Episode notes

Working through the hard things is not always easy.

But our work is to trust God and let go of the control we desire in our lives. Russ Ewell, Nick Straw and Ray Kim sit down to discuss how the key to turning our emotion into action is trusting God and allowing God to know us more deeply and intimately through the hard things in life, which produces transformative change in us through the process.

Genesis 22:1 NIV [1] Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 

Genesis 22:2 NIV [2] Then God said, “Take your son , your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” 

Genesis 22:3-5 NIV [3] Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. [4] On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. [5] He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you. ”


Russ: 00:01 I really want to help people on Deep Spirituality learn to have a great relationship with God. That was my whole reason for starting it. I didn’t start it because I was like, “Oh, I really want to do a bunch of talking about theology.” I think most people that are trying to be Christians are trying to figure out, at least this is what I did, how do I get a relationship with God? I became a Christian because I wanted a relationship with God. I’m trying to go to church because I want a relationship with God and how do I do it? I thought it’d be good for people to get a hold of something that might help them know, “Hey, how can I just have a great quiet time in the morning?” Some people call those devotionals and they’ll get a book and do a little devotional in the morning. But it’s a time where I focus in on God and in and my experience, 30 minutes is really solid. If it’s 15, that’s great too. If you have an hour, that’s great too. I’m not sure there’s a magic number as much as there’s a heart condition, but I thought that we could do a podcast today about turning emotion into action because one of the hardest things for people is to turn emotion into action. When I was looking at that, Abraham came to mind. Genesis 22 is a great story that a lot of people know. I wanted to talk about the test. And when God allows hard things to happen because I think that God allows hard things to happen to us and we don’t often know why he lets those hard things happen to us. It says in Genesis 22:1,

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.

Genesis 22:1 NIV

So if you’re trying to have a 30 minute quiet time, you want to start by just reading the first verse and saying, “Hey, what do I get out of that?” Instead of reading all the way through, stop for a minute. Now ask, “What’s going on here? What’s happening?” Sometimes we’re reading so fast we don’t even know what’s happening. And what’s happening here is God already knows Abraham pretty well. In Genesis 13 he says, “I’m your reward.” He already knows him and is talking to him, but something happens around chapter 22 when Abraham’s son has grown up and God says, okay, it’s time to find out what’s really happening with you and where are you really at in this relationship. And so he allows a hard thing to happen. He wants to know what Abraham knows about him. And I think a lot of times when hard things happen to us, God’s not making it happen. But he allows life to happen to us because he wants to know what we know about him. “Do you know me?” In you guys’ quiet times and in thinking about this, what hits you, what comes to mind? Anything?

Ray: 03:14 Well, one, I hate tests. They brings up all the insecurity of am “I going to pass, fail? Am I prepared?” They make me nervous. I think about nobody else but me in that moment. So most of my life I avoided anything that required testing.

Russ: 03:40 But you did really well in school, you were a really smart guy.

Ray: 03:42 Allegedly!

Russ: 03:42 But seriously, you went to Cal. I mean you must be doing something right with tests.

Ray: 03:52 The thing that I learned was there are people who are really smart who knew how to take tests. Then there are smart people who know how to just pass the test without having to learn. I put myself in that category. I was really good at learning how to pass tests, trying to avoid the suffering and the pain of actually preparing for the test. So I was more in a mode of “Let me cram, get it over with and remember not a single thing.”

Russ: 04:16 Can you relate that to having a relationship with God or Christianity? You’re saying you cram for the test and there were two kinds of people. Can you tell me that again? That was a pretty good insight.

Ray: 04:30 I think there are people who actually like study and really learn the material and try to get a mastery of it. Then there’s other people that just want to get it over with.

Russ: 04:39 All right. So is there some kind of a categorization you could do where there are people who really want to know God and there are people who really don’t want to get in trouble as Christians? Or something like that?

Ray: 04:49 Yeah. I would definitely put myself in the latter category. I think there’s people who are actually genuinely wanting to know God. Growing up religious, I always believed in God. He was kind of like the insurance policy. Okay, at least I believe in God, that’s cool. I had zero interest in wanting to even get to know what that meant, what building a relationship with God was. So now in my relationship with God, it’s easy to just say, Oh yeah, I know God, but I don’t want to deal with the hard things, like “Why do I do the things I do?” The character weaknesses I have, “Why do I keep getting into the sin I keep getting into.” I don’t want to deal with all that because it’s painful.

