The Face of Love

Love stared straight into my eyes this morning, locking it’s gaze with mine, transforming me from the inside out.  It didn’t bring me flowers or gifts.  There was no fan fare.  There was no sentimentality or rush of heightened emotion to crash down from.

Love unfolded itself before me, quiet, unassuming as I helped my bed bound patient’s husband change his wife’s diapers.  We struggled to hold her body weight up as we rolled her from side to side in her hospital bed removing the soiled linens, diapers, and soaking wet pajama bottoms.  The smell of urine pierced my nostrils and was so pungent I could only breath through my mouth.  I held my patient up as her husband tenderly cleaned her, returning any sharp word from her with kindness and grace.  We worked silently: him wiping his wife down, me laying out supplies and helping lift her legs, roll her from side-to-side, and rubbing her back and making sure she was OK.  She cowered in a ball, face to the rails of the hospital bed, allowing herself to be weak, vulnerable, messy, and cared for, just as she was.  After cleaning all the linens, changing her diaper, re-dressing the patient and repositioning her in the bed we covered her again with her blankets.  My patient’s husband typically does this every day of his life, alone.  There is no one there to applaud him for doing every act with kindness and great love.  There is not a soul present to thank him for his tireless work.

This is love.  Love shows up when we reek of urine and can only lie in a heap of our own helplessness.  Love is quiet and goes about it’s business without the slightest head nod of recognition from others.  Love loves for the sake of loving, even those, especially those who have absolutely nothing to give in return.  Love recognizes the God-given identity in each living soul and treats them accordingly, no matter their current feeble state.

This is the love that changes the world.  This is the way of Jesus:  down is up, the first is last.  The path to true greatness is in serving and laying down your life.  This way doesn’t make sense according to the ways of this world, but if you step inside this love, you will find it’s the very thing your heart was made to both give and receive.

Praise God for any and every opportunity to allow us to love more like Jesus.

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An Announcement

Sitting across from a dear friend with the breeze sweeping my hair across my face underneath an umbrella at my favorite downtown happy hour location eating tacos and drinking the best margarita on the planet I went off into a diatribe about how unity does not mean uniformity.  I ranted about how God is three in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and all three parts of the God head have very different roles, but they are one in purpose.  Their purpose is always to bring more love, wholeness, healing, peace, joy and most importantly, an unhindered relationship with God, to restore us back to our original design.  All three parts of the God-head are one in that purpose, but their ways of going about that purpose are very different.  Unity is decidedly not uniformity.  In fact, I think God gets great pleasure out of our diversity.  Uniformity is boring.  One only has to look at how many different types of monkeys He made, for example, to realize how much He appreciates this diversity, and all of creation screams that fact. It’s one of the main reasons I am so fascinated by watching shows like Planet Earth.  Looking at my friend, finally taking a breath of air after my long-winded explanation of my thoughts, her eyes sparkled and she told me, “Kim, you were born to do this.”

For almost two years now I’ve felt a consistent call to the creative: to writing, to photos, to travel, to exploration, and to allow myself the space to do those things more consistently in my life.  It’s where I come fully alive, and fully alive is the only way for me to live.  Fear has kept me from pursuing those things as more than a passing hobby.  I wanted to announce to you all, my faithful friends and followers, that I am officially taking a step to make a professional website/blog for myself.  I’ve been meeting with another dear friend who makes dynamite websites who is doing me a huge favor in making mine.  We have been discussing my vision and going through the process of starting to flesh that out.  I’m also getting professional headshots done for my website, and I’m taking some of the photos for the headers and gallery myself.  The hope is for Livefullyalive.co to be live in two months or so.

There is much work to be done and it’s all very overwhelming and exciting at the same time, like life itself.  I hope to still be able to post more consistently here, but if my posts become more scant it’s because of the demands on my time trying to roll this website out.

I want to thank each and every one of you who has ever given me words of encouragement that my words were valuable or touched you in some way (hello, words of affirmation love language person here!)  Thank you to my friend who told me there was a reason that she’s saved every letter I’ve ever written her.  Thank you to my friend who has texted me simply, “your posts are great-keep going”.  Many of you have read my posts for years through the adventures of backpacking the world and through many heartbreaks and seasons. You all mean the world to me and I wouldn’t be here without you.  I can’t wait to share this vision with all of you, and allow it to become whatever God has on His heart for it, for His glory.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

Fighting Against Your True Nature

My hair is naturally curly, and has only gotten progressively more curly over the years.  When I was younger, I used to take the time every time I washed my hair to straighten it.  I have a LOT of hair, people- that was never a short or easy process.  When I was living in Sevilla (the hottest, most humid area of Spain imaginable) there was no air conditioning anywhere and it was 90+ degrees with near 100% humidity.  Getting out of the hot shower and then having to blow dry my hair straight with a hot blow dryer in that weather felt like an extremely futile effort.  Because of the humidity my hair would immediately frizz and laugh at my efforts to control my curls.  

