Moment of Truth
I had a couple of strange occurrences take place in my body over the past few weeks. To call them strange occurrences is the best way I can describe what happened as there was no pain or any of the other usual physical manifestations that accompany life threatening conditions other than the fact that I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I say it was life threatening because I was there and went through it and I definitely felt like my life was in the balance.
I went to the ER twice in the space of 2 weeks with this stuff and the last one was my first ride in an ambulance as the guest of honor. During those 2 visits to the Emergency Room they gave me EKGs, MRIs, brain scans, heart scans, and abdominal scans and then they scanned my scans. It felt like they did everything short of turning me inside out to take a look. They found nothing. It all apparently happened somewhere between my brain and my spirit. And of course this is the one area that we humans have the absolute least knowledge about ourselves and yet express the greatest number of varied opinions. I’m still trying to sort through it all but suffice it to say that God was merciful to me and didn’t allow any of this to kill me or even negatively affect me that I can tell. That said, there is something worth telling out of all of this.
This last “event” (that’s what they called it) happened on a recent Sunday morning at church and I’ll admit that it was pretty scary. I wasn’t afraid of dying and going to hell but there for a while I was afraid that I might die and leave my family. While I am not one who believes that God kills some people to teach other people a lesson; such as killing your children to get you to repent, I do think that God will pull on your string to let you know that He is still the one who holds the power of life and death. God got my attention. He told me that He was weary of messing around with me while I took advantage of his grace.
I’m confident that the doctors will diagnose what caused all of this stuff and a successful treatment will be determined so that I don’t die prematurely. However that does not change what God spoke to me in those moments when I hung between consciousness and the next world. While I do not fear death I have certainly regained my fear of God. Yes, I said fear of God. Don’t misunderstand this. It isn’t respect although I do respect God. It isn’t honor although I certainly honor God as well. I’m talking about actual quaking in your boots fear. The stuff that makes your breath come short and the hair stand up on the back of your neck. The stuff that can paralyze you and even stop your heart if there is enough of it present.
Well, this may be bad news for some of you who need to believe that God is not capable of such a thing in this present day of grace that we enjoy. So, for those of you who feel the need to turn your head and look away please do so now. However for those of you who have been in the presence of this fear of God that I’m speaking about, you need to hear the rest of this.
The fear that I speak of can’t be duplicated by a roller coaster ride, a cheesy horror movie or even an actual life and death event because I have had one or two of those as well.
The fear I am speaking of is the stuff that all you can do in response to is lie on your face and try to disappear. This sensation makes you feel completely transparent, totally powerless, frail beyond description and incapable of sustaining your own life even for a second. You know, sort of like John did in Revelation chapter 1. It is that part of the majesty of God that makes you feel completely insignificant in his presence and yes, scared senseless.
This fear that I speak of rang a clanging alarm inside of me. In fact, it sounded an ear splitting alarm way down in the deepest recesses of my consciousness. Way, way down there where the really ugly stuff hides out. There in the outermost regions of my innermost self at the farthest point away from the light of truth. And please, be honest with your self. We all harbor some of this stuff. Lie to somebody else but not to God and not to yourself.
Now that you are convinced that I am prophesying doom, gloom and fear mongering, know this. This fear that I’m referring to is a positively healthy thing. I will tell you what it did for me. When this alarm sounded it did so with an earth quake force that instantly got my attention and all of that crud that I had been working so hard to keep hidden away from prying eyes suddenly lost all of its value. The moment I released my grip it all bubbled right to the surface. In that moment I knew that nothing was hidden from the eyes of him with whom we have to deal.
The fear of God is the leading edge of his word. It is that case-hardened edge that is the sharpness of the “two edged sword” and can quickly and effortlessly divide soul and body. I know. I was there and it divided me. So, you may ask, how do I know that it divided me? That’s easy to answer. For those several hours that it held me divided and apart my entire focus was on listening for God’s voice and making certain that I was attempting to hide nothing. Do you know how you can tell that you’re trying to hide something from God? Again, easy answer. Scared people are always hiding something or at least trying to.
During those few hours I discovered something. While the holiness of God is offended by the mere presence of our flesh, the fear of God is not in the least bit affected by it. In fact, I discovered that the fear of God will wade right into the rawest sewage of my life. I witnessed it completely ignore my flesh and my feelings, wade right into me and strike that alarm that I mentioned with a two fisted hammer blow.
I’m not going to list all of the things that I had kept hidden for my self. Suffice it to say that these were all very personal things of an extremely private nature…you know, just like yours. It’s the kind of thing that if I were to ask you about yours you would respond very abruptly, in a highly offended manner, that it’s none of my business. While I took lots of precautions to keep these things hidden from everyone they were never hidden from me. Of course I knew they were there. I put them there.
Some of these things I am extremely proud of because it is my opinion that they help define me. I don’t know if God agrees with that assessment or not but I probably won’t ask him because I am comfortable with them as they are. I’ve been like this my whole life so why would I need to change now? I mean, I’m still saved so what difference does it make, right?
