THE MAN of MEN
BY: JAN ANTONSSON
NOVEMBER 28, 2013
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.” (Ps. 73:26)
As the days grow shorter, colder, and darker, my moods have sometimes followed along. Actual depression is VERY rare for me, but one day last week as I was driving toward town, the skies were dark and menacing, the temperatures were plummeting as the weathermen had predicted, and it hit me that winter is upon us, with all the inconveniences and demands it brings, and I’m alone on the farm. Tears came to my eyes as they usually do when I think about how much I miss Lenny’s physical presence, and for a moment, my little ship felt likely to capsize in the swells of grief that overtook me. For probably a year before he passed, Lenny was very debilitated due to pain and increasing lack of mobility. I did everything I could for him and wondered how he could stand it. When I would ask him about it, he always smiled at me and replied, “The Lord keeps me.” What I’m getting at is that I had to do a lot of things that he used to do, but his strength in the Lord always let me know that nothing was amiss and I could do it, whatever “it” was. Our Father had gifted him with faith and power to believe in the all sufficiency of God and that was what kept me afloat sometimes.
Since his passing in July, it has come to me several times that all I have to do now, is not more than I did then when he was here, but somehow, his presence always reassured me that I could do it. Now that he is gone, doubt creeps in about my ability to do whatever it takes. As He always does, God gave me what I needed just as the tears began to flow. The simple phrase came to me loud and clear, “The MAN of men.” What could that mean? The next thought which came was that if Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, then He is certainly, the MAN of (among) men. His incarnation is the redemption of our flesh.
Several of you who live alone due to death, divorce, or choice, have told me that the Lord is now your husband. I understand that. It is a metaphor for God’s sustaining presence in the lives of His children. But I remember back when I was a single mother for about six years, and how hard that was sometimes to be both mom and dad. In those times, I often asked the Lord to send me someone “with skin on,” which He did in His time, not mine. No, I really wasn’t asking for a husband, since my first marriage was a nightmare that I wasn’t eager to repeat, but rather, someone I could relate to, talk with, and who, on occasion, could help me with things too difficult for me to do alone, like chopping firewood for the fireplace, cleaning out the gutters, fixing the sprinklers, and knowing what was wrong with the car when it made that scary noise.
Until Lenny came along, the Lord always provided a friend to fill in the gap when I needed something. All of us, married or not, need help with something at times that we can’t do alone. Some of you are in the fight of your lives against cancer, or financial hardship, or age related disabilities, or relationship troubles. My theory is that God gives each of us a unique problem which drives us to our knees in search of Him, His strength, His wisdom, His patience, His grace, and His unconditional love. The Hebrew children were not saved from the Fiery Furnace. They were saved while they were IN it.
God has patiently been delivering me from my fears for decades now. Recently, my computer was acting “buggy.” I feared it was ready to gasp its last and I would have to buy a new one, meaning a new operating system on which I could not run my current Word Processing software. I wouldn’t even be able to open and read what we had written. Driven by that stark reality, I went through all our hundreds of writings and put them in PDF format, which can be read on any computer, and also saved them in Microsoft Word format. That took untold hours of my time and gave me a pain in my shoulder.
Because I work on a MAC and the world runs on PCs, I couldn’t find anyone to help me until yesterday, when a man my cousin recommended picked up my laptop, checked it for viruses, etc., and brought it back. He also gave me an Apple based software which opens all my files I feared would be lost. How astounding is that? It seems miraculous to me, reminding me of the scripture, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (I Cor. 10:13) It also showed me yet again, the folly of living in fear.
Still, some things just seem too tough to bear, too hard to accomplish. At times like that, we long for God to do something to deliver us. When Lenny and I were losing our house in California, we had to cut the weeds down around our house because they were a fire hazard, and if we didn’t do it, the County of Ventura would come in and cut them and add the cost of it to our taxes. I decided to go out and help weed-wack. Those of you who know me well, know that the only strength I have is in my mouth, but I gave it the best effort I could muster, even though I could never figure out how to load the string properly, so Lenny had to do that. I worked on weeds over my head, on the slopes around the property, until my legs, arms, and back felt like they’d been chopping wood or rowing the king around in a slave driven galley. I asked the angels as politely as I could, groaning around the edges, to help me, but they gave a deaf ear to the request. That was when it hit me what James meant when he wrote, “If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:15-17) Super spirituality doesn’t accomplish much when you need physical help.
All of us need some help sometimes that doesn’t appear to be forthcoming. We’re told to pray without ceasing, and to fret not, because “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19) It brings to mind Jesus’ statements in Matthew 25, that when we help someone, or feed and clothe someone, we are really helping Him. Caring for the needy and downtrodden is one of the prime tenets of most religions. Most Christians are tender hearted toward the poor, and willing to help anyone who needs help. This is one way the Lord takes care of us, through the generosity of others.
Jesus did say, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30), meaning that if we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re in no position to care for anyone else. How do we know when we’re to help someone? Jesus said that He spoke what He heard the Father say and He did what He saw the Father doing. That says to me that if we wait on the Lord to direct our steps, we can’t go wrong.
When we feel down and out, and about to sink beneath the waves of hardship and fear, remember that God can do anything. “GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds’ feet, he makes me tread upon my high places.” (Habakkuk 3:19) When He doesn’t instantly save us from the cactus patch we’re in, it is because He designed it for our growth and His glory. At times like that, we really need to be saved from ourselves!
Father, we thank You that when we are weak and heavy laden, stooped from carrying the load, You are our Champion, our Redeemer, our Abba. We can count on you when there is no one else about. You answer before we call; You found us before we sought You. “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” You will neither sleep nor slumber until You have gone upon the mountain dark and brought every sheep back home. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that You are the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and the MAN of men. Selah. Amen.