Russ: 05:29 You want to get in there Nick? Were you going to say something…

Nick: 05:31 I was relating with you in terms of just taking tests in school to get them done and I would cram. The problem with that is I didn’t learn really any of the information. I probably forgot most of it right after the class was over. And I think how that relates to relationship with God is, there are times where I’ve looked at my relationship with God as something I have to do or to get done – a 30 minute time with God or 15 or whatever time. Or a goal, “I’m going to read this many chapters” and I read those chapters. But I didn’t necessarily learn, like it says in the scripture, it wasn’t about, “Hey God, I want you to know who I am. Here I am.” And then I wasn’t interested really in who God was. It was more like, “I’m trying to get some knowledge or I want to figure out how to get to heaven,” you know what I mean? And it wasn’t about the relationship or learning about him or allowing him to learn about me.

Russ: 06:23 Yeah. What I found when I became a Christian – or actually once I decided to be committed because I didn’t like Christianity at first because I felt like it was so many things I had to do that I didn’t know how to do and they were uncomfortable. Like you go to church and you sing songs. I never went to church and the only songs I spent time singing were songs from Saturday Night Fever. I used to like the Saturday Night Fever album. I know that dates me. I used sing the Bee Gees songs. I was like into that, you know, Tavares and all that. I was really into it. So when I went to church and I was singing these songs, they seem weird to sing and it was church was so uncomfortable, right? But I did want a relationship with God and so I did that. But after I got kind of more committed to like, okay, this is going to be my life, then I wanted to be a leader and I found being a leader was easy because I had been a leader before but I didn’t find being spiritual was easy. So I relate to what you say about passing a test to be able to get the right answers and get through it. I tried to pass the test of being a leader by doing all the things you need to be a leader, but I didn’t put any time into a relationship with God. And I think a lot of times what happens to us, which you were saying Ray, happens to everybody, is you get so burdened down trying to figure out how to be a Christian that you never spend any time saying, here’s why I’m here. I hated tests in college because I couldn’t understand why I needed to be tested. I was like, “What’s the point? Why are you testing me?” I was that kind of a person in college, less in high school. High school I just did it. But I was the kind of person who was like what’s the point of the test? Like I’m never going to use statistics. I was kind of arrogant. I wasn’t a Christian, I was kind of arrogant. So I was like, I’m never using statistics because I’ll hire somebody to do that. So I’m never going to do that. Why do I have to get tested on this? The beautiful thing about being a Christian is you can figure out why you’re being tested. It’s not a pointless test. You can look at it and you go, oh, this test is happening because now it’s helping me to see my need for God, how God’s going to move in my life, etc. And so I think one of the important things you’ve raised here Ray is, we have to not hate tests. We have to not see them as a matter of performance. We have to see them as a path or a process to get to know God. Does that work for all for you?

Ray: 08:40 Absolutely.

Nick: 08:40 There’s a purpose behind them.

Russ: 08:44 There’s a purpose behind them, which is the whole point. Part of the first level of purpose is understanding God’s got a purpose for your life and he’s going to purposefully guide you into that purpose. In Genesis 22:2 it says,

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Genesis 22:2 NIV

So another thing about the hard things or another thing about this test or the hard things is, I find when I look at the Bible tests are usually things that are impossible to handle without faith. Meaning it’s not hard because it’s difficult. It’s hard because if you don’t have faith, you can’t handle it. And one of the thoughts I had about it is the real you, the real us remains hidden when things are easy, but surfaces when we are faced with the impossible. Any of those things ring a bell, get you going, make you want to jump out, shout, say something.

Nick: 09:41 It’s funny when I look back on my life, the times I’ve grown the most are the hard things. But the thing that I always want the most is everything to be easy. I want to be able to get through it and grow and have God bless me and come out the other end stronger, but do the minimum to make that happen.

Russ: 10:00 So does that mean we should all go around praying for hard things to happen to us?

Nick: 10:05 Oh, that’s a good question.

