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There Will Be Trouble

Not too long ago, I took a quick weekend trip to one of my favorite spots on the planet with some of my favorite humans on the planet. We hiked and shopped and ate and generally just enjoyed creation and each other. We relaxed and talked late into the nights, celebrating all the good things going on in each of our lives. We took day trips into town and headed back into the mountains every night. Our cabin was pretty much off the grid with minimal distraction. It was completely life-giving. It was heaven on earth. It was the way I wish life could be all the days of our journey this side of eternity.

One of our day trips took us to a tattoo shop right in the heart of the city of Denver.

You do know, someone ends up getting a tattoo when we travel, right? This time I was one of them. Some people take a nap while getting a tattoo or stare at their phone to distract from the discomfort, but me, I get to know the artist. This particular artist was a man in his mid-thirties who smiled a lot, vaped a lot, and used colorful language…a lot. He rarely spoke unless I spoke to him first and he had air pods in, jamming to the rhythm of his own tunes, but he still indulged all my chatter and questions. I asked him where he was from and where he lived now.

I asked him how long he had been a tattoo artist and how he started in the first place.

He told me that he’d always been an artist and one day a friend presented him with a tattoo gun and kit as a gift and told him to go and be. He went on to say that he practiced and learned a bit but that he never really thought he could ever become a professional artist so he kind of just let it fall to the wayside until years later in a different setting another friend gave him another tattoo artist start up kit and told him to go and be. I was immediately inspired by how much his circle believed in him and supported him and encouraged him! It was a breath of fresh air.

I was breathing it all in when his story made a profound turn.

He took the second opportunity to begin tattooing his friends and then found a job under an established professional so he could learn and go through the proper process of becoming an tattoo artist himself. He got to the end of his story and told me that he was so happy he took the risk…he was so happy he got to be a tattoo artist. He told me he absolutely loved his work and that he wakes up every single morning on fire for the work he gets to do! C’mon now. I was so impressed by his heart posture and so happy for him all at the same time. Even though he did not share my same belief system I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Thank you, Jesus. You are so good. Thank you for this man’s life and his example as he is walks out this part of his journey”.

I continued to ponder his words long after our trip to Denver was over and I had returned to my day-to-day average life.

The truth is I have so many things to be grateful for: good health, talented kids, close friends, a home I love, the ability to travel, a pink vintage trailer to travel in (oh yeah, it happened, I’ll tell you all about it in the next post) and the list goes on and on. God is so good. And the truth is there are painful parts to my story and challenges on the daily: disappointment, misunderstandings, heartache, trauma, traffic…you know, all the usual messes. I know you understand because your life is likely similar…made up of highs and lows…good and bad…celebration and sorrow.

You may wonder, “If God is so good, how can this be?”

God is so good…even when the world isn’t. As I continue to reflect on the story of the artist in Colorado, I am reminded of this:

“And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world, you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!”

God is good AND the world isn’t always good.

Am I the only one who finds this to be frustrating and even downright confusing at times?

You see, as people who love and follow Jesus, our lives are to reflect His…His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. The entire thing. People tend to focus on the miracles and teachings of Jesus which is good and right and there is more to focus on and learn from. During His life, Jesus was falsely accused, persecuted, lied about, convicted, and murdered for treason by the very people He came to save. C’mon now! We often like to romanticize the life and death of Jesus. You know, when we think about it, we think how Jesus sacrificed for us, and He did BTW, but crucifixion was a normal…common even. There was nothing romantic or idealized about it. It was a common reality. People would have lined the streets nailed to crosses on the regular. Some of them criminals and some of them falsely accused.

This life will have trouble.

People will lie… falsely accuse…confirmation bias will take over…people will get sick…relationships will end…jobs will be lost…and on and on and on. Mostly at the hands of humans, many who claim to love Jesus. AND we can still wake up every morning on fire for the work we get to do. We can still be at peace. We can still access heaven here and now in the simplicity of God’s complex creation.

We can still meditate on the good while holding space for the challenging.

My prayer for each of you continues to be that you wake up each day peaceful and courageous…on fire for the work you get to do, whatever that work may be. And if you don’t, I pray that you will step out of your comfort zone in faith to find the good work God planned for you to do because you deserve to wake up on fire more days than not.

There will still be difficult days, but they will be eclipsed by the glow.

Many of you know that my ever-growing arm sleeve is the story of faith in my life. God reminded me of a powerful lesson through my encounter with the tattoo artist in Denver while he gave me the next piece in my sleeve. The newest band is a row of sea turtles, symbolizing endurance, persistence, longevity, and the continuation of life even against incredible odds. It will forever be a reminder of each of you in my journey.

You are amazing examples of peace and courage …grit and resilience…hope and encouragement as you travel this side of eternity.

Can’t wait to share all that I learned during Robbie’s painting process! Until then:

Travel well, my sweet friends. I love you and I’m glad you’re here.

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