Josh & Chrissy Lookabaugh
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you."
At first glance, these two verses seem like polar opposites, but as you read on you will probably find both can be true in your life just like they are in ours.
You can learn a lot when you are removed from your comfort zone. This proved true beyond what we ever imagined for my family. Before August 29, 2011, we had what we thought was a booming social life full of friends and mentors. We were all in with our local church, organizations, coaching sports, and you could find us at these any day of the week serving, following rules, and pleasing as many people as we possibly could. After that fateful day, our life was turned upside down and we learned some really important lessons.
August 29, 2011, was the day our beloved son Camden was diagnosed with cancer. There are countless blogs we can write about lessons learned through that journey, but for today we will focus on being there for others.
We thought that with the hundreds of people we were social with that we would never have a down moment and would be inundated with visitors to make the time easier and more distracting. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” We figured there would always be at least the two or three right? Awesome concept. We just didn’t realize that most of the time those three would be us. It was pretty early on that we found out this was absolutely not the case. We sat day after day and week after week with very few visitors. A few were consistent and they know who they are and we are thankful for them. For a long time, this isolation was an aggravating reality. We would even get to the point of making wisecracks when we heard someone coming down the hall of who (fill in many names of who we thought it should have been) but they were more than likely going to another room. But then, we started to see that maybe this was for a reason, we felt a change in our spirit and our way of thinking.
Yes, it was lonely, scary, and we desperately craved familiar faces as we sat with our amazing child day in and day out as he fought for his life, but it was a great lesson that has changed our lives. We were able to forge relationships with families and staff at the hospital and make a difference in their lives because we cared and wanted to help them as they fought their battles as well. We still have great relationships and help many of those today. I wouldn’t say that erased the hurt from us being left alone. We had spent so many years of our lives trying to measure up and trying to impress people who couldn’t take a minute out of their day, week, year, etc. for our amazing son in the fight for his life. The key word there was “people” - we were doing it to please people. That was wrong on our part and once we were in the hospital for a while, we realized that the things we were doing and the people we were pleasing were not what we needed to be focused on at all. It was the Lord. Had we been inundated or surrounded by the faces we thought should have been there, though, we probably would have missed the faces the Lord needed us to help. He gave us a heart for the lonely, the sick, and the forgotten, and showed us that this needs to be not just a temporary change of attitude for us but a lifelong mission.
Here is the kicker: the Lord doesn’t need us; we need Him and these experiences showed us how much we really do. "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you." (Joshua 1:5). We had spent too much of our lives worshipping men and ideals but now we could see clearly that no man can ever replace who we truly need… the Lord. He stood by us, protected us, filled us with His love, and changed our lives for the better.
Don’t get me wrong, we know we were prayed for, helped, and loved in so many countless ways, but the physical presence of someone when you need them most is an extremely valuable asset that was missed. Before when things were easy and great for us, we didn’t think of people the way we do now. We didn’t have burdens for the sick, the lonely, the hurting. I am as guilty as the next of not knowing what to do when a tragedy strikes, and not knowing what to say, but honestly, Christ never leaves us alone and as a friend and a Christian, I hope I can make the changes I need to make others feel they are not alone and share His love in a palpable way always.
Is there someone who needs you today? Music gets us through a lot, and these few lyrics popped in my head as we were writing this blog: "Was I love when no one else would show up? Was I Jesus to the least of us? Was my worship more than just a song? I want to live like that! Give it all I have! So that everything I say and do points to You!"
Wouldn’t that make everyone feel the love of Christ more if we all tried that?