BY: JAN ANTONSSON
SEPTEMBER 1, 2013
Had he lived, Lenny would be 85 years old today! Happy Birthday, Lenny!
“If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly be united with him in his resurrection.” (Rom. 6:5)
Since Lenny’s passing, I have been gripped by death and dying and what it means for us who are left to carry on without our loved ones. The Word of the Lord to me that Lenny is of more benefit to me in spirit than he was in flesh was never far from my mind as I struggled to comprehend what they might mean. Much has been written and spoken of how we benefit from Christ’s death, but in my raw grief, most of it was just “white noise,” not making a dent in my tumultuous emotions. Yesterday, these words from the beloved hymn, “Low in the Grave He Lay,” washed over me: “Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”
I played it over and over on my keyboard, using different instrument “voices.” I made a ring tone on my iPhone for it. Somewhere in there, as those magnificent words comforted me like a soothing balm, it came to me that resurrection is not an event. It’s a continuous, on-going process. Christ arose from the dead and since He was the first fruits of the New Creation, so we will arise as well. “What’s new about that?” You ask. Only this: the church world has projected the resurrection of the dead out into the future, like they have every other piece of Good News Jesus came to earth to bring us. “Churchianity” had brainwashed me into thinking that the resurrection comes for me in some future time, but not now. What good does that concept do any of us as we struggle to carry on when our soul mate dies, or we face tribulation, deprivation or terminal illness?
Paul’s words took on new meaning: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called, these he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Rom. 8:29-30) Ultimately, ALL are predestined to bear the mark of the high calling of Christ, for in Him, we were chosen before the foundation of the world. What did we do to cause Him to choose us then? Absolutely nothing! Nothing of man’s works, thoughts, or intentions could soar to the heights of Mount Zion, where we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. We are PREDESTINED to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. Those words exploded in my spirit and I saw and tasted and felt the resurrection life of Christ pouring into, over, and through me.
Christ is the firstborn of many brethren, Paul affirmed, and since we are predestined to be conformed to His image and likeness, what He told His disciples about His death, burial and resurrection applies to us as well! Before He was taken by His foes, He said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24) That magnificent promise applies to us as well as to Him! The proof is that Christ, who as He promised, when He was lifted up from the earth, did draw and continues to draw all men to Himself. We also see the proof in Paul. Harry Fox has observed, were it not for God’s calling on Paul’s life, to take the gospel to the Gentiles (all men far from God), Christianity may not have lasted past the first Century. It may have remained a sect of the Jews.
I think that’s what Paul meant when He wrote, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) Paul’s seed has borne fruit all over the planet from the time of his revelation of Christ until now. All of us are richer and more fruitful because of his words and his life.
The words I began with, “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection,” have jolted me out of my “churchy” view of things. Though I can’t put my mystical experience into words, I know that my pressing loss of Lenny means that like Christ, he is not limited anymore by time or space, but his ministry continues, fueled by the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead. I believed that God would save his physical life by the power of the Spirit, and when that didn’t happen; I was deflated, like a helium balloon with a pin prick in it. I sank into despair, doubting not only my own vision of God and His words, but Lenny’s as well. The Lord said to me during those dark days, “Are you angry with me?” I wept and replied, “No, Lord, how can I be angry at You, when You are my life?”
I was not angry, but I was confused, and doubting everything I thought I knew about life on this earth and God’s mission for us. I have been grasping after God my whole life, wanting more of His wisdom and His power. Some of that was so I could assuage my own fears of death and failure, but most of it was for others, because Lenny and I always wanted to help people. We wanted them to know the beauty of Christ that we had seen. We longed for them to be set free from law and legalism, to be liberated from sectarianism, and to soar in the heavenlies with our Abba and Jesus Christ our Lord. How can that be achieved without resurrection power?
In the first century, the Disciples turned the world upside down with the mighty miracles of God. This power was bestowed upon them to confirm the Word He had given them. His Word (Christ) is Life and Power, and the miracles performed by the Disciples confirmed that these words indeed flowed from God. Some came to Christ because of the physical bread He gave the hungry, but others flocked to Him to receive words of life, freedom from sin, oppression, discrimination, pride, and religion’s tyranny. The world still needs freedom from all those debilitating weights which keep people earth bound, imprisoned by their addictions, debacles, and flesh fueled lust for power.
I don’t know where my passion for healing fits into that scenario, but God knows my heart and I leave my judgment with Him. I never see anyone hurt, ill, or emotionally traumatized but what I want to reach out and touch them with the power which created the universe, and turned the world upside down. Watchman Nee wrote in one of his books that when we pray for a gift or for some-thing, we haven’t seen that in Christ, we already have ALL these things we need.
My dilemma about God’s words to me in reference to Lenny being of more benefit to me in Spirit than in the flesh, was the struggle to remove them from the framework of religious thought. I couldn’t get past the idea that it sounded like praying to Saints, rather than to our Father in heaven. If I were to appeal to Lenny to help me, how would that be different than praying to St. Canera, I wondered? I have no answer to that, other than to see that Lenny is now in personal communion with the same power which created the world and everything in it. He answers to God there, as He always did here, and my prayers are and will always be to our Heavenly Father. I’m greatly comforted to know that Lenny’s ministry was not cut short, but will continue in whatever way God chooses.
The resurrection is not something for future unfolding. I’ve seen that for decades now concerning loved ones who have passed, but I never saw that resurrection is a process for me now, today, here on earth! Up from the grave He arose, and He carries me and you and all of us with Him. When life gets too much and we bow our necks under the load, we need that resurrection power now. Since Christ in us is our hope of glory, our only hope of glory, and we are in Him, we have continuous access to that power today!
Father, open our eyes to see You as You are, to experience Your power in our lives, to feast upon Your wisdom as we walk with You. You truly do all things well; You carry us on eagle’s wings to Mount Zion’s lofty heights. May we share Your unconditional love for all men with all You put in our paths. Anoint Paul’s words with resurrection power, Father: ”For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” In Christ we ask it, amen.