There are so many areas of life where we fight against our own true nature.  It could be appearance related, as I just mentioned, or it could be concerning our careers/callings.  We may spend our time in a career we hate but we do it anyway because we feel like it’s what is expected of us.  If you asked my forteen year old self what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you a National Geographic Photographer.  This answer was pure and unadultered by expectations, fueled only by passion and curiosity, devoid of expectations.

How many things in our life do we fight against our own true nature to please the masses, please our parents, to float pleasantly downstream along with societal expectations and not rock the boat?

My goal is to always live fully alive- true to myself, true to who God made me to be, for it is only then that I can gift that back to the world and make an impact in the way that He created me to.  Contemplating our true nature and how we fight that nature in so many areas, the Lord began to highlight to me an even deeper level that we contradict our true nature-deeper than our appearance, deeper than our career, deeper than our calling.

How many of us when we yell at someone in customer service because we are having a bad day and our wait is just a little too long give the excuse, “That’s just how I am, I’ve always had a short fuse”.  How many of us instead of turning our love outwards and seek to love others with the love of Christ turn it inwards only for selfish gain?  How many of us gossip behind a friend’s back?  How many of us say something to a family member or friend in a tone that is not with love and kindness? (I’m guilty of all of the above, my friends).  

Many of these things we can write off as “I’m just naturally X, Y, Z” fill in the blank-I’ve been that way as long as I can remember.  Here’s the thing: that’s not how you naturally are- not if you’re in Christ (have chosen to surrender your life to Him entirely), anyway.  Here’s the truth of the reality if you’re in Christ Jesus: Galatians 2:20 reads “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  To expound on this verse, 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  If we are in Christ, the old man, the old nature is dead. It was crucified with Christ.  Unfortunately, we keep trying to resurrect the old man instead of living out of our new man!  Life in the new man can only be lived by faith in the Son of God, by His Spirit instead of our own flesh (the old man, that is dead).  

Jesus did not come to this earth to make our lives just a little bit better.  He didn’t come to make us better people.  He came to completely transform us, from the inside out.  He came to make us an entirely new creation-one completely dependent on Him and the life of the Spirit within us.  The Christian life isn’t just difficult-it’s downright impossible without complete dependence on God and transformation by His Holy Spirit.  I don’t know about you, but instead of just trying to make my own life and my own plans “a little bit better” and continuing to live out of my old nature, my own flesh, and giving excuses for my old sin nature, I want to live out of my new man in radical dependence of the Father to live a completely transformed life.  When we live in dependence on Him what will flow naturally is His life within us, and the fruits of the Spirit will abound: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:22-23.  This is our true nature if we are in Christ.  Anything else is a lie; anything else is not who we truly are in Christ.

May He give us to the power by His Spirit to live a radically transformed life as the new creation that we are in Him, dead to our old nature, and refusing to resurrect it!  May we quit fighting our true nature- and be as loving, kind, patient, gentle and joyful as we really are in Him.

Lordship

On the four hour drive back from Bryce Canyon National Park my best friend and I took a break from the heavy rotation of Lord Huron on the radio to listen to a sermon by Bill Johnson on Lordship (do yourself a favor and listen to it if you want your socks to be blown off way more than I’m going to do in this post.  It’s entitled “Kingdom Abundance 1-True Lordship” under Bethel sermons of the week podcast).

Per usual, Bill said some things that made me look at well known stories in the Bible in a different light and brought clarity and illumination to some areas of current struggle in my life.  Bill referenced the story of the rich young ruler in the Bible (in the book of Matthew) that came to Jesus asking how he could obtain eternal life.  Jesus went on to give him a few commands, to which he responded “I already do those” (my paraphrase).  Jesus went on to tell him that there was one thing he lacked-to give all he had to the poor and come and follow Him. As we know, the rich young ruler walked away from Jesus sad because he had many possessions.  He was unwilling to give it all away to follow Jesus.

