“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NIV (New International Version)
I’m going to guess that almost everyone has heard this verse before, or some variation of it, whether you identify yourself as a Christian or not. It’s a verse that is typically taken very literally and it moves us emotionally to feel and believe that the ultimate display of love is to die for someone else. That’s how I grew up understanding it anyway and that interpretation was certainly reinforced during a 20-year military career.
Am I the only one that sees it that way? Are we supposed to look at it only in that extreme way? Or is it possible that we can also look at it in simpler terms?
My purpose for this blog is not to try and prove that any particular viewpoint about this verse is “right or wrong”. I’m not a theologian and I certainly don’t have the right to tell anyone else what to think. Most importantly, I do not diminish what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross or what any service member / first responder has ever done in their service to our country and communities.
I’m simply curious about the possibility of a different perspective on this and if a different perspective could help lead us to a greater love for each other.
When we choose to think about this verse and other things in extremes, we tend to think and believe that we can only make a difference by doing something big, or difficult, or ultimately final.
A Different Perspective:
What could life and love be like if we choose to think about this verse and other things in a much smaller and simpler way?
What if we choose to put our phones down or turn off the TV when our children or spouses want to sit with us and be held?
What if we choose to change our plans when a family member or friend calls with an urgent need?
What if we choose to stop what we’re doing and really pray for someone when they ask for prayer, instead of just saying “I’ll pray for you”?
What if we choose to really listen to someone else so they feel like they’ve been heard and appreciated?
What if we choose to leave our job or ministry when our family needs us more?
I’ve come to believe that “laying down one’s life” can mean dying for someone else (the extreme) and it can also simply mean giving your full attention to someone else in their time of need. It’s taken me a long time to see this simpler perspective. The examples I listed above are actually from my own life and struggles.
The cool thing about this simpler perspective, every time I have chosen to “lay my life down” for someone else I have received “greater love” than I gave.
What do you think of when you read this verse? What do you believe? If this blog has made you think, or if you want to think about things like this more, join us at The Journey Training.
Fear, shame, anger, and heartbreak…all emotions I felt in one week. By Friday, I was exhausted. By Saturday, I was aware of how much better I was for them.
The fear arose from a health scare of someone on the favorite person list. The shame came from negative perceptions of myself. The anger and heartbreak built up from letting things boil slowly over a month’s time until I was cooked…like a frog.
If you don’t know the metaphor of the boiling frog, it is said that if a frog jumps into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is in a pot of cold water, as the water heats up and begins to boil, it will not perceive that it is being cooked and will boil to death.
I didn’t stay in the pot…
I know that as some of my friends and family read this, they will worry about me, either that I had to endure those feelings or that they didn’t. Take heart in knowing this: I didn’t live there. I didn’t die.
Each of those feelings DROVE ME SOMEWHERE.
The fear of my friend’s health scare drove me to the reminder of what really matters. I could feel what the fear felt like and it reminded me of the bigger picture.
The shame drove me to lose the lies, reach in and reach out for wise counsel. It drove me to taking action.
The anger was enough to force my friend and I to deal with all the little issues I’d let slide. In the past, I boiled so fast that I literally exploded and when the fuse blew I created scenes that I felt horrible about. This time, I knew that I couldn’t deal with the issue in that moment. As soon as I identified the anger, I told the other person that I was too angry to deal with it right then, so we tabled the conversation until a calmer moment…and we are better for it. Our friendship is stronger for it.
The heartbreak drove me straight to worship. In my brokenness, God was there, ministering to me and loving me through it.
These feelings were not fun. The moments surrounding them were painful. The Journey Training taught me how to accept my feelings, take responsibility for them, and also how to RESPOND to them.
“We fix our eyes on what is seen, not what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18.
“Letting go” seems to be a topic that we frequently hear but rarely grasp. At least that was the case for me, until I had no other options than to completely surrender my life. I was always the kid that had big dreams, big plans and big ideas. I refused to let anyone or anything stand in the way of them. I held on so tightly to the life that I “thought” I wanted, that I was unable to allow what God wanted to flow freely into my existence. In a very short period of a year and a half, every possible thing that I could imagine, went wrong. In that period of time I had 8 close friends pass away, I went through the worst break up of my life, I suffered from severe panic attacks, I had $2,800.00 dollars stolen from me, I had my family completely fall apart, I was abandoned and betrayed by the people closest to me, and I had extreme health complications where I genuinely did not know that I was going to survive. This all came to a head while I was working a six month contract at Disney World… the happiest place on earth right? HA!
