A Strange god


Cross-stitch by Sharon Paulraj

Since mine eyes have looked on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside,
So enchained my spirit’s vision,
Gazing on the Crucified.

Good Friday, April 14, 1995: I was standing in the front row, first on the left, in the main Anglican cathedral in the city with my heart overwhelmed and eyes focused on the Cross of Christ right in front of me. The previous three months were like a tsunami for me as the foundations of my own spiritual life were shaken and broken. I had met face to face with my God, my Creator, my Lord, Jesus of Nazareth on February 22nd at 5.30am. Baptized in the power of the Holy Spirit, I was on fire. The Lord had just performed a miracle before my own eyes on April 4th when He healed a 2 year old child dying of severe burns to the buttock area. ( see Archives 8 August 2014). I was amazed, terrified, shaken, fired up, humbled and wrapped up in every emotion I had been exposed to growing up. Now, staring before me was the greatest miracle of all time – the empty cross – acknowledging that the Healer of this severely burned child was and is alive!

Good Friday, April 3, 2015: Twenty years have passed. Am I still standing on this Good Friday morning, in the front row, first on the left, in that same Cathedral in the same city I still live? The answer is, No. But why? So much has happened since then and I have witnessed the everlasting grace of God in my life these twenty years. I remember the challenges, the victories, the valleys, the mountain top experiences involving both my spiritual and physical health but most of all, I have come to know and have met a strange god that dwells within the plague in my own heart. And I have also come to know and realize personally that this strange god is a thief that has only one purpose – to kill, to steal and to destroy (John 10:10) everything  I was made and created to be and do – to bear fruit to the one, true, living God, Jesus of Nazareth.

The Pride of Self: This is what the empty cross portrays to me. Victory over Self. Victory over this strange god that has reigned and ruled over my life these many years and, if I am brutally honest before a holy God, in many ways still is. How we appear to others in this journey called Life with many faces – one at home, one at work, one at church, one at gatherings is a testimony that this strange god does exist. The plague in my own heart that dwells within only the Creator God knows and sees with holy, watchful eyes. Having had experiences of walking hand in hand on many occasions with this strange god, I have come to see the dark side of my own life below the waterline that no one else can see. Now, twenty years ‘wiser’, I am reminded repeatedly the Word of God through the prophet Nathan to King David of Israel, ” And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in His eyes?” (2 Samuel 12:9).

If you, even you, had known on this day….              Luke 19: 42

Powerful words of Jesus of Nazareth as the Lord entered Jerusalem on his final journey to the Cross. Cuts deep into my heart this morning. So deep. How I wish I was standing in the front row, first on the left, in the same Cathedral this morning and given a second chance to re-walk these past twenty years. Had I kept the path of life straight with and before God, I know I would have experienced the immensely greater knowledge of knowing Jesus of Nazareth as my Lord and my God and the power of His resurrection and all the treasures stored up in heaven that I could have enjoyed in this life.

“If you, even you Charles, had known on this day how much more I would have given you had you walked right with Me.” Then, there would have been no place or opportunity for this strange god that dwells within the plague in my own heart to dine with me and have a conversation with me.

The Christian faith is impregnated with hope. The Cross of Christ is the eternal face of hope. I know that this loving, forgiving, faithful God of Israel will turn what might have been in my life into a wonderful, lesson of fruitfulness in the future as I look forward with hope burning in my heart this Easter weekend. That hope can be yours too. Have a Blessed Resurrection Day!

I want to share Oswald Chambers reading in My Utmost for His Highest for this Good Friday, 3 April 2015: If you had known…

If you had known…in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Luke 19: 42

“Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly and the city was stirred to its very foundations, but a strange god was there– the pride of the Pharisees. It was a god that seemed religious and upright, but Jesus compared it to “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23: 27)

What is it that blinds you to the peace of God “in this your day”? Do you have a strange god– not a disgusting monster but perhaps an unholy nature that controls your life? More than once God has brought me face to face with a strange god in my life, and I knew that I should have given it up, but I didn’t do it. I got through the crisis “by the skin of my teeth,” only to find myself still under the control of that strange god. I am blind to the very things that make for my own peace. It is a shocking thing that we can be in the exact place where the Spirit of God should be having His completely unhindered way with us, and yet we only make matters worse, increasing our blame in God’s eyes.

“If you had known….” God’s words here cut directly to the heart, with the tears of Jesus behind them. These words imply responsibility for our own faults. God holds us accountable for what we refuse to see or are unable to see because of our sin. And “now they are hidden from your eyes” because you have never completely yielded your nature to Him. Oh, the deep, unending sadness for what might have been! God never again opens the doors that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there are doors which we have shut– doors which had no need to be shut. Never be afraid when God brings back your past. Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God bringing its rebuke and sorrow to you. God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future.” Amen.

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