Many times in our Christian walk we look for a formula to obtain eternal life or to obtain more of God.  It’s very easy for us to take this story of the Bible, which is good and true no doubt, and make it the formula for what God is calling ALL of us to do ALL the time.  If we want to follow God we have to give all we have away to the poor.  This is what it means to be a “good” Christian.

However, we see in the story of Zacchaeus a completely different requirement from Jesus.  Being the chief tax collector and having been very corrupt all his life until he met Jesus, like the rich young ruler, Zacchaeus was an extremely wealthy man.  Zacchaeus had an entire empire built upon dishonesty and manipulation and stealing from others, and yet Jesus did not give this same command to him.  While Zacchaeus was walking with Jesus, he told Him that he was going to give half of everything he owed to the poor (recall Jesus told the rich young ruler to give ALL of it) and he goes on to say that he is going to return four times as much to everyone that he has stolen from.  

There was not the same requirement for each person from Jesus.  No mention was ever made of commanding Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to give all they had away to the poor despite their wealth either.  The issue is not a formula, as we would probably want it to be.  The issue is lordship.  Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within you, which means all Kingdom issues are heart issues.  They are all issues of lordship, the yieldedness of your heart to the One who is absolutely Lord.  

Jesus says that it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.  Mark’s Gospel clarifies this point and adds to it.  Mark says how hard it is for a rich man who trusts in riches to enter the Kingdom.  The clarification is where the rich man’s trust is.  When the lordship issue is settled then the trust is in the Lord only.  When your trust is in your resources, your possessions, your skill, your own intelligence then the lordship issue is not settled in your heart.

All throughout Jesus’ life and ministry we see Him cut directly to the heart of the matter.  We want a formula for eternal life, while He is after being Lord of our life in every area.  He had different requirements of the rich young ruler and Zacchaeus because He could see into their hearts and see what area was obstructing His absolute lordship in each of their individual lives.  He will not allow anything to stand in the way in your heart of your absolute surrender and yieldedness of His Lordship.  He will always put his finger on that area of your heart and ask you to give that thing up to Him.  Many of us, like the rich young ruler walk away sad, because we would rather trust in our own riches (whatever riches they may be) instead of trust in Jesus and His Lordship in our lives.

There are many areas of my life that I haven’t understood why God hasn’t given me certain things that have seemed so easy to come by for my friends.  It is always about lordship.  All the issues of the Kingdom are issues of the heart and issues of lordship.  There is no formula, there’s only absolute surrender to Jesus in all areas of your life.  It’s time to unclench my fist of the things I have held the most dear and yield unreservedly to my Lord, my God.  

An Encounter with God in the Las Vegas Whole Foods

It’s been almost a year since I’ve set out on solo traveling adventures, and it’s also been the longest I’ve ever gone without a legitimate vacation in my adult life.  Both things combined meant I was itching to hop on a plane and go somewhere.  There was an excellent deal for a week in Las Vegas that I could use a condo through my Mom’s timeshare as a home base to explore both Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.  At this point in my life I’m pretty much a national park junkie, so it was a no brainer.

The travel day yesterday shaped up to be one of the worst ones in history of travel for me.  There’s a whole story I could go into concerning everything that happened, but I’m here and safe and that’s all that matters.  My jet lagged body woke me up at 6 am just as light began to peer through the heavy drapes.  I picked up my phone and saw the time and simultaneously knew that my body was absolutely convinced that it was 9 am and that sleep would not find me again.

A leisurely start to the morning was necessary after rough travels yesterday.  I put on Pandora and the decadent bathroom shower falsely persuaded me that I had an amazing singing voice as I bellowed River and Roads by the Head and the Heart.  Craving familiarity, I found a Whole Foods to do my grocery shopping for the week and stock up the cabinets.  

Pushing my cart through the eggs/dairy section, a man standing in front of the plethora of options of different types of eggs asked me which he should buy as I was perusing the yogurt selection. (This is one of my absolute favorite things about solo travel.  Complete strangers never fail to talk to me in a way that never happens when I travel with others, and it makes my day every time.)  After showing him which eggs I typically buy, he opened up the container and began to sniff the eggs.  He gazed up at me, perplexed, and said the eggs didn’t smell.  I chuckled a little bit, and told him that you didn’t need to smell the eggs to determine which ones to buy; eggs don’t smell.

