Me…Naked…

Me…Naked… (originally posted October 2010)

I used to fight bad guys.  I spent my days following up on their mistakes until my investigation yielded enough evidence to convict them.  I had a daily purpose. One that gave me a significant sense of worth.

I’ll admit, sometimes the case load of petty bullcrap where Mr. WelltoDo (who contributed to the bosses last campaign) complained because some punk kids smashed his mailbox or rolled his yard with toilet paper often took me off task from those issues that were “important” and it irritated me immensely.  As did the politics involved in the job, sometimes crossing the ethical lines that I had drawn in the sand.  Or when someone in administration would screw up what I was working on for weeks because they couldn’t keep their nose or hands out of it long enough to let me do my job effectively… (Man, I could tell you some stories).

I never compromised my integrity but some of the things that I saw definitely jaded me and my perspective on the law and even right vs wrong.

Even with all of the imbalance, I still felt like I was making a difference.  Kind of like I was a light in an otherwise dark place. Many of the officers I worked with, expressed to me that they felt the same.  When I announced that I was going to have to retire, one of my close friends on the S.W.A.T. team came to me and said, “Man, I don’t know what I’m gonna do without you being here.  Who am I going to bounce things off of?”  At the time I was honored at his sentiment.  Today, I wish… Well, let’s just say, there’s a lot that I wish…

I go through seasons where sometimes I don’t think about it at all, and other times, it’s all I think about… Recently, I’ve been a little more on the “thinking about it” side of the fence.  I don’t get depressed about it anymore but I would be lying to say it doesn’t weigh on my emotions at all.  It’s not so much that I am mourning what was, but at times, more weighing what isn’t…YET!

As I was leaving the grocery store a few days ago, I watched an officer drive by.  As he did, he waved at me and my family and smiled.  My wife said, “Aaron, wasn’t that nice, that officer waved at us”… I smiled and looked down at the ground… I used to be him.  Sometimes I miss it…

Yesterday was a bitter-sweet day for me.  I was in proximity to a very successful and influential man.  He often shares the stage with the likes of Colin Powell and Rudy Giuliani…I had the privilege of taking care of the man for the day, listening to his wisdom and experience as he addressed business and success principles with others, and finally driving him to the airport at the end of his day.  I was challenged, I was inspired and…I was deflated.  There is nothing like being around successful people who are doing what you desire to do and being who you would love to be to really inspire you to reach for the bigger and better… and to also make you realize how far you are from being who you wished that you were…

God must’ve known my internal tug of war and how I was warring with the picture as a whole and sent a bit of a “perspective check” for me… I was standing off to the side, quietly observing the crowd, when a young lady walked up to me.  “Aaron, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate you.  When I tell people about our church or invite them to come, I tell them about you…”  She went on to thank me for the impact that I have had on her and her husbands lives, how I was there for them and inspired them when they were new to Nashville, new to anything church related, new to Christianity… This young ladies story is particularly special to me because, when I met her, she was fresh out of the Porn Industry…She and her husband were searching for something, and God lead them straight to a place where they would be loved and accepted just as they were, without judgment… She was expressing her gratitude yesterday while excitedly telling me how she is moving into a leadership position with one of our ministries at the church… I don’t know if I have ever had a more difficult time holding back tears than when she was talking to me… “and the student becomes the teacher”…

On the ride to the airport, casual small talk led to my most dreaded question.  “So, Aaron, what do you do for a living” asks the man who owns 9 businesses, travels the country teaching business seminars to the elite in the Fortune 500 arena, is overseeing the building of a 28 million dollar church facility, while also juggling the responsibilities of being a father, husband and Pastor… (I take a deep breath and let out a sigh as I try to think of the best way of putting it.  He didn’t ask me the simple question of “what do you do?”, I can navigate that one half way without feeling like a dreg, but he added the words “FOR A LIVING”… and dog-gone-it my integrity will not let me be anything but honest… and, technically, I’m not “making a living” at anything right now…)  I replied, I’m unemployed… It’s not so much that I concern what he or anyone else thinks (not so much) but when you are talking to someone you respect, words and perceptions do carry more weight than they casually would have otherwise with someone you just didn’t know and having to admit that to him only reaffirmed the feelings that I struggle with on my own…It’s just kind of like pouring salt into the wound when you have to tell it to someone that you respect. (I’m sure you can feel me on that one)

