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About the Author
Jarrid Wilson is husband, a father, a pastor, and the founder of Anthem of Hope. He is the author of several books, including Jesus Swagger, and is a popular blogger at jarridwilson.com. Jarrid and his wife, Juli, live in Nashville, Tennessee, with their two boys.
Read an Excerpt
DISCOVER the WONDER
There I was, sitting in my light tan 1997 Toyota 4Runner, googling "painless ways to commit suicide." I was broken, empty, full of hatred toward God, and severely depressed. I felt as if I were drowning. I had made my way up to an area known as Skyline, just outside my suburban residence in Southern California, and had parked on the edge of a cliff that overlooked the entire county. To my right was San Diego, and to my left was Los Angeles. Two beautiful cities, and I was between them, overwhelmed by darkness and hopelessness. I never thought I'd reach this point. I didn't love myself, and
I didn't love my life or anything about it. Growing up, I'd had an answer for just about everything, but now I couldn't get my head around what was happening. I didn't know where to go.
I was standing in front of a spiritual blockade. God's love seemed blatantly absent in my life, and my heart was like a dried-up well. I felt as though I was alone in the corner while the rest of the world passed by without noticing me. And I was searching for life in all the wrong places: in the party scene, in drugs, and in relationships. Anything that kept me from feeling lonely and worthless. I was yearning for hope, but shallow realities were giving me none of it.
I know I'm not alone. A lot of us have been there before, in that place where everything just seems to fall to pieces.
I was twenty years old and trying to figure out where I fit in the world. I wanted to love God, but I just didn't know how. The people around me who claimed to have a relationship with God seemed full of joy and hope. Something was different about them. They were excited to go to church on Sundays, liked to read their Bibles, and lifted their hands during worship. I saw what they had and wanted that for myself.
I wanted a relationship with Jesus. But I just didn't know where to start. I wanted to find forgiveness for my sins. But I just didn't know what to do. I wanted to be used by God. But I just didn't know how to ask. Being full of God's love wasn't as easy as pastors and Sunday school teachers had made it out to be.
Because of my depression, I believed the lie that nobody in the world, least of all God, would blink an eye if I were gone. And that my brokenness was too big a burden for even God to bear. No amount of Zoloft could keep me from feeling down. No amount of counseling sessions could keep me from thinking I was worthless. And no amount of truth could keep me from believing the lies I repeatedly told myself. I was my own worst enemy, and I seemed to be very good at defeating myself daily. I was ready to say good-bye to everything I had known in life — which was right where Satan wanted me. It was a frightening place to be.
Maybe I was depressed because of the sports injury that almost led to my leg being amputated during my sophomore year of high school and completely destroyed my chances of playing professional soccer. Or maybe it was because I had found out that I had a rare blood disorder resembling leukemia and was only days away from starting chemotherapy. I assume my feelings of worthlessness had more to do with the fact that I had been digging my feet in the sand in an attempt to hold back God from my life. I think I was just scared of fully committing my life to someone. And I couldn't find a way to keep joy within my life, no matter how hard I tried. I felt like a kite without wind, a river without a current. Everything seemed useless, and I blamed God for what I was feeling. Even though I wouldn't have called myself a fully devoted follower of Jesus, I still figured God would see my pain and agony and do something about it.
The thing is, he was giving me all the answers I needed. I just wasn't listening.
Sometimes what we perceive as God being silent is actually our sin and selfishness keeping us from turning an ear to his voice. As the Bible says in Jeremiah 1:5, God had been speaking to me before he had formed me in the womb — his voice echoed with truth before any of us had been formed. But I'd been choosing a life that relied solely on my own strength, desires, and schedule. For us to fully grab hold of God-centered lives, we have to be willing to let go of our self-centered ones.
The Unexpected Rescue
I'd heard the phrase "God is love" plenty of times, but I never really took it to heart. After all, "God is love" seemed to contradict the way in which some Christians had treated me and others. I was never good enough for them, never acted holy enough, and didn't look the way a supposedly "good Christian" was supposed to look. I was a misfit. But I realize now that God specializes in the utilization of misfits.
