Happy New Year! In my job as a recruiter, these three words invoke fear and anxiousness. I find it difficult to celebrate the blessing that was the year behind me, as I am confronted with the unknown before me. My scorecard resets to zero. Doubt settles in. Will I be successful? Will I be able to support my family? The whispers from the enemy are deafening, telling me to stay in bed, avoid facing the day. Wave the white flag, give up, it is far better to play it safe than to be a failure. Fail God, fail my family.
As a Christian, I should find hope in each new day, a fresh start, grateful for a God that remains intimately involved in my life. A peace should come in knowing that “God has never failed me and He will not start now”, words recently spoken to me through Hillsong United’s song “Oceans”.
Being a father brings me face to face with who I am and who I desire each of my children to grow up to be (a Christian), a glimpse perhaps into who God desires me to be. For example, throughout my basketball career, I never wanted to take the final shot, focused on what life would look like if I missed. However, when I see my son hesitate to engage on the basketball court, doubting his ability to belong, I am disappointed, confused. How quickly I forget that I have selectively engaged throughout my life.
Credit: Laura Parra Garcia/Flickr
Who I Am
“You will live in such fear that the sound of a leaf driven by the wind will send you fleeing. You will run as though fleeing from a sword, and you will fall even when no one pursues you. Though no one is chasing you, you will stumble over each other as though fleeing from a sword. You will have no power to stand up against your enemies.” (New Living Translation, Leviticus 26:36-37)
I am disobedient. Not necessarily from the rules that are found in the word of God, but from his truth. To hide from his truth is to build my house on the sand, to run when no one is chasing, to lie with the enemy.
Who I Desire to Be
“God is where I came from, my soul finds rest in God alone, may I not grab at the heel of another.” (an excerpt from my daily morning prayer)
God is where I came from. My identity is rooted in God. I am His son. I was His before my flesh took form. I enjoy my morning walks this time of year. Clouds fill the sky, cold, fresh air in my lungs. As I looked up this week, I noticed that the storm clouds were quickly moving left to right. In that moment, I realized that God stands still during the storms of this life. This too shall pass, but God will not. He is above the clouds, where the sun is shining and the sky is blue. I will focus on my creator.
My soul finds rest in God alone, eternally tilted toward God, focused on His love. I have spent countless hours reflecting on how my soul could find such a place of rest. If only such a place existed, I could finally exhale. The secret is that the soul has found it, in God. It is my mind that wavers. I will focus on my creator.
The alternative—spending all of my energy “grasping at the heel of another” — is a socially acceptable sin. When I am chasing the wind, I am focused on the outcome, not the source. Consumed with the outcome, I am drowning in the shallow end, holding my breath. Joy enters when I am centered on the source.
My 14-year-old son is over six feet tall and enjoys playing basketball. As a former basketball coach, I should be excited about the opportunity of sharing my passion for this game with him. Instead, I find myself focused on the outcome, comparing him to the competition and wondering if he may be good enough for that elusive college scholarship. All joy is drained when I am focused on the outcome. Don’t get me wrong, goals are good. But void of God, the goal simply becomes an outcome rooted in the flesh. Focused on the source, I invite God into the outcome, enjoying this part of the journey with my son.
Basketball is an area of my life where I can see how fear held me back. A coach from high school set me up with an opportunity to play summer league basketball with the college I would be attending. It was a small college, so I convinced myself not to try-out since I would I not be playing in front of many fans, I decided it would not be worth the effort. I was simply scared of failing. Void of a relationship with God and without anyone to lean on, I had nowhere to go with my fear. It was easier to avoid the unknown and quit before even starting. Recruiting is competitive, and a lot of the same pressures exist. My family and team depend on me to perform. I no longer play basketball, but the same fear manifests today, in both my job and while walking with my son on his own basketball journey.
I am tired of running, being chased by no one. I am out of breath. I am tired of running, chasing after the next thing, which in turn is nothing at all. I am out of breath.
I will focus on my creator.
Bill Wagner loves being a husband and father. He is blessed to walk side-by-side with his wife, Kristy, raising their three children, Samuel, Graeson, and Emily. Bill was born, raised, and educated in upstate New York, and relocated to the Bay Area in 2008. He is a headhunter by day, working from home and building relationships with corporate tax & finance professionals here in Silicon Valley. He took a leave of absence in 2012-13 to deepen his walk in ministry; he is now focused on bringing his faith outside the walls of the church and into his work.