To be fair to myself, I am taking care of my son, and I don’t begrudge that AT ALL!  I cherish the time I have had with him and am thankful that I have not had to put him in a daycare program for the first 2 years of his life…but as a father and husband, I can’t say I even come close to feeling content with the current set of circumstances.  It’s not like I was irresponsible, or did something to deserve to be where I am… I didn’t punch the boss, I didn’t cuss out the judge, I didn’t overstep my authority…I got hurt on the job in a “right to work” state. My restrictions kept me from going back into that line of work and the laws in a right to work state protect the workplace from having to compensate me for my loss of income.  Did I get dealt a bad hand?  Yeah, I did… Does it merit talking about… No.  It is what it is… Complaining doesn’t change who God is or His ability to work on my behalf, and the story sounds more like a bag of bad excuses when you try to explain it… So the readers digest version it was… “I’m unemployed because of a medical retirement…”  It still bothered me to say it though…

I dropped my guest off at the airport and then headed home…

After being home for about 15 minutes, my wife, who reads me like a book says, “Is something on your mind”… (Everything that I’m feeling, weighing and thinking about, she’s heard before 100 times and I’m in a season where I’m trying to no longer allow what “isn’t” to influence what is…) I just respond, “Sometimes, when you get in the proximity to successful people, it gets you thinking”… It was the truth without voicing all of the internal turmoil…

As I sit back and weigh the circumstances I reflect back on a few things that I have recently studied and took to heart this past week…

I’ve come to understand that we value what we have to fight for.  With God, easy answers produce shallow convictions.  I read a quote by Pastor Mark Batterson in Washington DC that nailed this into my head… “The longer I live, the more I think that spiritual maturity is less about figuring out the future and more about moment by moment sensitivity to the Spirit of God”.  Being sensitive to the Spirit of God is NOT always easy or quick, or in time with “my wishes”…

Life is a series of uncertain and unpredictable experiences.  When we are neck deep in the middle of what feels like insurmountable circumstances is when God can show us who He really is.  We may feel the urge to just dunk ourselves under and take a deep breath of water to speed up the process or we can take on the perspective of so many “hero’s of faith” who put their circumstances in God’s hands and allowed Him to work it out when they couldn’t.

People like the 3 Hebrew children who were given the option to compromise their faith and bow to a Pagan God or stand their ground and declare to the king and all who were watching that God was able to deliver them, creating an environment for God to show Himself strong on their behalf.  Or a small shepherd boy named David who heard a giant mocking his God and convinced the king to allow him to fight the giant on behalf of the people of God.  It didn’t make any sense, but in those seasons that make no sense is when God can honor the faith of those who are willing to charge when everyone else is retreating…There are so many more: Moses, Gideon, Benaiah, Noah, Esther, Jonathan, Nehemiah, Peter, Paul and Silas…Men and women who were willing to believe God irregardless of the obstacles or the odds and saw miracles take place because they were willing to confront and press through seasons when most would simply throw in the towel…

In those seasons when we have done all that we know how to do and it appears that the only thing left is to trust God, realize this, “Our job is to believe, God’s job is to do the impossible…” (another Mark Batterson quote- yeah, I’ve been studying his stuff for about a month)

In the seasons of apparent hopelessness, when all of the gauges on my instrument panel look like they are going through the Bermuda Triangle, the one spiritual recalibrator (I think I just made that word up) that I have found is worship.  Worshiping God in the midst of my problems allows me, God and whatever opposition I may be facing know that I refuse to put my trust in what is temporary.  God is eternal and my circumstances ARE NOT!  When we raise our hands to God in the midst of the fire and tell Him that we trust Him and love Him anyways, we show the entire universe that our worship is not circumstantial!  That God is God to us regardless of what life may hold.

