Do you realize how close you are?

As this long weekend is drawing to a close, I wanted to go back and read another chapter from the book I was reading while I was on vacation called “CHASE THE LION” by Mark Batterson which speaks to the fact and reality that “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small“.

Do you realize where you are at today? Do you realize how close you are to that moment in time? Do you realize what the impact of your response today will have on the rest of eternity? Not only for you but for the world around you. Ever heard that life is a game of inches? Ever done a search on the topic? Ever clicked on the search results and found answers and reasons like “Al Pacino’s locker room speech from the film Any Given Sunday.” be it the first link “Life Really is a Game of Inches by Lauren Taylor” or the second link “Life is a Game of Inches by Ed Weidman“, you will find that there is an impact to the speech. What will you do with what you have today? What will it take to learn the lessons? What will you have to lose to understand what you have? Will you live today to make sure you are moving forward? Will you live today to fight and move forward for an inch? When you stop moving forward you will find that you are losing ground because everyone else is moving forward. So are you going to live out your today and help your team win today?

They say hindsight is 2020 and I can see that in the challenges of this year I have moved forward. Be it through organizational changes. Be it through relational challenges. Be it through role changes. Be it through additions. Be it through subtraction. Be it through making time to get away with my family. Be it through isolation because of a pandemic. Be it through closeness of spending more time with the family. Be it through having to make a choice. Be it through learning the importance of humility. Be it through learning the importance of unity. Be it through learning the importance of letting go and starting to let God! Be it through the highest of highs. Be it through the lowest of lows. Be it through the bumpy ride right before the breakthrough. It is and has been a game of inches. Rather than giving up in the midst of the challenges, I have learned that I need to cast my cares and anxiety onto God! Rather than losing hope I find hope in the midst of the trials and troubles thanks to God. I reflect on why I kept going back to John 16:33 or James 1:2-4 and looking to Jesus as the hope that is within me. Even as the summer was drawing to a close the theme of the sermons and messages were of hope: Hope for Today and Living Hope. Each day we need to press in and press forward, never giving up. As I reflect and realize how 2020 so far has been a year to learn from and grow within. Just like how things get really bumpy before breaking the sound barrier, I am now looking forward and looking to make inch by inch progress in order to have the breakthrough that is coming my way.

Today’s chapter from CHASE THE LION is

Ever heard the story about how life is a game of inches from Ed Catmull who nearly lost his life at the age of 12? Ever heard how if he had of all that this world would have lost or missed out on because of that? Who is Ed Catmull you may ask? What would be the big deal? Ed Catmull is an American computer scientist who was co-founder of Pixar and president of Walt Disney Animation Studios. In my reading today it called out how those inches that kept the family car on the road and not off the edge of a cliff enabled us things like Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Toy Story 3. Those couple of inches on that windy road through Yellowstone National Park would have impacted even more people as the company, the employees, the families, and more. Those 2 inches went beyond just Ed and his family in the moment. Those 2 inches set his trajectory in life.

Do you realize the impact you have and are making in the lives of others? Do you realize the impact inches in your life have changed the future? Imagine getting to a point where you knew change was needing to happen. Imagine giving the decision into the hands of your parents and in-laws. Imagine the decision was for you to move far away, to another country even. Imagine doing research on where to live and then a randomly assigned real estate (whose parents happened to live 15 minutes away from where you were moving from) agent happens to show you a totally different area and community where you decide to move. Imagine you get an invitation to a Christmas production at a church you drive by regularly via a post card in the mail and decide to go. Imagine having an encounter with God that transforms the rest of your life. Imagine discovering years later that the person who happens to own that real estate company where that randomly assigned agent worked happens to go to the same church. Life is a game of inches. Life is a game where one little decision can have trickle down implications on so many lives. These couple of inches determine our trajectory forward.

The chapter continues with a story of Dee Duncan who had an encounter with a taxi driver who was obedient to the prompting of God to drive into an area of town he usually avoided and picked up Dee Duncan. We need to realize that God is in the business of strategically putting us at the right place at the right time. We may not know it and we may not see it but God is setting us up for what is yet to come. He is positioning us what He has prepared in advance for us to accomplish. It isn’t a coincidence when we live a Spirit led life, it is providence, it is a sovereign God who takes our plans and orders our steps. When we follow and obey Him, we can be comforted and to know that His rod and staff are there to correct and guide us. We can walk out our today with hope that God has prepared in advance the good works He has for us to accomplish. We can walk out our today with hope that God is working it all together for our good because we love Him, seek Him and His way, and are called according to His purposes. It may not all make sense or look right today but in the vastness of time it will be revealed. We need to change our focus from meeting the right people or person over to becoming the right person. Let’s choose to do the right thing each day in order to accomplish what God has prepared in advance and live it out trusting in Him. Even when we feel like we may have made an error, God is able to use it in His sovereignty for His purpose and His glory.

Imagine just living your life and having people come up to you and ask to chat because they see something different in you. Imagine just living your life and having someone approach you saying they see you are a religious person and they would like to be more like you. How will you respond when God uses your light to draw others closer to Him? How will you respond when people show up asking why you have such joy in the midst of the chaos? How will you response when people show up asking why you have hope in a world so filled with despair? Are you ready to give a reason for the hope that is within you? Are you ready to point people to Jesus? Do you realize that your trajectory, your tone, your attitude make a difference? Do you realize the impact that inch of difference is going to make? God’s timing is perfect! He is able to synchronize things!

Chapter 5 speaks to Eleazar being with David when they taunted the Philistines. Eleazar was in the right place at the right time with the right person. Eleazar was one of the 3 might men. We read in 2 Samuel 23:

9 Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

2 Samuel 23:9-10

That moment changed had a two inch event that transformed the trajectory of his life.

