The Force Be With You!

Jan Antonsson

I-am-with-you

The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

December 15, 2017

Neosho, Mo 64850

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18,20, ESV).

Many of you recognize that the title of this writing came from the Star Wars saga.  The first one came out in 1977, and when I heard Obi-Wan Kenobi explain to young Luke Skywalker that the “force” was the energy within all living things, I was hooked by the pseudo  spiritual message acted out in these movies.  “The Force be with you,” was the battle cry of the Jedi warriors, and the source of their power to deliver the galaxy from the evil Empire.  It rang a chord deep within me that had been sounding since Jesus baptized me in His Holy Spirit, so long ago.  

The Charismatic movement was powerful and life changing, and sometimes silly, if I may be so bold.  It helped free me from the doctrine of works and self effort delivered in ever increasing doses by Fundamentalism and it set my feet on the path of knowing more of God, His power, His presence, and His gifts to us, His children.  The dark side of this movement for me was the exaggerated notion that because miracles still happen today, I could get preempt God’s will and get in on the action.  Maybe it was for self glorification, I leave that for God to judge, but my over-arching passion was to help people; to heal them of their diseases, both physical and emotional, and to bring the Kingdom of God, as seen in the book of Acts, alive today.

I had the right idea, the right scriptures, and also, the passion to carry it out, but I quickly learned to my sorrow, that God is the dispenser of power, not me.  This truth came to me after a woman with terminal cancer joined our church group. She was a woman who believed that Jesus could and would heal her, as did a group of us newbies into the Charismatic movement.  We prayed; we pleaded the blood; we cast out the devil; we spoke in tongues over her; we, in short, believed that this was what we were supposed to do.  God was supposed to heal her.  He didn’t get the memo.  She died a hideously painful death.  Her oncologist told me after it was over, that she should have passed several weeks earlier, but she desperately clung to life believing that God was going to heal her.

Distraught and beyond disappointed, I remember riding my bicycle around the neighborhood, railing on God, whining that we had done what we were supposed to do (according to a well known guru of the Charismatic movement we followed), and pleading with Him to know why He didn’t heal her.  God is infinitely patient with me, always kind, and always willing to dialogue with me, but on this occasion, there was an edge in His voice when He said sternly, “Ruth is MY business.”  I got my comeuppance that day which began my search for answers.  Why hadn’t God healed her?  Why didn’t our sincere efforts have any effect on Him.

Looking back, I feel sure we did not say, “THY will be done,” because we were so sure we knew His will.  We did not.  Later, I learned that this poor woman had been a prostitute when she was younger, and carried massive, soul breaking guilt over her sins.  One of the elders and his wife in our little church group took her in and she was able to confess to them this “great sin” as she called it.  Thankfully, they had understood the mighty power of God to forgive us no matter how black our sin, and they lovingly cared for her until her cancer worsened and she had to be hospitalized, assuring her all along that God had forgiven her.  That really blessed me when I learned this, though I wasn’t totally clear what that had to do with her not being healed.  What gradually seeped into my heart was the fact that she WAS healed.  Her spirit was cleansed and she knew at long last that our merciful heavenly Father had forgiven her.  If that isn’t a healing, then what is?

George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, movie making genius that he is, used The Force as a symbol of the power and authority I longed to have.  Recently,  I asked the Lord how I could ever have thought I deserved to wield such power.  He asked, “Because you’re a woman?”  Of course, that entered into it, though religion’s bias against women, is less and less compelling the older I get.  Father God didn’t try to talk me out of my insecurities, but His question let me know that He doesn’t think like that, the way church leaders have done, since Moses was the one chosen to lead Israel, not Miriam, his sister.

I had no idea that I would be writing about this, and neither did Jonathan Mitchell, but when I read the translation of Acts 10:30-38, he had sent me, I knew I would include part of it in this writing.  It relates a remarkable account in a book of remarkable accounts, of how God sent Peter, a Jew, to Cornelius, a God-fearing, righteous Gentile“At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:1-2, ESV). Peter was loath to go at first,  because good Jew that he was, he had never fellowshipped with Gentiles. He yielded in the end and went to the house of Cornelius where he preached the first Gospel sermon given to Gentiles.  Here’s Jonathan’s translation, which I want to include to demonstrate what the real force is in our lives:

“At this Peter, opening his mouth said, “[Based] upon truth and reality, I continue grasping with force and fully receiving [understanding] that God is neither partial nor takes folks at face value (does not receive faces or appearances or show favoritism), [cf Deuteronomy 10:17b]. 

“But to the contrary, within every nation and ethnic group the person habitually reverencing and fearing Him, as well as repeatedly doing works and performing acts of fairness, equity, justice, deliverance, or right wised relationships which accord with the way pointed out (=covenant principles) is and continues being welcome and acceptable to Him(Acts 10:34-35, Jonathan Mitchell translation).

The Jedi possessed remarkable powers, but this power was only for them, not for the masses.  The real force is God who is with all of us always, declared many times throughout the Bible:  “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 righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, ESV). Jedi powers were more like parlor tricks compared to the miracles of Jesus, Peter, James and Paul.  Healing the sick, casting out demons,  and raising the dead would be wonderful, and yet, the real power in our lives is the indwelling Spirit of Christ, leading, guiding, and ushering us into God’s Presence. Jonathan’s translation affirms that God’s love is not conditional or exclusive.  There is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all as Paul makes abundantly clear (Ephesians 4:6, ESV). Moreover, God has all men penned together in the prison of disobedience, that he may have mercy upon them all (Romans 11:32, ESV, Phillips).

Together with Paul, “I stand amazed at the fathomless wealth of God’s wisdom and God’s knowledge…For everything began with him, continues its existence because of him, and ends in him. To him be the glory for ever, amen” (Romans 11:33, 36, Phillips).

Father, You are matchless, incomparable, all knowing and all powerful.  That You should have chosen us to be Your children is beyond our wildest imaginations.  Grant that we may share this marvelous bounty with all you send our way. We join our voices together in praise “to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”  Jan Antonsson

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)

All our writings from 1997-2010 are on

The Glory Road

Our writings from 2010 are on this blog.

We always enjoy hearing from you!

Jantonsson@aol.com

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