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Running with the Wind

March 18th, 2010 · No Comments

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I’m a Baby-Boomer and an American. For a lot of us that means we attack the world with effort. Need more cash? – work harder! Need more time? – work harder! Things aren’t going right? – work harder! Economy bad? – work harder! Economy good? that spells opportunity – work harder! It’s the Puritan work ethic, the American Dream and the secret to success all wrapped up into one universal tool – work harder!

Well … ‘work harder’ doesn’t always work. The ‘American Dream’ morphs into the ‘American chronic disease’ – exhaustion, burn-out, frustration, broken relationships and too much stuff. It doesn’t get any better when you’re working for something you consider ‘worthy’; usually it gets worse. That’s because we allow ourselves to believe that working ourselves to death for a good cause is more honorable than working ourselves to death for money. In a world like this it’s easy to believe that our work equals our worth. “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”

God does have a job for you to do, but He’s a lot more interested in your obedience than He is in your effort. A new friend, Bob Regnerus, is discovering this in his own life. Bob’s fairly young and he’s been fairly successful … as far as working hard goes. But hard work isn’t necessarily what God wants from him right now. As Bob says, he’s trying to get used the “new normal.”

Bob and his partner, Matt Gillogly, founded Christian Business Daily. It’s a great resource for Christians in business and, I think, Christians in any walk of life. You can check out what Bob and Matt are up to by visiting http://www.christianbusinessdaily.com/. Here’s an excerpt from Bob’s great post, “Running With The Wind, or Against It?”

For me, I’m still stumbling my way through what my wife and I are calling our “new normal“.  12 months ago, things were changing, but they were certainly different than they were today – financially, spiritually, physically.  I had a growing business, growing staff, growing status, growing confidence, and unlimited opportunity.  On the surface, you could say I was doing pretty well.

Fast forward to the present, and our new normal is a struggling business, shrinking staff, shrinking status, shrinking confidence, and seemingly limited opportunity.  A little over 5 months ago, I was in the hospital, completely burnt out, suffering from physical and emotional manifestations of stress and anxiety.

Looking back, it was certainly a low point, but more of a turning point.  That started my road to caring more for myself. Physically, I started to exercise again, eat right, and get enough sleep.  Emotionally, I started to deal with issues of confidence, pride, and happiness.  Spiritually, I’ve been led away from a performance-based lifestyle – at home, at church, at work – basically all aspects of my life.  God has been slowly and painfully chiseling away a lot of rough edges, and I’m honestly telling you it’s longer than I want, and more painful at times than I care to admit.

I figured September 28 was the lowest day I’d have to experience, but I was in for more.  Many more very low days since then, and a very significant low day on January 28 of this year when I had to make the most dramatic and painful business decision of my life that dramatically affected many people that I dearly love.

Fortunately, Papa had a release for me, and that was a 5 day trip to Florida to visit my dad.  It was both the worst time and best time for a trip.  But I was sure that the trip was all part of a plan, and timed perfectly to take me out of the fire for a few days.

The trip was amazing in so many ways, both on a personal and spiritual level.  A few weeks ago I shared an experience here on the blog where God showed me a picture of what spending time with him looked like.  It was so cool. (If you didn’t read it, I invite you to – here’s the link).

There was also a very powerful experience I did not share with you yet, and I felt led to do that today.  It was an experience for me that struck at many levels, and like many powerful experiences, it hit me physically, spiritually, and personally.  It was an experience that spoke to me about my personal life, my relationships, my business, and my “walk with God”.

Let me set the scene. It was a crisp, 50 degree, sunny Florida Gulf day in early February.  Warm by my standards, freezing by local standards.  The “breeze” that day was stiff, and better characterized by terms like “wind” or “gusts”.  There was a constant breeze of at least 10 MPH, with frequent gusts into the 30 MPH range.  I’m on the beach stretching, ready for a run.  The surf is crashing the beach and the waves are topped with white caps.  The pelicans who are flying into the wind appear to be hovering, not getting anywhere until they turn and head the other direction.  Since I’m running the beach, I’ve got a choice to run “up the beach” or run “down the beach” to start, and then will have to reverse my direction on my way back.

