Have you ever done something really big in your life, like setting a huge goal and achieving it, or training for a marathon and completing it, or practicing over and over for a recital and nailing it?
I have and if you’re anything like me; once you’ve completed the task or goal you’ve set out to do, the natural question is, “What’s Next?”
My family set out to Colorado to plant a church. We prayed, planned, raised money, saved money, went to training conferences, and everything else you can imagine it takes to set up a new entity. For over a year, it’s all we talked about, it’s all we lived for. It was our marathon that we were gearing up to run.
That “marathon” has come to an end for us. We’ve crossed our finish line. In a previous blog, you’ve heard how we transitioned KeyStone Church over to some great people. They are going to care for and take it further than we could. However, I’m asking, “What’s Next?”
This question excites and motivates me. I’ve always been like this. I’m inspired by the future, or at very minimum to dream of what the future would be. Futuristic is high on my Strength Finders. I can usually not only see how the future could look for me, but also for others.
Cycling Helps Me Think, I Think…
Last weekend, I wanted to try a new cycling trail, one that would lead me from Denver to Golden and back. This ride had a very specific purpose. I was going to ask God what was next, and I was more than confident he was going to answer.
I set off on a brisk morning as the sun was starting to climb, causing the Colorado sky to illuminate in purest blue, and warming the autumn chill in the air to a pleasant 70 degrees. I started the ride in an unfamiliar neighborhood with eclectic bistros, art shops, and pubs dotted along the route. The trail was actually no trail at all. It was a dedicated bike lane that many locals ride from Denver to Golden. The route was undulating with hills and descents, something that every cyclist is familiar with in Colorado, but the pace I set was just hard enough to get the heart rate into the anaerobic state more that a few times.
As I rode into Golden, I had realized that I hadn’t received an answer from Dad about what was next for me and my family. So, I asked again, “Hey Dad, what’s next? What is the next adventure that you want us to accomplish?”
I thought, “OK, that’s cool. I’m never disappointed taking a ride anyway, so I might as well enjoy the ride back to Denver. I may even stop at one of the pubs and catch a few minutes of a football game!”
“Hey, Dad. Is that you?”
“Yup, nothing now. Live in the ‘nothing now.'”
“So, like, you don’t want me to do anything?”
“Yup. Nothing now.”
“You know how hard that is going to be for me, right?”
“Yeah. I know, I created you, remember? But I want you to learn this. This is going to round you out and make you a more mature person, husband, dad, and leader.”
“OK, so let me get this right, ‘nothing now’, that’s your message? That’s the answer?”
“This sounds a lot like liminal space. You know, that space in between? All that stuff Rohr talks about? How long do I have to wait? Am I supposed to simply live out my days as a manager at a non-profit and not dream anymore?”
“Just take what I said. Nothing now.”
“OK. Nothing now. I got it.”
There was something rather liberating about that answer. As I made my way back to Denver, I seemed to quicken the pace. I felt like it was all downhill, and even drafted a 20-something year old cyclist that could have dropped me at any moment.
I didn’t have to do anything, for now, and at least for a season! I haven’t known what that was like. As long as we have been in ministry, we have always worked two full time jobs, raised our family, had small groups in our homes, finished degrees, pastored churches, cared for family members, suffered extreme loss, and even lost loved ones and friends along the way.
Nothing now. It’s unfamiliar to me. I think I like the idea of it. As our family and I flesh out what the means, we are asking new questions. “What does nothing now look like?”
I think God needs us to take this journey. “Nothing now” doesn’t mean “Check out”. I believe it means, learn to “be” by not always “doing”.
The End of the Ride
As I cycled into the last few miles, I felt really good physically and kinda weird mentally. I found my way up the last climb, and navigated my way back to where I had parked. I decided to pass on the pub stop, and wanted to ruminate on the words for my hour and a half drive back to the Springs.
As I was packing up my bike and gear, I stopped and sat on the tail-gate of my SUV to listen to the conversations of the mid-morning riders that were congregating at a nearby pizza place. “There’s something cool about large group rides,” I thought. “Lots of camaraderie and stories to share. I like that.” A few more people showed up. They looked like young married couples, or people who were just starting out in life. I could barely hear their stories being shared over laughter and lager. Stories about their dogs, and parents, and careers, cycling, and the Broncos. Nothing too serious just building on years of relationships, and perhaps some that have just begun.
“I like this. This has been a good morning. OK, Dad, I’m in. I think I’m starting to understand that ‘nothing now’ doesn’t mean that I’m not doing anything. It means that I’m not thinking I should be doing anything, and not looking for anything I should be doing!”
“Keep it simple, Lon, don’t overthink everything.”
Have you been here? You’ve come to a season in life, and you’re just not sure what’s next? Maybe my journey will help yours. Maybe your in a “nothing now” season. The prior seasons may have identified us. Maybe this season is for us to identify with Dad, and simply “be”.