The Voice of Truth – My Source of Help

As I push mowed my lawn this weekend, I had a song stuck in my head. It’s called “The Voice of Truth” by a group called Casting Crowns. The first verse goes like this:

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

This song, in case you’re wondering, is referring back to the story of Jesus’ follower named Peter who was invited to step out of a boat in the middle of a sea and walk on water. Quite a feat of faith, if you ask me… even to simply get out of the boat! How many of us would even have the thought. I think the thing about Peter was that he quite often acted before he thought, and while that may also lead to rash, un-thought-out actions, in this case… the guy defied physics, at least for a few seconds.

I like how the song compares the voice of truth with all the other voices calling out to me. In the place I am in life right now, there seems to be more questions than answers. That in itself, I am coming to perceive, is one of those false voices. There are not more questions than there are answers. Some of the questions may not be relevant at all, some of the answers will come in time, and some of it… just isn’t for me to know. So, as the song goes, I must choose to listen and believe the one constant: The Voice of Truth.

As I woke up this morning I had a psalm on my head that I couldn’t placed, so of course, I googled it. It’s from Psalm 121:

 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
       where does my help come from?
 2 My help comes from the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.
 3 He will not let your foot slip—
       he who watches over you will not slumber;
 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
       will neither slumber nor sleep.

Those words are just chock full of the voice of truth, aren’t they? Getting your eyes off the one or two steps in front of you and looking up toward the mountains. Getting your focus off of the next few steps and seeing the bigger picture of the journey, and the destination. Reminding ourself where our help has come from in the past, and being reassured that it will continue to be that way into the future. Reminding myself who that help comes from: not a friend who’s “been there, done that,” a career coach, or a book… the Maker of Heaven and Earth! If God cares for me, and I believe wholeheartedly he does, I can trust that these words are true… tha the won’t let my foot slip on slippery cliffs, that He’s not going to take a break when I need him the most.

The Voice of Truth is telling me several things right now. Many don’t have anything to do with the next few months. The first one, and I love it… is that in 2 weeks, I am going to have a daughter. I am going to have new life in my family. Guaranteed. Bank on it. It’s also told me to take this past weekend off from the stress of things to come, from emails, from strategies, from considerations of the short term future. It’s told me to count on my friends, to be willing to share stuff they may not even “get,” not just because I want their advice, but because I need their companionship. It’s told me that I need not worry. It’s told me that tough decisions may truly be ahead, but that tough does not equal bad.

These are the things that the Voice of Truth is telling me, the things it is reassuring me with. It does not make fear go away, no, not in the least. In fact, it tells fear, “bring it on!” Because I know that when I am afraid, I can trust in my Father. And when I get in that habit of trusting Him, it begins to both couteract existing fears and prevent future ones from taking hold of me, even in the weak points of my life. So I choose to do that. I accept the fact that my life may change, or it may turn out much similar to what it is right now. I accept the fact that decisions made may also affect those around me, from family, to coworkers, to friends, to clients. That’s fine. Because I’m not the one determining my steps. I’m looking to the mountains, listening to the Creator, who cares enough for me to send His Son to die in my place. His care for me has been proven, and I have no doubt in it.

So to me, that’s what the voice of truth means. There’s a little followup to the story of Peter walking on the water that I theorize about a little bit. It’s from a little story told later on in the gospels, after Jesus has died on the cross and been raised from the grave. He comes to see his disciples who are out in a boat fishing again, Peter included. It goes like this:

 7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[b] 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. (John 21)

My theory is this. It may or may not be true. I think Peter may have got his second chance to walk on water here. As soon as he heard that Jesus was on the beach, he took off. He didn’t hesitate. He didn’t check the depth of the water. He hopped out and ran to his Lord, his Friend, his Savior. Whether he walked on water is not the question here, or the point. What I think the point is, is that he didn’t hesitate. His trust was finally there. He had seen Jesus “show up” for him by being raised from the dead, even after he himself gave up, abandoned Jesus, and even went so far to deny him while He was under trial.