Russ: 10:06 Wow, you’re quiet on that. Okay. I can answer that. No, no, no. I’m going to pray that hard things happen to you then. I can. I’m going to say God help hard things happen to Nick and Ray. I’ll watch them and learn. I think that’s better. I think it’s better if a hard thing happens to Ray and I can watch it and go, wow, I see what Ray did wrong right there. I won’t do that.

Nick: 10:33 I think we want the result of hard things happening. It’s like we were talking about college before. I want to be able to put in six months of work or one week of work and get that college degree, but it takes four or five, six years or whatever it is to get it.

Russ: 10:49 I think marriage is like that. I want a great marriage, but I don’t really want to have to do anything that is not easy.

Ray: 10:56 Coming back from my honeymoon with Amy, we got into a big fight.

Russ: 11:01 You only had one argument? No, the first, write a book dude, the first of the man, Ray is the man. Stop the podcast and make it a marriage podcast. Teach us. Right. The first, the buddy

Ray: 11:13 I remember, I was so angry. I got in my car and I just drove off. I just thought, oh, this is, this is a week after coming back. And when I hear about things that are impossible to handle without faith. Yes. All I remember saying, I never want to go through this hard thing ever again. So my approach to relations with God, my approach to marriage was like, “Okay, is that, I just want it to be like a one time, one and done thing,” but I don’t see a relationship. God is, it’s the journey. It’s, it’s actually beginning learning how to be emotionally stronger on the inside.

Russ: 11:47 Let me put this to you and then I want you to respond because your story is really cool. I like your story. I agree. I had an argument on my honeymoon, so I didn’t wait to get home. I got it right after that junk. I was like, let me hurry. It’s faster. I do it. The sooner I’ll grow. No, I’m just kidding. Um, so, so, uh, now I just forgot what I was going to say. Where are you talking about? I was going to steal something from my wife Gail. So she came up with this concept that is really, really cool. I want to write about it is she said there are stages in there is storms. I think I mentioned this before, she says, storms are the hard things that really happened to you: terminal diseases, loss of life, you know, miscarriages, divorce of your parents, you know, terribly difficult things are storms, but stages are say getting married, having a baby, getting your first job, going to college. And that sometimes we confuse stages with storms. And so I think going back to what you were saying, Nick, about hard things. No one wants hard things, but I think your point’s really good. People want the result of hard things. I have people, we’re here in Silicon Valley where to get a 500 square foot apartment. You need to be a multimillionaire, right? Either that or live here since the 70s. A lot of people are like, “oh, I want to buy this, I want to have this, I want to have that.” And I’ve talked to some younger people that had been like, you know, if you want it all that you should have been a surgeon, right? Because that’s how much money surgeons make. But the problem with being a surgeon is you got to be in school for like 20 years, it seems like. And so people don’t, so people want the surgeons house and the surgeons car, but not the hard things it takes to be a surgeon. So let’s, let’s bring this around. I think for many of us, we, we don’t want hard things. No, no. Let me change that. None of us want hard things happen. I don’t know. But if we want to have our life grow, the stages of life will be hard. So no matter what, if you want to be married, have kids, have a job, have a home, take care of your parents, they’re going to be hard things you run into if you want to get promoted at your job. So that’s just life. Those are the stages. But then they’re also going to be storms that come into everybody’s life, right? There’s going to be sickness, grief loss. I’ve had one of my best friends ever, Scott Green passed away a few months ago. That’s a hard thing, but that, that, that is really a stage of life because we are all going to at some point experience loss. My Dad passed away, my sister passed away. You go through these things that, I remember, I remember being like 30 or something and saying, “Wow, cause I had friends, had people die, you know. And I was like, well, I’d never had anybody I know die.” Personally, like really serious, you know, in like sixth grade. But then it starts to, as you get older it just starts to happen and it’s tough. And then you start realizing you’re mortal and that you’re not going to be here forever. Those are stages. But sometimes we look at those things of like stages of life getting older as a storm, right? And then we blame God instead of saying, “No, no, no. If you turn 50 that’s a stage” and there are certain things that go with turning 50 if you turn 60 that’s a stage there are certain things that go with that and we have to take on those hard things because there are stages. Then there’s storms. Like I’m 21 years old and I get a terminal disease. That’s a storm. You’re not supposed to get that at 21 years old. But that’s also hard. Both of them are impossible to handle without faith. And I think that’s the key about the hard: Focus on faith, they’re impossible to handle without faith. God is not punishing us, but what God is saying is the real us. He’s not talking about the real last human beings. He saying, I want to know you like I feel like God wants to know me. And there’ve been times I’ve hated how he wanted to know me because it was me making mistakes, me sending me being foolish, me doing stuff that I look back and I go, why was I doing any of that? Why did I act that way? Why did I hurt people that way? But then I look and I go, Oh God put me in situations of pressure and stress and forced out of me the real Russ was selfish, the real Russ was harsh. And so when that real guy came out, I was like, yes, the guy asked the guy, I know. But if, if I had it easy, I’d have kept being deceitful and hidden who I was and instead it all came out. And so one of the questions I have for you guys is, you know, like for me, I know there have been a number of things where like when I had kids with special needs, that was a hard thing. And guess what? I consider that a stage. I don’t consider that a storm. There storms to it, like health and vulnerability. But I feel like, you know, God had a will from my life. He wants me to do something great with my life. So my kids are born with special needs. It’s a stage, but it becomes a storm because I’ve never faced it before. I don’t know what I’m doing. And so the thing is, he gave me some of impossible handle without faith. What do you guys think about it in your own lives that you go, man, this hard thing happened to me and it was something that I could not handle without faith because that’s, those are, those are some of the things that happened to me.

