I had come to conquer this city.
Four years later, it had conquered me.
And as I fixated on the glister of lights off my 14th floor balcony, I was coming to terms with the inescapable reality that Dallas had swallowed me whole.
And like the rebel prophet, I was spit up on the shores of it’s seductive witchery. Make no mistake. My lust and sin did not kidnap me.
I willingly jumped in the back of the van.
But once in, it was like I was fettered with chains and could not break out.
Yet somehow during the unforgettable nightfall of this particular evening, there was something unusual in the air. My life was about to take a disruptive turn.
Here was the harsh reality.
I had lost my marriage.
My high profile ministry career was now a distant memory.
Friends and colleagues had moved on from me. And I understood why.
And all of it had broken me financially.
For the first time in my life, I encountered poverty on every level.
My bank account was on fumes.
My soul was left wanting.
My creative energies and optimism had abandoned me.
And yet, on this night, a certain feeling - or knowing - suddenly came over me. In the depths of all my self-inflicted consequence, in nothing less than a pure act of mercy, the God of the universe reached earth-ward from his starry heavens and presented a gift.
He allowed me to experience the sheer joy of losing everything.
You see, Jesus had asked me to lose everything for His sake time and time again.
Oh... that unavoidable passage. That I avoided. But couldn't avoid.
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:38-39 (NIV)
These words of Jesus just didn’t fit with my American theology. You know. The co-opting of the Jesus life with the pursuit of the American Dream. As I look back, Jesus had simply become the fuel in my brand new shiny dream car that I was driving off Car Lot Americana.
“Just help me get to where I want to go Jesus.” And if you do, I will be sure to give you some well-deserved credit. (aka glory)
So there are times when we don’t willingly pick up our cross… or dare to lose our life on purpose — that our selfishness and ego does it for us. It certainly did for me.
Back to my balcony. Spiritually bankrupt. Busted broke. Life lost. A lonely loser.
And encountering this out-of-the-blue, unanticipated freedom in that very moment. I had found my life. By finally losing it all.
In the most beautiful and profound way, Jesus calls us all to be losers.
You see, for the first time, I could honestly lose every part of my life to Jesus. Perhaps because I had so little left to surrender. But nonetheless, I relinquished it all. For the first time in my life.
Like Solomon, I had experienced all that that America could possibly sell us, only to discover I was chasing wind. Grasping at vapor.
“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 (NIV)
I am now 57 years old. And when it comes to the stuff of this world, Jesus has completely broke my “give a damn” meter.
What I possess no longer possesses me.
My personal approval rankings are unimportant.
I have lost my fear of living or dying.
Because I have already died.
I finally picked up my cross.
And find - I have to re-pick it up each day.
It doesn’t matter what Jesus asks me to do - the answer was already decided. Yes.
For the first time in my life, I am free on the inside. I can honesty say nothing beneath my weather-beaten, dog-eared exterior is holding me captive.
Fear has left.
Lust is broken.
Envy is gone.
Judgement has been traded for mercy.
And here’s what I have discovered. When I truly lost my life in Jesus… and became a free man inside my head — and inside my soul… it was just a matter of time before the freedom of Jesus eclipsed all of my destructive past.
Freedom begins in the heart -- and then -- transforms our world.
My prayer for us all today:
May nothing possess us, but the Spirit.
May nobody take hold of us, but Christ.
May we stand in awe of none, but the Father.
May our kingdom crumble, and His Kingdom come.
Finally, two housekeeping notes:
I have two coaching openings left in August. If you are struggling with porn and lust and want to finally experience freedom once and for all, complete the coaching form HERE — and I will set up a personal consult with you within 48 hours.
Second, I have a couple speaking openings left this year. The end of August and September are still available, along with the latter part of November. Hit me up HERE if you want to put together a Men’s Event, a Sunday Service, or a Bar-mitzvah. :) We will talk!
Grace my friend,