I imagine he stunk. Clothes tattered. Hair matted. Beard stained. One shoe missing a sole. The other worn through. Personal hygiene out the window. Chin once high now drags his chest. His eyes scan the ground -- afraid to make eye contact lest he bump into a creditor. One front tooth is missing. Another is cracked. The chestful of gold chains are gone. Some sold. Most gambled. Or stolen. The ring his father once gave him was pawned weeks ago. He is now skinny, ribs showing. Hungry. And he's not just mildly entertaining the idea of what might be in the fridge. He is nauseas and can think of little else. The once lofty air has left the building.
"E X T R A O R D I N A R Y! Words cannot adequately convey the power and depth of this amazing multi-generational suspenseful story of love and redemption. If you only read one book this year, WATER FROM MY HEART, would be my "top recommendation." Hands down, the "Best Book of 2015!" Movie-worthy and deserving of 10 stars." -- Judith Collins Book Reviews
I sat down a few days ago and talked through the creation and emotions that led to my next book, Water From My Heart. Due out May 19th. While filming, our dog, Maggie, wanted to get in on my video so you get to meet her too. Up close. Totally unplanned. I figured we'd just roll with it. ;-)
I traveled to Oregon last week. I was speaking at a school when one of the kids asked me why I do what I do. She wanted a view behind the curtain, where Oz is flipping all the levers. Sometimes, when I get this question, I wrap myself in my Superman suit and keep them at a distance. Why? After fifteen years in this carrer, it's just easier that way. The truth is personal and, can be, risky. This time, my answer was raw and unguarded. I was encouraged to record it and post it here. As best I can, I've done so.
At 3pm, as the High Priest was sacrificing the Passover lamb in the temple, Jesus lifted himself and tried to inhale but His lungs had flooded and there was no room. Only gurgle. Having 'poured out His flesh,' He let go and exhaled for the last time.
There on The Cross, Jesus -- the Lamb upon the throne -- died.
Darkness fell. An earthquake shook the giant stones. The veil in the temple was torn in two. The crowd hushed. Many cried. Groups huddled together. All shook their heads. "Surely, He was the Son of God."
Their eyes focused on Him. Lifted high. Silhouetted against the sky. Bruised. Battered. Unrecognizable. Bloodless. Limp. Lifeless.
A rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, who had become a disciple, spoke to Pilate. "I am here to ask for the body of Jesus."
Pilate was happy to be rid of him. He waves him off. "Take Him."
Careful not to rock the body, they slid the Cross out of its hole and set it down. They peeled off the crown, pulled out the nails and some brave soul reached up and closed His eyes. They then all lifted Him on their shoulders and carried Him quietly to a room where they laid Him on a table. One by one, they stared at Him. The silence was unbearable. How could this be? The voice of Jesus was gone...
Lord, I know I'm not telling You anything You don't already know but the last few weeks have been tough. Filled with uncertainty. With heavy hearts. Shock. Some anxiety. It's been wrough on all of us. Especially mom and dad. First, it was bloody urine, then a hurry-up surgery, a doctor in the recovery saying, 'the tumor was much larger than we thought.' Then a long quiet week waiting on pathology. When the report did come in, we heart words like, 'lymphovascular invasion is present.' Meaning? 'The margins aren't clear,' ' we need to go back in and remove all of it,' and 'this surgery will be much longer.' 'High rate of complications.' 'Very aggressive disease.' 'Suggest chemo prior to surgery for improved mortality.' 'Recovery 8-10 weeks.' Followed by, 'You'll require a bag for the rest of your life but we'll show you how to use it and it doesn't really leak much -- except at night.' They followed all that with a bit of a pause, 'Even if we do all this, there is still the chance that...'
Lord, this is my dad we're talking about. Lymphovascular invasion can kiss my...
When the calendar flipped to 2015, I found myself looking in the rearview with a sour taste in my mouth. Wrinkle between my eyes. I can not tell you that 2014 was a good year. It was not. Honestly, I was glad to see it go. For reasons I won't share, I shed more tears in 2014 than in the last several years combined. Real tears. Not just sad emotions but water dripping off my face mixed with white-knuckled fists. I knew sadness, heartache, anger unlike any I'd known in a long time and had to actively confront my own unforgiveness on more than a dozen occasions. If I didn't the bitterness would have eaten me alive. The problem was not in my house. Christy loves me. I love her. My kids love me. I love them. We are good. But there were circumstances and events outside of our control -- from more than one source -- that brought very real heartache and pain to our door. And it wasn't just one-and-done. It was constant. Over months. We were lied to, deceived, and by our perception, betrayed. Deeply.
NOTE: This 'piece' is not short. It doesn't fit neatly in our Twitter-culture where we consume pithy sound bites with the attention span of squirrels. I've not written this for your entertainment. I wrote it to show a process -- in me. One that was painful, not necessarily linear, didn't always make sense and took some time to play out. If you don't want to read to the end, here's the nugget -- I am a wretched, black-hearted sinner dealing with shrapnel of the heart. And there's only one way to get rid of stuff like this -- it has to be cut out but in order to get to it, you have to peel away the dead stuff and shine a light in a dark place. This 'piece' is me turning on the light in a closet I'd rather keep shut.