Nick: 16:59 Yeah, I was thinking as you were talking, I think I’ve had a pretty good life and easy life. I think that’s why I desired that. Why so much desire easy. But I think in the past few years, I think, and we’ve talked about this before, but I think, uh, some of the stuff that me and Jen have gone through were multiple miscarriages. Couple before our first kid. And, probably the hardest one was the third one after our first kid it’s just something that I’ve never, you know, I didn’t know how to, I guess at that point I’d gone through three times, but I never knew how to handle it. I think it exposed where, why I lacked faith. I think I cried more during that time. So I, I don’t think, I actually don’t think God made that happen, but I do think he used that hard thing to push me in Jen to grow. Yes. And I just remember there was a, there was a scare. We thought we were going, we’re going to have a fourth, miscarriage and there’s, so we’re, we’re running, we’re, she’s rushing to the hospital, she’s going from work. I’m going from another location and I’m just crying and praying on the way to the hospital. And you know, I’ve made the mistake of looking at Google and looking at the stats of what happens when this happens type thing. And I’m like, “the odd time with me,” but we go there and I’m praying, they’re crying and just crying out to God and, and I don’t like showing emotion. But I feel plenty of it. So I think that’s part of it. God was pushing me to kind of be real with them or using that opportunity to be real with him. And then we go to the hospital, get things checked out. She’s like, the doctor’s like, I don’t know how all what’s going on, but everything looks good. And on the way back home, I’m crying, grateful, grateful that God’s really come through. But I look at kind of those times that were scary cause it was unknown, but we’re also, I couldn’t, I just couldn’t handle my own emotion or just the fear of the future or worst case scenario, whatever it might be, without God. So that’s what I thought of. But I definitely think after that, my faith was stronger as, and so was Jen’s. So I was more reliant on God for a while anyway, after that. And so I, that’s what I was thinking about that.