That is how my reasoning works and since we are laying bare how we think I’m fairly certain that you are not much different from me. There are other things as well but I would be ashamed for anyone else to know about them. However, I wanted to keep them as long as I could because they made me feel good.
In case you might be wondering the Bible is chucked full of blatant warnings about this very stuff. These warnings are stated in a dozen different ways but they all say pretty much the same thing and in very certain language. The fact is my flesh is 100% trust worthy. I can absolutely trust it to do what it is destined to do, and that is live out its identity and…act like flesh.
As I am a Christian this presents a personal conflict that I really want to avoid. In fact, I will tell you outright that I refuse to face it because I can’t. How can I deny my own flesh when I love it more than anything else in the entire world? Oh, so you don’t? You’d better check out Romans chapter 7 first and then see what you think.
Of course I know the Bible says, “Deny your flesh” blah-blah-blah. I go to church and tell all my Christian buddies that I believe it. Heck I even tell people that I actually do deny my flesh but the truth is I love my flesh to the point that I willingly turn a blind eye to anything and everything it does. I justify all of its behavior and rationalize its every desire. From over indulging to stroking my hurt feelings I can and probably do justify anything that I like at the moment.
Here is the problem. I would control my flesh…if I could…but I can’t (Romans chap 7).
Now because of Romans chapter 7 I have certain knowledge. This knowledge tells me that my flesh is a savage brute. It says that my flesh is purely an instinctive creature like a dog or a horse and as a result is capable only of following only its own needs and desires. The Bible says that my flesh is going to destroy itself (that means kill me) because that is what flesh ultimately does. You don’t believe that? Better read it again.
I hate that it had to come to this but it had to happen in order for me to see. God did not owe me a thing when He did this. He could have simply allowed me to continue on the path where I was headed, giving in to my flesh and the ultimate result would have been the destruction of my family and my self. However, his mercy is greater than my confusion and bad choices. Thank you my Lord and my God. You owe me nothing.
The year of 2011 was a land mark in my life. I have stumbled on the rock of offence. However, His mercy did not allow the rock to crush me. I am living proof that His mercy endures forever. Oh Father, your mercy has saved me from loss.
I know more than I have been willing to be accountable for. This has changed now. I have been called to the front of the class room and must now give account. When I was in school I so hated being called to the front of the class. You can always read a zillion things on people’s faces and imagine how they are judging you, how inadequate you are, how much smarter, richer, better, more popular they are than you.
The time to be considerate of my comfort zone has all been used up. Over half my life has been spent focused on me. It was all very comfortable but nothing of any significance ever came of it beyond my own selfish good feeling. God has been gracious and merciful in that He gave me a wife and 5 children that are a living testimonial to his own greatness. He has done marvelous things with them and through them. Whatever positives I contributed to them has been once again because God is gracious.
It’s time to come clean. I knew all the while that I had not just allowed myself to drift from a pure and truthful relationship with God. Oh no, it was much worse than that. I had chosen to disregard this relationship because I knew that it would interfere with what I intended to pursue. I knew full well that I had become depraved and full of my self.
Please listen very closely and understand this one thing. While I was becoming more and more depraved over the past umpteen years I never lost my knowledge of truth. Of course I believe that Jesus sacrificed his own life willingly on that cross for me. I even cried about it a few times when I thought on it long enough.
I never doubted what Jesus did on the cross. I never doubted that it took his blood to buy me back from eternal hell. I believed it before “the event” too but I have a different perspective now. I have known all along that the cross of Jesus is an instrument of death. I have always been genuinely thankful for what He did for me on that cross.
I just wanted nothing to do with it for myself. I had no intention of denying my own flesh and taking up the cross for my self. I liked my flesh far too much for that. I believed it. I believed it all, just not for me.
I have discovered that there is a huge difference between what I place significance on and what God places significance on. I am interested in what gives me pleasure, makes me feel good, and how often I can do it repeatedly without seriously injuring myself. God has no such interests. God is only interested in what is good for me.
I know that God is smarter than me. So, why wasn’t I living like it? Simple, I choose not to. I chose to do whatever I wanted to do and in the back of my mind I was hoping that God’s grace would make it all better and He did exactly that…until Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 at 10:40 AM when He decided to call in his marker.
My life is different now. I didn’t have an out of body experience and I didn’t die. What I saw was that God is precisely who He says He is. He owes me nothing. His mercy is all that is between me and losing this life. He wants it done his way. I don’t have to do it his way but I feel now that it is highly recommended and so I will pursue his way as opposed to mine.
Today I received a phone call from the Ear Nose & Throat doctor. It seems that my Thyroid gland needs to be at least partially removed because of what he called suspicious looking cells. They may be cancerous I don’t know. However, God’s grace is sufficient now just as it has been through out my whole life. I can’t panic now after He has so bountifully demonstrated that He is trustworthy beyond a doubt. I will do what the doctor thinks is best because I have faith that God will direct his hands, mind and heart to act in my best interest.
I don’t know what God has in store for me and our family but I do know that He acts only for good on our behalf.
You? You can do whatever you want. I don’t recommend it though…