I have heard it said, God does not honor “need”, He honors “Faith”… That is a lesson in and of itself, but I believe that our FAITH (inside this physical realm where God has given US authority) is the catalyst and the very thing that allows God to move on our behalf.  I believe that worship in the midst of adversity is the ultimate expression of our faith in God.  It is the only thing I have found to bring peace to me in seasons where I felt completely out of control.  In essence, I was telling God, “I’m out of control, but I surrender to your control”.

Where worry and circumstances are the chains that bind you, worship is the key to freedom.  When our compass is broken, worship points us back true north is and gives us the bearings to continue toward the goal by placing in perspective that God is bigger than what we are facing and He will get us through…

We all have days when the compass feels broken… I believe what separates the good from the Great is their willingness to Worship God through their storm instead of wallowing in it…

Today, I worship God because He is God… If He NEVER did another thing for me, He is worthy of my praise because He purchased my freedom when the wages of my sin was eternal death YET His word still says that He takes notice of me and cares for what concerns me and His mercies are new EVERY morning.  He delights in my good pleasure, He laughs when I win, He cries when I hurt.

I place my focus on the one who loves me because I am His son… I thank Him for His faithfulness in the midst of the adversity.  I’m blessed because He will never leave me or forsake me…that doesn’t mean that life will never have challenges, but through the challenges I am advanced and will press on to victory because He is WITH me through it all… and the work that He has begun in me, He is faithful to complete!  He wants me to get where He created me to be more than I want to get there myself!  He is my Father…

Do you see the process here?  I’ve been asked, “Aaron, how do you do what you do emotionally?”  This is how I do it!

I’m intentionally allowing you to see how my vulnerability over the past week has been traversed.  I’m human with real human emotions, real human frustrations, real human difficulties…But WHY do I share all of this with you?

For one, I’ve found that transparency is the most effective form of ministry for me with people.  Secondly, I’ve been on the side of the fence where I look at the person in the lime light telling me how things “should be” but often neglecting to express to me the “process” for getting there or how it has applied to them.

We assume, because we haven’t heard of the “turmoil” in their lives that they simply haven’t had to navigate it.  We assume, because we only see the “end result” that the road to a place called “There” hasn’t been lined with similar potholes to the one that we are on.  We think that our struggle is unique… But it’s not.  EVERYONE has problems!

Many times our leaders shelter their vulnerabilities and struggles in order to keep you from being weighed down with a burden that you aren’t equipped to fix or carry…And rightfully so!  I agree that would be proper protocol in or during the season of difficulty, but on the other side of it, I am certain that airing their “humanness” and how they navigated the struggle is not only beneficial, but essential for others to hear so they themselves can learn and grow…

I think sometimes the “polished” leader image leaves people who are still scrubbing the tarnish off with the perception that they are somehow “Less than”… but it’s important to realize that the rain falls on the just and the unjust… We all are weathered from storms…We all have to navigate the rough seas… and we are all better sailors for having done it… Redemption is an all inclusive aspect of salvation…I actually believe that God wants to take our adversity and REDEEM it for His Glory… We can carry our own burdens and navigate our tempests OR we can worship God in the midst of it all, give it to Him and allow Him to lead us through…

Ultimately, the ball rests in our court.  Do we take it upon ourselves to try to make it on our own?  Or do we yield the control to the one who loves us and knows best what is needed for us to succeed?  The choice is yours…Choose wisely…

“Embrace relational uncertainty.  It’s called Romance.  Embrace spiritual uncertainty.  It’s called mystery.  Embrace occupational uncertainty.  It’s called destiny.  Embrace emotional uncertainty.  It’s called Joy.  Embrace intellectual uncertainty.  It’s called Revelation.” Mark Batterson- In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

3 Comments

  1. chet raymond

    Aaron thank you.
    Chet

    Reply
  2. Cyndi Benson

    Thank you Aaron for sharing your heart!!! Such a timely expression of a true Man of God, in a season where I believe there are many, many more ministry leaders facing the same adversities. Thank you for your transparancy, I know God is smiling down on HIS boy!!!

    Reply
    1. Aaron Davis

      Thanks for the props Cyndi!

      Reply

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