My college baseball coach had a saying that just unnerved me. You see we were not that great of a baseball program. Each year we would end up south of .500 in the win/loss column.....okay maybe south of .300. We had some talented players but our program did not have the money, facilities and the kind of weather to attract the best players. The other schools we competed against were able to go out and offer some full scholorships to get some top level pitchers and usually a few guys who could really spank the ball. We were basically outmanned talent wise against nearly every opponent we faced.
And since we didn't have the firepower to win consistently at that level our coach had a different kind of mantra. "Just enjoy the process, boys."
To the 18 year old me that seemed like a cop out. Enjoying the process to me meant accepting graciously that we are losers. We cannot accomplish what the goal of the game is, we can't win, so let's change the goal. Instead of winning lets just try and enjoy the process and have fun while we are getting our butt's kicked! My first two seasons in that program were very tough for me because I wanted to win and I didn't want to buy into what I percieved as "a losing mentality." I resisted it at every turn.
My third year in the program I finally started to understand what my coach meant by "Enjoy the process, boys" Honestly by that point I had probably heard him say it 1000 times but it never really sank in what he meant until my junior year. He meant that we needed to love the game enough, enjoy the game enough, to go through the process each day of working, practicing, trying to get better. And if we truly loved that process, truly enjoyed all that that entailed then we would be successful even if the scoreboard didn't show it. To love the game, give ourselves over to the game and put in the kind of effort every day to get better would be our only chance of finding success. And if he could teach us that lesson as young men it would be a concept that would follow us the rest of our lives.
I'm grateful now for the lessons Coach taught me. And I think there are some important truths in what he was teaching. There is not a scoreboard in life though the world would have us believe that there is. How differently would we 'play the game' if we could enjoy every detail of the process instead of being so focused on the result? What are we missing out on because we are not taking the time to be conciously aware that we are supposed to be enjoying the process?
The other day my daughter and I were discussing her upcoming hunting plans this fall. All she kept talking about was getting a big buck. She really hopes she gets some nice antlers for her wall this year. And using my best impersonation of my baseball coach I told her that she needed to "Just enjoy the process, girl".
I think that is some advice we could all remember as late summer and fall adventures are right on the horizon. We are lucky to be able to spend time hunting and fishing in this country. Out west where we live is some of the most beautiful country created! We get to spend time with family and friends out there. We get moments of solitude and stillness. We get fresh air. We get to feel the anticipation of cool brisk morning, the thrill of excitement that gives you goosebumps, gets your knees quivering, or send your heart pounding through your chest. We love this! We get to feel the sense of accomplishment of a job well done and quite often we get to face the agony of defeat. We get to spend time in creation with the Creator. Don't miss it because you are so focused on a result. Look for God, listen for his voice. Proceed with a posture of gratefulness that we get to do this! And, just enjoy the process.
I'm getting to it kind of late this year, but that is the kind of year I've had. The deadline is fast approaching to get our controlled hunt applications in here in Oregon. So the other night I sat down with the synopsis and began looking over the hunt options. When I started looking through all the possible adventures to be had it was like a switch was flipped in my soul.
Suddenly there was this deep and heavy longing for adventure that I havn't felt in years. I dug out my laptop and my cell phone and I was internet searching the Steens on one device and google earth scouting on the other...the whole time this thick and heavy desire for adventure is just heating up to a rolling boil in my heart. In that moment I was caught off guard by the sudden longing and I found myself agreeing with the lies. "You deserve this. You need this. This will fill you up again and make you whole. Your happiness depends on this." It felt true, because some of it is. I have been working hard. It has been a tough year, and I do feel like I need to get outdoors and spend some time there adventuring. But a casual adventure is not going to fill me up, make me whole, or replace my emptiness with happiness.
And so I caught myself. And then I prayed, "Jesus, what is this all about? Where is this deep longing coming from?" And the Holy Spirit confirmed to me what I already knew in my heart. I had let my tank run empty. A dangerous place to be because an empty tank seeks to be filled any way it can. And the couterfit fuel this time was adventure. Which by the way is a very sly and cunning scheme!
I am a former outdoorsaholic. Years ago, fishing and hunting and adventuring is all I could do and think about. I found validation out there and my tank was running on the adrenaline of adventure. It was part of my false self that led me away from my true strength and real contentment, and replaced it with an imposter that did not satisfy. Like empty calories. It tasted good but didn't fill me up. Then I felt like crap, so I kept eating more and more of it!
Do you see the cunningness of satan in this? He is taking something very good...adventuring outdoors in Gods creation...something we created a ministry around for heavens sake, and trying to twist it into a promise for life.
Holy Spirit, yes you are right. I confess my emptiness and my need to filled by you and by you alone! I reject all false fillers that come and promise life and wholeness and happiness. I need you. Please lead me into what I need today to be filled by you.
And then the wise counsel comes to me out of Ephesians 3.
For this reason I kneel before the father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (vs 14-19).
That is what I need right there. To be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Nothing else will satisfy. And so I find myself praying through Pauls prayer for the Ephesians.
-That God would strengthen me with the power through his Spirit in my inmost being...
-That Jesus would really fill and dwell in my heart...
-That I become more rooted and grounded in His love...
-That I would have the power to really comprehend the height, depth, length, width of His love...
-That I don't just know about it but experience it to the point that it surpasses knowledge...
-That my tank, my life, might be filled to all the fullness of God.
Thank God! There is a path to fullness. I lose my way on that path more often than I care to admit! But I'm thankful that the Holy Spirit is there to guide me back time and time again. -Scott