Last year I made friends with a child in Uganda who was abducted and mutilated by witch doctors. Amazingly, I also met a surgeon about the same time, a man named Randy Sherman who happened to be the worlds leading expert on repairing the exact damage done to the Ugandan boy. Needless to say, I introduced the two and the story went from tragedy to amazing and beautiful in only a few short months.
Randy and I happen to both be pilots, and I happen to own a seaplane he’d always wanted to fly. I got to thank Randy by spending a day flying around the Pacific Northwest. We had an incredible time.
The plane is called a DeHavilland Beaver and it takes off and lands on the water. I can’t lie, this plane is tough, it’s rugged, it’s all guy. There’s no sound quite like the one it makes when its huge radial engine starts and a cloud of oil soaked blue smoke explodes out of it. Because it was built over fifty years ago, the engine leaks oil. Not a little oil; lots of it. There’s nothing wrong with the plane, it’s just what Beavers were designed in the factory to do; they leak. The oil gets on the windows, on the wings, on the passengers, on everything. It’s just great! People who own Beavers say with tongue in cheek, that you know when they’ve run out of oil, because they stop leaking.
I understand more about my faith when I think about that airplane. We were made to leak as well; we were made to leak Jesus. We’re the ones who are supposed to love each other extravagantly, spontaneously, not just on Wednesday nights or Sunday mornings. And when we do, people might look at us a little funny, like there’s something wrong with us. But there isn’t. It’s what we were made to do. When we love each other extravagantly, our love gets on everybody and everything.
I know when I’m fearful, stressed out or distracted. In those times, it feels like I’ve run out of love and what I notice always happens first, is that I stop leaking. My love isn’t as messy or spontaneous anymore. There’s nothing left behind when I leave a conversation. I come across as painfully polite, merely pleasant, barely tolerant, it’s somewhere in the mid-range rather that an explosion from a big engine and lots of blue smoke. When I stop leaking, I’m reminded that I’m not living the way I was designed to from the factory.
I’ve seen new parts made out of old ones by this surgeon. I’ve seen God do the same impossible thing with entire people. People like me. He takes the old version of us and whispers to us that we were made to leak our love. He tells us to do it with extravagance; to let it get on everything and everybody. What I like about the way God extravagantly loves us, is that He doesn’t make us love Him or anyone else either. Instead, He lets us decide every day whether we’ll play it safe or leak what we love.
The next time I get out of that plane it will have oil all over it; I’ll have oil all over me and I’ll smile hoping that everyone who’s been near you will have evidence of what you love all over them too.