The gentlemen went on to explain that he is a farmer in Ethiopia, and that he’s only here for a few months to visit his children.  He said that on his farm the eggs that he has smell, so he is used to smelling them.  Always one to be absolutely fascinated by foreign cultures, I immediately delved deep into conversation with him about his country, his farm, and his life back in Ethiopia all while my fingers were getting cold from standing in the dairy section.  Conversation turned to my profession, and when I told him I was a physical therapist his face lit up.  He said, “maybe that’s why God led us together-I am having very bad, debilitating back pain from a herniated disc-can you help me?”  Once I gave him advice I simply stated, “I really hope you feel better-God bless you”. 

Saying those three simple words of “God bless you” opened up a whole new realm of conversation with this gentleman.  He asked me if I was a Christian, which I of course responded that I was.  He told me that he was the son of a Bishop in Ethiopia, a powerful man of God who brought revival to his nation.  His father had planted many, many churches across Ethiopia as well as the United States.  The history of his father’s church, his father’s heart and his heart for God and his people had me in tears in the middle of Whole Foods.  He told me to google his father’s name and that he would see the history of the church that he had recounted to me.  When I got home from the grocery store I did just that, and seeing the beautiful history unfold on the Wikipedia page of this man that I had a God-encounter with in the middle of Las Vegas Whole Foods was incredible.  

The vastness of God will always be something that leaves me slack-jawed in awe.  His ability to bring people together and orchestrate divine meetings is unparalleled.  Something that to me seems so fantastical every time it happens, for Him is completely normal and simple.   His heart is always to bless us and show us His goodness and kindness in new ways.  He wants  us to encounter Him everywhere-in the normal, in the mundane, right in the middle of Whole Foods.  All we have to do is show up in wide-eyed wonder and watch what He can do, if we only give Him room.

Begin

Every amazing writer I know who teaches about the craft says the same thing: no matter what, just sit down and write.  Stare at a blank screen until something pours out of you and onto the page. A la Hemingway, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  Most advise writing at the same time everyday, teaching your creativity to kick in and know that it has a safe and consistent place to express itself daily.  In the past there would be long stretches of me not writing because, well, I didn’t feel that I had anything to say.  Or at least I didn’t have anything good or inspired to say.  I would wait until the moment of inspiration hit me, which could be as little as once a month, and then I’d write.  Forcing myself to write consistently I have found not only bolsters my creativity, but it forces me to pay attention, forces me to observe the things in my daily life that I would otherwise overlook going about my day in a haze of routine, numb to the beauty that is present if we just open our eyes.

This is the cloak of perfectionism, screaming at us to not begin.  Perfectionism keeps us stalled, robs us of the life we could have if we just got comfortable in the mess of it, rolled up our sleeves, and began.  Perfectionism tells me that I shouldn’t start writing until I have something profound to say, that I shouldn’t start my own blog until I am able to write consistently amazing posts, that I shouldn’t start my own business until I have built a solid platform, blah, blah, blah.  I shouldn’t begin until everything is perfect.  We forget that the only way to get good at something is by first being very bad at something.  The only way to make progress is to start slowly, meagerly, and daily build momentum.  Dare I say it? Perfectionism is about protecting our own vulnerable, child-like egos (and I think it’s well past time for us to grow up).  Our childish ego cowers in the corner, rocking back and forth repeating to itself, “But what if I put out that crappy first draft and no one likes it? What if I try to start a business and it fails? What if I risk it and go for my dream job and land flat on my face? What if I take a leap and go for it in my relationship, only to be rejected?” If you fail, so what? Then you learn what doesn’t work and you are able to perform better next time.  But when all you do is hide and never begin, you never learn and you never advance.  Your precious ego stays in tact, though, and you don’t have to risk rejection.

There are two planes to everything in life: the horizontal and the vertical, and one always directly affects the other.  Our relationship with God (the vertical) will always bleed into our relationship with the horizontal (ourselves and others).  How we view God will always be how we treat ourselves and how we treat others.  If your God is sitting on the throne, distant, uninvolved and judging every move you make and hitting you with thunderbolts each time you make a wrong move, you may very well be paralyzed to even begin.  How much of us feeling like we need to have everything perfect, all our ducks in a row before we ever begin is related to the way we view God? I’m willing to bet it has more to do with it than we think.

