Raw Reflections from the Journey

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bears, Rattle Snakes and Mountain Lions

"There are a few things you need to be aware of", our host announced. "This is the Rockies where bears and mountain Lions make their home", he continued.

What had I gotten myself into? Several supporters of our ministry had contributed funds...for what; to send me to my death?

The setting for the first annual CMI (Coaching Mission International, www.coachingmission.com) retreat was surreal. Fifteen miles off the beaten path is "The Refuge", a remarkable facility built by a congregation of Christ followers organized as the ministry, "Christ in the Canyons". (follow us on twitter, 'marriagecoaches' or facebook to see some pics).

Day 2 of the retreat will not be forgotten..."Somebody help me, please...calm me down...I just about got bit by a rattlesnake!" Ginger, one of the intercessors for the ministry had gone in search of a spot where her cell phone would connect to her husband. In mid-conversation her peripheral vision noticed a bulging and slithering animal. A Rattlesnake was coiling to strike!! Somehow she backed away to a safe distance and then sprinted to the house. "Help me!" After hugging our dear sister to bring her blood pressure below the threshold for a stroke I ventured out to verify the serpent; armed with a dishtowel and wearing sandals I know I was formidable. Sure enough, there he was, a five-foot diamond-back with a rattle. Thankfully it slithered slowly away.

Life really is short, ya know? One moment you're chatting amicably with your spouse and the next fighting or running for your life (snake bites aren't always fatal). That incident and a couple of mountain bike rides along cliffs with ready made dens for bears and cougars shocked me into the reality that the length of my life is unpredictable and that I am vulnerable to forces that could accomplish my demise.

So what? What do poignant reflections mean?

As I sat with my planner and notebook after the snake incident it was easier to separate essential activities from optional ones. "If I die tomorrow, what do I need to have accomplished today?", I wondered. Thankfully, the answers came clear.

"Strategic investments of time and energy."

Since we literally have a finite number of hours to live, it is of paramount importance that we invest every hour into endeavors that matter.

What can I do to maximize my influence for good?

Is it normal to experience a bit of panic in one's mid-forties? Twenty years ago all of life was ahead of me, but twenty years from now I'm not guaranteed health or even life itself. It's time to do the things I was made to do!!

Today I invested my best energies in people. Two hundred and seventy minutes were spent on the phone. I coached two missions leaders, one wife that is reeling from her husband's mistrustful behaviors, a pastor who is supporting a separated couple in severe crisis and pain, and a man approaching marriage and middle-age without a clear plan for his professional and personal life. A day well-spent? I think so. Eternity will tell.

In the context of the reality that death comes unexpectedly, I want to invest every day in a way that might matter for others. If the Lord allows a serpent to usher me into eternity I want to have spent that day doing as much good for as many as possible.

Let me conclude by quoting John Wesley, "“Do all the good you can,By all the means you can,In all the ways you can,In all the places you can, At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,As long as ever you can.”

Filling the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run*,


*from the poem, IF, by Rudyard Kipling

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