Russ: 19:21 What’s cool about your story is that, and I don’t know if I was confusing when I was talking about stages and storms because I moved it around, but what, what that story says, and I think it’s a little bit like us having special needs kids, your miscarriages, is sometimes the line blurs between the stage and a storm. So, and I don’t think we have to make a rule out of this because you know, a lot of times as Christians we’ll make a rule: “That’s a stage that’s just storm,” you know? Well, it’s in flux, right? The key is that we shouldn’t always blame God that you said a great thing. We shouldn’t always say, God made that happen. And I know when I was coming along, a lot times people were trying to be spiritual. So they’d say, “Well God probably made that happen to you so you could learn this lesson.” You know, you know, I think we probably ought to get out of God’s head and trying to figure out what he does and instead say one thing we can know for sure, God loves us and he wants to know us. And so he’s gonna use anything he can to know us. And that doesn’t mean he’s going to make it happen. And I think a lot of things that happened in life or just things that happen in life and you probably can find a scientific explanation, a statistical explanation for it and you just go, look, I’m going to take life. The key to me is a hard thing is something that’s impossible to handle without faith. And so if you’re running late, cause there’s a lot of traffic, we probably shouldn’t turn that into some major God moment on Mount Carmel with Elijah the Prophet. We probably should just say I left and so I’m in traffic. You know what I’m saying? And not try to take it too high and then then, then understand hard things. To me, and this is just my definition is do I need faith to handle this? Is there no way to handle this without faith? It’s impossible. It’s not impossible to handle traffic without faith. But I’ll tell you what, when you’re going on a fourth miscarriage, as you talked about or with us, you’re raising two kids with special needs. Those things are impossible to do without faith. And I feel for people out there, and we talked a lot about church and Christianity, I feel people are out there who their view of Christianity and churches, I’ve got to follow rules. It’s about being in attendance. And I think you should want to be a part of your fellowship and, and build relationships. But ultimately it’s about God. I know my hardest time being in the church has been when I’ve not been focused on or getting a relationship with God, it becomes very difficult. And I think there are a lot of people who leave church because people are so big, rules are so big that it’s really difficult to see God. That’s why I’m grateful for a story like Abraham’s, because what Abraham story says to me is God’s not trying to put you through anything just to make you suffer. He’s just trying to get to know you. And he asked Abraham to sacrifice something he loves. And oftentimes those impossible things, impossible handle without faith, involve things we love. Jobs we love. I like status, you know? And yeah, and it’s that, that’s a lot of what it does. Here’s another cool thing: trust who you believe. I think God is constantly trying to go, okay, I know you all believe in me, but do you trust me that hard things test whether we trust the God we say we believe. There are a lot of us who go, well, I’m a Christian and I believe, okay, that’s fine. That’s great. We shouldn’t be bragging about it. Just, okay, great. But do we trust God? That’s one where I fall down. I usually start working really, really hard to make something happen long before I trust like I’m impatient and I’m emotional and I’m like, “God, why you’re God, you’re late.” I’m looking at my calendar and going, I thought we were going to get this done by Friday. Trust you believe hard things test whether we trust the God we say we believe. I’m going to read this scripture and then maybe Ray you can jump in on this and you can help us and our listeners, help all of us understand what we’re, what, what do you think this says about trust. “Early the next,” this is Genesis 22:3-5 and we’re not going to try to get through the whole passage. We’re just going to get you started because this is the 30 minute quiet time and you should be able to take away from this and get your own thoughts going because that’s a big part of having a relationship with God is getting your own thoughts going. Genesis 22:3,

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. [4] On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. [5] He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Genesis 22:3-5 NIV

And here’s the kicker line. A lot of have been preached on this. We’re not trying to be brilliant. We’re just trying to go. There’s some rich stuff here for our relationship guide. Final sentence says this, “We will worship and then we will come back to you”. He supposed to sacrifice his sign. God has basically told him, you’re going to kill your son, but Abraham, trust God enough to say, sure, but you promised me I was going to have a whole family and really a whole nation through this son, so I know that I’m going to go worship you and I know that we’re going to be back. What do you think?

Ray: 24:14 The biggest thing that I, I see this in this past that really gets me, it’s, I have the hardest time giving up control. I want to control everything. I want to control outcomes. It reminds me of when I, when I was listening to Nick share, it reminds me of, you know, I was on a date with Amy this before we got married as a call from my sister. She never calls me on a Saturday night. She calls me to say, Hey, we just got word dad had to go to the ER, he has terminal cancer. And it was right in the middle of the day. Okay, we knew that dad had some stomach issues for the past three, four years. And you’re saying he has terminal cancer and it’s, he’s got about a year or two left and I had up to that point I’d prided myself like, “Oh, I believe in God. Look at which direction I’ve used to build my life after college. I totally believe in God.” And boy that was really hard for me to give up control cause I just thought this is doomsday, this is the end. I don’t think this is gonna end well. And I really had a hard time believing that there’s gonna be some kind of opportunity or something good that’s going to come out from all this. Had that not happened, it wouldn’t enforcement or change my appreciation of my family. The change I to make to actually emotionally want to attach to my family. And that led to my dad, my relationship with my dad changing. It’s not like God made my dad have cancer. It was just one of those moments where I had to really figure out, okay, God clearly knows what he’s doing. I just have, I’m having a hard time believing that or trust. And that led to my dad actually, for the first time wanting to listen to me and what I had to say. And through a lot of conversations over a period of six to six to eight months, us actually sitting down and starting to actually study the Bible. And he actually became a Christian about four months before he passed away. But that, that was painful. That was a storm for sure we talked about earlier. But it was, it was nothing I would have imagined. In fact, I thought he was the hardest person to reach just it with the history of our relationship. And when I see this, when Abraham says we will worship and then we will come back. Yeah. There was a sense of peace, a sense of calm, a sense, “Hey, we know God’s in control.” And so when I read this, this is something that I always opt to wrestle with. It’s having a kind of peace, calm, not anxious, anxiety or stress, which I’m prone to very often of giving up control and learning that that’s what a real relationship with God is. Not about how much I read or attend or follow the rules. It’s, “Am I willing to give up control and trust that he’s got something far greater than I could even think or contrive or come up with?”

