Four Things You Can Never Lose

by Andy Wood on December 31, 2010

in Allocating Your Resources, Five LV Laws, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity, Principle of Freedom, Turning Points

This is awkward.  But I want to tell you about an experience I had a long time ago, when I was young and stupid (as opposed to middle-aged and ill-advised). 

I was in a season in my life when I had lost nearly everything.  I don’t mean that poetically.  I mean, everything.

Job… fired.

Career… lost.

Health… busted.

Friends… nearly all vacated.

Marriage… destroyed.

Kids… gone.

Integrity and credibility… a bad joke.

Finances… bankrupt.

Sanity… toast.

I was a shell of a man, crushed under the weight of stupid choices, addictive behavior, and shame.  I would sit and, without realizing it, rock back and forth. (Braves fans, remember how Leo Mazzone, the former pitching coach would rock on the bench?  Yeah, that was me and worse.) 

On this particular day, I was sitting in a hospital day room when somebody stuck his head in the door.  “Anybody here named Andy Wood?” he asked.

I nodded.

“Phone call for ya’.”

I hurried down the hall to the pay phone.  And there I heard the voice I most dreaded, yet most needed to hear.

“Andrew,” he said.  I knew immediately who it was.  “This is Brother Fred.”

“Hey!” I replied, already tearing up.  “Brother Fred” is Fred Wolfe, my pastor, mentor, and second father to me.   Other than my own family, there is to this day no one I want more to be proud of me.

This was no day for pride.

“Well, I’ve heard,” he began, “you’ve lost everything.”

“Yes sir.”

“Lost your job.”

“Yes sir.”

“Lost your ministry.”

“Yes sir.”

“Lost your wife.”

“Yes sir.”

“Lost your kids.”

“Yes sir.”

(Note:  He was calling to encourage.)

“But I want to remind you there are two things you still have.”

“Yes sir?”

“You still have Jesus, and you still have a choice.”

He continued:  “You can go out from there and live any way you want, and nobody will ever say another word.  But I know you’re going to do the right thing.”

There was more – much more – to be said.  But those words – You still have Jesus and you still have a choice – formed the foundation for one of the most remarkable healing and restoration experiences I have ever seen… and I saw it up close and personal… I lived it.

There are some things that, once lost or passed, can never be returned.  I wrote about that last year.

There are other things that, once lost, can be restored, sometimes with extreme difficulty.  These include trust, credibility, influence, and finances, among other things.

But there are four things you can never lose.  They may appear to be history, but they are still there.  Supporting and correcting.  Teaching and revealing.  Waiting and available.  Faithful and true.  And the greatest LifeVesting decision you can make is to build your life around these four unshakable realities.

1.  You can never lose the love of God.

What more can He say or do to prove that to you?  How many more ways does He have of expressing it?  When Jesus Christ, in love gave Himself for you as a sacrificial offering for your sin, He didn’t wait around for you to deserve it.  He loved you the most when you hated Him the most.  Do you really think your stupid choices or dastardly deeds are going to run Him off now?  He pardoned thieves, hung out with social scum, brought dignity and respect to losers and outcasts, and kissed prodigals.

Can you imagine what could happen if you built your entire life around the confidence that you are loved by choice, not because of your performance?  Oh… and if you took the time to enjoy that, celebrate it, and express gratitude for the grace behind it?

2.  You can never lose your capacity to choose.

You’ll want to argue with this one, so pause here to let it sink in.  Most of the time in Western culture, when we talk about freedom to choose, we’re referring to choosing consequences or results.  This is why some people call for government intervention in the name of “freedom” – we want to be able to choose the results we get, regardless of the choices we made that led to them.

But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Other people expect the “one choice does it” option – to be able to throw their good choices into automatic pilot without ever having to think about it or face the possibility of a bad choice later.

Sorry.

Even addicts can make choices.  You can choose what you believe about a person or situation.  You can choose how you will respond. You can choose whether and what you will speak.  You can choose your next step.  You can choose to love someone, or not to.

3.  You can never lose what you never had in the first place.

I once had a sales manager who was very practical and to-the-point.  I came in whining one day about “losing the sale.”  “You didn’t lose it,” he said.  “You never had it in the first place.”

Think about the number of things you presume upon.  Living in a virtual world, a virtual economy, with virtual friends and relationships, we can mourn our paper losses all we want.  But did we ever actually have them in the first place?

What would happen in the coming year if you focused more of your time and attention on real faces rather than the “booked”  or “spaced” kind?  What would happen if you spend more time creating real value for your organization, your family, or your finances?

There is nothing wrong with dreaming or “ideating.”  But at some point somebody has to take action, create something tangible, or build their lives on the truth of what is.

4.  You can never lose your eternal reward.

I didn’t say that, Jesus did. 

“And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42).

I hear about people losing rewards, gifts, and short-term blessings all the time.  Some people who get Extreme Home Makeovers eventually lose their made-over homes.  Many people who win lotteries end up broke again.  Some people who win friends and influence people today become tomorrow’s loser.

But eternal rewards are different.  That’s why Jesus said to put your treasure there.  Back in the day it took me a while to accept this, but not even your failures can eliminate the value you have already earned in heaven. 

What would your life – and your future – look like if you invested your earthly time and resources into eternal values?  How would you live if you were completely confident that every act of love, service, or unselfishness would carry reward where it mattered (and lasted) most – even if nobody in your neighborhood, church, or community ever noticed? 

Yes, there are four things you can never get back.  And there are a myriad of things you can lose and regain or have healed or restored.  I’m living proof of that.

But there are some things that neither time, nor failure, nor circumstances can ever rob from you.  What if you actually dared to build your life and priorities on that?  What if you lived in complete confidence of God’s love for you?  If you responded to any situation as if you still had a choice?  If you built your life and choices on the truth and not on vaporware?  And if you prioritized eternal rewards rather than just the dirty here-and-now?

Instead of looking for New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep, try finding some that can actually keep you.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Chaffin December 31, 2010 at 7:17 am

Powerful lessons. I’m reminded of what a good friend of mine keeps telling me: “there are no wasted experiences!” Thank God that He uses all of our life’s experiences–even the painful ones… especially the painful ones–to teach us about His love and trustworthiness.

Karen Smith-Will January 3, 2011 at 9:38 am

I was so touched by your article, Andy. Speechless myself, this Thomas Browne imagination of God’s thoughts of us comes to mind: “If thou could’st empty all thyself of self, like to a shell dishabited, then might He find thee on the ocean shelf, and say ‘This is not dead,’ and fill thee with Himself instead. But thou art all replete with very thou and hast such shrewd activity, that when He comes He says, ‘This is enow unto itself-’twere better let it be, it is so small and full, there is no room for Me.’ God filled your gap–and then invited everyone else back in to join Him. And TY for being a great mentor in 2010.
Karen Smith-Will´s last blog post ..All I Really Need to Revive I Learned from Video Games

Edward @ Wedding Love Songs January 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Very inspiring article…I do believe that everything happens for a reason and
it is God’s plan in our lives.

Kristine July 3, 2016 at 11:51 am

Great article.
Kristine´s last blog post ..Kristine

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