This is either the epilogue or the last chapter of a book that I am writing about a Pastor's wife who died of cancer. The purpose of the book is bigger than I originally thought it would be. I did not get nearly as much input from others as I thought I would, so God in His mercy brought other people into my life, and through them brought a progressive revelation about the cross. Anyway, this is about 1,200 words to "wrap it all up". Hopefully it will be published soon.
In order to see God face to face and to recognize that He is the source of our faith and the one who brings it to perfection, we must “come to the end of our strength” and see that we are NOT the source or the one who performs, to perfect our faith. It is “all to Jesus”, so the place of seeing God face to face is the place of death, death to self, death to thinking that in any way, “I got this.” is a true statement. It is a false pride-filled statement and leads to death.
There is a reality, greater and far longer lasting than the reality we currently live in. Paul lived in it and wrote about it and encouraged his readers to discover it. The author of Hebrews states that Jesus endured the unimaginable agony of the cross because of the reality of the “joy that was set before Him.” The reality of the perfect love that casts out the fear of eternal judgment, is the one thing that John sets before us as capable of defeating fear.
Standing in opposition to this truth is “humanistic presumption.” It states we can gather our resources and educate ourselves to a place where we learn to work together in peace and harmony. Never mind that no one who believes this can point to a time or a community where this “shining example of human love” has ever actually taken place, they still cling to it as truth.
Sadly, examples of this among the followers of Jesus are few and far between also. We have been given everything we need to be able to display a “foretaste” of heaven, and yet we fall painfully short and give others good reason to mock our self-serving, self-centered efforts.
Jesus is the answer, but who will take the time to listen. Who will listen with ears that are willing to go down into the dust and allow the man-made structure to crash and burn. Someone said, we don’t break the commands of God, we are broken on them. If the words of truth that we have available to read do not break the power of our confidence in the flesh, our plans, our goals, then God must use crisis of both inward and outward circumstances, to bring us to the end or our strength. This is ultimate love. The Doctor has made the correct diagnosis and the patient must submit to the prescription and the changes that He states.
Our statement of faith in the midst of a trial, is, “God I trust you.”
The diagnosis has not changed, from Adam, to Israel, to the modern believer. Sin has consigned all of humanity to death, God has given a substitute in Jesus, who died in our place. Possibly the saddest thing in all the world is when a person stops at that place, smugly proclaims that his sin has been paid for, takes just a little tiny bit of credit for making the “decision” to trust in Jesus and never considers the call, the purpose that is inherent in the salvation. “We love because He first loved us.” To the degree that we do not love, is the degree that we have not truly taken into our being the cost and the mercy that was necessary for Him to love us. His life in us will be constantly working a death to our pride. Pride is the thing that kills the witness of the individual believer and the corporate body (sometimes called the church).
There is a sad pattern that is repeated through the ages. A change initiated and accomplished by the choice of God brings about a blessing in this temporary existence. The person or people begin to enjoy the blessings and a call comes to share or let go of those blessings. The call comes from the One who provided the blessings in the first place. A subtle evil change has taken place in the heart of the receiver and the call to relinquish the blessing reveals it. The receiver, who did nothing to earn or create the blessing, has taken possession of it. They have decided that it is part of them and they have the right to decide what happens to it. God reacts to this by bringing His word, clearly and rightly penetrating through the pride with truth. If that is rejected, then His love demands that He bring a crisis inward and outward circumstances that are designed to break the pride that grip the blessing in an eternally destructive way. This is ultimate love.
Pride and human power are the enemy, they open the door for separation, fear, abuse, hopelessness, despair, and malice. If I allow in one microscopic size thought that I did even one, microscopic sized thing to bring about this blessing, pride will take that teeny tiny area and turn it into 40 acres before you know it. Nothing that has its root in that 40 acres is from God, every bit of it actively works against the work that God is doing in the earth. (I want to give clear examples here of where the “church” has failed, and the solution from the heart of God… can you help me?)
The title I was given, “The Cross of Jesus Christ in the Life of Kathy Steele” seemed to get lost as the book progressed, but now here at the end, I see that it too has gone through a process of death and resurrection. Kathy Steele was a friend of God. He shares secrets with His friends and at a point in time, on a level that no other human being could be shown, one on one, with her God, Kathy had a conversation with her Friend. She was asked to give up the blessing that God had given her for the good of others and she did. We live in a fallen world where death still appears to reign as king, but the faithfulness of God does not stop at death. Kathy knew this. In doing it this way, God is very aware that most people will blame Him and cover up their hurt by lashing out in anger at the One who loves them the most. If each individual would take a moment and pause and consider Kathy and her attitude toward this time, they would be confronted with truth. “Cancer meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to preserve life, to call you to see beyond this temporary plain, to cause you to be willing to release the blessings you have been given to be a blessing to others, to give you the strength and courage to lay down in sacrificial love ‘for the least of these My brothers.'”