Believe in Your Dad, Not The Ground…

Believe in Dad, Not the Ground…

 

Last night at GRAVITY, we discussed Chapter 6 of The Ragamuffin Gospel. The idea at the center of the chapter was the notion that true trust in God is born out of a deep love for him.  Manning puts it this way:

“You will trust God only as much as you love Him. And you will love Him to the extent you have touched Him, rather that He has touched you.”

The notion here is that a God that is relegated in our experience to the realms of theory, religious ritual or our intellect is a God that we can admire, respect and even espouse to believe in.  But it is not a God that we can place a deep sense of faith in.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for…evidence of things unseen.  That assurance, that evidence, is the byproduct of an intimacy that convinces the heart of a great affection towards the object of our faith.  God in Jesus.  So the question becomes has to be asked; can we truly trust and love a God that we do not have intimacy with?

My 2 year old, Carter, understands this concept.   He has made it a habit to climb up onto any high thing when I am present.  It can be a coffee table, a chair, a table, a counter…it doesn’t make a difference to him, just so long as it is high enough to provide a launch point.  He will wait to catch my eye and then almost simultaneously, he will launch himself out…giggling, flailing about and dropping like a 40 lb. stone.

 

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Sometimes I am ready for him.  I catch him and we will laugh and wrestle and he will, invariably, say, “Daddy let’s do that again!”  Other times though, he will jump and I have to react and drop any and everything I am doing to catch him and stop a catastrophe in the making.  Not fun.   He, of course, is laughing and giggling all the same.  Ignorant of the danger his leap placed him in, ignorant of the laws that govern the universe stating that little boys that go up must come down.  He’s not thinking that the ground is not made out of the same substance as Mommy and Daddy’s bed.  At that moment only one truth matters to Carter:

He believes in his Daddy more than he believes in the ground.  

He knows without reflection or hesitation or measurement that I will catch him.  It’s a definitive for him.  This assurance came over time.  Carrying him for countless hours, playing with him and keeping him safe everyday, tossing him in the air and catching him securely (while Kelley’s heart skipped a beat) and moments where I assured him with my words and out-stretched hands that I would be there if he jumped.  Now, its a given. What used to be a hesitant fall forward with a whine is now a leap with a giggle.  What was falling is now flying.

I want to be like that with God.

I cannot describe the feeling of catching my son, knowing that he has utter, unshakable trust in me.  No matter what my hang-ups or imperfections or failures or character flaws are, Carter sees only the me that gives him the confidence to fly…everything else doesn’t matter.  I have a tiny glimpse into why faith received such an enthusiastic response from Jesus in the gospels.

I have been wrestling with trust over the past few months.  I look at so many areas of my life that are being suffocated under the chains of my self-sufficiency.  Areas where my own lack of confidence in myself bleeds into how I perceive God and his goodness and what I am called to do.  I have so many questions about today and tomorrow to answer.   I try to control my family, my finances, my relationships, the way others perceive me, my doubt and every possible outcome of each.  I try to control the ministry I have been entrusted with, trying to anticipate what will work…what real success is and how I can justify the church paying me to do what I’m doing.  I spend so much energy and heartache trying to control what is not mine to control anyways…

I want desperately to leap.

I want to stare at the horizon instead of the ground.  I want to fly.  I want to trust with absolute abandon that The God who saved me and is saving me in this very moment thinks that I am worth Jesus to Himself.  I want to go from wanting to willing.  To use the biblical narrative, I want not only to get out of the boat to walk to Jesus, I want to do a cannonball and get everyone else wet in the process.

Maybe you can relate…maybe not.  But know this, your Heavenly Father does not drop his children.  He is not caught off-guard when we leap or stumble or fall.  He is not prone to bouts of inattentiveness or distraction.  We do not have to catch his eye…we are already the “apple” of it.  We are precious to Him, in ways that we cannot even begin to comprehend.  And our faith in Him is the natural expression our of acceptance of that truth.

I know that God has a deep, incomprehensible love for me…for you…for all of us.  It’s a love that not only redeems and repairs and restores, it also receives with open arms as we leap and fall into flight.

Believe in your Dad…not the ground.

Please remind me to do the same.

RG

 

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3am and I Must Be Hyper…

Sometimes parenting is hard.  And by “hard”, I mean exhausting.  Carter has never been an efficient or consistent sleeper.  Usually this leads the much teeth-gnashing.  But last night, at 3am, it lead to some sweet moments with our little man.  I’m thankful.

RG

 

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Of Magic and Miracles…

This is an unbelievably moving video from the people at I AM SECOND.  Jim’s story is very close to that of my wife’s first husband Ed.

Magic is the stuff of man.  It’s an illusion that we are controlling the situation.  Miracles are the proof of God’s control.  Where are you placing your hope?