Russ: 27:14 I think everybody in the room is stunned by that story that story is something else. I knew it but when you tell it it, because I don’t think I knew you got a call on Saturday night like that. Yeah, I mean we all had had a call like that. Maybe not about a disease or something, but we’ve had a call like that. We were like out doing our thing, having a good time, enjoying ourselves, you know. Thinking the biggest problem was traffic or would we get into the restaurant to get the in and out, in and out restaurant. Here’s the thing that you were saying that was very interesting to me. You said you, you, you like control. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like control. So just focusing on that for me for a minute, because I love how you made the connection between Abraham saying we will worship you and come back to you. What do you see in Abraham? Because if you’re studying your Bible later after you listened to the podcast, I’m trying to help us talk about how you study the Bible because a lot of times we read the Bible but we don’t really listen to and see what’s happening. And you literally have to get into the story and understand. Abraham did not know how it was going to end. So we read it and go, “Well, hey, what’s the big deal man? It’s God. And you can see clearly that God wasn’t going to have him to kill his kid.” No, no, Abraham didn’t know that and there was enough death preceding this chapter that Abraham could be sure that God might just let that happen. So for him, this is real. Your experience that you shared about Ray, that’s in real time and it’s real. What can you say that you learned though about giving up control? Because that’s something a lot of religious people say is,” I just got to trust God and let give up control” and I think it can become cliche and almost meaningless. I know you’re saying a lot more than that and I want everybody to benefit from what you learn, what does it tell you about flexibility and flow and, and allowing God to make the flow of your life work to not always to be more of a surfer instead of someone driving in a car where you’re riding the wave. I never surfed in my life here, but when you’re riding the wave where it takes, I watched, what’s that movie about surfing? Point Break. Yeah. I liked the first one. With Keanu Reeves man. I love them. You know what I love about the Point Break? The first one and the second one is, it’s so spiritual. Those dudes to me are like Shaolin monks in Karate Kid. The second one or in a Kung Fu I watch kung food with Keith Carradine. I watched every episode of that. I love that. But to me that sort of spiritual thing is what flows about. Jazz is about flow. These people who, who they understand how to ride the wave of life. Because I think a lot of us are trying to drive through the wave instead of ride it. And it sounds to me like what you are learning is not everything is going to turn out bad. That seems bad. So ride that wave and get involved in that process and get involved in that journey. And don’t be negative. Don’t assume someone’s going to die right away or ever. Don’t assume you’re going to get fired. Don’t assume you’ll never get a new job. Don’t assume you’ll never date again. Like part of it is that, you know, Jazz. Do you like you guys like jazz? A little bit? Jazz is awesome. I’ve got two books on jazz, one’s on jazz and management, but with jazz is all about, and I can’t play an instrument from my life, right? I tried to play clarinet one time and scared people, learn how to play the harmonica and scared myself. But jazz is about people being able to, they have extraordinary structure. Like each guy is a master of his instrument and a master of the foundation of the music. So they’ve got the foundation down so well that then when they start playing together, they can feed off of and improvise off of each other. People think it’s all improvisation. No, they’ve got this incredible structure that they’ve mastered. It’s like a basketball player. You get this incredible fundamentals you’ve mastered and allows you to then become improvisational. I think God wants us to be more improvisational. I think he wants to bless us. Incredible ways, but half the time we’re like fighting him because we want control. And it sounds like to me what you learned is that I learned this with my dad. I spent more time thinking about me than thinking about him. I spent more time wondering why he wasn’t getting to know me instead of, you know me getting to know him. And once I let go of that, there was this incredible flow in my relationship with my dad that came about and in my relation with God. And what’s funny is I don’t think you can have a great relationship with God unless you deal with your relationship with your father or your authority figure in your life. And so tell me a little bit about what have you learned since then about when things happen, not just being calm, but trusting God with the process? Because it seems to me that Abraham kind of relaxed into it and said, “Okay, I know what God’s like and I’m not worried we’re going to go,” well, he may have been worried, but I’m going to stick with this thing.

