About Brian 

June 1, 2008

The eastern Appalachian mountains are such a relief. I can't tell you. What I can tell you is that I didn't want to be here.

I have just come down from a rather hellish couple of weeks in nearly every way thinkable. There is growth in my life though and this is one time that I can clearly see it. It's one thing to be under fire and run for cover until the trial is over, it's another to have scripture from the Proverbs and the words of Christ rolling around in your conciousness that applies to so much of the circumstance and fight back. We are all growing and I am starting to see that in everything the peace of the Holy Spirit is available and that we can find comfort, rest and strength no matter what we're dealing with. I guess most of the time we either don't think to embrace it because we're frantic and manic about our circumstance or we don't believe we deserve peace or we simply don't believe any of this is really real. I do believe and my heart is being transformed even more deeply than it ever has to the fact that I can actually have a living, breathing relationship with God in which He actually gives a darn about what happens to me.

Before tonights concert we had some time to simply get lost on the back roads of Appalachia. We stumbled upon a bee farm and purchased a couple of quarts of fresh honey while watching our little guy chase chickens. I found a road that seemed to hug a ridgeline and views were green and smoky in all directions. Gorgeous. I had the iPod rocking a little James Taylor . "In my mind I'm gone to Carolina," he sang and my heart began to settle. I began to feel content. This was not a weekend I wanted to be on the road. I wanted to stay home and work like an idiotic fiend to be honest. No Sabbath, No rest. I asked God silently what this all meant. What was this I was feeling; this peace and serenity. "Joy" He said. "My joy is your strength," He said. Ah. I could have missed the strength I so desperately needed.

I rounded a corner and saw a female deer in the road. She freaked and started trying to climb the steep embankment but couldn't make it so she stopped half way and stared. I lowered the window and spoke kindly to her and we offered her cookies. She came and ate them from my little girls hand. We pet her and patted her for a little bit and gave her all our cookies. Since she was now "our" deer she was given the name Shimmer as I was begged to take her home.

When we finally had to leave Shimmer, she ran behind us for about a quarter mile. I smiled both inwardly and outwardly. God was in the moment. I'm not willing to simply rationalize circumstance anymore. It's ok to do that I suppose. I've kept my feet firmly on the ground my whole life but I felt God there and so I'm sticking with it. He sent the deer as a sign that He had invited us into these mountains to give us joy. To give us much needed strength.

My prayer for each of us is that in the midst of trial we can find the courage to stop trying to figure it out in our own strength. It never works anyway and we all know that. The joy of the Lord is our strength.

Onward Comrades,

Brian


Brian Hardin, 6/1/2008 1

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