Before death, disease, or tragedy strikes, there are things you think you know. I, for instance, thought I knew almost everything. I knew how to build any building, how to buy and sell businesses, how to change the oil in my car, how to lead a Bible study. And perhaps most embarrassing, I thought I knew what it meant to be intimate with God. I thought knowing all the answers was the same thing as knowing God. I supposed finding favor with my church, with the men in my Bible study, meant finding favor with Him. I thought I knew; I thought I knew; I thought I knew.
But what did I know, really?
It’s easy to second-guess it all from this wheelchair, but that doesn’t make these second-guessings less true. When ALS set in, I lost the use of my fingers, then toes, then arms, then legs, and that’s when my illusions of knowing died. Then the pain came, screaming like a banshee, and that put the final nail in the coffin of all that false knowing. What was financial success or accomplishment in light of the pain, in light of total paralysis? What was intimacy with God? Did I really know anything anymore?
The pain—it still haunts; it’s the constant reminder of my frailty, the hollowness of all those self-important things of my past, the things I thought brought me so much validation. It’s the reminder, too, that though I thought I understood what it meant to know God, I didn’t have a clue about what it meant to be intimate with Him. This pain, though, is a constant invitation to remember what it means to live into intimacy, that state of connection best described as oneness. . . .
As you read my story, I want you to know that my fight with the violence of ALS has been my personal pathway to the discovery of intimacy with God. I don’t believe it requires suffering to know the full love of God; instead, I think it requires a simple act of unbecoming, of falling into the truth of God’s deep desire for you, regardless of your own accomplishments or false successes. If you can find your way into this sort of unbecoming, I bet you’ll come to discover the gospel about yourself—you are wholly, unconditionally, and completely loved. Only by this discovery can you experience transformational, intimate oneness with God.