Ray: 32:20 I had to learn, not to fear the unfamiliar that I had to actually learn how to embrace… Whatever was unfamiliar, I had to learn that that’s actually a good thing. The conversations I had with my dad were so unfamiliar. They’re so uncomfortable because I’d never had them before and that there were some of some of the most rewarding things, even now in life with, you know, I have Owen who’s got sensory processing issues and it’s a very unfamiliar everything is unpredictable. But what I’ve had to learn is that that’s actually great for me to learn how to have faith in God or actually reach out and get some friends. A lot of, throughout that time, and even now, I was not used to asking for help much. Or being vulnerable. and I learned that unfamiliarity helped me learn how to appreciate friends, spiritual friends.

Russ: 33:14 Do you feel like you’re still on that journey of learning how to let go?

Ray: 33:17 Oh, big time. I feel like I’m at the very beginning of it still.

Russ: 33:21 Nick, you want to jump in on this? We’re not going to finish this chapter. We’re going to finish these thoughts though.

Nick: 33:26 Yeah. I was just thinking, I was looking just looking at this scripture and I think I want to control, you know, everything. I think that control is motivated by a worry, like you mentioned, or a fear. And I’m just reading the Scripture and kind of boggling my mind a little bit. I was like, I’m sure Abraham had worry, nervousness, or anything like that. But instead, he, he didn’t let that dictate how he lived. And I think that it seemed like the trusting God over kind of overrode his fear.

Russ: 34:02 Let me ask you a question, just as a question. Are you happiest when you’re in control?

Nick: 34:10 No. No. I’m the same way. I think, I think the end result will be me being happy because I’ve controlled something and it doesn’t usually work out how I, how I’ve tried to control it. So that doesn’t really work. To analogy riding the wave. It’s much fun. Or to surf. Yeah. Versus jump into the wave because the waves are more powerful. It destroys you.

Russ: 34:35 I try to bottle the wave. I tried to get a coke bottle out and go, can I get the wave in this bottle and then I can sell it, you know?

Nick: 34:42 So yeah. Cause I mean, when you’re, when I’m anxious,

Russ: 34:45 Where you, as we’re both very, we’re both very controlling. We’re agreeing and Nick, me and Nick and I are both, we’re you this controlling when you were in college?

Nick: 34:55 About some things I don’t think as much.

