I met a quadriplegic. He is 52. Five years ago his wife divorced him because of his drug addiction. He was devastated. He became a believer. He became a road biker. Four months ago he was biking on PCH in Malibu. He hit a divot. He flew off his bike. He was paralyzed immediately. He has 3 sons. His wife wants to see him, but he can't. He says it's too hard. He weeps a lot. But he still believes in Jesus.
I met a monk. His father abused him as a kid. He saw his mother kill herself. He became an orphan at 9. A foster child. Adopted. And then a monk. He rings the bells every evening for dinner. He really likes broccoli. He can go weeks without speaking. He refers to Jesus as his "friend."
I met an old man. He was a resident in a hospital. He could barely speak. He couldn't move. I don't know what happened to him--the hospital wasn't allowed to say. He lied there motionless in navy blue warm ups. Stuck inside a crippled body. Fully coherent, but unable to express anything. I stood over him and prayed. One hand on his bald head. Another holding his hand. I don't know if he believed in God. But I prayed anyway. Tears fell down his face. In a quiet, painful whisper he said, "Thank you, Jesus. You're beautiful."
I met a middle aged woman. She was a suit. And a bank account. A BMW. "Self-made." Independent. Self-sufficient. Autonomous. And proud of all of it. She wasn't married. Wasn't sure if she could. She had many friends. But none of them really knew her. I told her she needs Jesus. She said "no way." I asked her, "why?" And she began to cry.
I met a twenty-something-year-old man. He was handsome. He was smooth. He was funny. Charming. Girls loved him. He believed in whiskey. One-night-stands. And porn. My face cringed. He laughed. "It makes me feel good," he said. "And what about the girls?" I asked. "What girls?" he said. "The girls in the photos. The girls in your bed. They are someone's daughter. Someone's friend." "Oh them?" He replied. "Well, man...I hadn't thought of that. I don't know."
I met a twenty-something-year-old woman. She was beautiful. But she didn't think so. She was witty. Lively. Laughter. She believed in love. But she was scared of it. She looked for love. But could never find it. Alcohol. Drugs. Rehab. Parties. One-night-stands. Abortion. Trying to 'find' herself. In 'spirituality.' In self-help books. In diets. In men. "I'm too dirty for church," she said. "No such thing," I replied.
I met a veteran. A Vietnam War veteran. He had no wife. No kids. No family left. He ended up in jail. Hurricane Katrina hit. The prisoners were left to drown. He made it out. Saved 6 men. Now he is homeless. He walks with Jesus.
I met an ex-wife. Her husband was unfaithful. After 25 years of marriage. And 2 kids. Church goers. They divorced. He remarried. She was left. Abandoned. Alone. Believing, once again, she didn't have what it takes. She swallowed pills. Tried to kill herself. Her youngest daughter found her. Jesus rescued her. "Was any of it real?" She asked. "Or was my whole marriage a fake?" (How can I answer that?) "All I know," I said, "is that Jesus is real. And you're alive because he saved you."
Lives written down in a few sentences. Certainly, there were far more details than what was told. But when we strip away the details, we see the heart of each story. We reach the depths. We see character. We see the pain and the struggle. The joy. The hope. The pride. The enemy.
We all have a story. And if you're alive, your story is right now. It's being lived out by you. Which begs the question, what would your life read, written down in a few sentences...
Are you the faithful quadriplegic? Or the steadfast monk? The self-governed soul afraid to feel? Or are you the empty shell of a man; Satan's fool? Maybe the shattered heart of a woman, chasing the shadows? The fighter, the Jesus Veteran? The ex-wife or husband, burned and humiliated?
What do we do with these stories... The stories of those who've reached the depths of sorrow and yet still follow. The stories of those who've ignored their Savior; used and abused the beauty of life. The stories of those fallen victim to sin and darkness. The stories of those who've risen up out of it.
Jesus tells us to live a life of love. Our lives often do not honor that. I believe that when we walk with Jesus, we are called to live the love story. And that love story isn't always going to look how we expect. Love doesn't fit in a boxed in, finite mind.
I don't know if I'd be the faithful quadriplegic. I don't know if I'd be the steadfast monk. I can't wrap my mind around their reality. I can't live in what I don't know. All I can do is be faithful today. To live my story today. Tomorrow will come. 10 years from now will come. I will deal with it then.
I love stories. Even the ones where they refuse Jesus, I am drawn to. Only because I see the gapping hole where He belongs. And then, once again, I am reminded at how huge He really is. How desperately we need Him. His Son and his Spirit are the only way out. We don’t always know what that road looks like and it seems every day is different, but we do know where the road leads- it leads to Him. In the thick of an earthly life that is so inconsistent and so fallen, He is the one thing that never changes.
Honor Him with your story.