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When Love is All There Is


I didn’t realize it at the time, but my life as I knew it literally ended when I was only 18 years old. I had left home the year before and gone to college in Winnipeg where I studied Journalism. I was excited to be on my own, yet I was home-sick missing the familiar comforts of home. I got shuffled from boarding house to boarding house, turned to alcohol and drugs, then inevitably started failing my courses. I was abused, ran for my life after inadvertently causing a major drug bust, had my heart broken in relationships and walked around in a hazy cloud of hallucination not knowing fiction from reality most of the time, not knowing the way out, or even if there was one. It all ended with my own undoing — a nervous breakdown.


Just to describe the nervous breakdown — it is an extreme emotional disorder that leaves you in a deep dark state of depression that you can’t get out of yourself. It left me feeling acutely afraid, vulnerable, edgy and nervous, unable to even walk down the street to a nearby grocery store without my heart palpitating. It is when the slightest unfamiliar sound is like a shrieking explosion sending you to a small corner where you’d like to hide from the world forever. It is an indescribable sadness, feeling of futility and impending doom that you cannot shake no matter how hard you try. It can’t be properly treated with drugs, at least in my case, and for some reason it was very difficult to diagnose.


Over the years, I thought and wondered many times how I ever ended up this way. For one thing, my generation had gotten lost in the shuffle of transition of society from safe, simple, family security roots of the 60’s to the burgeoning independent hippy generation of the 70’s. Everyone was searching for meaning through drugs, alcohol and sex. Many of my peers had older siblings, children of the earlier 50’s who followed our parent’s example. They had careers, married, had children and seemed to know their purpose in life. Not so with us.


The search for meaning had never been so elusive. We banded together with such unholy bonds as drugs, alcohol and followed gurus of Eastern religions, black magic and Satanism. It is no wonder some committed suicide, died of overdoses and others are still suffering in one way or another from the effects of that time. We were taught to shun "the establishment" and detest all authority if it interfered with our desire for a free do-as-you-please lifestyle. Consequently, some of my generation never got married or had children. Some of us traveled and many are still undoubtedly on a journey, searching for the meaning in life that was promised but never delivered.


Yet, for all generations today, the need for meaning and purpose has never been greater. Sometimes circumstances in life cause us to stop and look at where we’ve been. Many times we see this unplanned journey as the hand of Providence, really that this journey has been the entranceway to new beginnings, a new life. A new life always costs an old life. We can’t move forward until we let go the past. When I was 18 years old and struggling for my very life, I came to one of these crossroads. I came to realize that with everything that I thought was meaningful stripped away, love is all there is. But even this came at a great price. Real love is never cheap and it never can be because we must cherish it and nurture it above everything else. The cost of love is great. It cost God His own beloved Son. It cost Him everything. I am still learning that to receive and experience this love, it costs me everything as well.


For the first time in my life I experienced God's love one cold November morning in Eston, Saskatchewan while a struggling student in Bible School. I was still suffering from a nervous breakdown, the after-effects of drugs, nicotine withdrawal, loneliness and confusion, guilt and sorrow for the life I had lived thus far, fear and doubt about why I was even here and wishing at times that I could be anywhere else. But I’ll never forget it. I woke up and the presence of God was so real in my room, I thought I could almost reach out and touch Him. The presence of God is love, no words needed to be said, but I knew in my heart and I heard with my mind, "I love you."


Reading this or hearing this when I share it, generates little response from others and to this day, I’ve never been able to aptly and fully describe what it felt like to be visited by this gentle, incredibly forgiving and loving Savior. Nothing and no one had ever touched me so deeply and so personally in my heart before. This was a “knowing” kind of love, the God of the whole universe choosing an exact moment in time to reveal Himself to me and make a bond and a connection so enduring and personal that it rocked the very foundation of my being. My former party life and all it entailed was a sorry and pathetic imitation that could never begin to fulfill the deep need for meaningful love that I had. I felt that He knew all about me, all my flaws, failures, mistakes and fears — truly I had nothing left and certainly nothing to present to this beautiful and Holy God in the low wretched state I was in — but in spite of all this I sensed without a doubt His great joy and yearning to reveal Himself and His love to me.


