What will you do when the unthinkable happens?
Her parents called her Lenya Lion because of her ferocious personality and hair that had been wild and mane-like since birth. But they never expected that, five days before Christmas, their five-year-old daughter would suddenly go to heaven after an asthma attack. How do you walk out of the ER without your daughter?
More a manifesto for high-octane living than a manual for grieving, Through the Eyes of a Lion will help you turn your journey into a “roar story” by guiding you to
- look past what you can see with the naked eye
- survive Saturday—the space between promise and fulfillment
- let God turn your pain into a microphone
- cue the eagle and run toward the roar
Whether you’re currently facing adversity or want to prepare yourself for inevitable hardship, it’s time to look at the adventure of your life through Jesus’ eyes—the eyes of a Lion.
“He has this story. And he has told it well. With candor. With honesty. With hope.”
—Max Lucado, pastor and New York Times bestselling author of Before Amen
“One of the most powerfully transparent books I’ve ever read . . . a book we all need to read.”
—Sheila Walsh, speaker, Bible teacher, and bestselling author of 5 Minutes with Jesus
“This is more than a book. It’s a lifeline.”
—From the foreword by Steven Furtick, pastor and bestselling author of Crash the Chatterbox
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
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About the Author
Levi Lusko is the founder and lead pastor of Fresh Life Church located in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and Utah. He is the bestselling author of Through the Eyes of a Lion, Swipe Right, and I Declare War. Levi also travels the world speaking about Jesus. He and his wife, Jennie, have one son, Lennox, and four daughters: Alivia, Daisy, Clover, and Lenya, who is in heaven.
Read an Excerpt
Through the Eyes of a Lion
Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power
By Levi Lusko
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Levi Lusko
All rights reserved.
DESTINED FOR IMPACT
A man named Daryl walked into a pawnshop in Los Angeles with a guitar. He popped the case and asked the clerk what he could get for it. When the inevitable haggling was over, he emerged with a fistful of cash. Two hundred fifty dollars, to be exact. Not exactly a jackpot. If the guitar had been a junker left over from lessons he had been forced to take as a child, that could even be considered decent money. But this was not some old beater, and $250 was nowhere close to decent money. This guitar belonged to Tom Petty and was worth eighty times what Daryl sold it for. He had been ripped off more than he could possibly imagine.
In addition to not being all that bright, Daryl was a thief. He worked as a security guard at a California soundstage, where Tom Petty and his world-famous Heartbreakers were rehearsing in preparation for a tour. One day the group discovered that five electric guitars were missing. Daryl was being paid to protect the gear in the facility, but it turned out the gear needed protection from him. The five guitars he stole were worth more than $100,000 combined.
Perhaps Daryl was desperate for money, and so no price was too low. Or maybe he had no idea what the instrument was actually worth. That would be hard to believe, considering whom he stole it from. A quick Google search could have filled him in. But what I couldn't stop thinking about when I read the news story was this: when you don't recognize the value of what you have in your hands, you will always get from it far less than it is worth.
We're not talking about guitars anymore, are we? you might be thinking. No, we're talking about something much bigger: you. More specifically, the potential you carry deep down inside.
YOU ARE THE ONE, NEO
There is a calling on your life. A great, big, God-sized calling. God has plans for you and has been dreaming about them since before you were even born. You are destined for impact. My heart is racing just thinking about it! I wish I could jump out of this book, look you in the eyes, and tell you to your face so that you could see that I mean it. And then if you still didn't get it, I would shake your shoulders and say it louder. I pray that, by the time you reach the end of the book, God will have poured Red Bull into your veins and your heart will be pumping like a racehorse, because you'll be so eager to see your destiny fulfilled.
If you are reading these words, you have been given a unique, powerful, custom-built platform. A voice. As long as there is breath in your lungs, you have a microphone in your hands. There are things God intends for you to accomplish that no one else has been chosen for. Words he wants you to speak. Actions that speak louder than words. And through it all, he wants you to leave a mark, to put a dent in the universe.
But if you don't understand that calling, you will undervalue it. Just as a pawnshop employee seems to be doing you a favor by taking some "old piece of junk" — that is actually priceless — off your hands, a failure to understand how powerful and extraordinary God's plans for you are will lead to you being taken advantage of by the enemy and failing to live up to your potential.
I don't know what you see when you look in the mirror. If you are like me, there is a long list of things you wish you could change. The bags under my eyes say that I don't get enough sleep. My nose is crooked, as it has been since middle school, when I broke it jumping on a friend's trampoline. I'd like to think it gives me character in an Owen Wilson kind of way, but most of the time I just see that it's not straight. Though I am only thirty-two, I already see little lines forming near the corners of my eyes that speak of the aging process that has already begun. When I first wake up most mornings, I splash water on my face, look at myself, and think, Dude, you look like you got hit by a truck. But lately there have been a lot of times when I have seen a sadness in my face that hasn't always been there.
