I would never have thought it was possible to learn such a deep spiritual lesson from the top of a castle in England—a lesson that has had my mind spinning ever since.
As we climbed up the spiraling stone stairs, my mind flashed back to the Apostle’s day. I could almost see them climbing stairs just like these, maybe to a prison cell. I’ve long dreamed of being thrown into a prison cell for my faith. I long to know the experience Corrie Ten Boom had… “You never know all you need is Jesus until all you have is Jesus.” And I’ve always thought I would be faithful even if they should ask for my life.
But I didn’t know what awaited me when we reached the top of the castle. I walked to the edge and stared. The distance to the ground just took my breath away.
And then the familiar inaudible voice…
Would you be willing to be thrown from the top of this castle to the ground far below if you were told it was renounce your faith in me or be thrown over the edge?
Silence. I could see in my minds eye those faithful soldiers—the Waldenses—being tossed over a cliff face because of their faith in Him. I gazed again over the edge…An answer was forming in my heart, but it was not the answer I wanted to give.
I don’t know Jesus—I don’t know.
How could I be saying this? I had always been determined to stand. I had even dreamed being a martyr for Him. And here I was, and all I could mumble was-- I don’t know.
That really bothered me. If I couldn’t say yes now, how could I ever say it then? Why was I suddenly fearful? Staring over the edge the answer seemed clear. It’s one thing to imagine giving my life when I’m at home in my comfortable room… it’s another thing in reality.
But I couldn’t be content with my answer. What would it take to give a whole hearted “yes” if the moment ever came? Another glance to the ground far below and I knew. Love for Him was the only way—deeper love than I had ever experienced. Perfect love casts out all fear.
All day that question spun around in my head. And all of a sudden I found another answer forming in my heart.
Yes Jesus. Anything to be faithful to you. But you’re going to have to help me. I realize how powerless I am. Please do whatever it takes.
And He has been teaching me far more than I could dream since that moment. Driving back to my grandmother’s that day He reminded me that it’s only by resisting every dart of the devil, now, that I will resist, then.
Ouch. That’s a weak point of mine.
But He has amazed me again in the last couple of days. It’s been awhile since He’s seemed so close that I feel like I can hear His heartbeat if I listen long enough. And it’s a experience like nothing I can explain. He’s teaching me… and I know if I am willing to learn He will help me be able to look over the edge and give a firm, unwavering, yes.
I was listening to a favorite song yesterday and one of the lines popped out at me in a new way.
If from His side we fall we’ve lost it all—for in Him all things are found.
We loose nothing if we are tossed over the face of a cliff because we will not leave Him. We loose everything by giving up on Him. So often we think we give up more being faithful, but could it be that we give up more by not being faithful?
Jesus, I plead earnestly that you will do whatever it takes in me so that I can give you an unflinching “yes” if it ever comes to it. And I ask for more than the courage to say yes to you then-- I ask that you would help me say yes to you every time now. And I plead that you would not work in my heart alone…
He's asking you too... What's your answer?
Its almost as if I can see him, the old weary warrior, treading decidedly down the road to sacrifice. But there's no cloud on his brow, no fear in his eyes. He doesn't waste his last moments looking for sympathy. He is more concerned for his brothers and sisters in the faith. His words rise on the still summer air, reminding them that there is light behind the grave, a crown beyond the cross.
Paul arrives at the spot where he is to give back his greatest gift. His eyes rise to the clear sky, and its almost as if he can see the face of His Redeemer. The executioners ax descends, but he makes no cry of fear. His last thought springs up with joy at the glorious future before him, and it so absorbs him that the ax looses its terror. He finds his greatest joy in giving back his greatest gift.
And then I see me, so often fearing to give up my self. I'm ashamed.
It's a lesson my Jesus has been teaching me over the last couple weeks (even if it takes being in a plane over the Atlantic to give me a moment to get it in words). Paul's story made it hit home even clearer. It's not just about the receiving...
It was only a few months ago He was asking us to give up one of the gifts we cherished most-- wonderful friends and home in Montana. At times it felt like a big sacrifice-- some days it still does-- but I'm learning... Even more beautiful than receiving a gift is being able to give it back.
It's not in the bestowal of blessings that we receive our greatest joy, or even in the removal of them, but in the willing surrender of them, in the action of giving them back freely and unquestioningly.
