This is the last post on how to grow in your faith and the one I’m the most passionate about. All the other topics we’ve gone through truly starts with this one and should be the motivating factor behind the others: love.
It was a Friday on October 12, 2012, when I traveled to work through a blinding rain on the highway towards downtown Oklahoma City. I was traveling as carefully as one could, but it was raining so hard I could barely make the headlights out up ahead. And then I saw the bright red flash of taillights screaming at me. I eased on the brakes because I had several car lengths ahead of me at the time. My car hydroplaned and I knew I was in trouble. My view became tunnel vision looking towards the car as I braced for impact. A terrific crash followed by an airbag being deployed. I was the last one in on a five-car pile-up!
I thought I would walk away with whiplash and considered myself lucky.
I was very wrong.
The following week I was in Mexico with my family enjoying some rest when I noticed I couldn’t get comfortable at night. The weeks following this would get worse and worse. I knew something was wrong. The discomfort became more and more severe throughout the day. One evening, while speaking to Shannon in the kitchen, my left hand dropped a glass on the floor. I looked up surprised by the action and said, “I didn’t tell my hand to do that.” I knew something was very, very wrong.
The following month the pain grew so bad the doctor just wrote the prescription for painkillers because the pain was all I could see every moment of every day. I cried a lot then. I hurt ALL the time. I felt such a depression I can barely even tell you how deep it was then. I held onto hope because my wife’s faith was carrying me through it. I didn’t have enough for myself.
My faith was growing then. I didn’t know why I was going through this, but I began to trust in God anyway because I wasn’t strong enough to do it on my own. We had a group from church, good friends, who helped me during this time by praying, showing up and encouraging me. They loved me through it.
It’s very humbling when you are only able to receive love and care from others. But if we are too proud to do so, we cannot experience love the way God gives it to us.
Through a miracle of its own, we found a doctor who knew how to help me. The surgery only lasted an hour and a half and immediately, my arm felt better, but there was a long road ahead with physical therapy. The doctor told me it could be up to a year.
In my life, through considerable pain, both physical and emotional, I haven’t had it easy. But neither has many others. Pain is something humans have in a fallen world. I get it. But in our pain, we get to choose what we want to do in it. We can transfer all the emotional and physical pain we experience into others by being angry, mean, short-tempered, and isolate ourselves from others lives. I did this for a number of years. Or we can transform the pain into something beautiful.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.-Martin Luther King Jr.
I know it sounds goofy, but I want to be like that Jeep. I want to leak from having been hit by Jesus. From having something crazy happen to me, something that flipped my life upside down. I’ve met people like that, people who leak Jesus. Whenever you’re around them, Jesus keeps coming up with words and with actions. I don’t suppose everybody gets hit by Jesus, but those of us who have talk about Him differently. We start steering funny; we start leaking where we stand. And it’s because we got thrown from our lives in a terrific collision.-Bob Goff
But I was tired of doing it my own way, I was ready for a change. And I knew if I wanted to start living an incredible life it would be through love. If God is love and makes us in His image, then we are also able to become love. This only comes by having a deepened relationship with God.
I started loving people I normally couldn’t get along with very well. I listened and asked them questions without waiting for my chance to respond. I showed up in people’s lives when they were going through something. I spoke into their lives about who God was creating them to be.
I’m going to say this so you can know that everything is possible for God, not through man. I screw up quite a bit. Each day is an opportunity for failure. But now when I fall, I get back up again and give it a shot.
Jesus spoke about love and the goodness of God often and when asked what the greatest commandments were, he replied:
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.-Matthew 22:37-40
If I wanted to change the world around me it starts with my own backyard. I began showing love to everyone I came in contact with. Do you know what happened? People began to have hope once again and started looking at others with kindness more. I even began loving people I thought were my enemies, but it turns out that they weren’t. Not only did love win their hearts, but the biggest miracle is the one which began happening inside of me.
I used to love people in hopes that they would reciprocate it back to me, but now I don’t worry about it anymore. The reason why is Jesus did this for others because love doesn’t have to be reciprocated to be what it is. Love is a force stronger than death, meaning if we love others regardless of their affection, then we love fiercely, just like Jesus does. That’s the kind of love which becomes the game changer!
What I discovered about love is it is like a gift that boomerangs back to us even greater than we can ever anticipate. People began to show up in my life in different ways and they gave love back to me through words I needed to hear, by being there when I was going through something, deepened relationships where people grow, and I stopped worrying about where I was going but focused on where I am. This means I didn’t get concerned about missing out because when you love people in the moment you are living a full life of whimsy. Love plans for things so I started looking for creative ways to express it to others, sometimes by remaining hidden so they wouldn’t even know it was me.
I used to think the worst things about life, but now I feel life is one big love affair. God waits to see if we believe in Him and others again. I think the world’s been listening to the wrong voice for too long and they want people who are hope dealers and life changers once more. The world can definitely only benefit from the courageous and it takes people who love and lead just like Jesus did.
There comes a time when we stop waiting on the miracle and we decide we can become one ourselves. Jesus told the disciples to go out into all the world and spread the good news. What’s great about it is we don’t just say what it is we can also live it out in love towards everyone. That’s the miracle!
I choose to love because He loved me when I was unlovable. I choose hope because the world needs it and so do I. I choose adventure because life isn’t meant to be lived watching TV all our lives, it’s meant to fight for others who cannot fight for themselves, to love them where they are and having faith God will give them the opportunities to believe again. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to get us to believe we aren’t loved by God and people believe the lie more than the truth these days. But they want to believe. And the only way they will start to scratch their own heads is when YOU show up in their lives and love them as they are and not as they should be because none of us are ever going to be as we should be here in this life. But when you love like Jesus you start to live a life of wonder because the first true glimpse of heaven is within you.
I will be forever grateful to my wife and best friend Shannon who gave me a book with balloons on it. And I’m thankful for Bob who shows up in people’s lives all the time. Now I do too. I found my whimsy, Bob. Love you, Brother.