For the first time in my life I was completely speechless and alone… or so I thought. There was a day in time while in Orlando when I was driving down the highway and I had a complete mental and emotional breakdown. As this was happening, on the regular, secular radio, a song began to play, entitled “It Is Well” by Bethel Music. I had never heard this song before in my life. In this moment in time, it was as if the hand of God reached down into my car and spoke this song to my soul. This moment and this song, forever changed my life. The bridge of the song says “Let go my soul and trust in him, the waves and wind still know his name.” That phrase “Let go my soul” stuck with me, and began to be a theme of my life. When I would get depressed or lonely, instead of sitting in my self-pity, I would journal, read books and pray for the first time in my life. I embraced the act of surrender. Sometimes your house has to fall apart in order for you to rebuild it with a better foundation. I came to the place in my life where I had no choice other than to let go.
Learning to let go and trust that even the waves and wind in your life know the name of God is a powerful, freeing experience. We so often get locked on what our expectations or plans are. In doing so, we are unable to allow a better, more beautiful life to flow freely to us. This theme has not only continued in my life but opened up opportunities and dreams that I never imagined. Learning to surrender has become a part of my purpose. Letting go and finding your purpose through surrender has become something that I am so passionate about that I even wrote an entire book on the same subject, with the same title as the Spoken Word below. For a young man who dealt with severe control issues, codependency, addiction and self-destructive tendencies, it is ironic and sentimental to see how quickly your life can take a new better direction, when you let go of your expectations of self and others and place your trust simply in the creator of the universe.
I wrote this spoken word originally in my personal journal. During that time I never expected to share it with anyone. Often times God’s “plans” are a little different than ours, right? My book “Let Go My Soul” should be released sometime in 2017. That is a completely unexpected dream that fell into my life, which never would have happened if not for the blessing of my trials.
I went through The Journey Training before that season of my life even took place. Although I still had a lot of growing to do between me and God; the growth, acceptance and awareness that I gained at The Journey Training pointed me in the right direction to handle this season of life and to learn what “taking care of myself first” actually looked like.
I hope you all gain something from knowing a little bit about my story. I pray that through this Spoken Word you are inspired, refreshed and find some freedom through the act of letting go. A great way to begin fighting for your freedom is through The Journey Training. In that training, lives are changed, connections are made, awareness is activated and purpose is redeemed, all through a simple choice to play hard and trust the process.
God bless and go be a light to the world!
I am a courageous and inspirational leader, and man after God’s own heart. My purpose is to inspire the hopeless to find purpose in their struggles, through my story.
I am so thankful for the times in life when the light bulb comes on – the champion moments that occur when we least expect them. I didn’t think visiting my lifelong “bestie” in Wichita would be one of those times. I was packing for the trip to meet her last Sunday and Monday – she was traveling from MN to Wichita to watch her son play in a college golf tournament. We hadn’t seen each other in a number of years due to busy lives and distance but we still keep in touch. I was stressed out about what to pack, what to wear, why had I not lost some weight, gotten my hair cut….Will she think I look good or have aged a lot…. completely forgetting that she has been my closet friend for 46 years and has seen the good and bad, all of it!
I have always loved being around her and we always seem to pick up where we left off. She is always smiling and when we were kids she was always up to something. I have always admired her love for life and outgoing personality. A few years ago she was diagnosed with MS. I wondered if she would be the same, surely that kind of diagnosis changes a person but not her. I wondered how she was still happy and encouraging to me and others. I was telling her what an inspiration she is to me and that her attitude, in the midst of adversity, is simply amazing. I told her I wanted to be like that but that is something I struggle with and maybe it’s a personality thing. She said you just worry way too much!! The choice comes in the surrender – true, 100% surrender to God and being who he created you to be.
I went back to my hotel room later that evening thinking about true surrender. I picked up a book I had taken along for the trip in case I had some time to read. “Confidence of a Champion” by Tim Marks. I started reading a section of the book which contains a passage from “The Greatest Miracle in the World” by Og Mandino. The passage is amazing – it talks about the miracle of you and me.
Never, until the end of time will there be another such as YOU.
