I have spent at least parts of the last nine weeks in the great state of North Carolina. The calm beauty of this state (along with some other personal reasons) prompted me to post on Facebook, the Top 10 Reasons Why I Would Move to North Carolina. However, as I once again sit and bask in the beauty of the Smokey Mountains in the Asheville area, I realize that there are life lessons that I have learned from my nine weeks in North Carolina.
TO BECOME GREAT, YOU SHOULD SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GREATNESS
Often termed as the greatest college basketball conference in the country, the ACC has traditionally boasted some of the truly great college basketball programs. Very early in my basketball coaching career, I fell in love with ACC basketball and watched every ACC game that ESPN broadcasted. I wanted to be a great basketball coach so I watched and studied the teams and coaches of the ACC. Although I met only a handful of those legendary ACC coaches over the years, I feel like I sat at the feet and learned from some of the best basketball coaches in history. Thank you, Dean Smith (did I really say that being a big Duke fan?), Mike Krzyskewski, the late Jim Valvano, Bobby Cremmins (even though he didn’t coach in North Carolina), Dave Odem, etc. Because of what I learned from watching and studying these great coaches, I averaged 20 wins per season over my 21 years of coaching basketball (461-162 record).
Whatever your chosen career path is, or whatever you desire to be great in, you should find people who are great in that area and learn from them. The state of North Carolina has boasted in some of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time.
THERE IS A PEACE THAT CALMS OUR ANXIETY
The state of North Carolina boasts some great mountain lakes. On several occasions, I took a drive into the mountains to stop at some of those lakes to sit and just relax. Despite anxieties concerning my future, the weariness of living out of a suitcase in hotel rooms for 3-5 nights every week of the year, missing my family, missing the challenge and excitement of coaching basketball, missing the fellowship of my Church small group, etc., the peace of the mountain lakes could not help but calm any anxiety I felt.
Although the mountain lakes may not always be there for you during your times of anxiety, there is a peace that God can give that will calm you. The peace will not come during the rush of life, but will only come when you take time to be still, like the water of the mountain lakes, before God.
THE GLORY OF GOD’S AWESOME CREATION CAN PUT LIFE’S TRIALS IN THEIR PROPER PERSPECTIVE
On both the drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway and the top of Mount Mitchell (the highest peak east of the Mississippi river), I was once again awestruck by the vastness and glory of God’s creation. While staring out over several of the scenic overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway and then culminating it with a 360 degree panoramic view from the top of Mount Mitchell, I realized once again how small I am compared to even just a fraction of the totality of God’s creation. And if I am that small, then in the grand scheme of things, so are my troubles. Yet despite it all, God still cares for me as a person. As I stood atop Mount Mitchell and turned slowly in a circle seeing the rest of the world below me, I was struck with the thought that even through the beauty of God’s creation, I was on top of the world. I am loved by God and I (and other people) am His crowning creation.
You too are God’s crowning creation and He wants nothing more than for you to not only realize it, but to learn to live your life as God’s child who is spiritually on top of the world.
GOD’S LOVE SHOULD NEVER BE HIDDEN FROM OUR HEARTS
One of the first things that grabbed my attention in North Carolina was the tree-lined highways and roads. Whether it was the interstates, the state roads, or even downtown Charlotte, trees lined nearly every road. As I made my pilgrimages to different places across North Carolina, I could not help but think about what it could have looked like (what so many other states look like). The roads could have been lined with buildings and businesses that in some ways glorify the accomplishments of men. But not in North Carolina. These roads are lined with the beauty of God’s creation.
The next time you are tempted to succumb to the busy schedule and the manmade pressures you might face, take a few moments to remember the tree-lined roads of North Carolina and the lessons that they show us that God’s love and creation should always be visible in our eyes and hearts.
GOD CAN TAKE ORDINARY, SIMPLE PEOPLE AND DO INCREDIBLE THINGS THROUGH THEM
North Carolina is home to the greatest Evangelist of the 20th (and even into the 21st) century. As I walked through the Billy Graham Memorial Library, I knew I was walking not just through history, but I was walking through His Story. I was walking through the story of how God took a simple farmer and turned him into the greatest preacher in America (and into the world).
In a nation that disrespects God and so often His people, Billy Graham lived and preached with such integrity and power that even those people who are not followers of Christ respected this man.
Less than a decade ago, within the very shadows of the place Billy Graham called home, God raised another preacher from humble beginnings in Moncks Corner, South Carolina (population less than 8,000 people) to start Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. Elevation is one of the nation’s fastest growing and biggest churches. I have been listening to Pastor Steven Furtick’s podcasts for four years now and had the great privilege of attending Elevation Church one weekend while in Charlotte. I can see why God has blessed this church and its ministries.
God is in the business of using people to further and deepen His Kingdom. Sometimes He takes people with simple beginnings like Billy Graham or Steven Furtick and does incredible nation-wide things through them. Sometimes He takes people like you and me to accomplish something more local, but not any less important. There are no excuses why God can’t work through you. It only takes the same heart that Billy Graham and Steven Furtick has – a heart that is committed to following God’s direction in their lives.
OUR LIFE SHOULD BE A MIXTURE AND BALANCE OF STRENGTH AND SERENITY
A few times during my time in North Carolina, I drove then hiked to see waterfalls. Some were famous enough waterfalls that they have been featured in movies like The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans. However, the fame of the waterfalls is not what impressed me the most. I realized as I stood near some beautiful waterfalls that God was giving me a picture of what our Christian life should look like. Watching the waterfalls both trickle and pour down cliffs, I saw that these waterfalls were a combination of power and peace. Isn’t that what Christ living inside of us gives us? We have His strength to not only deal with all that life throws at us, but we are given His serenity when we learn to rest in Him.
If you are a follower of Christ, I urge you to let the power and peace of the North Carolina waterfalls remind you that your life should reflect both the strength and serenity of what God offers you.