Dear Tired,

Lifting tired arms, one letter at a time.

DearTired has been silent for awhile. In some ways it’s been super intentional in a season of ministry that I’ll explain in a later post. In short, we have grown by almost 300% the number of churches we serve annually. While growth was planned, this level of explosive growth exceeded our lofty expectations for the year. While we are thankful, we are also tired. We’ve been busy and writing took a back seat, though I’ve been writing in my head all the time, as my lovingly patient family can attest. But in other ways, my silence has just happened. I have 3 kids now and I’ve been listening more, talking less.

Soon, I’ll be back weekly, as life has changed and I’ve heard a lot that will encourage you, too.

But for now… here’s today’s letter.

-Ryan

 

DEAR TIRED,

I formed you. I knitted you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). I will be with you and watch over you, wherever you go. (Gen 28:15) You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)  With Love, Dad

DEAR DAD,

Thank you. I am tired sometimes. Not because I am alone, but because I forget that you are always with me. Always. Wherever I go. With more gratitude than I can express, Me

Today is my birthday. I don’t announce this to invite “Happy birthday, Ryan” comments, but instead to tell you about the greatest gift I’ve ever received. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, every moment of every day.

I received it when I was 4. It wasn’t on my birthday, but just thinking about it longer than a minute makes me well up with tears of joy.

My sister, Heather, is about 1.5 years older than me. Since I was a baby and through today, she has been listening to me talk about all kinds of things. Well, when I was little, I imagine I sounded a lot like my 3 kids – talking from the moment I wake up through even after I’m asleep. Through all that time, my gift to Heather is that I built up her tolerance for noise and my life built into her a default toward patience. I’m sure she’s grateful, too.

So at 4 years old, I imagine I was a talker and not a listener. Yet she listened to me, a lot. After hearing me reflect on questions about life, love, and God, she kneeled down beside me and taught me to pray. In doing so, she listened to my heart and helped me accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. My life was never the same after that.

Here’s why that prayer is the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

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Its value continues to grow.

I’ll be honest with you. Our memory of her gift at age 5 and my receipt of it at age 4 isn’t real strong for either of us, I’m sure. But, day by day, month by month, the value of it has grown. Through her listening ear and willingness to pray with me, my sister introduced me to the greatest gift that I’ve ever received: a life of following and worshipping Jesus.

Its connected me to you.

My walk with Jesus has taken me to meet you. I’m reminded of how gloriously great my life is in profound ways. I’m thankful for friends who are on 6 continents (and possibly 7, with the crowd God has allowed me to run with…you all are changing the whole world – literally!). I’m grateful to know, love and respect people serving in the far corners of the world. Just thinking about how much I love you all is a great gift to me. Thanks for letting me tag along on your life journeys. I’m grateful. God has allowed me to meet you and you’ve allowed me to hang around.

Its given me hope, courage, boundless love, and joy.

No matter where I go, I have hope, courage, boundless love, and joy because no matter where I go, my God goes with me. In this world, I’ve had troubles. I’ve been held up by gun point by rogue police officers in a remote area of Africa. I’ve had several severe illnesses that left me wanting to die, but suffering under the care of people who wanted nothing more than to help me thrive again. I’ve sat with beaten children, abused women, trafficked people groups. I’ve talked with children, grandmothers, friends, strangers dying of cancer. I’ve held the hands of people before they left this side of heaven more often than I can count. But through it all, I’ve known something that the greatest gift taught me. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, where you’ve been, or how little you think you are worthy of love, you are wonderfully made. Because of the greatest gift, I get to look at people in all kinds of situations and hold a mirror up to them to help them see their best selves. Because of the greatest gift, I get to know, with certainty, that you and I are loved by a God who will never leave us or forsake us. I can meet people of any walk or situation, knowing they are infinitely valuable and loved. And wow! I get to meet them! Treasured creations of the King.

Its given me purpose.

Every day, whether I’m teaching my kids about clouds and rainbows, pitching potential investors on the merits of my work, or washing dishes or sitting bedside next to a dying woman, my purpose because of the greatest gift is to love my God well and love my neighbor with the same kind of fervor. I fail more than I like to admit, but my life never lacks purpose.

It multiplies.

There is nothing in my life more significant to me than my relationship with God. Though I love my incredible wife and my stunningly adorable kids; though I have a job that constantly brings me to my knees in awe; though my health and wallet are secure with what I need… nothing is more significant than the gift I received.

Because of this, I want to share it with you. My life is one of peace, purpose and joy because I received that gift. I’ll be forever grateful. I’m so grateful that when I think about the gift, I have to give it away and share it with others. It hurts not to do so.

If you would like me to listen to you talk about life, love and how to get this gift, too, please reach out. There is nothing more important than you knowing how much I and my God want you to have peace, purpose and joy, too. You can reach me at ryanmkeith @ gmail . com without the spaces.

I look forward to sharing it with you. Doing so would be one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive.

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