On a mission trip to Costa Rica once I was talking to a man about Jesus and His insurmountable love for him.  The man said he had heard about this Jesus, and tears formed in his eyes as he told me His love was the most beautiful thing he’d ever heard of. When I asked the man if he would like to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and turn his life over to His care, he rejected the offer.  When I asked him why, he said there were things he needed to do in his life, things he needed to tidy up and clean up before he could present himself to Jesus.  I tried to explain to the man that this was the very reason Jesus came, that he could never be “clean enough” before coming to Jesus, but he still walked away without accepting Christ.

Throughout the Gospels Jesus’ morality and integrity was consistently questioned by the law-abiding, “good” citizens of the day because He chose to hang out with such unsavory people.  He hung out with tax-collectors, adulterers, harlots, and generally the worst of the worst sinners.  I don’t see one example of them “cleaning themselves up” before coming to Him.  In fact, what I see are these people being sought out by Jesus, in the midst of their mess.  It’s their encounter with His unconditional love that changes the course of their life.  The direction of their life is radically different after encountering His radical love, mercy, and grace.  I never see Jesus condemning these beloved children for coming to Him ragged and worn, but I do see Him condemning those who come to Him thinking they had “cleaned themselves up” for Him already. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For you pay the tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” Matthew 23:23-25, emphasis mine.  Coming to Jesus with all our shortcomings and failings, pouring our heart out to Him and accepting His grace allows the inside of the heart to be cleansed, which in turn cleans the outside.  When we present a white-washed exterior and come to Him with our noses in the air thinking we have no need of Him, no internal cleansing can happen.  And when no internal cleansing happens, the weightier matters of the law such as justice, mercy, and faith don’t get extended to others.  We have checked off the boxes of our doctrine, but forgotten to love our God and our neighbor.  We have strained out a gnat and swallowed a whole camel.

What areas of our lives are we stalled, refusing to begin, refusing to move forward because we are insistent on being “cleaned up” enough before we do?  Coming to the Lord just as we are and encountering His grace for ourselves allows the inner transformation to take place that empowers us to live out a new and different life.  Instead of protecting our own egos and cowering in fear, beginning where we are allows His grace to infuse us, by His Spirit, with what we need to proceed forward.  Anything else is just blind self-dependence and self-effort.  We must be humble enough to show up, just as we are, to offer up what little we have, and watch as Jesus turns it into more than enough.  How can we show up just as we are with both God and man right now?  How can we trust Him enough to start something that’s been on your heart, believing that it doesn’t have to be perfect, but that His transforming grace will show up and enable you every step of the way instead of depending on your own gumption, know-how, and perfectionism?  Can we trust Him enough to begin where we are, far from perfect, but trusting in His perfection for us, trusting His Spirit to provide whatever we need along the journey?

Write.  Start your business.  Take a sick friend a meal.  Help an elderly woman with her groceries.  Listen to a friends current struggles without trying to fix it.  Be present.  Love radically, even in the small things, right where you are.  Begin.

Legacy

A dark blanket of gloomy clouds hung over the city and drizzled rain today as I got dressed in all black.  After my church service I went to a memorial service for one of my high school and college friend’s Father’s, a man who had a profound impact on my life despite the little I knew him.  I considered my friend’s Father to be a spiritual Father of sorts, as I went to a weekly Bible study he hosted at his home from the time I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at age fifteen all the way through high school.  I remember him being a man of profound wisdom, kindness, warmth, and generosity.  People who have spent a lot of time with the Lord carry a weight on them:  the words they speak carry authority, and peace, love and unity seem to follow them wherever they go.   He ultimately succumbed to the terrible disease of ALS at too young of an age, but his joy in the Lord never left him despite the undeniable hardship of his disease.

My friend who I met at fifteen years of age, knew all through high school, and remained close with through college now stood before me and hundreds of lives his Father’s life had touched as a grown man with three children of his own giving his Father’s eulogy. Somehow, at the age of thirty-four, I have arrived at what is likely to be the half way point of my life.   Listening to my friend speak of his Father’s life and looking out on the audience of so many lives profoundly impacted by one life well lived, I couldn’t help but think of the importance of a legacy.  We in our westernized culture fear, diminish, and generally try to avoid the topic of death.  It’s almost as if we think if we just don’t talk about it, if we avoid it long enough, maybe death won’t happen to us.  The reality is that death is certain.  What is not certain is if we will live our life well while we still live.  I listened to a podcast with Father Richard Rohr once where he described a tribe that as a coming of age ritual would make their children dig their own graves.  We may think of this as morbid, but this tribe felt it was the only way the children could come to grips with their own mortality.  By digging their own graves, they could come to grips with their certain fate, the fact that they were made from dust, God breathed life into them, and eventually, to dust they would return.  From this standpoint of facing their death, they could find their lives purpose and truly live.  This approach to life strikes me as more healthy and more balanced than our cultures avoidance of the inevitability of death.  Without keeping death and eternity in view, we glide through life never making any definite decisions on how to actually live the one life we’ve been given, and arrive at death having never accomplished the tasks that God sent us here for.

