When the Ground Shifts

My Dad passed away earlier this year. He battled Parkinson’s Disease for a decade. During that time, every few months, something would happen to Dad. He would fall, get new medicine, stop driving, or something. My family and I learned to call those moments “ground shifting moments.”

Early on, we used to think that Dad, and the rest of us, could think or work our way back to where Dad was before that doctor visit, change in body chemistry or other ground shifting moment. Over time, however, we learned it did not work that way. Sometimes the ground just shifts, and we need to regain our footing.

For us, in a good way, this change in mindset began to result in a change in our collective behavior. After a while, when the ground would shift, we learned to make our own shift in response. Instead of fighting the bad news or engaging in some sort of avoidance through rationalization, we realized that leaning into those moments allowed us to move forward in a healthy way. Instead of “no,” we learned to seek out the “best yes.” We did not like it all the time. But that mindset and urgency made a big difference — for all of us.

How are you processing this idea of a ground shifting moment? Does it make sense? Have you ever had a ground shifting moment? If so, what happened? Did you fight it? Did you run away? Did that moment change you?

One of the reasons I ask is because I feel like I am in one of those ground shifting moments right now, and I hope to respond in a healthy way.

Dad’s last trip to Fort Myers — at a Spring Training Game with Mom, Pam and me.

This is the first ground shifting moment I have had since my Dad died. And I think it is important for me to say it that way. “I am having a ground shifting moment.” Not Dad. Not Dad’s Team. Not Us.

This is new. It is healthy, and it is why, for the last few months, I have prayed, talked and thought about how best I should embrace this new season. Over time, a few basic conclusions have presented themselves.

The first conclusion that came to me is that it is pretty clear this is not like some of those larger ground shifting moments from my past. This is not a crisis. I am not thinking about moving, changing jobs or disrupting my life. I love my life. I serve an awesome God. My wife is amazing. My job is full of purpose. My family and friends bring me great joy.

Yet, at the same time, on the edges of my life, when I dig deep, I am beginning to realize that I am starting to take my foot off the gas pedal of life. I find myself seeking comfort and safety. Bit by bit, I living with less urgency, dreaming less, and serving less. It hurts to write that. But it is true.

In a weird and imprecise way, this moment reminds me of a quote from Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Prize winning Holocaust survivor, who once said “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

And frankly, the growing seeds of indifference I see in my life scares me.

You see, years ago, I was involved in a political scandal. After the storm of that season subsided, I remember challenging myself to love people and serve God with urgency…EVERY DAY. “Leave it all on the field,” I would tell myself if I ever felt lazy or indifferent.

Sadly, sometimes, those days can seem far away. I still tell God “wherever you want me to serve is where I will be,” but my heart doesn’t always have the same urgency. Sometimes it sounds like “wherever you want me to serve God is where I will be…as long as it has air conditioning.” Or it is with the right people. Or done the way I want it done. The whole thing is a slippery slope.

That is why this new season is so important!!

AND WHY IT STARTS RIGHT NOW!!

In the recovery program I help to lead, we continually remind our residents that “you are either going forward or going backward. Coasting is another word for going backwards.” After hearing that a few times in recent weeks, the second conclusion I have come to about this ground shifting season has also become very clear.

I am not alone.

My life is unique. But the challenges I face are not unique. We are in this together. Most of us want to live a life of purpose and have significance. At the same time, many of us still find it easier to spend unhealthy amounts of time watching television, going shopping, playing video games, or figuring out some other way to escape from the stresses of life — rather than urgently living up to our God-given potential.

Therefore, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed something that would help me immediately re-engage my passion, my purpose and the people in my life. I wanted something practical. Something spiritual. Something immediately accessible. And something others might want to do too. Something like the Barnabas Challenge!

THE BARNABAS CHALLENGE?

Yes, the Barnabas Challenge.

So, what exactly is the Barnabas Challenge?

Well, the truth is “The Barnabas Challenge” is kind of a made up thing. It is simply a challenge meant to help jump-start me and anyone else who is looking for some added urgency in this new season. If that is you, will you let me know you want to take part? It would be great to do “this” together.

So, again, what exactly is “this?”

