And So It Begins: Another Year, New Hopes & Fears

Written 1/16/22

It’s another late night as I tread this lonesome road…

…one dark in shadow and glistening in twilight

…a fair reminder of the fine line on which I walk.

In all honesty, I should be ecstatic: The year ends in ‘2’ again, my family is healthy, new ministerial endeavors are in discussion, and I work for a company with ‘Foundation‘ in its name. Not to mention my location has doubled its seasonal snow average in just one week.

But given how last year transpired, not even a blanket of white can hide my anxieties of late.

On one hand, I’m hopeful and relish the light at the end of the tunnel. Juby is now at Vanderbilt; remodeling on our house has begun, and we’re on the doorstep of starting Caeden, Evy, and Milo at a new school a mile down the street.

On the other, I’m hesitant to be so optimistic. I look in the mirror every morning and note the scars wondering when the internal bleeding will stop. Lord knows Lys and I will need counseling to account for retroactive trauma. How easy it is to wonder how long we must juggle above our means…and if we’ll ever be able to find ourselves after this stretch.

Still, I stand firm, thankful as I count the blessings along with the cost. Even with the bittersweet coating, my trust in God’s faithfulness to provide what we need and expand our capacity to handle more is intact. Regardless of narrative, of scene or setting…this season is on a timer.

It will end, the dust will settle, and the celebration, when all is said and done, will be unlike any I’ve ever experienced.

Until then, we wait, not waste, in eager expectancy awaiting fresh outpourings of patience and perseverance.

So, what next then?

Do I continue to hold onto hope…the end of my rope? For things to turn from current scope?

No question. After all, I’ve learned to be content not having all the answers.

If anything, I desire to know how to better contend in 2022 – to not only be still in God’s strength but present in every moment…always on call to call out.

God, I invite you into this calm. Even though it seems carved out, even though I’m completely overwhelmed, you’re welcome here. Extend these silenced waters so I may walk on them. And if and when I sink, remind me what ultimately matters. No matter what, you’re here with me. Depth be darned.

As for you, my friends, there’s a next step with your name on it. I may not know what it involves or how many are required; however, the more I think about where we’ve been and where we’re going in this decade of disorientation, the more I believe these seasons are on purpose for purpose. Although we pine for breakthrough, take heart amidst these temporary strains and consider them as what He ordains…

…for good, for better, and ultimately best; cherish the ride, embrace the rest.

For together, we’ll get there; from point A to elsewhere.

Until then, keep burning; love well; stay in prayer.

Selah.

Graphic creds: Wallpaper Flare

The Struggle is Zeal: A SOAP Study on Romans 12:18-19

Not long ago, I was on the phone with an obstinate client. 

A stubborn deer in the headlights, I made every attempt to lead him to clarity. Timelines, next steps, how to discern and provide relevant information…the works. 

Yet, after 20 minutes of verbal tennis, our conversation had locked even at deuce, the writing on the wall now clear: No call to action or motivational strategy was going to move this client

Partially defeated, I started to guide this call to a landing when I suddenly I heard the following: “Do you advise I do this?” 

A necessary inquiry in this case but one rarely sprung so late in the game. With match point in sight, I summoned my best response in the moment. The lead off?

As far as it be with you…

A few seconds later, I sensed a shift in momentum as if somehow this sentence had turned the tides. Finally, the silence was pierced. 

You’re right. While I had considered that, I just needed to hear it was possible.”

And before you knew it, we were on our way – 20 seconds of insane courage pressed against 20 minutes of desperation trying to get there. 

Fast-forward to today and I’m still processing this happy ending and the clause that made it happen. Given the Scriptural implications, I’d like to piggyback off this story to help us understand Romans 12:18-19 in a fresh light and how we can serve customers of all types with zeal (Romans 12:11, Titus 2:14)…as far as it be with us

Ready to jump in?

Let’s do it…

Scripture 1: “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.” ~ Romans 12:18 (MSG)

Scripture 2: “Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” ~ Romans 12:19 (MSG)

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” ~ Romans 12:19 (NIV)

Observation 1: Let’s be honest. While God created good in everyone, we seldom see it in full display during our initial interactions. Perhaps the occasional flash or two. But generally nothing more due to limited exposure, the hustle of business, and the lack of physical engagement. In a marketplace context, this is especially true when dealing with difficult customers and colleagues. With the number of walls and veils in existence today, discovering the beauty in everyone can seem like blind faith; however, when we filter this verse through a vocational lens, we can find joy in blessing all people under our breath, if not through direct encouragement. Even when we encounter antagonism, we can promote harmony as peacemakers in the opposite spirit. As Paul later says in v. 21, we champion goodness, generosity, and joy not by what happens to us externally but the light we carry internally. Accordingly, if your goal is to be reactive, then you cannot be proactive in seeing the silver linings in challenging people and situations.

My thought is: When we go into work each day, why not center our hearts and make up our minds to get along with everyone? After all, we don’t commit to these calls because they’re easy but because we have the ingredients to season our settings with hope. All the more reason to say, ‘Thank you, Jesus‘ during the dial-ins and commutes of life. 

Observation 2: In a fast-paced culture, timing and timeliness are everything. At least, that’s what culture wants us to think. And to be fair, in a client care context, this makes sense. Many times, the pathway to blessing a customer is to honor their time with a mixture of best practice and efficient decision-making. But what about when clients delay the help they crave through impatience, procrastination, even obduracy? What do we say, what do we do when colleagues or clients insist their way or the highway? Is there a holy solution to “good riddance”? Well, in a single word, yes. There is most certainly a way and Romans 12:19 hints at the answer:

Whenever we’re inflicted in a way worthy of judgment, we have an opportunity to let go and let God handle it.

