BY: JAN ANTONSSON
JULY 25, 2013
“No eye has seen, no ear heard, no mind has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him, but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” (I Cor. 2:9-10)
The Spirit has given me this title, and I’m following along to see what He has to say. Put on your jogging shoes and come with me. We’ll discover it together. Most of you reading this know that Lenny has crossed over into the Lord’s bosom and now has a front row seat to behold God’s glory. To the extent his mind could conceive of it, he always beheld God’s glory here on earth, and though he tried to tell me what he saw and felt, he never could quite put it into words.
From the time the Lord baptized me in the Spirit until this day, my heart beats faster in expectation that we should live to see Isaiah’s words fulfilled: “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” (Isa. 40:5) Lenny loved Hab. 2:14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Both of us thrilled to the promise God made to Lenny when He called us to Neosho in 1998, that He would bring multitudes into the kingdom, soon. Lenny’s calling was to a group of Baptist men in a Sunday School class here in Neosho. He faithfully delivered whatever word God gave him to speak, often upsetting the men considerably, but ultimately they came to love him and respect what God had given him even though they may not have understood it fully.
About six years ago now, Lenny said the Spirit drove him out of the 5th wheel where we were living on the family farm, and out back where Lenny heard the Father say, “It is finished. I will accomplish all I said to you. You will not go back until you go back in power.” We didn’t know exactly what that meant, but he obeyed the word he heard and quit going to the Sunday School Class. He never quit praying for the men, or loving them unconditionally, however.
Of course, we hoped that the day Isaiah and Habakkuk spoke of would soon be here and Lenny would be healed along with all the many, many others we had prayed for during the years. I’ve always passionately believed that God’s power is as vibrant, strong and mighty today as it was when He parted the Red Sea, raised the widow’s son at Nain, healed the eyes of the man born blind, and caused the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and set the captives free. I prayed for the old dears at Medicalodge every Sunday, knowing that one day, God was going to release the flow of His power on earth as it is in heaven.
Lenny had participated in God’s power flowing through to one of his foster sons, Joey, who was dying of Legionnaires disease. God told Lenny to go to NJ and pray for him. The nurse said she was glad he came because Joey wouldn’t last the night. He was hooked up to a ventilator and dialysis machine. Lenny told Joey that God had said if he wanted to come home, God would bring him home, or if he wanted to stay, God would heal him. He said he wanted to stay for his daughters. Lenny spoke to his organs to be healed in Jesus’ name and left to get some sleep as he had taken the “red eye” flight from LAX to New Jersey.
The next morning when he got to the hospital, Joey was sitting up in bed eating green Jell-O, and the nurse was ecstatic with joy, proclaiming to all, “It’s a miracle. It’s a miracle.” Lenny knew that God heals today, and I had seen God heal Lenny of a tear in his aorta while we lived in CA.
Lenny has always believed that he would not die, that the life of Christ would sustain him in the flesh and he would be among those who Paul said, “would not sleep, but would be changed in the twinkling of an eye.”
He suffered from more pain than anyone I ever knew. His joints were deteriorating from arthritis and he had fibromyalgia. His vision grew worse and worse until he could barely see. He had what medical science calls “Essential Tremors,” which has to be the stupidest name anyone ever came up with. They are horrible in the extreme. He was getting to the place where his hands shook so much he could scarcely hold a cup.
He collapsed on June 27th. When I couldn’t rouse him or get him up, I called 911 and had him taken to Mercy Hospital in Joplin, MO, because Lenny had Medicare Advantage and Mercy is in their network.
When I asked him in the hospital if he wanted to go on and be with Jesus or did he want to stay with me, he said, “I want to stay with you,” and he valiantly tried to hang on. The doctors in the ICU unit thought I was either a flaming nut or in denial when I told them that God has said, “Lenny will be OK.” Everyday, they would ask me if I wanted them to pull the plug on the ventilator, and everyday, I said, “Absolutely not.”
I certainly have learned two lessons well. 1) God speaks from eternity and we hear in time, and we may not get His exact meaning the first time we hear something. We have to “walk it out” as the saying goes, wait until He makes clear what he means. And 2), God’s will is always done! I knew that if Lenny passed into the arms of our Father, he would certainly be better than OK, but since God gave him to me in 1980, I couldn’t believe that He would take him away so soon.
Lenny passed into the arms of the Lord on July 15, at about 2:30 P.M. Along with two nurses and two chaplains who were with me, I laid hands on him and one more time asked God to resurrect him from the dead. And knowing that God could still heal him without it, I allowed them to unplug the ventilator that was keeping him alive. His spirit had already gone back to our Father, I sensed, but since Jesus raised Lazarus after 4 days in the tomb, I knew that God could raise Lenny as well.
God’s will was to take Lenny home, and in my spirit, I bow to our Father’s mercy and understanding. In my flesh, I feel the incalculable loss of the sweetest man I ever knew. He taught me by example rather than words about unconditional love. He always knew what I had to struggle to learn, which is that God is always in control, and while He may use us in something He’s doing, He does not need us to accomplish His will on earth. Lenny lived in God’s rest which was a tremendous blessing to me and a testimony of God’s purpose in sending Christ to earth, birthed from a human woman, seed of God, the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that in his seed (Christ), all nations would be blessed (Ga. 3:8,16).
Barry, a brother whom we’ve never met, but who we’ve come to love and appreciate in our on-line fellowship, wrote these words which express what I feel as well: “Jan, I was so sorry to hear of Lenny’s passing. Gain for him for sure, he leaves a hole in our hearts on this side of heaven. I guess I always thought Lenny would go back in power to that Baptist men’s Sunday School class on this side of time. Who knew He meant the other side?! Surely, Lenny’s witness to them continues; and now, in a restored power! I’ll be honest that for someone I’ve never even met in the flesh, his loss greatly depresses me! I think of things like your recounting that Lenny would want to gather hands and pray over those in caskets at funerals. And I think, Lord, when are You going to start allowing a season of that kind of outpouring? I so longed, with Lenny, for it. I guess Lenny will contribute more to precipitating that season from the other side. Until then, may your heart be warmed by your fondest memories of Lenny, and may Jesus send him to visit you in your dreams.” End quote.
Our dear, dear friend and brother, John Gavazzoni, who along with Harry Fox officiated at our wedding on January 14, 1981, reminded me that all power on earth flows from heaven, and the Spirit assures me that Lenny is part of our “cloud of witnesses,” who is pulling for us, cheering us on from his balcony in glory, and Christ our elder brother is interceding for us at the throne of grace, always and forever. As I was pondering the power Lenny has in spirit now, the Lord spoke to me, saying, “He is more beneficial to you here than he is there.” It will be interesting to see how this plays out in time, but the Lord is merciful and kind, giving of Himself to us in ways our eyes cannot see, but our spirit bears witness to His presence with us all the time. His Presence is truly God’s Provision for us always.
Another brother we’ve never met, Florian Brandt, wrote from the mission field where he and his wife Claire serve, “Somehow I’ve also got the feeling that Lenny is still with us. This is really strange to me as we never met you guys face to face, but then again, there is a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, and Lenny is part of them. There are lots of things we don’t understand, and I pray that you would know Father’s love carrying you through all of this. I’ve just started reading all of Lenny’s writings again, and they are such a treasure and a legacy to us younger folks. He truly must have been a great man to live with. Just know that you are not alone in this.” End Quote.
I do feel Lenny’s presence with me and know that his love for me, just like my love for him will last forever. He is indeed a treasure laid up in heaven. He always belonged to God, who generously shared him with me for a season. Through my tears I say, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Amen.