My friend stood before us and spoke of his Father’s life-a life of faith, integrity, and deep character.  He explained how his Father had been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis at a very young age which caused him much pain and prevented him from sleeping well. Even with his lack of sleep, he said he never failed to find his Father up reading the Word at 5:30 every morning.  He explained how he was a man that used every precious amount of spare time that he had wisely to serve others and with purpose for the Kingdom.  My friend explained that even though he was not a Pastor or in the ministry per se (he sold propane for a living), that in every business interaction he worked with such integrity and treated all he encountered with such love that all who encountered him respected him.  He turned down job promotions over the years because of his refusal to cut into his time with his family and his insistence to consistently make it home by 5:30 p.m. every day and have family time.  I was moved by my friends description of his Father’s practices of discipline with him as a child.  He explained that he was a very strong-willed child and very hard headed (I laughed under my breath knowing this to be true), and that he got into trouble often.  He said that when he got into trouble, even at a very young age, his Father would allow him an opportunity to “make his case”, having figured out that his personality worked better when he had the opportunity to defend himself (go figure that he ended up being a lawyer!).  After he made his case, he would then state his view point of why his son was wrong.  His Father would then ask him which case was correct, stating the obvious that it was really his word against his son’s.  His Father suggested they base right and wrong on the Word. Once they determined what the Word said on a particular matter, if my friend had violated it he would get a spanking, they would hug afterwards, and then pray together.  My friend said that in his household grace and discipline always held hands in harmony.  When discipline is over emphasized over grace a child’s heart grows hard and rebellious.  When grace is over emphasized without discipline a child runs wild and has no standard of behavior.  In his household he said he knew without a doubt that he was unconditionally loved and accepted, but also knew that there were standards set for his behavior for his own good and in order to honor God.  What a beautiful picture of the heart of the Heavenly Father for us as well.

Listening to the eulogy and feeling the weight of a life so well lived, I tried to reflect on the elements that make a person be able to say at the end of their life that they ran their race well.  Looking at my spiritual Father’s life a few things were apparent: performing every act, no matter how small with integrity and character, having spiritual discipline and prioritizing God above all things, making fierce boundaries to protect your family, prioritizing family over career, living to serve others, denial of self, and joy in the face of every trial because of an enduring hope in Christ.   In every act we perform in our lives, we are either choosing things of temporal or eternal significance.  He always chose the eternal.

At the end I think what matters most is how transformed we were by our Heavenly Father’s love and grace, how we allow that love to change us, and how we in turn allow that love to flow through us to everyone we have come into contact with, changing them as well.  His was a life well lived because his belief wasn’t what Western culture has dumbed it down to be:  purely a mental assent to a theological belief system.  Belief in Biblical terms is something that you stake your whole life on and behave accordingly.  The most famous Bible verse that we could all probably quote, John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.  His life was powerful because he didn’t just mentally assent to this belief, he poured his entire life out for it, and all of us in the audience could attest to the impact it makes on a life when you encounter someone who lives truly loving God and their neighbor.  This was a man who lived the Gospel.  He was transformed by it, and everyone who came into contact with him was transformed by the love that he gave away in turn.

We all hunger for this kind of life.  We hunger to live a life that matters.  We can only live for what matters if we live in light of eternity.  I am desperate to spend my life beholding His face and declaring His love to every person I come into contact with.  I pray at my memorial service that I would have been able to personally encourage each soul in attendance their belovedness by our loving Heavenly Father.  I pray that I spend my life pouring myself out for the needs of others and giving away the lavish love and forgiveness that the Father has poured out on me.  In the words of Jim Elliot, the Christian missionary who lost his life while spreading the gospel to unreached people groups, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. Oh, that we may truly live.

I think this is Jesus’ major message: there is something essential that you only know by dying.  You really don’t know what life is until you know what death is.  Death, which seems like our ultimate enemy, is actually the doorway.  This is how Jesus overcame and even destroyed death.-Father Richard Rohr