Far too often in the heat of the moment, our offense disables compassion and grace; however, when we apply v.19, we make room not only for God’s wrath (i.e. His ministry of reconciliation and love manifest through justice) but for care to be centered on the person, not their grievance. Don’t waste time trying to make things right in your own strength; you’ll only burn out in frustration or overstep an unauthorized boundary. Instead, as far as it be with you, trust God to take care of the consequences as you passionately bear results through meekness. Put another way, don’t consume yourself with unassigned fire; rather pay it forward with humility and watch God win your adversary over. 

Bottom Line 1: As you follow Christ’s example and live a life controlled by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-21), inspire peace and mutual upbuilding (Romans 14:19). 

Bottom Line 2: As you trust God in trying situations, make room for His justice and reconciliation to prevail. 

Prayer: “Father, we come before you now. We thank you for creating in us hearts that desire good and godliness, for upwelling thirsts for righteousness in our workplaces; however, we also confess we’re not always consistent in acknowledging your beauty, let alone the beauty you’ve cultivated in others within the mundanities of life. For those who may be struggling with offense, desiring retaliation in self-gratifying ways, refresh their hearts to know your wrath is pure and able to permeate the darkest chaos. Help them be still, to know your presence as they leave room for your wonder working power. As for the rest of us, center our desire for influence, excellence, and resolution in a supernatural satisfaction that only comes from abiding in your sovereignty. Regardless of where we’re at, what circumstances we’re facing, help us exchange our lust for control for a trust that surrenders. In all we commit our hands and feet to, may the fruit of our effort be blessed for your glory’s sake. Amen.”

Cover graphic creds: Business 2 Community

Eyes on the Shore: The Secret to Surviving Life’s Riptides

Written 5/12/2017; revised 8/7/2020

Bible verse: Psalm 118-5-16 (MSG)

Pushed to the wall, I called to God; from the wide open spaces, he answered. God’s now at my side and I’m not afraid; who would dare lay a hand on me? God’s my strong champion; I flick off my enemies like flies. Far better to take refuge in God than trust in people; Far better to take refuge in God than trust in celebrities. Hemmed in by barbarians, in God’s name I rubbed their faces in the dirt; Hemmed in and with no way out, in God’s name I rubbed their faces in the dirt; Like swarming bees, like wild prairie fire, they hemmed me in; in God’s name I rubbed their faces in the dirt. I was right on the cliff-edge, ready to fall, when God grabbed and held me. God’s my strength, he’s also my song, and now he’s my salvation. Hear the shouts, hear the triumph songs in the camp of the saved? “The hand of God has turned the tide! The hand of God is raised in victory! The hand of God has turned the tide!”

Favorite sayings. We all have them.

Epic battlecries, movie references, whispered words of wisdom…there are many phrases we hold dear when chaos is near.

For instance, whenever I’m struggling and need a spark, one of my go-to sayings is “turn the tide”. I don’t know where it comes from, who said it first or its historical origin; all I know is I’m an avid fan of what it represents, the idea you can alter course and be the change you crave even when you feel you can’t stand.

Knowing this, perhaps it’s not too surprising this idiom would resurface during last night’s workout during which I felt the Lord tell me there are many people currently caught in riptides. Riptides of pride. Riptides of anxiety. Riptides of ungodly belief. Riptides of soul/spirit hurt. Riptides of shame. Riptides of discouragement.

You get the picture.

He then said, ‘Cameron, how do you get out of a riptide?

I answered, ‘You just wait it out, right?

That’s one way. What’s the other?

I paused.

Then it hit me: The best way to survive a riptide is to swim parallel to the shore.

So I pressed in some more: ‘Lord, what’s your point?

He then said my point is…

…I’ve given you a way out when the waves of strife seek to wipe out my waves of life. For my shore is the truth…my shore is the Word…my shore is my unchanging, constant will.

All you got to do is let my shore be your anchor and your horizon. My shore is always your perspective. Why not swim alongside it? No need to overreact. No need to panic. No need to about-face.  Just adjust to the shoreline, keep track of it, and eventually, you will swim out of the tide. For tides constantly come and go, but my shore will always be there.

Now, for some of you, this may sound like a glorified remix of another spiritual colloquialism – “If you’re walking through hell, don’t stop“. But to be fair, there’s more under the hood here. For in this word is a secondary reality – the fact there is not only a time for everything but also a tide for anything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).  While many understand the value of trusting God to supply needs and/or making a moment count, not nearly as many have a gameplan when undertows strike.

My advice? If life’s a beach, have a guide to survive before you arrive. For what we can’t control is eventual, but what we can is effectual as long as we commit our ways to God James 5:8/2 Corinthians 13:5-style.

You too, be patient; strengthen your hearts [keep them energized and firmly committed to God], because the coming of the Lord is near. Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers. Examine yourselves…and recognize this about yourselves [by an ongoing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you.

Selah.

As for today, if you feel weary, broken, unable to stand, remember while storms come and go, God’s heart is to strengthen your character so His love can be known. Even when you feel discouraged by undertows of stress and fear pulling you down, remember the way out is where He is, the way to the shore! As our ultimate direction, as one who is mighty to save and strong to deliver, He will never abandon or forsake us since His nature is constant. Accordingly, we can navigate the choppy waters of life knowing we have what we need to sail and swim to Jesus.

Whoever you are…you got this!

Surfs up,

~ Cameron

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Photo creds: https://adminologybay.com