We seem to have found a new thing we love to do.

We went hiking.

I’m not the most “outdoorsy” guy. I like being outside, but I’ve never been one to spend a great deal of time beyond the paved road. But I learned something important. There are just some incredible sights you cannot see from the paved road.

Here’s an example. The picture here was taken from the gravel parking area where the hiking trail began.

It’s pretty and green, but there’s nothing spectacular… just the promise of finding something amazing along the trail.

We chose to follow the trail. It led to a long, vigorous climb full of mud-holes, slippery rocks, narrow paths, steep stretches, many switchbacks, a few tricky crawls… and so much wonder.

One trail led us about 3 miles up and down and around and along to this amazing waterfall.

Another led us up through a spruce/fir forest onto a couple of grassy balds with views like this.

Still another led us up and up and up for almost 4 miles to step out on a rocky outcropping to this.

And through it all, I heard this whisper in my spirit, “You can’t see this from the paved road.”

But something strange happened in the climb. The weight of the challenges of this life seemed to fade. The weariness in our hearts seemed to fade as the weariness in our legs grew. The heaviness of spirit that comes from the good work of walking alongside so many dear friends through their battles of various kinds seemed to melt away with the sweat and the strain of the climb.

And we saw in the wondrous beauty of Creation a glimmer of an abiding spiritual truth: There are wonders to be seen through the weary, agonizing, struggle of life that simply cannot be experienced when life is easy.

I believe it’s at the heart of what Paul wrote to the Philippians in expressing his greatest longing and desire in his life, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3.10-11)

Suffering is a part of this human existence. It is a universal reality in this beautiful, broken world. But Paul’s desire was to experience the transforming power of Jesus’ resurrection that brings life from death, joy amid suffering, and ultimately everlasting life on the other side of the grave.

In those experiences in knowing Jesus – knowing Him more intimately through our struggles and sorrows and sufferings as well as through the triumphs – we see dimensions of His great love and faithfulness that simply cannot be seen in the days of ease.

In this He gives us more of that which we most need – Himself. In this is grace indeed.

Father, I know that days of anguish and struggle will come. Let me see the wonders of who You are in those inevitable moments and I will know that the pain has not been wasted.

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Beautiful Mess

May 31, 2018

These flowers are growing in my flower bed. I planted them a few seasons ago because my Sweetie loves daisies. I do too now. They’re very resilient and remarkably hearty.

I planted daisies so my wife would see them day after day and know that I love her.

But there are other less intentional results of planting daisies.

I see them and remember why I planted them. I see them in the winter time when everything is brown and dormant and I pull the old dead stuff away. I see them begin to come back each spring with those dark green leaves peaking through the mulch. I see them spread out and fill out and produce those little buds. I see the first flowers and know that there are many more to come.

But sometimes I just see the grass that I can’t seem to get to grow 3 feet away on the other side of the sidewalk and yet somehow thrives in the midst of the daisies. Sometimes I see that annoying nutgrass stalk that, if I pull it out, will somehow multiply and spread even more. Sometimes I see the dead leaves that I didn’t manage to get cleaned out of the flower bed very effectively.

When I look at the various parts of my life, I am beginning to realize that I tend to see the weeds instead of the flowers. I see the messes I’ve made and completely overlook the beauty in the midst of the mess.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying we shouldn’t pull weeds or clean the flower beds. But I’ve walked this earth long enough to know that there will always be more mess. But the inevitable mess grows like weeds from the same rich soil that yields the flowers.

What I’m getting at is that the mess is just a part of this world. The wonder of it all is that so much beauty can grow in the middle of the mess.

I probably don’t have to try very hard to convince you that this world is full of brokenness—mess. But I also don’t have to try too hard to convince you that there is so very much beauty right in the middle of the brokenness.

Yesterday I conducted a funeral service for a very dear, sweet lady who was a very faithful follower of Jesus and tremendous prayer warrior. That loss hurts for many of us. But the joy of the memories we shared with her and even the sharing of those memories together was genuinely sweet.

Sorrow and joy are not mutually exclusive experiences. In fact, I believe most joys have a tinge of sorrow—someone we long to have share them that is not able to do so, something that we know would make it so much sweeter. And most sorrows have tinges of joy if we’re willing to see and acknowledge them—having been loved well, having experienced something precious to lose.

I think that our brother James so long ago was challenging us to train our eyes on the joys among the struggles when he wrote these words:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the steadfastness of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1.2-3)

Look for the joy amidst the sorrows, the flowers among the weeds, the beauty in the mess. It doesn’t take away the sorrow or the weeds or the mess. But it does produce a healthy dissatisfaction with what is and a deep longing for what is to come.

And I believe that, the more we long for what will be, the more we will strive to make the mess more beautiful here and now.

Look at the picture again. Don’t ignore the mess. But see the beauty.

That’s My Boy

May 19, 2018

The caboose.

That’s what I used to call my Danny boy, the youngest of the Peercy Posse. He was the one that would bring up the rear, the last car in the train.

Then he came home from his first day of kindergarten and announced that he didn’t want to be called the caboose any more.

He was always having to speak too loudly to try and be heard above the noise of the crowd of siblings. He has been bossed and occasionally bullied and sometimes left behind. But I have watched him learn to navigate the maze of people in our home as the one who would get along with anyone.

He has had some legendary one-liners – especially in his very young days when his vocabulary had outgrown his enunciation. When he flatly assured one of his brothers, “That’s hi-wa-wious. You’re hi-wa-wious” (hilarious), the car-load of people roared with laughter. When he felt his oldest brother’s words were contradictory to his actions, he informed me, “Dad, Mickey’s being a democrat.” (No political commentary intended, just confused the word democrat with hypocrite. Supply your own joke in whatever direction you want to take it.)

All along, despite his hindrance with Bell’s palsy and other frustrations, he has had this drive to be a part of something bigger than himself. He has grown up with a recognition of the need for community—the need to share life with others. He loves being on a team whether it’s a worship team or a soccer team or a leadership team or his biggest team, the band.

For his last end-of-year band banquet last night, he was asked to share some thoughts. He was honest and kind of emotional (which we know as transparency). He was clear-spoken and accurate. He owned old mistakes and celebrated grace (in his band director’s restraint from taking his life when he damaged a tuba at a marching contest while playing hackey sack). And he ended with one of his greatest strengths—pulling his peers together in their traditional “D-town” chant.

And the audience stood to their feet in appreciation of a kid showing his heart and sharing his passion and being real… and expressing what this whole band thing really is.

It was a proud moment for his old man. I was proud that he did without my coaching what I try to do all the time. Though he was so incredibly nervous, he put the fear behind for the greater purpose before him.

That’s my boy.

 

Sitting on the porch this morning reflecting on that sweet moment, I realize that this feeling of joy in my heart as I see that young man doing what he was made to do, what he was raised to do, I had a moment of recognition.

I have written much about the fact that God has taught me more about Himself through my kids than through any book I could read. And in this moment of reflecting on the pride and joy I felt over my son last night, I see this truth again so very clearly.

When we lean into that purpose for which we were created, it brings delight to the heart of our Creator.

To this end the Psalmist implored:

Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. (Psalm 69.34)

As I sat and watched my son do just part of what he was made to do, my heart was full, saying, “That’s my boy!”

And so our Father, when I do what I was made to do, is filled with joy. No doubt He too whispers, “That’s my boy.”