Paul gave back more than a home and friends. He gave back life-- in the face of an executioner's ax. And it hardly seemed like a sacrifice because of the joy he felt in giving back.
Are we willing to give back life and all it entails-- even in the face of an executioners ax?
Jesus, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the beautiful gifts you have given me. But even more, I thank you for the privilege of being able to give them back. Your greatest gift is found in giving.
The car hums quietly as the sights of home drift behind us. I pull my old computer out, well aware of my great need of Him. The journey has begun! Not just the journey to OK Family Camp, but the beginning of the 2013 camp meeting season, and for me the journey of writing book number two. Excitement is hanging in the air.
Ear buds in, I start typing. But not for long. I haven’t even finished the first paragraph before the car slowly glides to the side of the interstate. I pull my ear buds out. I don’t hardly need to ask what’s going wrong. We all know.
Our much-loved car has developed an annoying trait of not starting some of the time, which has been turning into half the time lately. Normally father or Caleb can fix it and we’re fine in five minutes.
But it’s never stopped while running before. We conclude that it happened because we were driving up a hill. (I’m thinking, this won’t be the only hill between here and OKFC). Praise God it starts first time and we’re back on the road… for about a minute. This time as we drift to the side of the interstate, we know something is really wrong. That becomes even clearer after we try and start it ten times without success. Many prayers go up. But the points clear—the car won’t start, the battery is dead, and we’re on the interstate 30 minutes from home, and over an hour from the nearest reasonable size town.
After about an hour, a wrecker is on the way to take the car to the auto repair for the week, meanwhile father calls every rental company he can think of in Flagstaff. They all answer the same way. "We can give you a full size car, but not an SUV." Just try putting four personal suitcases, a lever harp, a full size cello, and all the sound and video equipment in a little car! It didn’t even fit in our Tahoe without a pod and rack on the back. J
I try to ignore the battle in my mind. I want to get to camp so much. I don’t want this to interfere with our plans. I don’t want to be stranded in Flagstaff with no way to leave.
But another voice penetrates my thoughts… Trust me. You have been praying for trials to help you grow.. Now you need to trust that I will work this out.
I put my computer away and forget about book writing at this point. I have the distinct thought to go read my daily devotional for the day. I almost know before I get there that it will be just for me. But I never dreamed how much.
Let the words sink in. They weren’t just for me…
“That ye may know what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Thou knowest what is best; And who but Thee, O God, hath power to know? In Thy great will my trusting heart shall rest; beneath that will my humble head shall bow.
To those who are His, all things are not only easy to be born, but even to be gladly chosen. Their will is united to that will which moves heaven and earth, (thinking… then He can move our car if He wants to, right?) which gives laws to angels, and rules the courses of the world. It is a wonderful gift of God to man…To be at the center of that motion, where is everlasting rest; to be sheltered in the peace of God; even now to dwell in heaven, where all hearts are stayed, and all hopes fulfilled. ‘Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace because his mind is stayed on Thee.”
Study to follow His will in all, to have no will but His. This is thy duty, and thy wisdom. Nothing is gained by spurning and struggling but to hurt and vex thyself; (that one really hits me hard) but by complying all is gained—sweet peace. It is the very secret, the mystery of solid peace within, to resign all to His will, to be disposed of at His pleasure, without the least contrary thought.
Oh Jesus, You are so good.
I read that over and over. I have full confidence that His heart understands the desires of my heart, and will do what is best. The peace I find on the side of the interstate is even sweeter than the peace I have when we’re breezing along at seventy. Peace in the storm is always sweeter than peace in the calm.
After trying almost every imaginable option, father finds a Suburban in Flagstaff, and as soon as the car is dropped off at the auto repair, father and I head to the airport in the cab of the wrecker to pick up the car.
“We’ve come to pick up the Suburban we booked through the 800 number.”
“I’m sorry sir, we don’t have a Suburban here. The 800 number doesn’t really know what we have here. I can give you a full sized car.”
Sigh. We rent a compact, go pick up the rest of the clan, and head to the hotel for the night.
Before we go to bed father has another Suburban booked from another rental company. We’re a little dubious.
Another phone call Monday morning reveals the same answer as night before. No Suburban.