The story of Peter is a great one of a growing faith and trust. He started out a man full of a haughty spirit and false bravery, which Jesus quickly proved empty. He ended up a pioneer of faith, trailblazing a Message that has spread around the world, and Changed. My. Life.

Irreversable Change. There’s no going back. Why would I want to?


Bigger is Not Always Better

Tonight I am leading a youth activity at my church called Bigger or Better. It’s a team-based game where you get into groups of 4-5 people, and head out into the surrounding neighborhoods in an attempt to trade your starting item for something bigger or better. This is one of my favorite games from my own youth days, and those in the group who have done it themselves have great stories to tell of it as well. The basic idea is you take what you have, go to a house, tell them what you’re doing, and see if they’ll make you a good trade. One guy made this pretty famous with his trades from a red paper clip to a house in 14 trades. I doubt we’ll come back with something that big tomorrow… but who knows. If I remember right, the last time we did it, one team came home with a working refrigerator and a drivable car. Not bad for a couple hours work.

Today I am also being made known of some big changes in my life. I’ve thought this day would come sometime, but it wasn’t until today that it became public and details started to come out. The biggest client of my business, Arelco Inc. (dba National Car Sales, National Car Rental, and other names) in Indianapolis, is being sold to it’s corporate parent, Enterprise Holdings (yes… National, Alamo, and Enterprise all roll up into the same corporation. Did you know that?). Huge news to all involved, including those of us who are “merely” vendors, if you want to get technical. My business, while small, burns through it’s share of cash in terms of payroll, insurance, hardware, and software. We are quite lean compared to most 3 person companies, I’m sure… but we still work hard for our living, that’s for sure. And as of today… over 60% of that money is up in the air. 75% – 80% if you count other business that could is related to this client.

As I mentioned, I’ve wondered when today would come. Actually, it’s probably been a long time coming, to be truthful. The owners of the company have spent most of their lives building this place, enduring good times and bad, and they’ve decided the time has come to let most of it go. I sat across the desk from one of the V.P.’s the other day hearing about it, and as I listened to some details, time tables, I was amazed. I wasn’t seeing dollar signs flying away. I wasn’t seeing hours disappear or question marks stamp themselves across every wall. And on the other hand, I wasn’t feeling some euphoric sense of peace that “passes all understanding.” This is reality. Change is a-coming… change is HERE.

What I did feel, was a tremendous sense of freedom. A weight being lifted off of my shoulders. A yoke that I have carried, in one shape or another, for 16 years.

I started working at Arelco / National when I was 16. I was hired as a summer intern working a few hours a week replacing broken network cards and modems (we seemed to be a magnet for lightning) and learning to program FoxPro. That progressed to regular high school employment. That progressed to a steady job through college, all the while developing passions for data-driven software development. When my boss started his own company, still primarily serving National, I went with him, eventually coming on full time. Eventually, in 2004, when he retired for health reasons, I was given the opportunity to start my own business and head out on my own, picking up a few other clients here and there along the way, as well as a lot of other work that came along with working for a franchise of a continent-wide corporation.

I felt like so much had been handed to me. And it had been. While I wouldn’t call it easy or posh, it was definately what we’d typically call a blessing. But was it… really? Was I special simply because I’d gone from $5.50 an hour to a lot more than that while still in college, and then having a company “dropped in my lap” when I was only 27 years old? In many ways… yes. God’s hand is all over it. But in other ways, as in many aspects of life, I took it for granted. I relied upon my own strength, my own driven-ness, and even the moments when things seemed to just drop into place… I don’t think I fully recognized how great I “had it.” (Queue Rodney Adkings, song, “I’ve Got it Good“)

But as I sat in that office a few days ago, realizing that something’s going to change, and possibly lots of somethings changing big-time, I realized that in many ways, I have bound myself to this reality. In some ways, that’s great. I have developed real relationship with real people who are doing real things with their lives. I support them, help them succeed, and help them survive. I have been mentored, counseled, and taught. And in reciprocation, I have committed much of “me.” And as the reality of this time has begun to sink in over the last year or so, I’ve realized that I didn’t know of a way out. That there really wasn’t one, at least not on the personal side. I was going to have to wait for God’s timing to release me from some of these personal commitments that I truly have been blessed with.