YOU are the rarest thing in the world
God brought forth a one of a kind, rarest of the rare – YOU!
YOU are a priceless treasure possessed of qualities in the mind and speech and movement and appearance and actions as NO other who has ever lived, lives or shall live.
Why have you valued yourself in pennies when you are worth a king’s ransom?
How can YOU – one of a kind you be anything less than invaluable? YOU are EXTRAORDINARY!
Why is it that we worry that we aren’t good enough? I began to realize like never before that a worried life is not a surrendered life. Worry steals joy, peace and my greatnesss – the very greatness God created me for. Sometimes it takes a special friend or mentor who is walking a truly surrendered life to remind us of who we really are and who we belong to – to remind us we were great all along.
FREE Mini Journey Training
Discover How To Find More Passion and Purpose In Your Life!
Do you ever feel like you are in the right place at the right time, yet you just don’t feel fulfilled? Has anyone ever told you that you are, “Looking at it all wrong?” Let me humor you with an account of my trip to the Grand Canyon and the lessons I learned on the way.
My 3 month old and I were smushed into a van full of missionaries and after 20 hours of driving we arrived at our destination – The Grand Canyon. Ahh! We arrived just as the rain was stopping. I made it! Now what? If I only sit in the van, I am at the destination. But am I enjoying the full experience of being there? No. Is my purpose of being there simply to check in on Instagram? No. Obviously there has to be more as to why I struggled to get to this destination.
So I got out of the van and stretched in the drizzle soaked parking lot. As I breathed that glorious air, I listened to the birds singing, the leaves rustling in the wind, and people ooo-ing and ahh-ing. Now I have arrived. But is this all there is? All I could see were some trees, a pile of cement blocks that marked off some parking, and overflowing trash cans – some view! Really? This is why people come to the Grand Canyon? I was not impressed and I wanted to get back into that van and head home, unsatisfied and disappointed. Maybe I missed what I was supposed to be doing. There I was, standing in a cement jungle a thousand miles away from my husband holding a fussy baby. UGH! I wanted to go back home. That was me quitting and giving up on the reason I traveled this far.
My friend saw me standing next to the van and said, “Hey, you’re looking at it all wrong. Don’t stand here staring in the parking lot! Turn around and see the beauty of the Grand Canyon! Come on. Look this way!” Well, let me tell you, once I turned away from the parking lot and focused on the Grand Canyon, I saw it – and it WAS beautiful! It was much more than I expected, and it took my breath away. The sun caught the last of the rain clouds and the most magnificent rainbow appeared! It beamed over the Grand Canyon from one ridge filling the entire sky all the way to the other ridge, brightly proclaiming that God keeps His promise! Finally, I was standing at the Right Place, in the Right Moment, and Facing the Right Way.
Looking in the right direction gets your eyes off of your parking lot of problems which can leave you feeling frustrated, irritable, wanting to quit, and going nowhere. Looking in the right direction can bring you to see the vastness of God’s purpose and plan for your life. While standing in that position with my vision refocused, my purpose became crisp and clear. I would have missed the rainbow if I had continued staring at the parking lot. But someone helped me adjust my focus and I didn’t miss it!
What is your Right Place? It is the place where God has led you. It could be a place of employment, a place to eat, a place to serve, and even a place for entertainment. Don’t miss your Right Place by staying home. And don’t be afraid to make adjustments once you are in that place.
What is your Right Moment? In the book of Esther it says, “For such a time as this.” In Ecclesiastes it says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Now is the time. You are in the right season, but are you facing the right way? Do things look blurry, unfocused and uncertain? Don’t be afraid to look around, turn around and see the bigger picture. There is a view that is much better than you can imagine by adjusting your focus.
I was in the right place at the right time facing the right way. You can be there, too.
Answer these questions: Am I in the right place? Is this the right moment? Am I looking at it from the right perspective? Do I need to change my focus?
If any of these answers were “YES,” consider attending The Journey Training to obtain the tools you need to refocus your vision. Like my friend who turned me around and changed my perspective, The Journey Training will come alongside you on your life’s journey to help you turn from a parking lot view to the Grand Canyon view. Come and see how your new vision of life can be beautiful and fulfilling. You just might find that you’ve been there all along…just not facing the right way!
FREE Mini Journey Training
Discover How To Find More Passion and Purpose In Your Life!