Keaton Smith – High School Pastor, Gilbert campus

Backpack? Check. Tires pumped? Check.  Extra Tubes? Check.  Water? Check.  With all preparations made, I loaded my brand new Full Suspension Mountain bike into the back of my truck.  With a kiss on the cheek, my wife looked at me with “the look”.   As if I would do something incredibly stupid… I mean, come on.

“Honey, I’ll be fine.” I said.  Little did I know.

Three hours later, I found myself in Huntington Beach City Hospital with a broken shoulder.  Having my confidence at its peak, I thought it would be a good idea to jump off a twenty foot cliff.  What I didn’t account for was the new tree the county planted in the trail head.  Over the handle bars I flew, and the rest is history.  I’m not sure what was worse —- the broken shoulder, or my broken ego at the thought of calling my wife to tell her about my brilliant move on the trail.

Truth is, my wife gave me “the look” for a reason.  I’ve always pushed the limit and sought after the biggest adrenaline rush I could find.  Living this way has its consequences, however.  Shortly after my accident, I had surgery to repair my shoulder.  It’s now been 4 years since that surgery, but my shoulder is in constant pain 24/7.  Thinking I tore one of my rotator cuff muscles, I got an MRI and saw my surgeon.

“I’m sorry to tell you this, Keaton, but this doesn’t look good.”  He proceeded to tell me that I have Stage 4 Arthritis, a 2 inch bone spur and a torn labrum.  In other words, I have the shoulder of an 85 year old man.  With bone grinding on bone, I find myself going in for a Shoulder replacement in my thirties.   I wish there was some rare medical diagnosis that could explain why my shoulder is this way… but it’s really quite simple.  I pushed the limits too hard, and the wear and tear from years of surfing, swimming, rock climbing and generally being idiotic in my 20’s has finally caught up.

So now I find myself entering into a new season of life.  Married, with 3 active boys, I quickly began to worry about my pending physical limitations.  What am I going to do now? Just sit around and do nothing for 5 weeks?!  I’ll go crazy.  Even worse, I’ll never be the same again — my life will be forever changed!  But you know what? My concern isn’t really about my physical limitations… No, my concern is about something deeper.

I’m fearful that I won’t have control.

My desire to have control is something that eats away at my growth, and my relationships.  It gives me a sense of immediate satisfaction, but ultimately distances me from my dependence on God.  After all, if I have control over every aspect of my life, why do I need God?

God didn’t make me jump off that mountain cliff 7 years ago.  But He certainly can make something good come out of my idiotic decisions and my broken ego. Sometimes, I need God to cause me to pause and slow down.  I need Him to remind me that when I make stupid decisions — when I think I have everything figured out — I need to stop and remember who really has control.

I go in for surgery this coming Monday, and honestly, I’m pretty nervous.  But I’m also at peace.  I’m looking forward to a new season — a season where I get to slow down a bit, and spend some more time with my Creator.  It will be a season of rest and reflection.   It will be a season of surrender, as I release my desire to control and step into a new level of trust.

What in your life distances you from God, and how has He worked with you to change that?

Broken Ego

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