Tumbleweeds and Joy Bombs

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

It was right after sunrise this morning as I drove down my street, heading out to meet some guys for an early bike ride. And there it was.

A tumbleweed.

In the middle of suburgatory asphalt and the tract home village.

I’ve lived on this street for a decade and have never seen a tumbleweed on it before. But there it was, to my utter disbelief – like a holy grin from my Father in heaven.  And if that wasn’t miraculous enough, this wasn’t just any tumbleweed… a green one, filled with life.  In all my days, I’d never seen a green tumbleweed that was broken off and running free.  Typically, tumbleweeds break off from the root system when the are dry and full grown and brown.

I threw my head back, laughed and put my hands in the air.

He knows me.  Father knows me. Really really really well.  Like two friends who have spent  many years together adventuring and making memories. Like an elderly couple with decades under their belt who finish most of each other’s sentences.

He knows my heart.  He speaks to me in the most personal and intimate ways.

He crafts something between us that I can only name as a love language.

And it was a rescue.

You see, yesterday I was totally taken out.  I was naive to the level of spiritual warfare I was encountering as I spent most of the day heavy in the details of launching our latest book at Wild at Heart.  It all turned ugly late in the day when I went to purchase a new bike, a milestone moment for me after 8 years of fierce commitment to my old bike.

Thanks to both the generosity of a good friend and selling a bunch of old gear, I managed to gather the funds for it.  Yet the voice of pragmatism still said it was foolish, irresponsible and indulgent.  But revelation (Eph. 1:17) – through the counsel of some allies who know my story well and from the still small voice of the Father – offered another interpretation.  Perhaps this was being authored for joy and play and God was the one behind it all.

But when I was at the shop and in the midst of an ocean of options, I was in a tailspin of confusion, shame, self-doubt, etc.  All I wanted to do was eject.  I bought the bike, but I was mired in the sludge of emotional debris – entangled would be the best word to describe it.

I kept  reaching for an interpretation.  Or more.  An assurance that God was authoring my story and that I was not simply “making up” the voice of God in my life. But I couldn’t find that assurance and the  self-doubt and heaviness lingered with me all night.

So this morning, to see that tumbleweed, was the most distinct way the Father could come and rescue my embattled heart.  Only He knows how deeply tumbleweeds speak to the wild places deep within my masculine heart. To me they are the ultimate symbol of hope as they roll across the land in strong winds: the assurance that wide open places, vast and untamed, still exist in me and in the world.

He was simply saying, “I love you.”

It wasn’t the voice of rebuke, correction, discipline, or “you blew it”, that a broken place in my heart somehow expected. Father navigated around all those spiritual roadblocks I had so willingly erected. He cut straight to the heart, and really the question.

“I love you.”

But it was more.  More like, “Morgan, I love YOU.”

That is different.  It is an invitation to union and trust.  And it came through our love language.

Union begets intimacy.

Intimacy begets joy.

And Joy, as John has aptly named, is the inheritance of the Kingdom and the greatest defiance against our enemy.

A love language is cultivated, looked for, engaged in and matured over time. It’s between Him and you.  And it will go unnoticed if you don’t look with the eyes of your heart.

But recognizing this love language is essential. It’s one of our greatest acts of spiritual warfare and it’s one of our greatest acts of faith. To believe that His heart for us is even better, truer, and more personal than we have ever imagined.

The love language that God and I have developed over time involves tumbleweeds, downed fences and broken sprinkler heads (in my mind a humorous affront to our constant attempt to manicure our little piece of paradise). It involves finding shed antlers as well as fresh roadkill which quickly converts to organic free-range steaks in the freezer, biology lessons for the neighborhood kids in the garage, and remarkable treasures for show and tell (more on that soon…).

But it is real.  It is personal. And it is a rescue ring thrown to a flailing man at sea.

These gifts bring me back into union with my God and belief in His love.

Union moves to intimacy.

Intimacy moves to joy.

And joy is defiance.

This morning, the Spirit pulled me out of my pit. An hour later He sent me riding wild roller coaster single-track with men I love through the wildflowers of the Colorado backcountry, laughing, cheering and celebrating. Our ride was ridiculously fun, an experience of what our friend Matt calls a “joy bomb.”

Such joy bombs don’t come on a silver platter. One friend took a bee sting on the face. Another broke his chain, and finding ourselves without a chain tool and miles into the backcountry, we ended up in an epic run-the-uphills, fly the downhills until we could reach civilization and finally rig up a tow-and-push system to get our buddy home.

The sorrow and pain that lasts for a night evaporated with the morning mist. And joy, oh so much joy, came in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

I don’t think I could have entered into the joy of the morning had Father not rescued my heart with that blessed, rogue tumbleweed. I needed to hear his voice of Love to restore my heart to a place of trust and receptivity.

What’s your love language?

Are you willing to risk believing that the Father is pursuing you through intimate and personal encounters everyday?

Have you named it?  Are you looking for it every day with the eyes of your heart?  Have you asked your kids about it? (My little Abigail told me yesterday that hers is fire and she always sees God’s heart in fire… amazing!)

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Jesus… now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving…So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ… Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life.  (Ephesians 2,3 MSG)

Jesus, I want joy.  If joy flows from intimacy and intimacy from union and union can be restored through our intimate and personal love language, I want more.  What is it we both love? What is it you know about me that by just one simple sight, our hearts can be united as one?  Would you awaken this love language between us?  Would you open the eyes of my heart to see what joy bomb you are bringing for my heart this day?  I need it.  I choose the greatest defiance of the Kingdom of God over darkness. I choose you.  I choose to believe that you choose me. That I’m worth it to you. That our language matters, and that you are just around the corner. I’m looking. You have my yes.