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Grab some tissues. Today’s episode with Dr. W. Lee Warren is incredibly inspiring. I first met Lee when I guest posted with Jeff Goins back in June. From there, Lee and I have exchanged conversations and have quickly become great acquaintances.
Dr. W. Lee Warren is a Christ-follower, a husband, a father, an author, a veteran, a neurosurgeon, and the list goes on.
Lee grew up in Broken Bow, Oklahoma and graduated from medical school at Oklahoma University. From there, Lee spent fourteen years of active duty in the Air Force. His stories from those experiences have inspired his writing career and led to who he is becoming.
Lee, tell us about something you do to experience richness.
“One of my most enjoyable things is playing the guitar. I love my six string.”
Lee, with all you have going on, how do you spend your time each day?
“I generally get up around 3am and I love my quiet time. I start by reading a Psalm, then follow by reading a Proverb. I will also try to read something from the Old and New Testament. I believe the Holy Spirit speaks to us about the things we already know in our Spirit and beginning in God’s word is essential. I have about thirty things on my journal prayer list that I work through to see what God has to say to me.”
Lee, tell us about brokenness in your life
“I’m never very far away from understanding God’s promise of being close to the brokenhearted. I have three specific events in my life that have broken me and shaped who I am.
I have been through divorce. No matter the circumstances, divorce never stops hurting people. As I’ve put my life back together, I’ve come to understand that healing and strength can come through as we press into the Lord.
I was sent to war. For 120 consecutive days we were consecutively attacked at our tent camp. During that time, I did over 250 operations on everyone from babies to terrorists to peers. I came back from war with significant PTSD which led me to write my book, No Place to Hide.
The third, and by far the worst, broken place in my life happened just over a year ago. We lost our son Mitchell at age 19. You can take the pain of divorce or the pain of losing a parent and multiply it exponentially and it doesn’t come close to the pain you feel from losing a child. It’s just not supposed to happen. For me, it’s redefined our life.
I’m simply reminded that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
When you allow God to minister to you in your brokenness, you see people all around you who need the hope that you can provide. If you can turn that pain into service to others, God will minister to you in ways you can’t begin to understand.”
Quote of the Day:
“How we respond to our story and how we use our story to help other people is where richness begins.”
Your book, No Place to Hide, is your investment in other people. Tell us about that.
“Everybody is going to go through war. Jesus said, ‘In this world, you will have trouble.’ The sooner we can accept this, the better off we will be.
One day, I was caught in a mortar attack with no place to hide. As I hid behind a small concrete wall, twelve or thirteen bombs exploded on the base. At that time, I had no control.
If I was going to come out alive, it was because of God’s protection.
Over the next few years, I began writing this book to tell the story as a way to heal.
As we’re publishing the book, my son died.
I began to see that God allowed these previous experiences to teach me through life’s most disastrous time. It has taught me that He is always faithful. I keep hearing people say, ‘I didn’t think I could survive this and you helped me realize, I can.'”
Lee, tell us how you’re learning to be grateful.
“I am grateful for going to war. It took me going to war, in the desert, to really see God. In the Bible, God took the most stubborn people into the desert to teach them. I was one of those people. It was in the desert when I truly began to trust my Savior.
I’m not grateful for divorce, but I am grateful for the restoration.
I’m certainly not grateful for having lost a child. I’m angry about that. I’ll never stop having huge questions about that. But, I am grateful that it has conformed me to Christ. If you kneel at your hour of greatest need, God will use it to make you more like Him. It’s better for me to be more like Christ than have all of my children at my side. That’s a hard thing to say, but a true thing to live.”
This conversation exudes anything, it is humility with confidence.
“For a long time, I was highly accomplished, but I was stupid enough to think I was in control of my own life. My confidence was not backed by wisdom and humility.
The richest person is the one who understands that everything they have been given is a gift. If you understand that, humility comes as a natural response.
Lee, what does it mean to you to be rich?
“Richness isn’t about material things. They will go away and you will be unhappy. Richness is internal. If you can go to bed knowing that you’ve used your skills and gifts and talents in a maximal way, then you can close your eyes as the richest person in the world. And you’ll wake up knowing that God has more in store for you.”