Regardless of what you see looking back at you while you brush your teeth, I can tell you with zero hesitation that to God there is nothing ordinary about you. You spit your toothpaste out just like everybody else, but the truth is, you are complex, special, and one of a kind. I realize I'm getting all Barney the Purple Dinosaur on you, but I'm dead serious. There is nothing even remotely close to normal about you.
The trouble with this sort of talk is that callings are invisible. You can't see destiny. It's not readily apparent when you look at it with the naked eye. If you take a selfie, you won't see the version of yourself you are meant to become, no matter what filter you use.
YOU MATTER MORE THAN YOU KNOW
To make things worse, just about every part of our lives makes us feel as though we are just another number, just another person. A cog in the machinery of the universe. A little lemming.
There is perhaps no experience in life that makes you feel less special than being at the division of motor vehicles, trying to obtain or renew your driver's license. Take a number, sit down, and lose a little bit of your soul. We will call you sometime this decade. Maybe.
Even the sign at McDonald's makes you feel insignificant: You are just one out of a gazillion people who have eaten a Big Mac. Give us your money. We can't even get fat without being made to feel like a tiny statistic.
Recently I bumped my head and cut my scalp just to the right of my part. The laceration was about an inch and a half long. I had been leaning over below an open window, and when I stood up the corner tore into my head. The people I was with took one look at me and said, "You need to go to the ER."
The place was packed. People everywhere. You'd think a bleeding head wound would get me to the front of the queue. No such luck. The receptionist told me it would be an hour and a half. Four and a half hours later, a frazzled nurse finally called me back.
"Levy Loose Co," she said, completely butchering my name as countless people have over the years. (For the record, my first name is pronounced Levi, just like the jeans, and Lusko is pronounced L[??]sko, and yes, I did have to use Google to figure out that an upside-down e is how you make the uh sound.) Completely out of dignity, I didn't even bother to correct her. I walked in her direction, holding gauze to my head, and said, "I'm Levy Loose Co. Please fix my head." Half a bottle of superglue later, I was on my way. (You read that right. They actually glued my head shut.)
So much of our lives feels pretty unimportant, composed of activity that is seemingly insignificant. Folding clothes, writing papers, paying bills, watching Seinfeld reruns, eating dinner. Repeat. But don't let the simplicity of life fool you. You are so close to the details that it can be difficult to get perspective, but you are a part of a much larger story. You matter more than you know.
You might feel pretty ordinary or average. Perhaps you even have the Cs on your report card to prove it. If you were a late bloomer like me, middle school was brutal for you. Have you been picked on or squashed down by people? That gets old pretty quickly and eventually can cause you to believe what is being said about you. Even worse, maybe you have been f lat-out told you are worthless. You feel tempted to accept that you are doomed to alcoholism, like your father before you, or divorce, like just about everyone you know. Hear me loud and clear: these are all lies!
You were made in the image of God. That's right, made. You are not smart mud or a monkey wearing pants. God made you. Fearfully, wonderfully, he knit you together inside your mother. You're no accident. Out of all creation, God made humans, male and female, to be like him. And as his image-bearer, you possess a gift no animal was given — self-awareness. You have free will. You are not a robot or a puppet.
Like God, you have a personality. A sense of humor. You can laugh and sing, make love and create, dream and destroy. You have feelings and can be hurt. When things don't go our way, we get sad and can be grieved, just like God. This might surprise you, but God doesn't always get what he wants, and neither do we. Jesus knocks at the doors of our hearts, and we have to invite him inside in order to be saved. He is a gentleman, so he knocks. He won't go all SEAL Team Six and kick the door down. He gives us the dignity and responsibility of making our own decisions.
You are also immortal. The question is not whether you will live forever, but where. Four hundred years from now, and four thousand years after that, you will still exist — you will still be alive, and you will still be you.
Then there is the matter of what God was willing to spend to redeem you and give you hope, when sin and death had their suffocating stranglehold on your life. The value of something comes from what someone is willing to pay to have it. And boy, were you expensive. The Bible says that while we were dead in our sins, God demonstrated his love for us by sending his Son to die for us (Romans 5:8). You weren't purchased with any common currency, like gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Jesus. His veins were opened, and then, hanging on two pieces of wood on top of a hill shaped like a skull, the Son of God died to pay the price for every wrong thing you have done. Sin is a capital crime, so he died to set you free.
There is no higher price that has ever been paid for anything in history. No Rolex, luxury yacht, penthouse apartment, work of art, or private island can come close to being as outrageously expensive as the price Jesus paid to secure your release from captivity. When he was faced with the thought of you being separated from him and the plans he has for your life, he gladly strapped himself into your electric chair and died in your place so you could go free. You are valuable — not just by birth, but because blood was spilled so you could be born again.