Russ: 34:58 Yeah. I mean my parents would probably say I was, but I, you know, I was a lot more, easygoing I think with responsibility. I’ve, I’ve become more of a controlling person and I think what we learned from Abraham, who had a kid, is that God was trying to get him to let go. Here’s an interesting phrase, right? Do we have to let go so God can bless us? Is it difficult for God to bless us as long as we don’t let go tell your story and then we’ll get out of here. Deep Spirituality. This is Ray Kim, Nick Straw. Russ Ewell. We’re still trying to learn how to do great podcasts. We hope this is a really good one that’ll inspire you. Even if we went over 30 minutes, I don’t even know. I’ve been looking at my clock. I think we’re getting over a little bit, but I hope it’ll inspire you to have a 30 minute quiet time. Where you’re not just reading the scriptures but you’re really thinking and you’re really deeply looking at things. But I’ll tell you something I did when I was in college that I look back and I go, if I could capture that guy as a Christian, I wasn’t a Christian, didn’t believe in God, didn’t go to church, but I was enjoying myself and I think part of what I have to always be challenged by is, “Am I enjoying this journey?” At the end of it, it says that the lesson learned by Abraham is about God. Is that, “On the mountain of the Lord? It will be provided.” That lot of times I’ve, I looked at my life and God has blessed us in a lot of ways. A lot of great things are part of great fellowship. We have great jobs. I have the nice, really cool startup. We got a cool project we’re doing here where we’re helping a lot of different groups by developing podcasts and media for them. With our new sort of startup we’re working on that is not yet publicly named, but we’re working on. But I was really a different kind of a kid in some ways. I remember in my freshman year of college, I’m going to tell this story and then I’ll get out of here and hopefully I won’t bore people with this story. I lived on the 11th floor of c tower in Boston University. And so, it was like a Saturday night I think or something. I’m looking at Mike because Mike’s and musician and this is a musician story is a music story. And, you know, sometimes you ever have a college Saturday night where you don’t know what to do. You like you didn’t think ahead, you didn’t plan it and you’re sitting there and you’re going like, what are we going to do? And you’ve got your friends around and stuff like that, you know, and you’re trying to figure out what to do. And usually there was some drinking involved. I wasn’t a big drinker for a lot of reasons. That’ll probably come up in some podcasts later. But actually I was not a drinker at all. But I loved going to parties and I loved doing stuff with my friends. And so we’re sitting there, I’m kind of bored and, one of them, I was almost said his name, but I’ll leave their names off, cause it’s their lives. A guy who lived at, two doors down from me, I think, yeah two doors down from me was a friend and played on my basketball team, intramural basketball team. He used to play the bass. And so, we’re all sitting there and they smoked a lot of marijuana in that room, quite frankly. I mean, there was smoke, there was smoke coming into that doggone room. And this is, this is still the podcast Deep Spirituality. But you may go that deep. We’re not going to go that deep, but there was smoke coming out of him. So, you know, he starts playing and he loved Led Zeppelin and I can’t remember, I think it’s “Fool In The Rain” is the song he did Noo, Nan, Duh, Duh, Duh, Duh Duh. I can hear. It’s like I’m there now. Right. And I’m sitting in my room and hearing it. And so I’m like, I’m bored. I go down there and I yelled for my friend and my best friend and I said, “Hey, I’m going to go to, you know, so-and-so’s room.” So we’d go hang out in his room and the smokes clearing a little bit, you know, and he’s just playing his guitar. And then we start, we start kind of messing around and, a couple of other kids come in, you know, how to dorm people come into the room. They’d like, start coming in and talking about stuff. And he keeps playing his guitar, you know? And I’m like, I don’t know where I got the idea. We got the idea. I said, why don’t we, I said, oh, I started, I started like humming. I said, what is this song? I don’t even like Led Zeppelin. And then we started a little bit, and then, I started, I started going, you know, their room was 1106. And I said, we’re getting it slick in 1106. And, and then he started playing his bass to that and then I just started making up words to the song. And then the other people were going, dude, or Dada, you know, we’re just fooling around. Right. The next thing you know, one guy down the hall was a senior, he had moved into the dorm for his last year of college. We were freshmen and he was a trumpet player, grabbed his trumpet, came down the hall and said, I’m getting in on this. And so he starts playing his trumpet, right. The next thing you know, there were three towers, 2000 people in the dorm, B Tower was totally separate. These guys that looked across from B Tower into our window and two guys came over, one with his clarinet and the other with his sax and they joined it. The next thing you know, we’ve got this room going where we’re creating this music and we’re playing, they’re playing for hours, they’re jamming and we’re gonna keeping it slick in 1106 and we’re just going on and making up language and all that. And I remember that moment and I was like, I wasn’t worried about anything. I didn’t have anything planned and I was free and I was happy. And the biggest thing I think is hard things are happening in my life then too, but I wasn’t trying to control it. I think a lot of times me, I’m not as happy as I should be because when I see the hard things happening, I don’t realize God’s going to take care of this. He’s got this, enjoy keeping it sleek. And 1106 that’s all we got for today. These spirituality have a wonderful morning, afternoon or night.

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About the show

The Deep Spirituality Podcast is a show about having spiritual conversations. Join our Editor-in-Chief Russ Ewell and guests as they have candid discussions on spiritual topics ranging from faith to anxiety to vulnerability, inspiring you to go deeper in your relationship with God and have challenging and honest conversations of your own.

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