RG

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The Next Step…

I love my friend Pete. He and I served at Bay Area Community Church in Annapolis and I consider him one of the most loving , godly people I have ever known. Imagine Jesus with skin on…that’s Pete. When I first met my wife Kelley, Pete served as my chief counsel and confidant when navigating through the changes that were starting to take place in my life. God knew that I needed a friend that could listen to my heart and questions free of agenda and with a genuine desire to help me find God’s best. It was Pete who gave me some of the best advice I have ever received when it comes to the nature of change and how we should move forward into it.

After meeting Kelley for the first time, Pete and I took a trip to hike and camp in the Grand Canyon. I had always wanted to go there after reading “Through Painted Deserts” by Donald Miller and Pete was always up for an adventure, so off we went. As we were descending into the canyon, I started to talk to Pete about all of the questions and worries I had about moving forward with Kelley. Where would we live? How would I support a family? What about Bay Area Community Church? Was I ready to have a mini-van, a mortgage, two kids, a dog, a cat and a bride? I felt like I was starting to become buried under the weight of the road forward. I was excited about what could be, but at the same time, I was overwhelmed by not knowing exactly what would be. Pete listened completely. He’s not one to jump in as thoughts or suggestions enter into his mind. He let me vomit everything that was making my stomach upset and then he offered his thoughts.

Pete explained that I was starting a new journey. I had just unfolded a map and was trying to figure out every possible route to get to a destination that I felt was out there…somewhere. I was trying to see over every mountain, anticipate every road sign and decipher every fork in the road. He said that I was standing still trying to see everything that was to come, instead of doing what every journey requires…walking…one step at a time. All that was next was not important. How I handled each moment as it came was my opportunity to continue the journey well. Walking was the destination in and of itself and I could not arrive down the road if I was not intentional about arriving at the next step. One foot at a time. If I am mindful of walking with Jesus…taking time to care for those on the journey, acting and reacting with character and integrity, allowing myself to deal with my emotions honestly and stopping every now and then to appreciate the view…then, at some point, I will come to the realization that the road unanticipated ahead of me, will be paths travelled behind me. I will see that decisions and directions are more a matter of faith than facts…more a path, than a plan.

God wants us to be faithful with our steps. Those steps are important to Him because they are the only part of the journey that we are allowed to participate in. Little steps are the building blocks of great leaps. Faithfulness is not a matter of planning and executing a strategy for an anticipated result. It’s a decision to move when the plan is not certain and the result is unknown. As a matter of fact, walking by faith is the plan and surrendering the results, the currency of trust in God’s economy. This is the nature of God that is less mathematical equation as it is a canvas being painted. I was never good at math anyway, so I take comfort in this.

As some of you may know, Kelley and I and the kids are at a similar starting point. I have resigned my position as High School Pastor at Highland Park Church. We are not leaving for another church or another ministry opportunity. As a matter of fact, I can’t tell you where we are leaving for, because at this point, all we know is that it is another path…not a destination. There comes a moment in life where you realize that the journey you are on is taking a different direction and the map you are holding is no longer useful to navigate it. The map at that point isn’t useless, it is just meant to be read by someone else. That’s where we are and it is both exhilarating and terrifying. Life with Jesus always is.

We have questions. What will I do for an income? Will will be able to keep our house? Where will we go to church? What about our friendships? Will we find health insurance? Will I end up back in ministry? There are a lot of questions. As we start this new adventure, to this point, I can only offer one answer. We are to be faithful with the next step. And right now, that step is to say goodbye well to Highland Park, with love, affection and genuine hope for our family of faith there. God has already chosen the right person to read the map for the teens of HPN…I am confident in that.

As for the Gebauer family, we are together…we are confident and we are also a little sad to be sure in one sense and excited about the newness in another. Change is not always easy, but it is always a chance to embrace the mystery of God and his will. Embrace it, we will. Together…united and hopeful.

I want to personally thank those of you that have supported us over the years. Your words and encouragement have deposited strength and faith in our heart’s account that we draw from right now. Thank you for the investment…I hope that we can one day return the favor. I want to thank the leadership of HPN for believing in me and offering me a chance to do what I love for the last 3 1/2 years. I want to thank my students both present and former for being the church that I hoped to be used to inspire. I want to thank the families of HPN for listening to my words and encouraging me by confirming that God has something to say through me. And finally, I want to thank the amazing team of volunteers that are the true youth pastors to our students. You are treasure that I store in my heart and a gift from a God who never ceased to bless.

I met with a mentor this morning. My friend Sheldon said that each day is an opportunity to live a wonderful life. Our life and circumstances are never a path to be gotten through, but an opportunity to be gotten to. I promise that as we step forward, it is to life…not just through it. Thank you for walking with us…step by step.

-RG

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Working For a Living…

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Liars and Lie-Spotting…

Brilliant observations by Pamela Meyer on liars and lie-spotting.

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Carter Austan…

This is my son Carter.

He was born on February 12 and he makes me unspeakably happy.  I haven’t written on here since he was born…there is almost too much to say.  All I keep thinking is that if God feels about me the way I feel about Carter, I’m not even close to being able to understand Him.

More to come soon.

RG

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