Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on Oct., 7, 2001
"But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall" (Mal. 4:2, NIV).
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (John 1:14, NIV).
We have been urged by our government leaders to get on with our lives, and encouraged to find some semblance of normalcy after the terrorist attack on September 11. For many people, that is easier said than done. Solomon wrote that there is, "a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build" (Eccl. 3:3, NIV). Mourning and grieving are a unique experience for each person, and only God knows when we are ready to be healed, ready to be built back up. Healing is God's job, not mans. He said of Himself, "See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand" (Deut. 32:39, NIV). We are always in the hand of God as He works out His purposes for our lives. When we are wounded, He heals us; even when we are killed, He makes us alive through His Resurrection Life. The difference in people's response to tragedy is that some of us know it is God with whom we have to do, and some do not know it. When you have to walk difficult paths in life, but you know it is God who is leading you there for your good and His glory, then you can relax into the everlasting arms, knowing He will bring you through. When you do not know God, the terror and fear must seem overwhelming at times, and yet, He is there, even for those who do not know Him. His promise is, "Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear" (Isaiah 65:24, RSV).
I feel sure that everyone physically experiencing the attack on the World Trade Center, those at "ground zero" as the media calls it knew at some intuitive level, the truth of Isaiah's statement: "fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand" (Isaiah 41:10, RSV).
There are compelling stories which came from survivors, who tell of God answering them before they called on Him, of missing death by a few minutes. One of our friend's husband went to New York City with a group of Christian Cops, intending to be a blessing and a comfort to those who had lost loved ones. Here is his report from last week's trip about one survivor's experience: "Monday I went back into Manhattan by myself to see my wife's cousin who works there. He told me that one of his daughters was working on the 103rd floor of the second tower at the World Trade Center on the day of the attack. She started down and was told by a security guard to go up to the roof. Apparently there was a fire escape plan in force for people on the upper floors to go to the roof and if the fire could not be put out or there was too much damage from fire a helicopter would take them off of the roof. Of course, they were not thinking of a building collapsing. She said that when he told her to go to the roof she thought "No, I am going down to the ground." So she went down instead. If she would have listened to him then she would be dead now."
This woman no doubt heard an inner voice or "felt" that she should go on down and thus escaped death. And yet, though she escaped alive, she nonetheless needs to be healed of her emotional scars. Those of us who watched the event unfold need to be healed. The Governor, the Mayor, the President, the Congress, the Fire Department, the Police Department, and on and on, all need to be healed. The ones who died that day are the only ones who do not need to be healed, for they received what Lenny calls, "the ultimate healing," as they passed into the arms of the Father. The terrorist attack did at least one good thing for us. It exposed the cancer hidden deep in American life: FEAR! Many of our neuroses, psychoses, addictions, and I believe all controlling behaviors are brought about by people trying to deal with their hidden fears. Many are now afraid to fly, afraid to shop, afraid to invest in the stock market, afraid of the Arabs, who are themselves afraid of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Fear is not a new factor for anyone. This is a very old fear with a new face. Only those who have Christ within and who experience God's love on a daily basis do not continually walk in fear. The Apostle John wrote, "In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (I John 4:17,18, NIV).
I have experienced problems with fear in my own life. In my youth, I denied the fears and charged ahead, compelled to be brave and put on a "game face" no matter what. As the Great Physician began to heal me from the inside out, He began showing me how much fear was lurking in the shadows, and then, gradually, He began to love away the fear. Now, when I feel afraid about something, I ask the Lover of my Soul to show me His perfect love so that the fear flees. In my opinion, the main factor which causes great fear in people is not knowing who is in charge of their lives. When you know at a cellular level that God is sovereign in everything, for me at least, the fear level goes way down. Thinking that at any moment the terrorists may break through and kill again causes people to be paralyzed and afraid to make a move. Thinking that the devil may kill us all is even worse, because he has supernatural powers, while the terrorists are mortal men who bleed and die like everyone else. The good news here, of course, is that, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (I John 3:8; Heb. 2:14).
When the seventy returned, those whom the Lord had sent out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, they had a tremendously exciting report. They said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:17-20, NIV). This verse tells us that Satan has fallen and we, as Christ's disciples and followers have power over the demons of hell IN HIS NAME. God is absolutely sovereign over ALL the works of His hands, including Satan and all the demons of hell! Listen to this testimony from Isaiah: "This is what the LORD says, Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I AM the FIRST and I am the LAST; apart from me there is no God. WHO then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come, yes, let him foretell what will come. DO NOT TREMBLE, DO NOT BE AFRAID. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? NO there is no other ROCK; I know not one" (Isaiah 44:6-8, NIV). The prophet Daniel said of God, "..he is the living God, enduring for ever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end" (Dan. 6:26). Our God reigns.