In simple terms, the Barnabas challenge means intentionally living like Barnabas…which leads to the question who was Barnabas?

The story of Barnabas is found in the Bible, the inspired Word of God.

Barnabas

Barnabas was an early follower of Jesus. The specifics of his story are told in the Book of Acts. It is there that we first hear of Barnabas selling his land to help the poor. We are then told about Barnabas introducing Paul to the Apostles, and selflessly working to help develop both Paul and John Mark into two of the most important leaders of the early church, leaders who would ultimately write almost two-thirds of the New Testament.

Throughout his story, we hear about Barnabas living with urgency and living on mission. Sometimes he did that as a missionary traveling throughout the Roman Empire. Sometimes he did it as a church leader in a specific city. Wherever he was, Barnabas tended to exemplify three important attributes: One, he helped the hurting, the lost and the poor. Two, he focused on helping others more than himself. Three, he stayed active, healthy and on mission.

Therefore, for me, those are the three attributes of what will make up my own personal Barnabas Challenge. Helping the poor, focusing on others and staying healthy.

I am excited to embrace this challenge. It is exactly what I need in this ground shifting moment.

Also, if in any way, this whole challenge idea is moving you to take action, any action, please feel free to join along…or make up your own challenge. Seriously, PLEASE, if you are feeling like you need a boost this season, don’t miss this moment. DO SOMETHING!!

All that said…what exactly is my SOMETHING? That is a good question.

The heart of the Barnabas Challenge

After lots of thought and prayer, for me, the backbone of my Barnabas Challenge this season will be the upcoming “Heroes for the Homeless 5K Run/Walk” on November 19th. The run will raise much needed money for St. Matthew’s House, the ministry I am grateful to serve.

Therefore, STARTING TODAY, I will model Barnabas by doing the following three things EVERY DAY until the day of the race.

One, I will exercise and eat right every day. It has been six years since my last 5K. In that time, I have added 35 pounds. Two months of “no excuses” healthy living and activity will allow me to follow in the footsteps of Barnabas, who helped fulfill a great purpose by staying healthy and active.

Two, I will focus on others. Truthfully, part of my lethargic attitude recently stems from a growing sense of selfishness that I have gotten too comfortable feeling, a feeling that gets in the way of my walk with God. Therefore, during the 5K, I will be carrying a picture of a homeless friend of mine. This will remind me to take the focus off myself.

My friend’s name is Robert. He is a Vietnam Veteran. He is homeless, and he is a friend. Hopefully, by the time of the run, he will be well on his way to having a home of his own. Until then, I will regularly connect with him, assist him with his diabetes and pray together.

Robert and I hanging out

Three, I will help the poor and the hurting.

By taking part in this race, I will literally be helping to feed hungry people, house homeless people and heal broken people. It is that simple. Honestly, sometimes I get a little unsure about fundraising events, which is why I am so excited to embrace this particular race. By taking part, I will literally be helping to feed hungry people by funding our kitchens, house homeless people by funding our shelters and heal broken people by funding our life-changing programs. I love it!!

This weekend at church, our pastor read from the Book of Isaiah. Specifically, Isaiah 43:19, where it says “for I am about to do something new.” It was a cool moment. Deep in my heart, at that moment, I could tell that these two months are going to help change the trajectory of my life for the better. That brings me great joy. The lessons of my Father continue to resonate.

In order to fulfill that potential, however, I need your help.

First off, please help keep me accountable. If you see me or talk with me, ask me how my diet is going. Ask me about the race. I need the support.

If you want to take part in the race, or attend the race, well, that would also be awesome!! If you specifically want to run or walk, feel free to sign up by clicking on the Barnabas Challenge link below. Please know you are also welcome to join our Barnabas Team (The only requirement of our Barnabas Team is that each of us run/walk with the name/story of a specific homeless person in SWFL…I can get you a name if needed). You also can sign up for the Barnabas Team at the link below.

Additionally, there are other ways to take part. You can train with us, pray for us, donate to the event, or make up your own Barnabas Challenge. Whatever you, or any of us, decide to do, I look forward to experiencing this “ground shifting moment” together. Let’s embrace it!! I appreciate your time.

The link to the Barnabas challenge is below.

Barnabas Challenge