Many people are under the false impression that great spiritual leaders do not have a care or a problem in the world. That somehow or other, they have broken through into another realm. That they live in continual pleasant circumstances, where nothing ever goes wrong. That they never have any problems, troubles or trials to face.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Recently, I was fascinated to read a book, compiled by well-known author and prophetic minister James W Goll, entitled What Love Looks Like. In this book, twelve leaders share stories when the love of God broke through their darkest moments. Chapter after chapter, you read true stories that plummet you into the depths of their darkest times. Yet, it is inspiring as you see how God brought them through their darkest moments. You are encouraged to believe God can do the same for you.
Bill Johnson, in the forward to this book, shares the impact that a book like this can have on its reader, ‘I love books about radical faith, great achievements and un- usual conquests. I absolutely love being provoked by the kind of messages that launch me beyond the boundaries of what has become common. I also love the behind-the-scenes stories of people who live on the constant edge of what is thought to be impossible. It feels as though they are summoning me into pursuing things in God I had never even dreamed of. These messages awaken something in me that truly makes me feel alive at a whole new level.
And while What Love Looks Like is a summons from God to all that I just mentioned, it will hit the reader at a much deeper place than one might imagine at first glance. Instead of problems, assignments and mission being our conquest, somehow we as the readers become the conquest. And as we become the conquest of God, we learn firsthand the expression of this priceless commodity called love. This kind of love is the rarest of all, as it is given away, needing nothing in return to keep it alive.’
A WIDE VARIETY OF DARKEST MOMENTS
Mahesh Chauda tells the story of the radical call to obedience, during the birth of his son Aaron, who at birth was facing death. At this critical time, Mahesh was scheduled to minister in Africa and his wife insisted he keep this commitment. Reading their story, you find out that ‘God is pure love and His love always breaks through.’ You see how miracles occurred because of obedience, including raising a young boy from the dead.
Stacey Campbell and her husband Wesley recount the time when they were told, ‘We want you to resign (here is the paper for you to sign),’ from the church that they had founded twenty-two years before. What did she do in her darkest hour? To quote Stacey, ‘I turned to find God the way I had always found Him, in good times and bad. I took out my Bible and began to read it, to pray it, to find help in my time of trouble. God always appears to me whenever I do this-in my mountaintop experiences and in my valleys. I hear Him speaking to me through His Word, no matter what my circumstances. This time was no different. I went to the book of Job and began to pray it verse by verse.’ Reading about their experience you will learn that ‘Love bears all things, love believes all things, love hopes all things . . . and love wins.’
Then there is Heidi Baker, who writes, ‘one of the darkest times in my life was in 2005 when I was diagnosed with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a life-threatening staph infection.’ Heidi ended up in hospital in South Africa. She writes, ‘Many people had faith for my healing and prayed for me while I was hospitalised. Some came in and commanded me to get up in the name of Jesus. I wanted to obey them and do what they said, but I was extremely weak. Even if I could stand up for a couple of minutes, as soon as they left, I would collapse again. It was really hard because I so wanted to be healed, but instead I got weaker and weaker. Soon after these failed attempts, I pressed in even more for my healing.’ For those of you that are fighting victory in your physical body, read Heidi’s story of how she received both her healing and the challenge ‘May you run and not grow weary, walk and not faint. May you mount up with wings like eagles and soar . . . May you cling to Jesus, no matter what the cost.’
Barbara J. Yodis tells her story, ‘I had just finished cooking supper. As soon as we sat down to enjoy it together, I looked at Paul (my husband) and immediately heard these words, ‘Your husband is not going to make it.’ At the time he had a chronic, potentially fatal physical condition. Paul had struggled with his condition for a year, and it had taken a turn for the worse. He sensed it, and I could feel him slowly letting go of life as we know it. He was weary with the process of fighting for his life. But I had never visited this place of losing. I was sure that he could beat it, and God would heal him. I am just a positive person by nature, so the words I heard shocked my inner world.’ Some time later, true to the words she had heard, (which she had checked out with other experienced, prophetic ministers) Paul died. He was gone. Reading Barbara’s journey of how she walked through unrelenting grief to recovery and the enemies she faced along the way will give people courage and faith to walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Another story comes from Mickey Robinson, who shares the events that surrounded a plane accident when he had been skydiving. The plane he was on had crashed, leaving him with catastrophic injuries. Somehow he lived, followed by an experience in the third heaven as he describes, ‘Chronological time is connected to the physical plane of created things. Everything spiritual is continual and everlasting. I was experiencing my first revelation of eternity. Its rich colors astonished me, as did the freedom I felt at being out of the physical dimension. Without any control on my part, I was gliding toward the purest white light, a portal of entrance that emanated a compelling peace. Feeling pressure on my right side, I turned and looked. What I saw was a black abyss – an eternal, bottomless pit. I could feel the nature of it: everlasting solitary confinement, nonnegotiable separation from the source of life. My spirit man had glided to the entrance of the white portal, but I was not being eclipsed, almost as if I were being swallowed by this outer darkness. I cried out the same desperate please: ‘I’m sorry! Help me, please! I want to live!’ Thrust through this white portal, I burst into God’s presence, in the third heaven. Instantly I knew I would never die, forever and ever. The majesty and glory of God were everywhere. Somewhere to my immediate left, I sensed the very presence of God Himself. I was standing in the glory of what is called the River of Life.’ Thus began Mickey’s journey, which involved many trips to the hospital for reconstruction and plastic surgery. He met and married Barbara and eventually was drafted into full-time ministry.
More stories involve other leaders such as James Malony, Doug Stringer, Joan Hunter, Harry R Jackson Jr., Patricia King and Jackie Pullinger. The last one in the book is by James W. Goll in which he shares from his testimony, going back to the Charismatic era of the 1970’s and beyond to his years growing up in Missouri. He tells of the battle he faced when his wife Michal Anne was fighting for her life against the ugly progression of colon cancer, even as he had also faced battles with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. With brutal honesty and yet uplifting faith, he shares it all, of how God worked a miracle concerning the love of his life. ‘That day, a miracle happened. A healing occurred. Not the one I was expecting or longing for. It was the one Michal Anne had been praying for me to experience for years – that I would let love by my aim, even while earnestly desiring the spiritual gifts. She had had it right. At times I had it in reverse. But a room opened up in my heart – a room for which I now have the key. A room I can still enter into. For the following four months, I walked in a love I had never known. I held Annie, gently swayed in dance with her, sat in rocking chairs on the southern front porch and said nothing, but watched the hummingbirds and drank organic green tea with her. I learned to love, expecting nothing in return. Annie’s prayers were answered. Perhaps one of her major assignments in life was complete. She had passed the love test and was released to fly away. She had lived a life of love.’
That is what love looks like! I encourage you to read this book compiled by James W. Goll and discover for yourself ‘What Love Looks Like.’