Have you ever thought about your funeral and who would show up? Last week as we were doing ministry in downtown Denver I spent time talking to an individual I will call Travis. It was a gut wrenching conversation filled with graphic details of a life filled with abuse, foster homes, and mental health wards leaving Travis in search of love in all the wrong places. He shared with me that his greatest fear is not death, which he indicated would be a blessing, but that no one would show up at his funeral. “I just want someone there to testify to the fact that I’m loved,” he said with tear filled eyes.
I shared this same story at a marriage retreat I was apart of this past weekend. Where, as one would guess, love was the number one topic. No marriage or family can properly function without the Holy Spirit filling of the Father’s love demonstrated by the gift of His only Son Jesus. Travis never experienced this love of the Father poured out on him through his earthly parents or the foster home system. If only someone could have pointed Travis to the love of Christ displayed on the cross, perhaps his life would not be filled with such extreme pain and loneliness.
At the marriage retreat I had the privilege of talking with a couple that I officiated their wedding 11 years ago. As we were catching up they shared with me how their young family had grown to two biological, two adopted, and two foster children. Joy might not even describe how I felt as Chad and Leah shared their journey to opening their hearts and home to be a place of the Father’s love. As you can imagine it is not an easy journey to raise six kids. Add to that the fact that some of these children are literally starved for affection and attention and gripped by fear initiated by rejection and separation from biological parents.
Sunday morning I awoke early thinking again about Travis and his childhood trauma and Chad and Leah’s commitment to bring hurting children into their home in order to encounter the healing love from a Holy Father. Lord willing those children coming into Chad and Leah’s home will never have to walk through life feeling unloved like Travis. They will know at a young age to the perfect love of God that cast out all fear and brings certainty through the Spirit of Jesus that they are children of the King.
As I contemplated the difference between the love the foster children were experiencing with Chad and Leah and the loveless void Travis experienced my mind went back to my last moments with Travis last Tuesday night. I kept feeling the nudge of the Holy Spirit say to me “tell Travis that you love him and I love him and give him a big huge.” Yes, other voices were also speaking in my mind countering the Spirit’s push but eventually I reached out to Travis hugged him and told I loved him but more importantly the Father in Heaven loved him and he would never have to be alone.
I’m not sure how the Holy Spirit worked that night in Travis’s heart but I do know He has been speaking loudly to me the last few days, “Don’t hold My love back, open up your heart and keep giving it away!” Maybe this week the Father will bring a Travis into your life, “Don’t hold back, and give His love away!”