Finding Abundant Life
My story is really one where I pursued everything under the sun that I thought was advertised as offering life. And really started growing up in the church when I was a kid, and not finding it there, but knowing that God was real. So I spent a lot of church years just kind of observing, and not really being an active participant. I looked for life, and really validation, in work and success, and what the world was telling me was successful: to have a beautiful woman, to make a lot of money, to be recognized or powerful. What I realized when I was able to accomplish one thing was that I could continue to maybe taste all these different things.
So I pursued sports broadcasting and had the opportunity to work with ABC Sports and meet some of my heroes in the broadcasting world, only to find out that that life wasn’t there. I had the opportunity to live in Hollywood and work there and get on the sets of some TV shows and movies that became very popular, and had the chance to get an agent and pursue those things. At the same time, I was realizing that I could be successful in that world if I stayed there, but also that the life I was looking for, wasn’t there, either. So I tried to get that question answered in the business world and I pursued corporate America. A fortune 50 company and had great sales success there. I saw a future even in upper management, the executive level of this big company. I also realized that wasn’t where life was going to be found, either.
So I accepted the invitation out and that invitation came as an opportunity on The Apprentice, and ended up as a finalist on that show. There were 32 of us and half of us were going on the show and half weren’t. During that week, I had this opportunity, really to kind of tell them what I knew they wanted to hear and rather than doing that and making sure that opportunity happened, I handled it differently. Part of that, again, was I was a little bit disenchanted getting to see behind the scenes there. I felt this answer that life wasn’t here either. So I went into the banking world, investment banking, and got the chance to cover some of the biggest institutional clients in New York. Big, big, big names and institutions, and got to be a part of some big meetings there. Once again, as that happened, I felt this tug on my heart and this answer to this question that abundant life was not going to be found there.
In that season, I took another opportunity out and then pursued an entrepreneurial career. I had this path, helping start a company, being president of a company that would become the nation’s number one, fastest growing real estate company. We’re on this, blazing new trails and breaking growth records and receiving accolades, on the Inc 500. I once again felt that tug on my heart, had the validation question sort of answered from a worldly sense, but I’m still empty and still searching for where life could be found. And once again, I answered that tug on my heart and stepped into the unknown again. It was in that season that God introduced Himself to me.
We were going to have our second child. We got pregnant and we found out it was a boy. When my wife told me that we were having a boy, I just wept, and I didn’t expect that response. But I just knew in my spirit that we were only going to have girls. So we got pretty advanced in the pregnancy and had gotten the room ready and we had given him a name. His name was Lucas, which means bringer of light. We went to a routine appointment and found out that his heart stopped beating. It was a really, really difficult journey. I mean, really difficult. We journeyed through that, and a number of months pressed on. I found myself, I still, from all those years of kind of practicing sin, I found myself with a really well formed double life. I accepted an invitation to go to a Wild at Heart boot camp. I hadn’t even read the book, didn’t know anything about the story, didn’t know what we were doing, didn’t know the guys there. It was just like one guy, one friend of mine that was going, that said, “I think you’re supposed to go to this.”
So I found myself there and a verse really stood out to me – almost like smelling salts – in the middle of my journey that started to strip away religion from walking with Him. It was a verse that was very personal, because it was my birthday. It was 10, 10. It was John 10:10, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you may have life to the full.” This abundant life. And John Eldridge, who teaches the Wild at Heart boot camp, is the one who said that, and for some reason I heard it. I had never heard that verse before. But I heard it and it was like this, “Aha, this is why You came. To bring us life, to show us life.” Like, I had heard all this religious stuff. I had been in church for so many years and somehow, even knowing that God was real, I never knew that it was to bring life. I just thought it was so that we could behave better or come to know Him or just something else, something much more religious than that.
But I knew the answer to the question that I had been asking all those years, and what I was in such hot pursuit for, and the very thing that had caused me to have double life going at that time was answered. That that somehow the answer was in His words, that this is why He came. So I became fully present to this boot camp experience. But I got this injury. We played some football and this guy fell on me that was much bigger than me. And like, literally I’ve never had a back injury, but seized my back. I could not move. They said, “Well, we’ve got to take you to the hospital.” And I said, “No, don’t take me to the hospital. I’ve got to stay. I’ve got to finish this weekend.” So that was Saturday and the next day was Sunday. I just took Tylenol, everything anybody could give me. I even, somebody I think, at like 3am that morning, heard me groaning and so they gave me Motrin PM, at three or 4am. So I woke up, exhausted and hurting. We get to the end of the session, which it ends at like 12 o’clock that morning, and I physically couldn’t get out of my seat. Everybody else had cleared out of the auditorium. And there’s a guy that lingered back and he’s like, “Hey, can I pray for you?”