The chapter points to the reality is that life isn’t a script but is based on scripture. It points to how these things are science fiction but are fact. It points to how they aren’t accidents but divine appointment by God. So where are you at today? Who is sitting by you? Consider how they may change your trajectory or you may be positioned to change theirs.

Don’t allow struggles or challenges keep you from arriving. The chapter calls out in the next section how we need to need to go “just a little farther”. It may be that we need to let people know that knowing about Jesus or believing in Jesus is just the beginning and that we need to have a relationship with Jesus. The demons believe in Jesus and tremble. When He encountered them we see how they were fearful of Him. Check out the cross reference scriptures from James 2:19 and see. What if you are the one to let others know it isn’t too late for a second chance and to start over? Don’t stop because you are getting tired when God is telling you to keep going. Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up! You might be but a couple inches away from a breakthrough. You might be but a couple minutes away from being a part of a miracle of God. Will you be obedient to God’s prompting in order to be God’s hand extended? Will you be obedient to God’s prompting in order that you will get to see God show up and show off? Will you take that step of faith in order to see a leap for God in order to change the trajectory of your life or someone else’s for eternity with God?

Will you be a lion chaser? Will you resist the devil who is walking around like a roaring lion and chase after him wearing the full armor of God in order have the victory?

Are you being a good steward of what God has given you? Are you living out your life in a way that will allow you to hear God when you see Him face to face say “well done good and faithful servant” or that you have “loved the least of these“? Will you live with passion for the lost? Will you lead with love in your walk? Will you allow agape love to be flowing out of you? Are you ready to accomplish your dream? Do you realize it could be a dream inside of a dream?

The move away from my family and friends and comfort zone positioned me to be used by God. He took me from comfort and excuses to new and purpose. He transformed my life, my marriage, and my family. He took me from timidity to humility. He took me from roaming to purpose. I remember considering the possibilities of how things ended up had they been random and how the odds of winning the lottery were probably higher. Be it the job I took (applied for 3 jobs, got lost in a hallway, ran into a colleague, and got flown back a week later and took a 4th job). Be it the randomly assigned real estate agent whose parents lived 15 minutes away from my old home. Be the home we found that was right near the church God had selected for us to be a part of. Be it the favor we found with the bank, the insurance, the car dealership, … and so much more. All these years later what would the odds be of changing roles and companies and ending up working for the same person who hired me all those years back. Life is a lot more complicated than chess and chess has 400 different positions after each player makes one move apiece, 72,084 positions after two moves apiece, 9+ million positions after three moves apiece, 288+ billion different possible positions after four moves apiece. So with life being a game of inches, consider the possibilities and how by God’s divine providence and sovereignty things are able to happen.

So as we prepare for today and consider the great and mighty things God has planned and prepared for us to accomplish, let us take hold of His promise from Revelation 3:7 that says “What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.“. We don’t have to worry about the doors in life, which ones will be opened or closed. We can trust in God! Rather being anxious about things we aren’t supposed to be carrying anyways we can cast our anxiety and cares upon the Lord because He cares for us. Just because God closes the door doesn’t we mean we have to lose hope. Let’s take hold of the hope that comes from Jesus in and out of season. Let’s celebrate when doors open and when they close for we know God is on the move!

Ever considered the patterns of your life that changed your trajectory? Ever considered the dreams and visions God has put into your heart? Ever considered how God has positioned you for such a day and such a time as this? Ever considered how God has provided for you in order that you can be generous on all occasions? Ever considered what it was that changed your trajectory?

As I reflect on how God at a young age gave me a heart for the kids around the world. As I reflect on how that not only drives me to give generously today but it also has positioned me to go. I have been blessed to be able to go run camps for foster kids originally and now to be the director for foster teens. I reflect on how God positioned me to be able to speak hope to other kids who were diagnosed with diabetes as I had been years earlier. What do you see as you look into the mirror? Are you able to see those moments when your life’s trajectory changed or reflected just like light does through mirrors and prisms? Was it from reading? Was it from listening? Was it from watching? Were you listening for the still quiet voice? Will it take a loud booming one to get your attention?

Chapter 5 continues with an interesting ideas/concept: Instead of the corporate ladder focus on the learning curve. Let’s not try to make the dreams God give us about ourselves but rather about what He wants to do in and through it. Let’s look to be a blessing rather than trying to find out how we will be blessed in and through it. As I consider what is shared in this part of the chapter and how Nicole’s first verses to be memorized, I realize that God has called me to a similar path as we read from Genesis 12:1-2: “1The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”. Even as God was bringing me on this journey of faith and I got to have moments where I could be prayed over and receive and hear prophecies like:

Psalm 90:17
And let the beauty and delightfulness and favor of the Lord our God be upon us; confirm and establish the work of our hands–yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it.

Lamentations 3:22-23
It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.

Ezekiel 22:30-31
And I sought a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore have I poured out My indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their own way have I repaid [by bringing it] upon their own heads, says the Lord God.

Ezekiel 22 has stuck with me over the years. I have even had former coworkers share articles with me about the importance of connectors and how undervalued they are and how when they read it they thought of me. As I lived here and became a citizen, I realized how I was here to fill the gap, to stand in the gap and so I pray for this nation that a revival will happen so that the fire of God’s wrap won’t consume it. Trying to live out that script in the way I work and interact with others.

“If you don’t have a dream, keep learning while you are waiting. Get into God’s Word and God’s dream will get into you. (p. 50)”

Listen in order to understand what God’s plan and purpose for your life is.

Let’s never stop being lion chasers.

Above you will find my notes from Chapter 5 of the book. God is so good.

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