When the phone rang that morning, I looked at the caller I.D., as I always do - It was my sister, so I picked up. As soon as I answered, she told me: “Better come over here as soon as you can… mom doesn’t have for very long and she would like to see you.”
You see, my poor mother had been battling cancer for the last two years, and sadly, she was losing the battle. At this point I feel I should put you in context. I live in Prince Edward Island, Canada. It’s the middle of winter. My mother lives just outside of Montreal, Quebec, Which is 1145 km, or 12 hours away – in good weather. So the car was definitely not an option because winter driving in Canada is brutal. So I booked a bus ride to get me there. Unfortunately, my wife, Elisabeth, had to stay behind with our three young children. Katelyn, my youngest, was just three months old at the time.
Before I left, I turned to Liz, hugged her, and told her: “I’ll have to open my ears very wide and shut my mouth. My mom is about to pass away and I just know she will have a very important message for me.”
I believed, and still do, that when someone who loves you is about to die, they have clarity of thought and spiritual insight. They can see things in a new light and, to some degree, prophesy on your life. They can instill great wisdom that, if heeded, can transform your life. God uses these moments mightily if we are open to them.
To watch a short video about this story...
When we went to visit mom at the palliative care center, Carolyn, my sister, left me to be alone with her. I knew this was our time alone – just me and my mother, for one last encore. We both cried in each other’s arms because we both knew this was the last time we would hug. When the surge of emotion was over, mom turned to me and said: “Can I ask you a question?” “Of course” was my reply. She then starred at me, paused, and said: “Where is your faith?”
Where is your faith? Really?
Honestly, that came as a surprise. Why? Well, you see, I always believed in God since I was a young kid. I converted to Christianity and gave my life over to Christ as a nine year old. I have always been a man of faith since, a Christian. My mom knew that… or so I thought. I told her I didn’t understand her question. I reassured her that I still believed very strongly. When I left for the long trip back home though, I was disappointed on so many levels. Not only did I say my final heart-wrenching goodbye to my mother, but I had not gotten anything life-changing from our final chat. Just a question that seemed odd. Where is my faith? I dismissed it as her being on pain killers. I was sad and frustrated. She passed away about three weeks later, on February 18th, 2015. But I replayed her question in my mind every day. It haunted me.
But my life went on…
A few months later, things began changing quite a bit for me - at work especially. I went from working long hours outside as a mail carrier to working inside on a computer. That job, a fairly simple one that required data entry, enabled me to listen to my Mp3 player while working. I thus began listening to self-improvement experts, and audiobooks on success and leadership – tons of them. I became obsessed with the principle taught by Jim Rohn: “Your life will only get better if you get better.” This was a somewhat new lane of learning for me. In spite of my big library and years of reading, I had never been into what I called ‘pop psychology’ or ‘personal development’. For the longest time I was more interested in theological debates, classic sermons, ancient texts, eschatology, science, anthropology, history, even conspiracy theories. I certainly learned much studying those fields, but success always eluded me because, strangely enough, I never intentionally studied it. It all boils down to this: I believed I didn’t deserve success. It will be done to us according to what we believe. It was so for me at the time, and had been for a long time. To put it bluntly: I was always broke.
While this was going on, I had been praying with my wife for our situation to improve; more specifically, our financial situation. We were even so bold as to ask the Good Lord straight out for cash – lots of it! That’s something I never would have done before. I mean, a good Christian doesn’t long for money does he? Let alone pray for it. Praying for money was against my religion, so to speak. After all, “the love of money is the root of all evil”, right? Well, things needed to change – and I knew if I didn’t ask for anything in prayer, nothing would happen. And guess what… that’s when things really began to shift.
God was slowly beginning to answer my prayer for improved finances. Not in the way I initially expected it however. He wasn’t going to send a big lump of cash my way. That just isn’t the way He operates; most of the time anyway. No. Rather, He was going to make me unlearn everything I thought I knew about money and success – one principle at a time. God was not going to give me a fish, He was going to show me how to fish. Reading and applying Think and grow Rich, a book I had purchased recently, was part of that process. Also part of the process were the self-improvement and leadership experts I was listening to at work. Every day, I listened to the sage advice of men such as Jim Rohn, John Maxwell, Tony Robbins, Les Brown, and a host of other personal growth experts and teachers. I was basically schooling myself on the principles and philosophy of success. I was thirsty and hungry for it. For five or six hours every day I would gobble it all up while typing at my data entry job. I soon began taking notes and building my own curriculum and philosophy based on what I had learned. To say it was a passion would be an understatement. This went on for weeks and months.
One fateful October day, eight months after my mother passed away; I was listening to a motivational podcast in which the speaker said: people, you are living in “If you are not using your unique talents and abilities to help others, you are living in vain.” Shazam!!! I was suddenly struck by lightning! My mother’s words echoed in my mind as I heard this and I finally understood what her words meant! Where is your faith? Where is your faith? It became as clear as day! Tears began streaming down my cheeks as I looked around to see if any co-worker spotted me. God made sure everything was brought back to me through hindsight and memory.
You see, before I even met my wife, I was seriously considering Christian ministry. I was designated to preach on several occasions at my local church and, although I was nervous about speaking in public, I just loved to be able to inspire people to become not only better Christians, but also better people. I wasn’t the most explosive preacher, but I had a knack for using words, quotes, and illustrations that would touch people at a deeper level. I was definitely an inspirational speaker at heart. It happened on a few occasions that people would come to see me after a sermon, with tears in their eyes, thanking me. I had made an impact. That made me feel very alive. It gave meaning to my life. I felt a deep sense of purpose when I got to help people in that way. Nevertheless, in spite of my love of preaching and teaching the Bible, I never became a pastor. I love the Bible and digging for truth, but I didn’t like feeling constrained by a regimented doctrinal statement – of any denomination. In some ways, I am too free-spirited to be any good as a minister. But I digress…
Back in the days when I was called on to preach at my church, over fifteen years ago, my mother had been there on many of those occasions. She had witnessed the impact I had. She had witnessed what happened when I touched people’s hearts with my words. Our mothers know us better than anybody. They know when we are at our best. They know when we are thriving in our calling. Our moms know when we are in our sweet spot – even if we don’t fully realize it. Speaking life into dying hearts was my calling, but I hadn’t done it in over fifteen years, choosing to dig instead into diverse theological doctrines and theories all the while working full-time at a job I hated. While I learned much, I wasn’t helping or blessing anybody. I was secluded in my office like a monk or disgruntled at my job. That’s how I spent my life. So when mom asked me where my faith was, she was asking: When will you go back to changing lives with your words? When will you fulfill your calling? When will you again speak life into dying hearts? ... Where is your faith?
Needless to say, this epiphany was a major turning point in my life. Only a few weeks later I enrolled myself with the John Maxwell Team to hone my public speaking and to become a certified speaker, trainer, and coach. I founded my own faith-based coaching and leadership training company. I also began writing again. I say ‘again’, because I was an aspiring writer in my early twenties and wanted to become a published author. At the time, I abandoned my dream because of what Robert Schuller would call: “impossibility thinking”.
Today, I am a public speaker and I address people with that same fire I had when I would preach. And yes, I am also a published author and writer, and proud of it.
The lesson here is this: your destiny will catch up with you no matter how you postpone it. So don’t postpone it! Follow your dreams. Use your gifts to help as many people as you can. Will it be hard? Yes. Will it seem impossible at times? Sure. But when it gets excruciatingly difficult just echo these words in your own soul: Where is your faith?