It was the darkest time of my life, and I was tired of hearing about the love of God from friends and family members. I didn't care who God was or what he had done for me. I wanted results — tangible results I could find hope in. And I blamed God for how I felt. Why couldn't he take this pain away? Why couldn't he help me? Why couldn't he have kept me from experiencing the things that led me down this dark road?
Depression has a way of making you blind to everything true. It's a blockade that keeps you from feeling anything other than complete darkness. It's something millions of people struggle with, and — sadly — suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States in 2013, and it's the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of fifteen and thirty-four.
I know not everyone in this world has dealt with depression or anxiety, but I'm 100 percent certain that you've felt broken, lonely, and hopeless at one time or another. Love and acceptance were nowhere to be found. You felt as though you weren't good enough. God seemed absent.
Maybe right now you feel "just okay," and that is actually the best you've felt in a very long time. Your brokenness traps you because of things that happened in your past. Things you wish had never taken place. Maybe they're regrets or failures.
Or perhaps you've yet to let go and find peace amid the violent storm of your worst memories — the ones you've tried to lock up in your closet. The ones you don't like people knowing about. You're hurting. You're frustrated. You're in repetitious, unwavering pain. You ask yourself, Does God even care? I've asked that question. I've been in that place far too many times.
The beautiful reality is that God does care about you. And he cares about me. God loves us. He feels your pain. He feels my pain. And while he sometimes responds to us in a way that might not be exactly how we anticipate, it doesn't mean he hasn't heard our cries. He cares — deeply — about our pain and yearning for hope. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that. Oh, the sorrow I could have avoided! But then again, I believe God works everything out for a reason.
I'm reminded of a passage in the Bible that illustrates so beautifully the uncertainty of our hearts:
We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
1 CORINTHIANS 13:12, MSG
Though we sometimes wonder what is happening in our lives, and though we cannot see clearly what lies ahead or know which direction to take, we have this hope: God promises that he will clear the storms and give us direction. He sees us, and he will bring us out of the haze we find ourselves in.
Over the course of my life, I've found myself furious at God on multiple occasions. Why? Because I'm human. I've yelled at God, cursed at God, and even threatened God because he wasn't providing what I felt was the best response for my current situation. As if my feeble and frail threats had any impact on his decisions. You and I are but specks compared to his majesty and greatness.
I'm sure he looked at me patiently, waiting for me to finish my rant, and knew that I didn't really mean what I was saying. I was just upset, broken, and frustrated beyond belief. He knew I wasn't yet accepting the love he had for me. I was too blind to see it. But in God's grace and patience, he allowed me to vent to him. He allowed me to use him as a punching bag. That's an aspect of the beauty of God — he's big enough to handle anything I throw at him but wise enough to not give me everything I ask for. A loving Father at his finest.
You might think God is unfair for not giving you all you desire, but in reality it's quite the opposite. It's not God's job to live up to our personal expectations. God's will is not dependent on our wants. He does what he knows is in our best interest and for his glory. Our job is to trust him through the process, no matter how hard it might be.
That's easier said than done, I know. But when you learn to truly let go of yourself and instead grab hold of what God has laid out for you, life will begin to make a lot more sense. A sense of purpose and identity will come over you, increasing your yearning to pursue him that much more. God's love is available to all of us, no matter where we're from, what we look like, or what we've done. God's love is for anyone who calls upon him for life and hope.
When you put your life in God's hands, you must trust him fully, even when you don't understand what he's doing, why he's doing it, and for how long. Some things have only one answer: Trust God even when it doesn't make sense. Trusting God in the midst of your brokenness is a beautifully painful but spiritually deepening experience. Every time you put your trust in God, another scoop of your self-obsession is removed and replaced with the righteousness of God.
You must trust God with your brokenness but realize it's okay to be mad at him, frustrated, and even downright confused. He can handle it. God doesn't expect you to understand everything he does. You can question what's happening. You can wave your fist a little. You don't have to act as if you have it all together. God can handle it. He wants you to let it all out and be honest with him about what you're really feeling.
When you give God the room he deserves, your soul finds supernatural refreshment and peace in his presence. After all, we were created for the partnership of God. We were created to do life hand in hand with the one who created us in his image. God's love is in the business of rescuing those who feel as though they're suffocating, though he often acts in ways we don't expect. But it's still love, and we desperately need it.