And now that time is here, or so it would seem. I may well continue working with many of these people, depending on where they and I go from here. I might also discover that God is doing more than simply making a drastic shift in where C2IT Consulting, Inc’s monthly hours and income come from. And instead of feeling burdened to force that change, to get it all under control, to come up with some big plan that will handle the unknowns… I feel a sense of release. Of complete. of finishing strong. And I relish that. I relish the peaceful nights’ sleep I have had this week. I love the conversations this has and will stir up between my wife and I. I anticipate the opportunities it’s going to give me to not only show that peace, but to live it out in front of others who may not have it or know where it comes from. I have learned over the last several years that fear of the unknown and uncertainty is not wrong. It’s not bad. It’s not a sign of weakness. Terror might be. Timidity might be. But not fear. I’ve learned that you can only be brave when you’ve experienced fear. You can only be truly courageous when you’ve thrown all your cards on the table and gone all in with God.

This week has been amazing. God has shown up in so many ways to remind me that he DOES have it under control. Those reminders haven’t come in terms of solutions to “problems,” but rather in memories, reassurances, and lives that I have become partnered with. He is, has been, and always will be Faithful and True. To use the words of a TobyMac song I’ve come to really like, “right here and now, I am all in.”

I feel I could write so much. I pray that this all “works out” in not just a manner that puts money in the bank and hours on the clock, but in a way that is a testimony to the steadfastness of my Creator. I not only want him to be pleased with and proud of me, but for it to be something that shows.

So after I walk into meetings and read documents about how things may be going away and changing this morning, I will go into my evening with a chance to share with the youth I’ve come to know and love of how trustworthy God really is. Not just when He’s got it all under control, but also when everything seems so out of control. When you don’t have a clue what’s next or how you’ll get from here to there, repair this relationship, or make it through this hard time.

I feel empty of words right now. I feel more will come. Answers will come, too. I’m curiously excited about what they are. And as I sit here and think about a verse that captures so much of this right now, I know exactly what it is:

In his heart a man plans his course,
       but the LORD determines his steps.
              Proverbs 16:9

Dear Mr. Gash

Dear Mr. Gash,

You don’t know me, but we’ve talked a time or two. I live down the road from you a bit. I wake most mornings to the site of your longhorns grazing just a few hundred yards from my home. They’ve become a regular part to the view I’ve come to enjoy of the country life Eminence offers. This life has brought back memories of a life I left far behind as a child raised in central Kansas, constantly going to my grandpas, walking through the fields, riding the tractors, and enjoying the wide open spaces.

Ok, enough of that. As you can probably tell I don’t know how to start this letter. So I’ll stop, because I can get longwinded getting to my point.

You have something I want. Well, I don’t know if it’s “me” that wants it. Not that long ago it wasn’t even on my radar screen, even when it was on it was on my wife’s, in a way. Did God put it on her heart and I just didn’t listen? Was it a preview of things to come? I don’t know. And that doesn’t matter now, because God’s put me where I am, right now, to do what He has for me to do, right now.

I want to buy (rent, lease, buy on contract… I don’t know) the building you have for sale at the corner of SR 42 and SR 142 in Eminence. That one that’s been for sale for the entire 9-10 years I’ve lived her. The one that’s had graphitti come and go, the grass grow and get cut, the windows broken and be covered up with boards.

