Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Overcoming the Rising Tide of Excuses (Outdoor Leadership)

Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” (Matthew 8:21)

The thermometer hovers just above freezing. Raindrops pitter patter endlessly on the roof and deck. The sun rises only to be hidden behind low clouds. It’s dreary. I observe the beach below the bluff once again submerged below the rising tide. The sun and moon align gravitationally to push and pull the waters of Puget Sound across the rocks and driftwood I want to play on with my family.

I know how to recognize dreary. My preferred outdoor adventure ranks sunshine superior to overcast and drizzling. I’ve had the blessing to live in Colorado where the average number of sunny days peaks over 300. I currently reside in the Valley of the Sun.

My most recent trip to the San Juan Islands north of Seattle causes me to consider, “How is one not burdened by a rising tide of excuses?” Rain drizzles, continually. Thick gray clouds loom heavy inviting the tide of … it’s too cold, I’ll be uncomfortable or I’ll go when the rain lets up.



I awake early to jog in the chilly, drizzling rain. I suit up as best I understand: wool beanie, fleece gloves, wind and water proof jacket with hoodie, tights, fleece top, and Thinsulate socks. I’m unsure if my running shoes will sufficiently repel moisture considering they’re covered with a breathable mesh.

Regardless I push past the misconceptions mounting in my mind. I overcome the resistance.

The night before, I carefully plan out my route through the countryside. My 4 year old suits up similarly to join me for the first quarter mile. She’s wired for adventure.

In the quiet of the morning, I’m immediately met with the sound of a trickling brook and enjoy the presence of a young doe. I observe the stillness of the water in the sound. I make note of a crevasse I had not seen among the thick blackberry bushes of summer. I stop to visit with a small herd of steers chewing hay. I marvel at the architecture of the old barns built in the late 1800’s.

This is not the first time I’ve come to appreciate the satisfaction of stepping beyond my inclination toward comfort, control and certainty. I regularly find myself having to impede my prejudices.


“Stepping out” awakens my consciousness. Unfamiliar stimulus through outdoor recreation triggers a deeper awareness of God’s nearness and his guidance in my life.

The habit of overcoming conflict in my mind develops as the strengthening of muscle. Dread must be torn so that a new resolve of courage grows in its stead ready to encounter the unknown and embrace the uncomfortable.

Outdoor adventure continually proves to be an intense practice field and proving ground for exercising faith in my spiritual life.

I wonder how often I allow the rising tide of excuses to put off the blessing of joining God in His work to bring back the stray, strengthen the weak, give sight to the blind, heal the sick, or release the captive. When called,

• Will I act like Jonah ignoring God’s directive to Nineveh (Jonah 1:3)?
• Will I find lame excuses not to attend the Great Banquet because I’m busy, self-satisfied and preoccupied (Luke 14:15-24)?
• Will I tell God as Moses did that I’m not eloquent of speech (Exodus 4:10-14)?
• Will I tell God I’m not mature enough to speak on His behalf (Jeremiah 1:4-10)?

I get that I’m practiced at risk taking. But, I don’t hold the “immunity idol.” I crave satisfaction from my efforts as much as the next person, a by-product of pride. However, God does not promise me or you success. He promises we will encounter Him. I’ve come to learn, what I truly crave, the greatest satisfaction I long for, is a fullness of His goodness in my life on earth as it will be in heaven.

Be it rain, sleet, snow, or hail...

Jesus said, “Follow me.” – Matthew 4:19

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