Excerpted from "Love is Oxygen"
Copyright © 2017 Jarrid Wilson.
Excerpted by permission of NavPress.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Discover the Wonder 1
Chapter 2 Love is the Answer 11
Chapter 3 God is Love 25
Chapter 4 Prodigal Love 41
Chapter 5 Love > Fear 53
Chapter 6 God and the Garbage Dump 69
Chapter 7 Unshaken 81
Chapter 8 Fuel for the Fire 99
Chapter 9 The Greatest of These 117
Chapter 10 Prepaid Love 131
Chapter 11 What Love looks Like 141
Chapter 12 Love is Messy 157
About the Author 175
What People are Saying About This
In a world of divisiveness and negativity, Jarrid Wilson is convinced that your life can burst with kindness and grace. But it’s Wilson’s authenticity, not optimism, that makes this book sing. Wilson tears open his chest and drains his beating heart onto every page, sharing raw stories of what love looks like in real time. Do not read this book if you’re content inhaling the stale air of our pessimistic agebecause one whiff of Love Is Oxygen will force you to love bigger, broader, and better than ever before.
What I love about this book is how Jarrid lets you under the surface and reveals his real story. He not only shares his vulnerability but also speaks passionately of Jesus. We all need Jesus more than we realize. Love Is Oxygen brings us closer to him and helps us see Jesus more clearly.
Throughout this book, Jarrid’s brutal honesty inherently highlights the greatness of God’s love. His writing reminds me of Paul’s teachings on boasting only about our weaknesses.
In Love Is Oxygen, Jarrid Wilson cuts through the noise of today and points us to what matters mostthe extravagant and inexhaustible love of God. To know God’s love is the journey we are all created to be on. Encountering the depth and height of God’s love is a lifelong discovery that will continue throughout eternity. God’s love for you is so extravagant that it can be hard to comprehend, but it is so easily available for those willing to receive it. Jarrid so brilliantly articulates the revolutionary truth that Jesus is God’s gift of love to us and how that affects every area of our lives. Love Is Oxygen is a timely gift for those yearning to know the love of God and grow deeper in their understanding of the great mystery of his love for us. Not only will your life be changed, but as you give God’s love away, those around you will also be transformed.
Jarrid Wilson is more than just a compelling writer; he is also a compelling human being. I know this because I am privileged to call this gifted, lovely young man my friend. In these pages, Jarrid gives us a window into his life, where we see him being transformed by the Love about which he writes. This, of course, is what makes his message credible. As you read, I trust that you will come to love God and others more deeply. You will probably also find yourself wanting to become a better person. Thank you, Jarrid, for such a beautiful and compelling book.
Jarrid’s vulnerability and honesty will quickly capture the hearts of those who have ever struggled with depression or with simply being overwhelmed. The victory and overcoming principle of love will serve as refreshment for all.
Why is it the simplest tenets of the faith are the hardest to realize and live? I’m grateful for the unwavering truths Jarrid Wilson shares in Love Is Oxygen because they remind me of this settled fact: I am loved, and it is God who does the loving. Succinct, heartfelt, and full of real-life stories, Wilson’s book will empower Christ followers to live and breathe and move within the powerful grasp of God’s love.
When Jarrid says that “love is oxygen,” he means it, but beyond simple love, it’s the honesty he writes with that will encourage you the most. He puts it all on the page, and his refusal to clean up the messy parts, to polish the prose until his pride is protected, is what makes this book so good.
Jarrid will help you catch your breath and discover how to inhale more hope, more healing, more Jesus in your life.
Everyone is searching for love, but many are searching in the wrong places. Pastor Jarrid Wilson has written a life-changing book, Love Is Oxygen. In this gospel-centered book, Jarrid gently and thoughtfully leads the reader on a journey to know and experience the unparalleled, unequalled, and unmatched love of God revealed through his Son. When you get to know God intimately, you will realize that love isn’t something God does; love is who God is. Read this book now.
Jarrid is a truth teller. This book is about real, messy struggles and the power of love when it’s let off the chain. The stories in these pages aren’t filled with steps for you to take. Instead, they point you toward a power greater than everything which is holding you back. It’s not a book about Jarrid, it’s a book about Jesus. Buckle up, you’re going to enjoy the ride.