Because I’m just starting to run again after MANY years, I choose the wise path to run “up the beach” against the wind to start, and then have the wind with me as I head home down the beach.

Starting out, I begin to understand what the pelican was going through.  As I attempted to run, I felt like that wind was not only sanding me up, but actually pushing me back and I wasn’t making much progress.  I might as well have been running up a steep hill because it didn’t take more than 500 yards for my legs and my lungs to burn like fire.  I slowed my pace from a jog to a fast walk, and decided to just face the winds at a walking pace for a couple miles.  It was just no use fighting the wind, it was going to wear me out too soon.

So I trucked up the beach with the wind at my face for a good 2 miles, if not more.  My mind wasn’t really too occupied at the moment.  I think I was even listening to a podcast of Darin Hufford or Wayne Jacobsen at the time.  But as I reached a point near the end of the beach, I sat down and just stared out into the ocean for 10 minutes.  (Hey, I was quite winded even though it was a walking pace!) I don’t recall the details of what I was thinking or doing, to be honest.

Once I got my own wind back, I set to start running back down the beach.  Boy, did I feel like Forrest Gump – “I was RUNNING!“.  My pace was swift, and my stride was solid.  I felt good.  But because I am still working my way back into shape, and because I already walked about 2 miles, I started to get fatigued and winded.  I had run about a 1/2 a mile at this point, and I figured that I might just walk a couple hundred yards and then start jogging again.  As I was about to stop, a gust of wind came up from behind me and felt like it picked me up off my feet.  As I was feeling light on my feet, I kept running.  About a 1/2 mile later, I was starting to get really tired again, I figured I deserved to slow down and catch my breath.

Again, a swift “breeze” hit my back and pushed me again – so I kept running.  Over that last mile, every couple hundred yards I’d think about stopping, yet each time would be swept up by the wind and carried further.  Sooner than I imagined, I had reached the condo, and I had run the whole 2+ miles back without stopping.  As I hunched over with my hands on my knees, watching the sweat bead off into the sand, I said to myself, “God, thank you for that wind.  It really pushed me.”

At that moment, as I was hunched over and enjoying the moment, a voice welled up from my heart and said, “Son, you’ve been running into the wind far too long. Wouldn’t you like to run with the wind at your back from now on?”

Whoa.

Boy did I know what Papa meant by that.  It was a flood of emotion, and I just stood there stunned.  In that moment, I was reminded of the struggles of the past 5 months, the disappointments, the unmet expectations over the years, the feelings of 1 step forward, 2 steps back – all of it.  Right then and there, I just said, “Yes, I’m really tired of running against the wind.  I want you to show me how to run with your wind at my back“.

It’s only been about a month, and I’m going to confess – I haven’t figured it out yet.  I find myself falling back into old habits, old mindsets, and old routines.  And I have to tell you it’s as if I was running smack into the wind.  Yet, there have been a few surprises personally in our family that could only have been God, and didn’t have a single thing to do with me.  It was all him – running with the wind at my back.

So as I reach the end of this post, I’d like to have a silver lining, a proverb, or a happy ending for you to tie it all together.  But I don’t.  I’m adjusting to a new routine within our family, opening up fresh revelations in regards to God, fighting constant struggles and trials with my business, and fighting with a loss of confidence and security I enjoyed for 39+ years.

Just yesterday, God spoke to me about my focus and my depth.  I’m just trying to sort that out, because that’s a painful word that’s going to involve a lot more change, I think.

Peter writes in his letter, “In this life, you will have troubles”.  Amen, H*** Yeah, and No Kidding.  He was writing from experience folks, and I (and probably you too) can testify to that.

So as I work out what “running with the wind at my back” looks like for me, I’d love to hear from you: What does it mean to you to have the wind at your back?  I want to hear your personal experiences and so would our readers.  What has that looked like in your life?  What about running against the wind? Ever done that?

Thanks Bob, we’re with you.

Until next week, keep the wind at your back,

Steve Spillman

Tags: Obedience · Site News · success

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