We will be on vacation around here, until August 16. Sara and I are taking some time off the next two and a half weeks for a vacation of rest, recreation, and hanging out with some close friends and family. We are so looking forward to taking a break. These pages will be quiet in that time and if you can hold your emails until I return, that would be great. (We do have someone filling book and audio orders for us during that time.)
I’ll leave you with this: My dad told us a story from his few days on the front in World War II, before he was injured by mortar fire and evacuated to a hospital in Italy. A new officer had been assigned to his unit and had come up to the front to introduce himself. Unfortunately he had no battlefield experience. He had just been trained at Officer Candidate School. While he was explaining to them who he was and what he expected of them, a mortar round was launched from the opposing army. By the sound it was making all the men knew it wasn’t going to land anywhere near them, but the officer only knew mortar rounds in theory. He yelled “take cover” and dropped to the ground with his hands over his helmet seeking what little protection he could find. The rest of the men just stood there watching their commanding officer huddled on the ground in terror.
Eventually the officer realized he was not in danger and sheepishly stood up and continued on with his presentation as if nothing had happened. The men were smart enough not to laugh at him, but my dad said every soldier knew this was not someone they would entrust their lives to him in battle. Tough he had lots of training on the theory of battle, he had absolutely no experience with what it meant to live in one. They would give him lip service, but they would follow the sergeants who had lived on the battlefield far longer than anyone else.
I meet a lot of people on this journey who are staunch advocates for the “love message” or “grace message”. They can espouse the theory well enough, but they have no idea how to live a life of loving and it’s obvious in the way they treat others. Instead of being honest, gracious and, well… loving, they treat people harshly, especially those who might disagree with them. Then I know, they’ve just jumped on a bandwagon. In the end it’s just a message to them, one they may be genuinely believe, but one they haven’t begun to learn to live.
The world’s bandwidth is filled with people who have opinions and theories they want to force on others. What the world needs is people who will live differently, who love others without trying to exploit them for their own ministry or their own gain. They don’t just expound the theory, but live radically as those who put others above themselves, care for people who hurt or are in need, and demonstrate that love is not a theology but a way of life. When you love that way, the world opens up to you. And you learn it not on outreaches to strangers or speaking to crowds, but by laying your life down for the people closest to you–your spouse, your neighbors and your co-workers.
And I’m glad we have an older brother who fully lived love in this world, tempted in every way like we are and yet found the Father’s love the greatest reality to embrace. We can fully entrust our lives to him and learn from him what he knows so well. That’s how his joy lives in us, and our joy becomes full.