That's not all. As a child of God you have been entrusted with the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in your heart and is ready and waiting to be activated. Greater energy courses through you than can be measured with horsepower. As often as you ask, the Spirit is prepared to surge afresh into your soul, like the power coming from Iron Man's glowing chest piece, turbocharging your efforts as you rise up to do all God wants you to do.
Then there are the gifts and unique privileges you have been given. There are spiritual capabilities and also skills, talents, and abilities. He has made you passionate about certain things. You have specific connections and opportunities that I haven't been given. There are people you get to talk to every day whom it would take a miracle for a preacher to get in front of. But for you it's as effortless as sitting in second period or clocking in for an afternoon shift at your job. Lucky!
Oh, and you have also been tasked with the greatest mission that has ever been undertaken in the history of the world — the Great Commission, a mission to go fishing. The orders from your commanding officer are pretty clear: go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. People who believe will be saved, but if they do not, they are not. You're pretty much like Frodo, except instead of a ring that has to get to the volcano, you have a message that is the only hope of saving mankind from sin and death.
ROYAL REPRESENTATIVES AND SPIRITUAL SUPERHEROES
So let's recap: The God who created the universe made you and trusted you with his image. The most important person ever to live was willing to die to save you. You are tapped into a power source greater than the electricity generated at Niagara Falls added to the mushroom cloud of Hiroshima, plus you have spiritual superpowers. If I were tweeting about you, I would hashtag it this way: #NoBigDeal #ReallyBigDeal #TheFirstHashtagWasSarcastic.
I hope you are starting to get a sense of how incredibly, wildly unordinary you are. You, my friend, were put on this earth to make waves, disrupt the status quo, and kick over some stinking applecarts. The apostle Peter said that you are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation," God's "own special people" that he brought "out of darkness into His marvelous light" so you might proclaim his praises (1 Peter 2:9). Hello?! Look at those adjectives! I mean, I could go off on the nouns, but even just glancing at the descriptive words should give you a sense of how God sees you: chosen, holy, special, marvelous, and royal.
I have been in the presence of royalty only once. I was about ten feet from Prince William, Prince Harry, and Kate Middleton, the duchess of Cambridge, at a bike race I attended in England. I rode to the race on my bicycle, traveling about seventy-five kilometers from York, where I was staying. They flew in their royal helicopter to see it. I had to fight through the crowds of 200,000-plus people to get to a friend of mine, who had gotten up at the crack of dawn to save us a spot by the winner's podium. They were escorted through us common people to their private box to see the racers go by, arriving just moments before the action started, while the rest of us stood for hours, packed in like sardines. They were given the royal treatment. Why? Because they are royalty. A day is coming when one of those two brothers will sit as king on the throne of England.
That's earthly royalty. You are a part of the royal line of heaven — kings and priests to our God. Citizens of a coming kingdom that can't be shaken. No, you don't have a tiara or a crown yet, but you are a son or daughter of the King who's higher than all other kings! There is no game when it comes to his throne. He shall reign forever and us with him. To use an epic line from the movie The Avengers, "You are burdened with glorious purpose."
Knowing what I know about you, I am humbled by the chance to write something you would read. Far better than cutting in line or owning a ceremonial sword (though let's be honest: that would be pretty sweet), the privilege attached to our status as Christ followers is that we get to represent God. That's what it means to be an ambassador. You are a royal representative of the crown. And we are deputized, on behalf of the King, to offer pardons and full-f ledged citizenship to any and all who will receive it. That's heavy stuff!
Your potential is unlimited. God's desire is to do through your life "exceedingly abundantly above" what you could ask for or even think of (Ephesians 3:20). Whether you are sixteen or sixty, no matter where you have been or what you have seen, you haven't even scratched the surface of all that God intends for you. There is music inside you waiting to burst out, poems you're meant to write, horses you're meant to ride, people you're meant to touch, companies waiting to be launched, things you're supposed to invent, clothing lines you'll design — all to the glory of God.
"But what about the laundry? The bills? The fact that I still need to go to the DMV and I literally ate a Big Mac for lunch today?" you ask.
I have told you that you are a spiritual superhero, a part of the royal family that will reign through all eternity. But day to day your life is made up of seconds and minutes that often don't feel all that special. How do you live out an extraordinary calling while doing ordinary things and living in a world that is all screwed up?
That is not only the million-dollar question; it is why we desperately need to have our eyes opened up. Living out the calling on your life isn't necessarily going to mean doing entirely new things, but doing things in an entirely new way. You have to see your life through the eyes of a Lion.