When prophesying of the coming Messiah, Isaiah declared, "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be NO END, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The ZEAL of the LORD of hosts will do this" (Isaiah 9:7, RSV). Notice two things about this verse: 1) there is no end to the increase of His government, and 2) God is the one responsible for making this come to pass. The kingdom started small on the Day of Pentecost as the Spirit empowered the disciples to go forth and turn the world upside down. They opened their mouths and spoke peace to the heathen (Zech. 9:10), bringing countless converts to Christ. About that, Paul said, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world" (Rom. 10:17,18, NIV). Because of the Greek language spoken wherever the Roman empire ruled, and also because of their advanced system of roads, which made travel easier, the Gospel spread throughout the known world at that time.
Notice that Isaiah declares, "the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this." Often, we hear statements preached from the pulpits across the land that lead us to believe that if we don't get out there and do it, God's hands are tied; that His purposes will fail if we don't accomplish them for Him. This is NOT what Isaiah said here. He said it is the zeal of the Lord of hosts which will accomplish His purposes set down before the foundation of the world. Will He use us at times? Of course, He will. Our Father flows through His children like a mighty river as the Holy Spirit leads, guides, and directs us to whatever assignment He has for us at the time, but be clear about this, He is NOT sitting on the throne wringing His hands over His failure to motivate His children to do His bidding. When God speaks, the world listens. When Elijah was cowering in the cave, wallowing in self-pity because he imagined the Lord had deserted him, he found out that the Lord does not speak in the strong wind, the earthquake, nor the fire, but in the still small voice. When California was rocked with the huge Northridge earthquake in early 1994, some said that it was punishment for their decadent lifestyle, sinfulness, and complete moral decay. When the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, many have said that God is judging America for the same reasons.
When we talked about judgment here last week, we learned that when God's "judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness" (Is. 26:9). We also read the Apostle John's statement which bears repeating here: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does NOT come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24, RSV). We rejoiced that we who belong to Christ need not fear judgment, and no one else need fear it either since it causes the inhabitants of the world to learn righteousness. Like most of the rest of you, I have been fascinated with the accounts of the aftermath of the attack, and have been deeply touched as I heard and read of the kindnesses displayed by total strangers to one another. Hands helping hands and hearts sharing love and caring have been the norm since September 11. To me, these acts of charity, kindness, bravery and righteousness that have been so evident from the first, all these are the still small voice of God vibrating in the human soul and spirit. He was not speaking to America in the plane crashes; He was not speaking in the fire and the collapse of the buildings afterward. He was and IS speaking to us all in the faith, hope and charity of those who have given of themselves ceaselessly since September 11, to make a difference in the lives of those who were so severely affected.
All of us were affected in ways we cannot begin to enumerate, but if the fear which was hidden in our hearts is exposed, that is a good thing, a blessing from God, for He does not mean for us to walk in fear. He means for us to live overcoming lives, walking and flourishing in the Kingdom of heaven, which is all around us. I have a screen saver on my computer that says, "The glory of the Lord is everywhere around us." It reminds me whenever I see it that God is all there is; His glory sustains us, uplifts us, and delivers us from the ties that would bind us. Lord, open our eyes to see it, to feel it, to taste it, and most of all, to share it with those whose eyes are not yet open, for this is the end result of all God is doing in this hour. He will bring righteousness upon the whole world as a result of this disaster and lift the name of Christ as a standard for all to see. On the Good Morning America show Friday, they had video footage of a cross found in the rubble. It had been formed when two I-beams were fused at right angles by the tremendous heat. The construction workers had lifted it up and put it on a base for all to see. It's simplicity was as profound and powerful as any painting I have ever seen of Christ on the cross, for He was there with them all that day and today and every day to come. This poignant symbol reminds us again that His goodness and righteousness and glory have already overcome the evil, the fear, the Satanic, and all works of darkness. Hallelujah! Here are two stanzas from a song that James Gordon, a Canadian, wrote: The title is: "Bomb them with Butter" Speaking about the people of Afghanistan, he writes,
"We should . . . .
Bomb them with butter, with rice and with bread.
Bomb them with medicine, and clothing instead.
Kill them with kindness, compassion & care.
Let them drink from clean waters, not the well of despair.
Get them right where they'll expect it least.
Bomb them with butter, attack them with peace."
Paul wrote to the Roman brethren so long ago, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1, NIV). God is in the process of attacking us with peace through our Lord Jesus Christ. Let the healing begin.
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 49, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 10/7/01
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 11/04/08.