BY: JAN ANTONSSON
JULY 13, 2013
“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
If you are wondering what in the world this title means, you’re not alone. I’m thinking it refers to the time that elapses between when God speaks the promise, and the result that he spoke of materializes.
In our case it is the time between His saying to me, “Lenny will be okay,” and however long it takes to bring that result about. I wrote this sitting by his bed in the National Health Care rehabilitation hospital, dictating it into my iPhone. Meanwhile he had a seizure and they brought him back to the Mercy Hospital ER where they discovered he was in septic shock. I’m sitting by his bed in the ICU cubicle.
My faith that he will be okay is a bit shaky, since the ICU doctor clearly thinks he’s going to die, but God is faithful and it is His faith that I need not my own. This Process is very difficult, but with God, “All things are possible.”
Abraham had to wait 25 years between the time God promised him an heir, and the time Isaac was actually born. We’re not told what went on his mind, But we know he was very troubled about it because he conspired with Sarah to produce a natural heir with Sarah’s maid Hagar. Trying to help out God didn’t turn out so well for his heirs, a lesson we all have to learn for ourselves apparently.
The children of Israel suffered under the task masters in Egypt for 430 years before they were delivered by God through Moses. Moses himself had to endure scorching heat, the scorpions and snakes of the Midian desert for 40 years before God sent him to Egypt to accomplish the promise He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that their home would be in the Promised Land of Canaan.
Moses is one of my favorite heroes of the Bible, second only to Jesus. Why? Because he is so human, so flawed, like all of us, and because he walked and talked with God as a friend. I’m thinking now of the scene after Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt when God told him to turn back and encamp by the sea. He warned Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart, with the result that he would pursue them. “But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 14:1-4) God gaining glory is still the end result of the processes we endure today.
You remember what happened. All of Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped where God had said they should. The pitiful children of Israel looked up and saw the Egyptians marching after them and were terrified. They whined to Moses, “Were there no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” (Ex. 14:12) Moses reassured them that they would see the deliverance of the Lord, saying “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Vs. 13-14) The Spirit is quickening that verse to me in our situation. Here’s the result for them:
“The Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them…The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” (Ex. 14:15-18) So let it be spoken by the Lord and it was done. In this case, Moses (and probably Jan) had to quit whining and do exactly as God said.
Fast forwarding the tape to the New Testament, Saul of Tarsus had to spend three years in the desert of Arabia before he was equipped spiritually to bring the good news to the Gentiles and face the judgment of the Jews in Jerusalem.
The only ones who didn’t have to wait between the words, “Be healed,” and the healing were those healed by Jesus, Paul, James and John. Jesus was the only begotten of the father making him the extension of our Father’s power on earth. Paul, James, and John were ministering in the fire and glory of the Spirit as God poured out signs and wonders to confirm His word.
God knows what he’s doing and how he’s going to bring us out of the works of the flesh into the works of the spirit. Of course you do remember that works of the flesh are not limited to sex, drugs, and rock’n roll.
Works of the flesh are those that come from the mind of man, sometimes very good sounding things which were not commissioned by the Father. That’s why Paul said that they were hay, wood and stubble which will be burned up by the fire, the same fire through which we will be saved (I Cor. 3:12-15).
Since we’re all so very unique and coming from different places, God has tailor-made the Process to be exactly what we need. God told me when this ordeal with Lenny began that Lenny is going to be okay. He has repeated that four or five times to me because I get confused by what I see, and yes, I whine.
And worse than that, I tend to take things on as though it were my responsibility to make it happen. I realized I was doing it again last weekend, and so I said “Okay Lord I get it; it is not my job to heal him, it is yours.”
It has taken me most of my life to see that God was waiting to take me off the hook of self effort. When we first married, Lenny used to say that I was a “human doing” more than a human being. That’s the way I was brought up, nourished by the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If something was on the good side of the tree, I was supposed to do it. It took a lot of processing for me to realize that in the end, ultimately, there is no difference between the bad side of the tree and the good side of the tree; both sides are based on man’s works and his will, rather than our Father’s will.
With Harry Fox’s encouragement, and God’s timing, I was finally able to read and understand Karl Barth’s Commentary on Romans. It is a life-in-the-spirit affirming book. One of his statements that impacted me greatly was: “All men are standing on the same steps before the righteousness of God.” To me that’s a perfect interpretation of Romans 11:32: “For God consigned all men to disobedience that he may have mercy upon all.”
Basically Process is a waiting game. Only by His grace is that even possible. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall rise up with wings of an eagle; they shall walk and not be weary; they shall run and not faint; help me Lord, oh help me Lord, to wait.” These are the words of a chorus we used to sing in church, taken from Isa. 40:31. The problem comes when we don’t have the power to do what we think ought to be done, nor the wisdom to ask if it is His will. The Processing, it seems to me, is how we learn to discern the difference between His will and our own.
Father, since we were made in your image and likeness, and birthed into Your nature, it is our nature to try to do something to help, to heal, to restore. You have given us the power to BECOME your children, something that can’t be rushed. By Your grace, we wait upon your power to flow through us, and Your will that it be done. Many are suffering in this hour, all over the planet, awaiting a touch of your hand. Give us your strength and wisdom to wait until the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead visits those in need and those who minister to them, including my beloved Lenny who is fighting for his life at this moment. In Christ we ask it. In joy we receive it. Amen.