This New Year’s Eve was unlike any other. I found myself home alone with my dog, the two of us having already spent three full wifi-free days together. In full effort to put off doing any kind of chore, I picked up Greg Murtha’s book “Out of the Blue: The Unexpected Adventure of Life Interrupted.” Instead of watching the ball drop, I curled up on the couch reading half of the book and fell asleep before the clock struck midnight.
“Out of the Blue” is a quick read – I spent New Year’s day finishing up the book. The premise of the book is that Greg’s performance based life is interrupted by a cancer diagnosis. At the beginning of the book you learn that Greg is no longer with us. What he left us with is a book filled with priceless lessons from a man forced to slow down and listen to God’s plan for his life. Here are three lessons I learned:
Slow down and listen to God’s plan.
Greg was an achievement driven man caught up in the busy pace of life. Forcing him to slow down, his cancer diagnosis no longer allowed him to do what he once could. When Greg did slow down, he was able to see, hear, and feel God’s presence in his life.
Often, I have been so caught up in a busy schedule that I unintentionally distanced myself from God. Admittedly, I will sometimes de-prioritize my relationship with God in order to accomplish other things. Greg’s encouraging words make me realize that God should come first, and not just when I need Him.
Allow yourself to be available.
When we’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of our own lives, we’re most likely living selfishly. In fact, lately it seems like it’s cool to tell people that we’re busy only to sit down in front of the TV. I’m pretty sure at the end of my life I’m not going to value how many hours I sat in front of the screen.
“Out of the Blue” is filled with example after example of how being available for just a few minutes can be life changing. Greg shows us that church can be anywhere. We can stop, help, and pray with people at the grocery store, the gas station, and in the lobby of the doctor’s office. He encourages us to take the time to be with and talk to people, creating valuable and genuine connections. Each personal interaction is an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with others.
Trials are part of God’s plan.
I’m not sure what I would do if I received a terminal cancer diagnosis. Greg chose to fight valiantly and use his trial as an opportunity to fully trust and rely on Jesus.
Sometimes I feel like there is a perception that when you become a Christian your life will be filled with sunshine and perfection. This is not the case. Accepting Jesus doesn’t guarantee a life without obstacles. Greg used his cancer diagnosis as a way to connect with and relate to people in an authentic way.
“Out of the Blue” helped me realize that life’s challenges are opportunities. Our struggles can be a way for us to trust in God more than we ever have. These tough experiences also help us relate to and empathize with people around us. God will put obstacles in our way. It is up to us to have faith, trusting that these obstacles are part of a plan that is greater than our own.
New Perspective in a New Year
The funny thing about my New Year’s situation: being forced to slow down is what lead me to picking up Greg’s book. I flew home from vacation without my husband only to find that our wifi was out. Because of the holidays, no one was able to fix it until after New Year’s day. I live in a new state and don’t know enough people to have joined anyone for New Year’s Eve.
Instead of staying up late at a party watching celebrities perform in Times Square I was letting Greg’s words pour into my heart. Instead of catching up on sleep I was finishing the book and reflecting on how these lessons could apply to my life this year.
An easy resolution for you to keep this year: read “Out of the Blue: The Unexpected Adventure of Life Interrupted,” by Greg Murtha. He may not be physically with us anymore, but Greg has left us an invaluable resource.