HEAPED UP, PRESSED DOWN, RUNNING OVER
BY: JAN ANTONSSON
OCTOBER 26, 2013
“For he that has entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall according to the same example of unbelief.” (Heb. 4:10-11, KJV)
Last week, I published a piece Lenny wrote in 2001, called “An Empty Vessel.” Many of you wrote to say you resonated to what he wrote. Those who have had their own works burned to a crisp by the Spirit understood it. Those on their way to that conclusion, probably thought it went too far. When God sent us here, Lenny would walk around a circular drive way on the farm, holding a small recorder, into which he would speak his meditations and what God had for him, for the Baptist men’s Sunday School Class. I sometimes wondered myself if he had gone too far, because I carried with me constantly the remembrance of Bible Belt mentality. Fundamentalism reigns throughout the churches here in Neosho, and the one Lenny was called to was no different. I knew what the men in that Sunday School class must have thought when Lenny proclaimed there is absolutely nothing we can do, must do, or ought to do in order to get God to love us:
“Say what? Are you nuts? We have to read the Bible, pray, give, attend church, and do whatever our leaders press us into doing.” When they would lay those thoughts on him, Lenny would reply, “Don’t kill the messenger. I’m bringing you what God told me to say.” He reported to me that several times, they got so upset that several stood up, pointed a finger at him, and threatened him with hell fire for heresy. One of the men proposed getting the church leadership to ban Lenny from the class. Another of the men who had received more light from God than most of them, cautioned the irate man, “Be careful. You are fighting against God.”
Even though I hadn’t plumbed the depths of this message, I had respect for Lenny’s spiritual intuition, so I always published his words exactly the way he heard them, only putting in a scriptural reference here and there. Lenny often quoted the scripture without giving the reference, and to an old Bible Banger like me, that had to be addressed. So I added them as I was publishing his writing.
For years afterward, the Spirit flowed through me in my own writings about the need to lay down my works and flow in His works, according to His will. I have been thoroughly persuaded that anything which survives the test of time and fire comes from God. Anything which does not is of the flesh. It is His will which prevails, not mine. Accordingly, I came to the place soon after we arrived here in Neosho and the ministry was launched, that if He said it, I would do it (whatever “it” might be), but if He did not, I wouldn’t touch it. Lenny always felt that way. It’s the only way The Glory Road stayed on purpose for what God wanted us to do and say and be.
Over the years, many men tried to get “the little woman” in line (that would be me). One of them, who nearly drove me right round the twist, as the Brits put it, admitted to me that he saw The Glory Road as a grand megaphone for him to share what I considered his delusional ideas. I begged the Lord to help me with this pest. Accordingly, He said, “Take him off your e-mail list. Don’t write to him again. Don’t answer his e-mails. Keep walking.” The man tried and tried, but I turned a deaf ear and he finally gave up his lost cause. Admittedly, he had symptoms of mental illness, but some Christen men still subscribe to the idea that all women have to be in submission to any man who tries to tell them what to do and how to be. That comes from the Patriarchal system most of us grew up in, but it’s time to grow up, move on, and recognize the sovereignty of Almighty God, who is perfectly capable of getting His work done on earth without any of us, if He so chooses, or to use whomever He wills to get that work done.
Sound radical? Here’s part of the personal questionnaire which led me to the conclusion that God doesn’t need my help: Did you help him with creation? Did you fling the stars throughout the cosmos, and place the planets into orbit around our sun? Did you put the leviathan in the seas, the birds in the trees, or the cattle in the fields? Did you make this perfect world just right for life to flourish, with an atmosphere which deflects solar flares, and a magnetic core which keeps us on track? Did you create gravity which keeps our feet planted on earth instead of flying off into space? Did you create yourself in God’s own image?
The answer is a resounding “NO!” to all those questions, and yet, in some dark corner of our psyches, some of us still think we should do something to help God out. We feel the need to keep our friends and family in line with what we know of Him. Haven’t you noticed that this never does anything but alienate people? Do we ever really get anywhere by judging others and holding them accountable when they have not received the light we have. When we know as we are known, we will realize that whatever light we have been given is as a candle blowing in the wind compared to His mind and will and heart and grand design for us all.
There are things that need doing in this world, in all churches, and God does use people to get things done. My point simply is to wait on Him to show us and/or tell us what we need to do and say and be.
Jesus said the hairs on our head are numbered (Matt. 10:30), and none of us can add an hour to our lives (Matt. 6:27). By implication then, is the thought that the Kingdom of heaven on earth is God’s building, His house, as it were, and He knows how He wants it built and who belongs in it. When we decide who God allows in and who He keeps out, we’re just like the Pharisees of old who bragged they were sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus infuriated them when He said God could raise up sons of Abraham from stones (Matt. 3:9). This judgment about whom God has chosen plagues Christians yet today.
In Richard Rohr’s recent meditation (35 of 51), he addressed the subject about who would make the cut into God’s kingdom: “In Mark’s Gospel, and you can check it out for yourself, the blind man Bartimaeus (10:46-52), the pagan Roman centurion (15:37-39), and the sinner Mary Magdalene (16:9-13) are the only named believers. Again, I must say it: There is a message here!”
Indeed there is a message here for all of us. How can we on the one hand proclaim that God’s love includes everyone and consequently, no one will be lost, and then at the same time exclude any group of people from that love? This kind of judgment happens regularly and is a stain on the gospel truth.
However, with age comes wisdom, and it seems to me from my vantage point of years, that none of us called ourselves out of organized religion. God did that. He is responsible to finish the good work He began in us until He has finished, and we are gleaming like pure gold.
This is good news for those of us who seem to have come out of the womb worrying about pleasing God. Since He works “all things after the counsel of His own will,” we can be sure that even if our works are burned up like “wood, hay, and stubble,” nevertheless, the experience will work His perfect will into our lives. Life is the great equalizer, the playing field in which “every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill made low.” He never misses a beat, revealing Himself to us in every situation, every difficulty, every fear, and every human failing. It all works for our good and His glory. There are no mistakes and no coincidences, for all things come to us from the hand of our Father. Through bounty and privations, joys and sorrows, He holds our hand so that like Job, we say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” (Job. 13:15)
He is the fulfillment of all the promises which we have held onto for dear life, the answer to all the prayers we have prayed, and in the end, God Himself is the Grand Blessing, heaped up, pressed down, and running over. Thank You, Father, for giving Yourself to us freely and without reservation. We rejoice that it is Your labor by which we enter into Your rest. Amen.