If you don’t mind my getting a little personal… or even if you do mind, I’m going to anyway. Let me get personal about me and my story… and then I want to get personal about you and your story.
I’ve got something extraordinary to celebrate.
Caron and I are celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary this week. Under any circumstances, this would feel like an extraordinary thing to celebrate. 40 years of doing anything doesn’t happen that often.
But as you know, under our circumstances, it’s a sign and a wonder. It’s a miracle of miracles.
Almost 2 1/2 years ago when I woke up my wife one morning, to confess to her the worst failure of my life, that had happened more than several years earlier, I watched what had been a fabulous marriage for both of us, descend into a depth of hell, that there is not adequate enough language to describe.
Because of the massive pain it brought to Caron… and the massive disorientation it brought to her and our family… as well as the public humiliation that ensued, I would have never predicted we would be where we are today. I believed in miracles… and had participated in many over the years, but this was in another miracle galaxy that I wasn’t sure we could reach.
It’s one thing to try to survive the storm of the century…
it’s another to end up thriving in the midst of it.
Out of the many things and people that have helped facilitate such a miracle, I want to directly address and speak to THE two primary players… and then I want to directly address you.
*** To my amazing wife of 40 years, Caron Loveless: We would not be where we are today without your extraordinary commitment. Without your commitment to me and to us, I wouldn’t be writing this today… and we certainly wouldn’t be celebrating this week. What’s wrong with this picture?
By Day 2 of our season from hell, you made a commitment that you were not only going to go through this, but that you and I were going to come out of it. HOWEVER, you decided to not let me in on this information right away:-) You definitely kept me hanging on the edge for awhile… deservedly so, while you already had formed an earthquake resilient commitment.
Sweetheart, you’ve heard me often tell people: “We wouldn’t be where we are today, without Caron’s perseverance, strength, and courage.” Yet you did this while at the same time experiencing the full pain and confusion of the worst failure of my life.
- You fully processed all the pain while at the same time you fully accessed all the grace.
- You fully processed all the “why’s” while at the same time you fully accessed all the “what now’s?”
- You fully processed all that was ‘wrong’ in our current situation while at the same time you fully accessed all the ‘right’ that was still in our current situation
I’ve just been absolutely stunned by how you and I have processed so many of the vulnerability factors and broken places in me that needed to be addressed… and at the same time I’ve watched you process so many of the broken places in you, that you told me God was inviting you to address.
We both know that Jesus boldly declared something revolutionary when He said: “Greater love has no one than this: that they lay down their life for their friends.” My precious wife, you have done this!
You have laid down your reputation…
even many of your relationships…
all for the sake of seeing my resurrection and ours!
I’ve never experienced greater love!
It would have been so easy for you to have become trapped in the painful part of our story. But you you’ve demonstrated a desire, commitment, and grace to gain a larger perspective and grow into an even larger story.
I want to honor you, my wife today,
for your remarkable, yet honest response in it all.
*** To my amazing Creator of infinite years, the Lord Jesus Christ. Caron and I would not be where we are today without your extraordinary grace. I’ve come to understand that it’s one thing to experience mercy: not getting what I deserve. It’s a whole other thing to experience grace: getting what I don’t deserve.
Lord, you’ve shown me that grace is getting the undeserved resources we’ve needed to not only survive life but to thrive in it and actually enjoy it… no matter how difficult our circumstances. Your gospel is so counter-intuitive. You jolt us with words such as Romans 5:20 “…though sin is shown to be wide and deep, thank God his grace is wider and deeper still!” (Phillips)
Lord, I’ve come to see that the mentality that divides the world into “deserving and undeserving” is a world that has not yet experienced the absolute gratuity of your grace or the undeserved character of your mercy. Even though I didn’t realize it over the years, I often lived inside of a prison of “meritocracy” where all has to be deserved. But you’ve turned my world and ours upside down by allowing us a reality and a grace that exists outside of all human or divine accounting.
I deserved to die on multiple levels, for what I did. But then you undeservedly resurrected me and our marriage. You’ve shown me that loss, betrayal, or failure… and all the suffering that goes with it… NEVER has the last word.
Lord, your Resurrection has freed Caron and I to call our human experiences what they are: it was awful… it was a hell on Earth … it was unjust… it was evil…it was a nightmare. Your Resurrection has freed us to actually name the pain and not pretend like it wasn’t a big deal.
However, it also freed us to experience and see how EVERY wound can miraculously be healed and redeemed by your extraordinary love and transforming power.
I want to honor you, the Lord Jesus Christ today
for Your remarkable, undeserved response to my imperfection.
*** NOW, to you my precious readers and friends. I promised to get personal about me and my story but let me close by getting personal about YOU and YOUR story.
Whatever you’ve gone through… or are going through right now… or will go through in the future:
your kids breaking your heart…
your parents breaking your heart…
the person that you love is cold or checked out…
your business just went south on you…
you lost your job or house…
you lost someone you loved in a death that makes no sense…
your faith or experience with God has grown bitter, cold, or confusing…
or maybe your whole life is blowing up in your face.
Resurrection says talk about it, name it, express it, feel it but don’t ever be deceived that the last word or experience about that situation has been spoken or felt.
An important part of our story is that loss, betrayal, or failure
NEVER has the last word.
no matter how dark it seems…
no matter how impossible it feels…
no matter what your former friends turned critics say…
no matter how long the season….
We don’t know how, when, or where, but God WILL make a way where there seems to be no way.
Believe me, we are no one special, and He did it for us. Believe me, He will do it for you.
The last message I ever preached at Discovery Church, where I had the honor of being the Lead Pastor for 29 years, I didn’t know at the time, would be my last message. I taught from Genesis 50 where Joseph tells his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Yes we are celebrating our 40th anniversary miracle this weekend, but we are believing that in time, we’ll celebrate a big miracle that you’ve experienced. We’re believing that our story is not just for us, but for the saving of many other lives. We are believing that includes you.
And by the way my dearest Caron… on Saturday when we renew our vows together, a part of what you’ll hear me say is: “I’ve never been more committed to you that I am at this moment. I feel like the wealthiest person on the planet because of the treasure I have in you. I am forever, faithfully yours.”