I meet regularly with a friend over coffee or breakfast and during that time we talk about our lives, God, work, struggle, pretty much everything is on the table.

Recently, we've kept coming back to the same lesson that we are both learning as men who have felt the crushing blow of failure break against their backs. In the social media age we become all the more aware of our failure especially in the face of so much success shared on LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook, and over beers in the pub. As we are constantly hit with the message that "you're supposed to do something big!" we've been hit with a message that everyday seems more and more countercultural. But yet, the message my friend and I have clearly been hearing has been incredibly freeing.

The message and lesson? You don't have to be great.

In fact, I've heard God say something even more specific to me lately: Be small.

I recently finished a great book, How to Survive a Shipwreck: Help Is On the Way and Love Is Already Here, that I would highly recommend for anyone reading this who is hurting and in search of healing.

In it Jonathan Martin speaks about the importance of getting out into creation. Side note, this is not just for us fellas regardless of what every cover of any christian self-help book marketed towards men would say, this is for everyone!

In this section he states:
"There is no escape from love. It fills all things. The Spirit of God-she fills all things. And I could feel her filling me, fractured and broken though I was.

It is an illusion-shattering thing to be outdoors, away from the insulation of rooms and hard corners, and face fully the essential wildness of things. In our own kingdoms of influence - our homes, our pulpits, our offices, our computers - we fancy ourselves in control, creators rather than conduits. Climate-controlled rooms delude us into thinking we can control God and the world. In reality, the thermostat is about all we can change. It's impossible to be people of the Spirit while disconnected from nature - the creation - where the Spirit's wildness can be learned. I needed to be away from the technology that says, "You are really big! Nature says, "Oh honey, you are really, really small." We poke fun at ancient mythologies we find absurd while buying the most absurd of them all - they myth that we control things."

After I read this I began to think about how often I do find myself inside and engaged with technology. I work a job 40-50 hours a week in front of a computer. I like to read books and write in coffee shops. My wife and I like watching movies together. I spend a lot of time inside.

So I've been attempting to break out of my routine and a couple of weeks ago I bought some coffee at the Starbucks near my office and sat outside. I didn't bring a book, put the phone away and I stared up into the sky. I thought about the vastness of the world that we live in that was created through and is sustained by Jesus.

I thought about how even though I often feel a lack of his presence that the Spirit indwells me and is active around me.

I thought about everything we've gone through, the pressure to succeed, to work, to sacrifice everything, the lack of rest, and how I had bought into the lie that somehow this vast Kingdom of God is somehow dependent on only me. Or only the church I was a part of.

And suddenly I heard it clearly, not audibly, but with ears that wanted to hear: Be small.

Let all of that go.

This is not dependent on you.

You are indeed too weak to carry this burden.

Then I felt freedom. Not freedom from participating in the work that God has called his children into, but freedom of taking responsibility for making it all work. Freedom from feeling like if it's not big it's not good. Freedom to rely on God to fill the gaps of my own weakness and the weakness of those around me.

Around the time I began reading this book I was asked to officiate a wedding for a good friend. I had turned down multiple opportunities to lead anything spiritual over the past year. I didn't feel like I could. I was broken completely and pretending to not be so for the sake of leading anything would be fraudulent.

But before I could say no as I had become accustomed to do recently something stirred within me to say yes. Love for a dear friend but also a love stirring from deep within that spurred me on. You could say I felt compelled.

The last sermon I preached before this past weekend is something I'll probably never forget. I was filled with anxiety and doubt. Any confidence I had in what I was doing, where I was doing it, and who I was in general was under siege. My life was falling apart under a barrage of friendly fire and as I stood on that stage attempting to hold myself together {forgetting that Jesus is the one who holds all things together} I remember something coming over me in the midst of giving that sermon.

It was like an out of body experience. I was speaking but my mind was racing at the same time. I could envision myself sprinting off stage and running away never to return. It was like my very being was detached and pulling me away from where I was but yet my physical body stood defiantly against it.

The experience confirmed what I had been fearing: I'm broken.

That was the memory of my last sermon. Until this past weekend.

This past weekend I stood in front of a group of friends and family of the bride and groom and spoke of the incredible chosen love of Jesus.

I spoke on top of a deck overlooking a lake. A beautiful setting with the expansive blue sky with a few clouds above us, the sparkling water behind us, and loved people in front of us. Even though I didn't feel nervous I couldn't help but remember my last experience as the time for me to speak began. I wanted to perform well for the sake of my dear friends and much like how I feared failure going back to college after flunking out the first time I did have some fear in the back of mind lurking, there to remind me of what was.

As I spoke, there was a moment where panic looked to creep in as it did so long ago on that stage before. And then a great rushing wind.

I can't tell you what the audience felt or saw. But time itself seemed to slow down. I closed my eyes for a brief moment as the wind raced over me, around me, rustling the pages in my binder, and piercing through me. I breathed deep and smiled. I immediately thought of Elijah on the mountain where God came in a whisper after the great rush of wind.

But in this moment he came in the wind. The Spirit was in that wind and I felt surrounded by the presence of God. I was experiencing in a tangible way the message I was preaching to those gathered that day, we are not alone, God is all around us, Jesus will never forsake us or leave us.

In that moment, out in God's creation, the wildness of the wind coming off a lake, staring into the sky I heard the voice again, be small, I'm with you. And my panic was gone. My friends smiled as I attempted to get the pages back under control from the wild wind and they helped me to finally turn to the next page. What an image! We are not alone. We are in this together. God in us, through us, and around us.

And in these moments I feel God slowly piecing me back together. Not into what I was as I had hoped but into something altogether different. Not resuscitation but restoration. I don't know what it will look like in the end but I'm absolutely going for the ride trusting in the goodness of Jesus and His sacrificial, never stopping, never giving up, always and forever love for me and for you.