I had my pupils dilated the last time I was in for an eye exam. I protested and complained and begged the doctor not to do it. He insisted and promised me I would get a sucker if I would behave. When your pupils are dilated, it makes you extremely farsighted. It's an unsettling procedure that allows extra light to come into your eyes so that you can see things far away in great detail, but things close up are blurry and out of focus. I can't stand that feeling and couldn't wait for my pupils to shrink back to normal so that I could get on with my life.
Excerpted from Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko. Copyright © 2015 Levi Lusko. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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
ContentsForeword by Steven Furtick, xvii,
INTRODUCTION: The Naked Eye, xxi,
ONE: Destined for Impact, 1,
TWO: Cows Die There, 13,
THREE: The Christmas from Hell, 31,
FOUR: Turn Off the Dark, 47,
FIVE: No Inhalers in Heaven, 67,
SIX: Cue the Eagle, 81,
SEVEN: There's No Such Thing as a Wireless Anchor, 95,
EIGHT: Pain Is a Microphone, 107,
NINE: Homesickness: An Ache You Can't Shake, 123,
TEN: Panem et Circenses, 139,
ELEVEN: Run Toward the Roar, 155,
TWELVE: Pencils Down, 169,
AFTERWORD: To Infinity and Beyond, 181,
About the Author, 193,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book will truly leave you in awe. Such a testimony to how much the Lord loves us and how much he is with us through times of pain.
Just what I needed! In April my father unexpectedly died. The pain has been intense and grieving is a roller coaster. I am so thankful for the tools that pastor Levi Lusko gives me to face my pain and to turn impossible pain into power. This book is deeply inspirational. If you have experienced this pain it's a must read and if you haven't it's still a must read so you are fully equipped when the unthinkable happens.
In this book, Pastor Levi Lusko shows with heartbreaking honesty how to face impossible pain and find incredible power. But Through the Eyes of a Lion is more than just a manual for dealing with grief. In Levi's words, it's "a manifesto for high-octane living." Those words couldn't be more true. I've never experienced the level of pain that Levi and his wife Jennie did the day their daughter Lenya left this earth. But I have struggled with fear, anxiety, and defeat, and I walked away from this book encouraged and empowered to change the way I view the challenges in my life. Posing questions like "How do you live out an extraordinary calling while doing ordinary things and living in a world that is all screwed up?" Levi uses his real life experiences to teach you how to hurt with hope, look past what you can see, and let go of fear to become the you you were meant to be. And he does so with a mix of authenticity, brevity, gravity and humor that makes this not only a powerful read, but one you can easily engage with. From "cue the eagle" to "pain is a microphone" and "run toward the roar" the pages are full of tidbits of wisdom and key phrases that will stick with you long after you finish reading. Whether you're struggling under the weight of seemingly unbearable pain, or facing the everyday difficulties of life, this book offers renewed hope--for both your present and your future.
My family and I have had the blessing to visit events where Pastor Levi is serving. Seeing him during the Harvest Crusades and at a Leadership Conference at Calvary Chapel Tucson really helps you to feel where his heart is. I’ve loved his teaching and methods of service for a long time. Seeing a pastor lead a church, while still young, with a family, and with artwork on his skin, makes me feel even more centered with what God can do. When we heard the news of Lenya’s passing, even though we had never met, we cried. Knowing what it’s like to be a parent, to have the love for your children…we could not even imagine what Levi and Jennie were going through. Sending prayers and hugs online (since we were far from them) was the only way to let them know that we cared and were praying for them. Seeing the story in writing, did multiple things. It brought a smile to your face, laughter to your heart and tears to your eyes. It was a blessing to hear that Pastor Levi is real. He had questions…he had regrets. Some of the “teachers” in today’s world try to make it seem as if they are perfect, and God only loves you when you are, too. Myself, knowing that we will never be perfect, found it comforting to know that this great man, who spreads the gospel and shares the Word, so well – was still human. Reading Pastor Levi’s story, and hearing the story of Pastor Greg Laurie with the loss of his son years ago, made you realize that no matter what, we all deal with tragedy, unhappiness and grief. Having sadness, having anger, having guilt are normal. It’s just knowing that there are others out there, that have dealt with it, too. We must remember to open up, ask for help or for someone to just be there. When you feel that nobody else has gone through something…think again.
Levi's book is absolutely killer. He shares his story with such authenticity and hope. A perfect book for anyone walking through a hard season or who will walk through a tough situation in the future.
I lost my 21 month old son. All the other books that I read didn't touch me as well and as hard as this one did. It was perfectly similar to what we went through and gave us hope for what we will continue to endure and overcome. Thank you for sharing your story and allowed others who are suffering find some comfort.
You must read this. Grief is a thief but also a treasure. Let Lenya Lion open your eyes! Thank you Pastor Levi for this out-pouring of love. What a blessing you have shared.