first time in that moment. When I had fought my Dad's advice and tried to do things my way I was miserable. However, when I finally decided to trust my Dad and gave control up to him I experienced thrills and a joyous afternoon I would have missed out on. Sitting on the backseat, I wondered how many experiences like this one I had missed out on by not giving control to my Heavenly Father. The idea of trusting or giving control to someone else is portrayed in a negative connotation but what we don't realize is that by trusting God we experience more freedom than we ever could by ourselves. By taking the back seat and trusting Him to lead us, we will go places and experience things that we never could on our own. By taking the back seat we can cast aside our worries and burdens and grab a hold of  the true unshakable joy that is Jesus Christ. So let's take a page from Carries Underwood's notebook and as cheesy as it may sounds let Jesus take the Wheel, and simply take the Back Seat.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Hey all, this is my first ever blog and I hope that as I continue to learn and tweak my style that you will continue to read. I'm not promising a literary or grammatical masterpiece but what I can promise is a message that I've poured my heart into.

                I want to tell you about a special friend of mine named Zach. He is a bubbly, energetic, and wildly humorous 16 year old. He also was born with the gift of Downs Syndrome. For those of you not familiar with the disease it is a genetic condition that impairs development both Physically and Mentally. However this disease is not what makes Zach special, his special quality is his contagious exuberant joy. Last night as my family and friends (Including Zach's family) gathered around on a porch, we participated in a tradition familiar to most people residing underneath the Mason Dixon Line: a Sing-A-Long. But as I played the guitar and sang my families favorite tunes; Zach ,as he has a knack for doing, instantly turned ordinary into extraordinary. He wasn't content to just idly listen to the strumming of strings or the singing of lyrics. No, Zach got up and started tapping his foot and swinging his hips to the music. When the music was fast he tapped and clapped and swung fast, when it was slow he would show off his slow songs skills, but the one thing that never wavered was Zach's wide toothy grin as he laughed and sung.
                 It was in this very moment that I was hit full fledged in the face. In the midst of Zach's dancing and carrying on was something so much bigger : Joy. True, unshakable, slap-happy joy! Something that is unfortunately so rare in the world today. We often look at people like Zach and feel sorry for him, assuming that they are missing out on something. But I wonder if in all of our "intelligence" if we aren't truly the ones that are missing out. We over-analyze and over-think things to the point where we forget why we are doing them in the first place. In our attempts to improve our lifes, I wonder if we haven't just created more obstacles to distract us from what really matters. If in our thinking and strategizing five year plans we have forgotten about the Foundations of life. Things like Joy in a kid on christmas morning, the Love shared between two star crossed kids on their honey moons, or God's ultimate gift Relationships, and the beauty of a sunrise.
              1 Thessalonians 5:16 says "Rejoice Always".  Is this command to simple for us to follow? Or have we gotten so caught up in ourselves that we forgot what it meant to truly have Joy. Let's take a lesson from my friend Zach. Let's take time to stomp our foot to a good tune, to smile so big that we're in danger of straining our cheek muscles, and to above all else unclutter our mind so we can experience one of Life's foundations: Joy