He still left it up to me how I would respond, but how could I reject such a love for He was offering me what I needed most. He knew that I needed to hear this at that exact time and He could see far into the future of my life and all the many fruits it would bear for His kingdom and all of eternity. Some of the astounding ramifications I will share in this book. Without this love, I would have continued to turn away, bitter and disappointed, turned off by God and Christianity. I never would have known the path to joy and ultimate fulfilment.


This one brief experience (and there were others) impacted my life forever and ever and all my thoughts about God, the Bible and it's many doctrines, my perspective on Christianity, other people, the meaning of life, my purpose and God’s purpose and everything spiritual I had ever learned thus far and would ever learn from that point on. The first thing is that in the presence of God’s love, there is no fear.


Someone reading this may wonder how I knew it was the presence of God. An unwelcome presence that is not of God brings immediate fear. The only terror of God is at the time of one’s own death when they know they are going into eternity without God and it is too late to make things right with Him (I have also experienced this).


The power of love is powerful because it is God Himself. You have to experience God before you can experience love. The presence of God in my room that morning, although I didn’t know it at the time set all my thoughts right forever about the love of God and confirmed His Word to me over and over again, especially all the verses about His love. He set me on a course of love, and two years later distinctly called me to bring this love and this message to all I would meet for the rest of my earthly life. It changed my whole countenance.


Many couples when they first fall in love with each other, change. They're always smiling, happy and the whole world around them seems to change as well. Nothing can seem to go wrong. Then they get married and things change again. Once the busyness of life rushes in, they may spend less time together and their feelings change. With the weight of more responsibilities, they are no longer floating on cloud 9 where all is right with each other and the world. The experience that I had with God can’t even compare to this temporary "in love" feeling that many couples first experience.


But this is not the entire story. This love that morning came to me when I had a heart of stone. I was not open to God and His love at all at that point. I was still a very angry person for all the pain that I felt life and others had dealt me. Suffering with low blood sugar, depression and the nervous breakdown also left me feeling emotionally depleted, vulnerable, afraid and trapped. I was at one of the lowest times in my life and things seemed pretty bleak. I still had a rebellious heart because I was so afraid of trusting anyone. There was no one to turn to, although many people cared about me, family, friends and the caring staff and students at the Bible School.


Many of us that year came straggling in carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, shattered lives and bitter experiences had left us reeling from life although most of us had not reached 20. That was the way it was if you grew up in the 70s. Our peers that didn’t do drugs or drink alcohol carried an even heavier stigmatism — they were ostracized and labeled “straight” and boring. It was cool and vogue to be a daredevil, get into as much trouble as possible without getting caught.


So here we were trapped in Bible School with no place else to go. But what a perfect opportunity for God to get our attention and lead us out of the mess we were in and begin to set us free from the bondages of sin that had us ensnared. Sad to say, that most often we have to come to the end of ourselves in order to begin a new and wonderful life with Jesus as our Lord and Savior. This is the cost of finding love — you have to sometimes reach the depths of hell first.


God had a message for me throughout that term at Bible School and it all had to do with who He was and who He is. It had nothing to do with me and my own accomplishments or failures. It had to do with what God could do with a life that had been completely wasted. To this day, what I learned about the love of God and God Himself continues to drive my life because it changed my whole belief system and changed my life.


Today many young people face horrendous challenges unheard of any time previously in history. Many of them raise themselves, have no concept of a normal family, exposed to all kinds of violence and perversions through the media, have no place to turn. They reach the point that I reached, long before their 14th birthday. Who will send this message to them, that love is all there is? That God is all there is? Doctrine has its place and how wonderful if everyone went to church. But this will never change a life. All the good works in the world will never save a single human soul. The message of love is one filled with promise and power. This is the central message of this book.

When Love Is All There Is