“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
Luke 9:23-24 NKJV
On Christmas Day, 2008, I found myself on the edge of Heaven. I had fallen gravely ill and there was little promise of my survival. I had many visitors, of whom I remember only four. Most who stood over me as I fought for survival prayed over me, but few expected to see me again on this side of eternity. I learned that day that God holds my life in His hands.
Since that time, I have gone through many more daunting health situations, each with the potential to take my life. Yet, even facing steep odds, I have persisted. We are in the midst of a pandemic. It is real, it is deadly for some and we are in no way near the end of it. In the coming months, there will be spikes, there will be victories, there will be recoveries and there will be deaths.
We here in Iowa are back in church. My assembly of believers began holding services again three weeks ago. I stayed home as I sought the counsel of the Lord. He has been so present in my time of worship. Even as I write this while listening to worship music, I can feel Him near. I waited because I wanted to see the safeguards my church put into place. I also waited on the Lord.
I learned that death could find me anywhere. My life is not my own, and I cannot lose. If I become sick, I become sick in His service.
This walk with Jesus is not a cookie cutter faith, it is one which is focused on the relationship between one believer and the God of the Universe. I look at the relationship of believer and God best exemplified by Adam meeting with His creator in the cool of the day. As I go through this life, I know of His blessing and His love regardless of whether I go or stay home. In the quiet of my home, I have had a holy visitation.
The passage today speaks to me, can easily be the theme for my life. I know my God is for me and in control of my life. He holds my next breath, my next heartbeat, and knows the exact moment of my last. I needn’t fear. I have learned that I can have faith.
This morning I am going to church. I am one of those who is in real danger in this time of modern day pestilence. As I prepare for my time this morning, I am remembering my great desire, to present myself as a living sacrifice, one that I hope the Lord consumes completely, leaving nothing for the evil one to use.
This is my choice. It is the fruit of my experience with Lord Jesus, who has carried me though the fire and the flood, and has given me the promise of life everlasting in His presence. If the worst happens, it will be the best for me. Just as on the Christmas night so long ago, I know I would leave this life for eternity. I truly have blessed assurance.
There are those who have taken to labeling those who choose to stay home as cowards. HOW DARE YOU!!! You are serving the devil and not the Lord! Others are shouting similar insults to those choosing to have church. Even going so far as to burn down buildings. HOW DARE YOU!!! You are serving the devil and not the Lord!
My faith is my testimony to the work of the Lord in my life. It is not a bludgeon to bash people who I might, in my lowly flesh, consider less than me.
This is a time for the utmost grace. It is a time for believers to draw together, love, a time for the strong to make may for the weak. We are the body of Christ.
I will not enter into this perilous journey without regard for safety. I will wash my hands, keep my distance, and I might even wear a mask. Or I might not. That is another place where believers need to show grace.
I am also propelled by the fact that I have brothers and sisters all over the world who are shaking their heads as we in America bicker over such minor concerns. They are not only facing a virus, but real persecution. It has not taken a break from its evil. It is still going strong, yet they are still persisting in the faith.
Ultimately, I know the Lord has the exact number of my days. He knows when I will leave this planet and go to be with Him. In that I have peace and confidence.
“My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”
Psalms 139:15-16 NKJV
I trust in the Lord, whether I stay home, or whether I go. In all choices I will love with the heart of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Time to put on my pants!