I feel like my God meter, my hope meter, my joy meter are all pegged out. My hope is that they are not. My hope is that they are resting just a little above zero. I desire there to be lots of room so the needles can continue to go up day by day for the rest of my days. I want to feel, every day, what I am feeling right now. I want to continue month after month, feeling the joy and hope and love that washes over me at this time.
When I was in the military, I served as a Flight Engineer on the C-141. For those of you who don’t know, that is a large four engine transport aircraft. Actually, it was an aircraft. They have all been retired now; chopped up into little pieces and converted into aluminum cans, I suppose. So next time you have a cold one, raise your drink and think of me. Back in the day when those cans were still a fleet of aircraft, we traveled the globe delivering cargo to any local that the government deemed necessary.
The next time you are at Yokota Air Force Base in Japan, you have to get a Nashi. Simply walk out the main gate, turn right and look for the fruit stand. There is a little Japanese man there who sells these Heavenly Asian Pears. When I was last there, it was the only place I knew, on earth, where you could get one. They are the celestial nectar, the ambrosia, the pinnacle of God’s fruity creations. To slowly embrace the wonder of this fruit is to slip the bonds of earth and walk for a time in God’s Heaven. The experience is… incredible. Nothing compares.
Today, you can buy these at any grocery store… but they are not the same. I think that perhaps the Americanized version of this fruit is picked green and ripened in a box in a warehouse in hell. They are at best, cardboard likenesses of this celestial fruit.
My point is that most of you have never bought this perfect fruit from the little Japanese man at Yokota. My point is that you cannot know and you cannot comprehend what you have never experienced.
This series of Coming Out and Going In is all about turning away from the ritual and tradition and clutter and entanglements and maze of those things that keep you from knowing Jesus on a real and personal level. For me, it is about shaking off the chains of organized religion. It is about casting aside religious clutter and replacing it with a relationship, a relationship with Jesus. It is about falling hopelessly in love with him in a new and profound way.
I have always followed Jesus and it was good. But now… there are no words to tell what the heart alone knows. When I look back to the Jesus I knew and loved from inside the cluttered maze of religion, I realize that he was no more than a cardboard likeness of the Jesus I am coming to know now.
Yesterday in church, the lights were turned down. We were asked to close our eyes, bow our heads and raise our hands to heaven in silent, personal prayer if we needed Jesus to come to us, to heal us, to make us whole. I raised mine and thought of Jesus. My chest tightened and began to quiver. Tears ran down my cheeks. The blood, the love, the hope, the freedom, the joy of Jesus washed over me and penetrated to my very center. Oh God, I love you! To my left, I had felt my dear wife’s hands go up and soon I heard her quietly weeping. To my right, a beautiful and cherished daughter was sniffing and blinking back tears. If it were possible for words to speak for the heart, I would tell you of this love, but I can find none that are equal to the task. So I tell you only this. I am free. John wrote, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”.
My heart no longer pumps blood. It pumps living water given of God. It flows through me, electrifies me, charges me, lifts me, cools me and sooths what once burned with pain. When I sleep, I dream of him. When aroused, I think of him and when I open my mouth, he is on my tongue.
I have always loved Mindy. She is my friend, my soul-mate, my everything, my lovely wife. Yesterday, I told her, “I think I am loving you more”. I instantly realized that my words were wrong. I don’t love her more than I have loved her all along. I said, “No, that’s not right… I am loving you better”. She liked that. She smiled and nodded. She feels it too. When your life is blessed as ours have been, Jesus makes everything better. Even that which has been virtually perfect, he elevates, he purifies, he blesses.
I feel like my God meter, my hope meter, my joy meter are all pegged out. My hope is that they are not. My hope is that they are resting just a little above zero. I desire there to be lots of room so the needles can continue to go up day by day for the rest of my days. I want to feel, every day, what I am feeling right now. I want to continue month after month, feeling the joy and hope and love that washes over me at this time. In my life, before Coming Out, I did have those times when my heart was full beyond description. Events that spring to mind include the time when I returned to God after years of sin, and when I witnessed the miracle of the birth of my children. These events were so rare that they stand out as beacons in my life. But now, they come so fast and tumble together until I can scarcely tell where one ends and the next begins.
Mindy and I desperately desire this blessing for our children. We pray for you every day. More than anything, we desire the blood of Christ to wash over you in ways that are miraculous beyond description. More than we can speak, we want this for our extended family. We love you and raise you up to God every single day. The church in my home town has become, for us, a place where we have felt shunned and and outcast. There was a time when we could not pass through this little town without feeling the most ugly bitterness. Some of that is my fault, I suppose, and some rests with others. Jesus has washed that all away. Now, when I pass by your homes and your church, I only pray that you will find this love.
Last night, Mindy and I were laying in bed. My heart was so full, so I whispered, “I love you better”. This startled her a bit and she jumped. I apologized for waking her. She said, “You didn’t wake me. I was just thinking about Jesus”. I asked her what exactly and she shared a few examples of her thoughts. Then she whispered, “Do you find yourself thinking of him more?”. I replied, “All the time”.
I pulled her closer. She laid her head on my shoulder and laid her arm across my chest. Her breathing deepened as she drifted off to sleep. Sleep didn’t come for me, my heart was too full. I was content to contemplate the wonder of the miracles that are now ours. While a family of coyotes sang their praises to God from the hill behind our home, I slowly drifted into a peaceful sleep unlike any I have ever known.
You may be tempted to doubt my words, but consider the Nashi. Is your worship of Jesus Christ built upon his most glorious fruit, so to speak, or is it a cardboard likeness? And if you have never been to the Heavenly equivalent of Yokota, how can you know?
I’m Lance Earl. Yours in Christ and Love and Liberty.
- John 8:32↩