Exploring the Deep

Passionately pursuing life, faith and adventure…


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mental vacation

I don’t know about you but for me taking a trip and experiencing a change of scenery is always a breath of fresh air and an opportunity to reevaluate and think about my life. Not only do I (typically) come back rested and ready to tackle life and all its twists and turns, but I come back with a renewed vigor to do it well. It’s an opportunity to take what I’ve seen and apply it to my daily life.

Having just returned from a short vacation back to Fargo, I’ve been reflecting on how much my life has changed since I moved away from there seven years ago. It feels like I only graduated from college a couple of years ago, but the reality of how much the city — and my friends who still live there — have changed, is strong. The city has expanded into what was corn fields when I was in school. Friends have earned promotions, gotten married and had kids. Businesses have launched, struggled and failed (and succeeded).

I couldn’t help but realize that there is a crazy, divine path for my life that led me from Fargo to Greenwich to Issaquah. I don’t understand it and probably never will. And I certainly haven’t been able to recognize it during each moment, but the view in the rear view mirror is pretty amazing.

Driving around Fargo I gave into the rabbit trail thinking of what my life would have been like had I landed a job in my college town. What would it be like living there now? Would I be married? Have kids? Would I still be working at the same place, doing the same thing? Would I still have the same friends? Would I be bored? What would my relationship with God be like? I felt like God told me over and over again that none of it was even an option. Fargo was my college town and place to establish my adulthood, but it wasn’t a landing place.

Those six days were some of the best I’ve had in recent months to unplug and let my mind take a vacation, too. I found myself open to what God was wanting to teach me. Not only about the orchestrated plan for my life, but also about other people.

Reading an article in the local newspaper I was horrified over the treatment of male baby chickens (this is Fargo, remember) who are tossed out like garbage and killed because they don’t produce eggs and don’t grow fast enough to be raised for meat. As clear as anything else I’ve ever recognized as God’s voice, I knew God was teaching me that I need to be as horrified by the poor treatment of people as I am these chicks.

A few days later as I was driving through an older part of town and thinking about how rundown many of the buildings were, God again illustrated a message. To Him, we are just like these buildings — from the outside we are poorly maintained and dilapidated. We have dysfunctions in our families, problems to be resolved, debts to be paid, health to be restored. Yet despite the status of the building, a business still operates. And despite the state of our affairs, our lives still get lived. Both are still valuable and have the ability to be improved through sometimes difficult, painful and costly upgrades. Business owners can choose to make an investment and upgrade their building. And we can choose to make the investment and allow God to upgrade our lives.

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Perspective

Perspective. It’s always been intriguing to me how perspective is such an influence on life. From the simple illustration of being at the top of a mountain and having a view of everything below, to being in the depths of a cave where all that can be seen is what’s right in front of you. Perspective has the ability to either open you up or close you off to the world. Perspective has the ability to make you search or focus.

From the top of a mountain it’s difficult to not let your eye wander the expanse below you. You are free and untethered. It’s easy to feel like you can conquer the world. You look at the horizon line. You look at the contours of the Earth. You look at just how much of everything there is and how much you miss while you’re on “regular” ground. It is difficult to focus. It’s a spectacular and grounding experience.

In the cave, however, you have no choice but to focus on what’s in front of you. You are below the surface. There is no light aside from what you bring with you – a lantern, candle, flashlight. It’s difficult to see and your eyes don’t have much distance to wander. You look at the rocks directly in front of you. You look at the path’s ups and downs. You look at very few things, yet there comes a point that you begin to notice the tiny details that make up the little in front of you. It is easy to focus. It, too, is a spectacular and grounding experience.

Because so much more of life is lived on standard ground, I’ve always jumped at the chance to go above or below it. Airplane rides have always been a great reminder to me of how there are so many things in the world going on at the same time that there must be a higher power that orchestrates it all. My problems are not that big. My hangups are not so large that they affect everyone. My view is altered. My perspective changes.

Hiking in caves is also a great reminder of just how detailed the world is. Each little piece of rock is a part of the greater whole. Not one bit was created without understanding or meaning. The details are right in front of you – there is no escaping or running away from them. I am faced with my problems. I am forced to overcome my hangups and imperfections. My view is altered. My perspective changes.

I will gladly take both extremes because they afford me the opportunity to grow and evolve as a person. I am reminded at the mountain that I am just a speck in this world. God’s plan and role is much larger than mine. Who am I to worry about the little things in life when He’s orchestrating it all? And in the cave I’m reminded that it’s small things that make up the larger picture. It’s in the details where we see, learn and become a better version of ourselves. It’s where I’m faced with my faults and am given the opportunity to change.

We seem so small from the top of the mountain and so large in the cave. Perspective – it’s a choice of how we’ll accept it and what we’ll do with it. As for me, bring on the heights and depths.