Up until age 40, I lived on auto-pilot. Like most Americans, my life from ages 1-22 was tightly scripted: Get an education. Be kind. Have fun. Prepare to go after the American Dream.

When I graduated from college, I launched on the journey.  Along the way there was a growing gnawing sense that not all was right. There was a deeper longing for peace or joy or adventure or freedom or some mix of them all. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I certainly didn’t have a roadmap for how to satiate this dim hum of longing vibrating under my daily living.

I spent the rest of my 20’s and 30’s denying this longing with inner pep talks to keep plodding down the same path and with self-admonishments to stop the crazy talk. I’ve come to realize that this yearning was God calling to me all along.

My reluctance to involve God in the process came from a wrong-headed sense of what God wanted from me. The fun, freedom, and adventure of life with God had been warped by “religion,” the expectation to be a good little boy, and an assumption that Godly living meant boredom and less income.

At age 40, I finally mustered up the courage to lean into what it was I really, really wanted. I fought like crazy against dream-smothering thoughts:

             Sounds great, but how will you pay the bills?

             Sounds great, but it’s pretty selfish.

             Sounds great, but what will people think? 

             Sounds great, but it’s impossible.

With the help of my coaches at the Halftime Institute (I’ll be forever grateful to you, Dave Jewitt and Greg Murtha!), I started pursuing a dual path:

1.     BEING: Fine-tuning my ear to God’s voice to understand His true nature better. I came to realize that the rules and teachings of Jesus were designed not to rain on my parade, but to provide the very roadmap I was missing!

2.     DOING: Exploring all the things I was interested in even if they didn’t seem very “Christian” or self-sacrificial or God-honoring.  I read about and engaged in topics and hobbies I was curious about: sports, outdoor adventure, personal growth and transformation, psychology.

And then God delivered The Gift: I found a way to do the things I enjoy in a way that brings joy to others as well.  It was the ultimate win-win. God gets all the glory!

What can you do to grow in your knowledge of God and start pursuing things you’ve always been interested in, but too busy to go after? If you want some structure to do this, The Joy Model will give you a simple pathway.

Jeff Spadafora2 Comments