This one:

 

Ok, so I’ve got that out. It took me months to even say that, and then to write it down. Do I really believe this is something for me? Do I really want to “give up” some much (all?) of the “convenience” of my current career for something much less for-sure, for something crazy, and perhaps even foolish?

So why in the world would I want to do this? That’s me asking myself as much as I’d expect to be asked by you. I don’t know how many other people you’ve had interest in on this piece of property, what kind of state it’s in, or what you hope to get from it. If God is in this, it won’t matter.

I want to provide our community, and in particular, our school, with a place. A place to meet. A place to socialize. A place to be yourself. I see men crammed around a table at the gas station most mornings, talking, laughing, and being themselves.

What do I want to do with this? I’m not entirely sure. Some of these are hopes and dreams, other of them are what I believe are must-haves for our community, even if they’re vague.

A PLACE FOR YOUTH

From what I’ve heard, we have one of the smallest schools in the state. To have K-12 in a single school is practically unheard of in this day of consolidation and downsizing. Perhaps it won’t be that way forever, but it is now. A school full of country-raised kids, and also full of city kids transplanted to the country for who knows what reason. And what do they have to do after school? Sports. Home. Work. There’s all sort of places they can head. But how many of those places are there for them? Sure, we can try to “keep them busy” or “keep them out of trouble,” but are we really building anything into their lives?

Jimmie Johnson Honors Dads – Part 2

GOOOOO Jimmie!

Yesterday I wrote about my dad’s name being on Jimmie Johnson’s race car at the Prelude to the Dream charity race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Jimmie led all 30 laps, including the one that won him the race.

Several Children’s Hospitals were the beneficiaries of the race, which I think is cool, with the whole honoring dad’s thing:

Jimmie didn’t have / take time to practice before the race, hadn’t been on dirt in a while, and wound up with a bruised and battered car, but he finished strong. Isn’t that a lot like fatherhood? You don’t get a practice run at being a dad, you hit experiences you have no idea how to handle, and you’re going to get hurt by, and probably hurt, those you love the most. But in the end, you accomplish something great.

Good job Jimmie. Good job dads. You’ve made at least 480 of your sons and daughters proud.

Below are some pictures from the race. You can’t read the names on the car, but they are there.

Jimmie Johnson Honors Dads

It’s been 4+ years since I’ve seen my dad, other than pictures on Facebook. During that time God has taught me much about how He wants to father me, and it’s caused me to grow up quite a bit, I must admit… both as a son, and as a man, father, and husband.

I saw this thing where Jimmie Johnson and Lowes Racing were going to honor dads on the car they run at Tonight’s “Prelude to the Dream” dirt track race. My first thought when I saw it was, “wow, I wish I wanted to do something like that.” But the more I thought about it, I saw that I still could. So I did. And while I’m not going to pay the $20-some bucks to watch the race, I did at least grab some pics from the site’s page. I grabbed a few screen shots and have them below, as well as this PDF version.

Here’s the text from Lowe’s site about the list of fathers that made it to the car’s paint job:

Watch for Jimmie and our specially designed dirt late model car at the Prelude to the Dream event from Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio on Wednesday, June 9.

In honor of dads everywhere leading up to Father’s Day, Jimmie Johnson and Lowe’s gave our fans on Facebook and Twitter the opportunity to show 480 fathers how much they are appreciated.  The announcement of the special dads car was made on the Lowe’s Facebook page, and fans had the opportunity to email their Dad’s name to Lowe’s.  The first 480 verified names were selected and are featured on the car. The live, commercial-free broadcast of the Prelude to a Dream event will begin at 7 p.m. EDT (4 p.m. PDT) with an immediate replay. 

I wish / hope they provide a high res image of the actual car; I think that would be a lot better than this graphic. I’m sure that would have to wait until it’s revealed at the race tonight, so we’ll see. Anyways… Thanks for being my dad, dad… I have no regrets. If a dad’s greatest accomplishment is to introduce their sons to their True Father, you have done well. Thanks.