Oh Jesus, help me trust. I've read that devotional again and again in the last few hours.
Finally, father found a car that will fit our stuff—hopefully. After an hour of moving everything between cars, we’re on the road.
We’re a bit behind schedule, but I’m grateful. He knew I needed that wake up call to trust Him with my plans. The devil is not happy about this year of family camps, or the beginning of another writing journey for me. But if God be for us, who can be against us?
Jesus, thank You for being trustworthy. Thank You for teaching me to trust, even if it’s on the side of interstate 40.
I’m tired of dreaming Revolution but not acting it. I’m tired of the complacency that follows me everywhere. I’m tired of the fact that it’s so easy to spend hours talking with friends, and yet so hard to spend an hour on my knees. I’m tired of reading those quotes about young people finishing the work, and not doing a thing different. I’m tired of having plenty when there are children starving with nothing. I’m ready for a change. Aren’t you?
I might not be going to Africa tomorrow. In fact I know I won’t be. But aren’t there people starving here in America too? Starving for love—starving for Jesus?
Isn’t it time for a change? I mean a real one. Not one that just begins and ends in our imagination; but one that changes us, our friends, and eventually our corner of the world?
Isn’t it time to pray like we’ve never prayed before? Not just for ourselves but for each other? To not even think twice about spending an hour on our knees, at any time, if that’s what the Master calls for?
And isn’t it time to put aside all foolishness? I mean, when was the last time we got together and our first thought was to talk about Jesus? And even if it was, somehow it wasn’t what came out. I’m tired of how awfully easy it is in the moment to burst out laughing at the end of a funny story and soon be on to one of my own, and yet how hard it is to keep a straight face and totally change the direction of the conversation. Where do funny stories fit into the Revolution?
I’m only sharing what He’s put on my heart. And I know it’s not just my heart He’s working on. Because this whole Revolution--it’s something we embark on together.
And yet somehow we’ve got to start living it, not just for a day, but for a lifetime. How? This is the question I’ve been pondering, and I’m coming to the conclusion that the only way is through a total heart change.
Because you know what it’s like. One morning I wake up all ready to jump out of bed and spend time with Him, and the next day I have no enthusiasm. That’s got to change.
And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has those times when I’m so close to Him that I can almost sense His heartbeat, but then a few weeks (or days) later I feel a million miles from Him.
And yet somehow, I just don’t think we can be living the Revolution one day and not the next. He’s got to change our hearts so that we get out of bed whether we feel like it or not, and fall on our knees. He’s got to place in us the burning desire to live in His presence, so that when He feels a million miles away, we won’t rest until we know our heart is knit with His.
And we’ve got to put aside our feelings and live by faith. We can’t just live it when we feel like it and just dream it when we don’t.
Luther lived revolution in his day. What was his key? Prayer. Bible study. He didn’t just read a daily devotional and pray a “help me be good today” prayer. It was hours of prayer, hours of time in the word. It’s what gave not only Luther, but the fathers of our faith their power.
And so, I am challenging myself, and I’m inviting you to join me. An hour of uninterrupted time on my knees everyday. Maybe you’re all doing it already, and I’m the last to catch on…
As for all I’m going to say on my knees for an hour, or how it’s going to fit into my schedule when I’m traveling, to be honest, I don’t know. But He does. And this Revolution is because we love Him.
Let me share a prayer from my journal this morning, and let me tell you again--I want to live this Revolution together.
“Revolution’s flame, begin in me. Put my heart and life aflame. More than anything this world offers, light my heart with loyalty. Self—let it be no more. Only the dead wood is ignitable. Take away my plenty; my all is Yours. Just let that fire burn bright in me. Bring the furnace seven times hotter, until I am pure gold, reflecting You. Change my heart—make it like Thine, until my life matches my words. No more dreaming about Revolution—let me live it.”
The enemy is waiting to knock us flat. But in my mind I see a battlefield with a line of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder. The enemy tries to break through their ranks, but he can’t. Sooner will they give their lives than give him the victory. Their prayers are constantly ascending for each other. They stand, a solid line of soldiers--fighting together.
I’m ready for Revolution. Jesus, I’m looking forward to that hour tomorrow morning. And I’m thinking I won’t be the only one. Do whatever it takes to make us live Revolution. I’m in, if You’ll lead me.
Will you join me?
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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