At that point in my life I really had never been, being around men’s groups and everything else, had really never experienced someone praying and speaking on God’s behalf. I just, I’d never, I didn’t have a grid for that. But I couldn’t physically get up and I was like, “Yeah, well, I’m in a lot of pain and I’m gonna have to go straight to the hospital from here. So yeah, I can use some prayer.” So he starts to pray for me, and he prays for my back, but then he just stops himself. He says, I feel like God is saying, “I’m really proud of you.” And in that moment, I went through the process of thinking about the God that I knew, or the God that I had learned about and He saw, He saw and knew everything. So He knew the deepest, darkest… You know, He knew the sin and all the religious performance and this, this, like, complicated mess that I had become. He was fully aware of that. And I could look at my life, and objectively say there’s nothing that I was proud of, or that I would be proud of, if I were God. I really was wrecked and challenged in that moment. I felt this invitation in it to just open, just the slightest crack to my heart that it’s possible that God was way better and bigger than my sin and better than I ever thought that He could be. That changed everything. I ended up a sobbing mess on the ground after pondering that in that moment.
I was just so wrecked that somebody had to drive my car to the hospital and call my wife and have her pick me up at the hospital. So by the time she had retrieved me and I was sitting down in the car she said, “Do you know what today is?” And I, you know, in my loopiness, I said, “No, I, I think it’s Sunday.” And she said, “No. it’s, it’s…Today is actually Lucas’s due date.” So here on this day that I was supposed to be a father to a son, I really became a son to a Father. And it just, the way that God works, His kindness, His goodness, and then His perfection and timing really became this great mystery to me. I mean, I ended up two weeks on the couch where I couldn’t move. I would have gone back to my busy life of just running and being, just doing things, getting things accomplished, and probably would have been robbed from properly processing what He wanted to do in my life. But He would see fit that two weeks on the couch would do. After two weeks, I never had a problem with my back again. But those two weeks I was on the couch, I just had to think about what…I had this divine timeout. This divine halftime session of sitting there and going, “What just happened?”
All these difficult questions though is what I felt answered in my spirit that He is enough. And I felt this confirmation where He is willing to take the areas where…my language, He’s willing to speak my language in all these areas as I’m wrestling questions with Him and the meaning and purpose and all this is answered me through license plates and numbers. And that 10-10 number? I can’t tell you how many times He’s used the 10-10 and the other number is Lucas’ due date 11-18, and then how He’ll use, how He can intervene in just about every area of life.
We went to a Switchfoot concert and at that time, it was John 10:10 that I was really living in, of like this abundant life. I remember telling my wife, I was like, “Switchfoot has this song, it’s called When we come alive.” And it really was like, I called it the John 10:10 song. I remember at this concert with you know, several 20, 15,000 people there. My wife turns to me and she says, “Oh, is this the song?” They started playing and I’m like, “No, it’s, that’s not it.” A little bit later, she turns to me and says, “Is this it?” And I’m like, “This is the song.” So she pulls out her phone and videos it and it’s 10:10 right when they started playing the song! Then midway through the song, John Forman gets off the stage, and we’re, I don’t know, 100 rows back, you know, so many aisles and everything. He makes his way all the way to our row and literally ends up walking over people and right when he’s saying, “When we come alive” gives me a high five, when he’s saying, “when we come alive!” And I’ve already labeled it the john 10:10 song!
But it’s just, you know, there’s so many examples in this journey of, and it’s not saying anything about me, but if we’re paying attention to the detail of how the nature of our Father, of how much bigger and more sovereign He is than we’d ever think. He has taken me and changed me and has put me on this path from a double life into singularity or wholeness of heart and mind and is still in the process of healing that in me. Something that I thought was impossible.
Something becomes lost because it’s in the darkness, you know, because it’s, you can’t find it. There’s no illumination on it, right? So there’s something with Lucas and ‘bringer of light,’ where illumination comes and all of a sudden, what’s lost now becomes found. And that’s really what He did. I still, I don’t have these neat and tidy words because I’m not trying to make it into a testimony. That’s the very Christian thing to do. But I’m more just, as I retell the story or think about it, I just kind of marvel at it and it brings joy and life to think that this is, you know, the story that He can tell, you’re just living it. And as you reflect on it, it’s just more of something just for marvel and awe and wonder. It’s ultimately about just bringing wholeness; being a true testimony to who our Father is and what He’s doing and the fact that it’s not religious at all. Just trying to be true to the testimony and true to the story that He’s writing on our lives.