Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mountain Top Meeting with God

I know there have been a lot of people who have documented meeting God. The authors of the bible wrote about burning bushes, clouds coming down, even Jesus walking about and conversations with Him. I too have written of the times I encountered Him, things He has done in my life and those around me and the stories they shared. I am moved to write about Him often and usually I am not for lack of words. However today I don’t quite know how to express or describe the four days in Colorado with John Eldredege’s Ransomed Heart Ministry (Wild at Heart) it’s leaders and God.

In my walk with the Lord over the last couple of years I have acquired a yearning to be closer to Him, walk closer to Him, live in a way that He would be proud of. I want the things I do and say to honor Him. I want to live as an example, leave a legacy that pleases Him. It was not long ago I would have yawned at those type of Spirit filled desires. Today I stand next to them and hunger for their meaning.

When I found there was a Boot Camp that taught on the lessons of the Wild at Heart message I wanted to go. My turn came on a cold wintery week in November outside Denver, Colorado. I arrived via shuttle bus from the airport. I won’t go into detail on the facility, the food or the free time activities, just let me say it was wonderful and comfortable, healthy and good.

The snow was light and fresh falling carefully as to not distract us as we made our way to the first gathering that Thursday night. A group of men, 300 or so, in close proximity to each other is usually not what I would choose for a relaxing time to look inside myself or become vulnerable. I can access my gut and express what I am feeling in small groups of men, but this was a bit over the top. That was the first time He showed up. The anxiety and self inflicted discomfort went away as I prayed with the men on stage and off. He freed me to learn and worship.

Each morning as the sun was coming up I tried to be one of the first ones out to explore the crisp morning air and slow deliberate life on the mountain. The snow was quiet when it came in the night and each morning everything that seemed dirty or out of place the day before was covered white and appeared soft, light, fresh, a part of the whole. I had a spot I would stand and watch the sun rise and ask for God to come over me, to be with me. I don’t know that I have ever done this except in pain or tragedy. We were encouraged to ask Him in and I did.

I prayed for a still moment in my thoughts. I wanted to be at this event fully, completely. Then He would come. I could physically feel Him there, inside me, next to me, over me. I wanted to cry and laugh and smile all at once. I had never felt Him so clearly before. I knew He was there. I wept.

I came from a background of self-will and self preservation. I am a pull yourself up by your boot straps kinda guy. I remember the night as a teenager I was alone walking down an interstate somewhere. It was cold, raining and I was tired and so very lonely. I remember looking out across a field and seeing a small farm house with a light on and wishing I could be a part of that family, in a warm place where I was loved. At that moment I let Him go, I turned off all emotion. I could not allow myself to be vulnerable or I would die.

During the time with the leaders of Ransomed Heart they shared with us how they accessed God in their lives. Their prayer lives seemed deliberate and unlimited. How could I have ignored that for so long. I was broken as I prayed for a true walk with God our Father. A loving, forgiving, caring Father, a personal relationship with a Father I had limited and kept at a distance.

In each session my heart soared and my thoughts of the ones I loved and cared for washed over me. I prayed for God to remove the barriers, I prayed for ego and self-will to be removed. I prayed to Him to teach me to pray, to help me retain the lessons, to incorporate them in my life. He came, He stood with me, He put His arms around me, He loved on me and I cried more.

There is so much today we have to deal with as participants in this world. It can be easy for me to get to a place in my walk with Christ on a snow covered mountain with other Godly men but a fight each morning at my own, safe, warm house. In my brokenness I have ignored prayer time with my wife, my kids and in so many situations. I never really believed He would speak to me so freely and openly. What I found on the mountain over those few days was He does and will come to me, us.

The Ransomed Heart team shared vulnerable moments, personal moments of strength and weakness. They shared times of glorious revelation and times of darkness and doubt. They shared how they prayed and asked God into their lives, for others, for direction in times of hardship and happiness. They prayed asking their Father to come to them, speak to them, be with them, guide them.

I know better now He is with me and I feel empowered and comforted in so many ways after the time on the mountain. I feel he has taken me to the old farm house across the pasture I saw that night so many years ago. I am loved, warm, He is with me.

I have a new revelation, a new vision, a new relationship with God today. I pray Lord keep me hungry for that time with you, that intimacy. Help me Lord honor the gifts I received and Lord use me as a warrior for You.

When I allow myself to think about the day I am facing my Lord, my Father God – I tear up. It is a selfish tear to myself, I only hope He tells me the words I long to hear – “Job well done my true and faithful son.” That is the day I long for, I can’t wait.

TJ GreaneyTJ@kidsoutdoorzone.com

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nail Salons and Hunting

Not every boy wants to go hunting or fishing, I met one once, for real. But my experience is that almost anytime I have asked a group of boys if any of them wanted to go fishing or hunting with me, they go crazy and all want in on the adventure.

When we got back from out of town not long ago we heard about a boy at our church who had lost his father. My wife and I went over to visit and take them dinner. During the visit I mentioned that we had an all boys hunting trip coming up and I would love for him to go with us. He was beside himself. His mom later told me it was the distraction he needed at that time.

The scheduled weekend came and we made our way to the ranch with six other boys in tow. The sun was setting as we began to unload and I prepared something for us all to eat. The hunt camp was basically dirt and a small shack the size of my daughter’s room. The floor was lined with the boys’ gear and sleeping bags.

While all the other boys were out collecting rocks and firewood the one who had lost his dad stayed behind. He laid back against the wooden wall and began to tell me about his dreams since his father died and how he was feeling. I never asked him; it seemed to just pour out. It was heart wrenching.

The last morning we hunted hard and never had the shot we were comfortable with. The sun was over us and we knew the other boys were packing and cleaning up. We slowly made our way back to camp and I took blame for the less than successful weekend hunt he had. Then it happened, a deer stepped out, a perfect shot, and it was done. It was his first deer and just before we got back to camp to leave.

That morning after we got back to camp he accepted Christ into his life and we baptized him in an old concrete horse trough. It is hard to deny God when He is standing next to you.

It was years ago now but there is another boy who lost his father to a tragic car accident. His mother and sister moved in next door with the grandparents and that is when we met. For years, he has tagged along with us on hunting and fishing trips. He is learning about life as a boy, responsibility, right, wrong and how a young man should behave.

One evening on a fishing trip we baptized him in the lake as the sun set behind us. It was powerful and all the men there wept in joy of how God works.

My beautiful teenage daughter has friends who are now interested in the outdoors, hunting and fishing. Some have dads, some don’t. The key attraction is the real life event of hunting or fishing. It is the adventure, the dirt and the challenges the quest provide. Yes, girls who love dirt one day and getting their nails done the next. How can that be?

The girls hunts we have done have been so powerful and exciting. I hate to tell the boys this, but the girls are better shots and can skin a hog or a deer with the best of you. Ouch.

Hunting and fishing may not be your thing. Not a problem. It’s about being thankful for the blessing we have no matter how much or how little. It can be as easy as taking the kid next door or one of your kids’ friends as part your next family outing. Include one more seat at the movies, at the restaurant, on the golf course or next to you in church.

Time spent with others is the key. A mentor can change a life, boy, girl, man or woman. Live yours a life of influence and purpose. Create a legacy, a tradition or a memory. Be intentional in the lives of those you come in contact with. Contribute to organizations doing good works. Be thankful and show thanks.

My good friend Jimmy always says, “you can’t out give God.” He is right and if you don’t believe it, try it.

For information on our ministry go to www.kidsoutdoorzone.com

TJ Greaney
Country Line Magazine
Kids Outdoor Zone