A Stronger Heart
In Matthew 26, Jesus had been praying in the garden at Gethsemani. Verse 40 “Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “so, you could not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Where did these pandemic years go? I am really tired of wearing masks. But Friday, the stock market crashed because of fears of a new variant. They say it could be worse than the delta. People are afraid of supply chain shortages. Our weak and corrupt leaders have pursued policies that have left us dependent onChina for everything from electronics to toilet paper. And people are afraid!
What drove the toilet paper panic of 2020, when every shelf was empty and you couldn't even buy it on Amazon? It was a blind panic. What if we run out of toilet paper? Other items like bleach were also hard to get, but toilet paper was the one which crystallized the absurdity for me. I think no one in his right mind is going to panic over toilet paper and bleach. Possibly food ifthat were to happen. We cannot survive without it. In famines people hoard food, kill for it, even eat their dead. These things are documented in history. People in the Middle Ages killed babies because they couldn’t feed them.
After Jesus spoke to a woman at the well of Jacob in John 4, his disciples came and asked if he were hungry, remember? “Jesus said, I have food to eat that you do not know about.” The disciples said to one another, surely no one has brought him something to eat? Jesus said to them “my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say four months more and then comes the harvest? But I tell you look around you and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may rejoice together.” John 4:32-35.
You see, Jesus saw with clarity things as they are and knew who we are and why we are here. And he shared this human existence with us so that we can share the life and the spirit with him. I didn't know him, but he was my brother and died for me.But he laid down his life and picked it back up again. In my darkest hour he came to me and took all my negatives and nailed them to the cross and gave me of his infinite spirit a small drop, which is the most amazing experience anyone can have in this life.
One of the things he has given me is the certainty that there is another life, not off in space somewhere with pearly gates, or floating on a cloud, but existing all around and within us, which is the spiritual realm. Further, our fundamental nature is not a being of clay with something called a soul attached to it, a seldom used appendage. No! We are spirits of light! God, YHWH, Elohim has loaned us this body, this vehicle – avatar if you will- for His purposes, His plan, each to play our part in it. We are to do His work. At the same time, carrying out His tasks and suffering and sacrificing grows us and perfects us to be fit to be in His presence. Through suffering, we learn perseverance and through sacrifice we learn humility. Ro. 5: 3-5. Through helping others, we learn love. No person who does not develop these qualities is fit for his kingdom. I’ve had a lot of catching up to do the last few years. But He gave me a second chance.
One challenge about this flesh existence is the fact that it does one thing from birth to the grave: it wants. We must feed it, water it, avoid danger, and to reproduce we must have sex. And God who made it and loaned it to us arranged our brain chemistry to help. Dopamine, Oxytocin and Adrenaline, all serve this purpose. They are the “feel good’ chemistry of the brain.
Unfortunately, these chemicals are also stimulated by all the unwholesome activities we label sin. And they are the biological reason why we become slaves to sin. The devil has used our inner chemistry to play all sorts of dirty tricks with us, addiction to drugs, sex, pornography, and also to our own creations like cell phones and TV. He has used it to get us to worship the idolatries of success and money and self-image and something we call our “lifestyle.” All of which are fruitless. And even worldly wisdom, as Paul discusses in 1 Cor. Ch. 1. These are dead ends, all. Read Ecclesiastes 1 & 2. Rabbit holes, traps.
Yeshuah, the man, had to eat, but was not a slave to food. See Mt. 4:4. Instead, being fully aware of the shortness of His time, and seeing in the spirit at all times, He was able to do without worldly comforts. He lived homeless, he wore cheap clothes, he appeared little more than a beggar, but he had something about him that drew people to him. So, He walked comfortably among the poor, and even lepers and outcasts; yet the rich came to Him and invited him into their homes. All the barriers were transcended in Him. But you don’t have to be someone special to be like this. Every Christian can be like this. You just have to see. My eyes were opened like the Man Born Blind, and I don’t care much about anything else. I do hate “down time” when I cannot be in my own calling. That kills me. But I’m really ok with breaking parts of my avatar, as long as I can do that. Its inconvenient. But my heart is full and my spirit is flying. Everyone’s calling is different and their experience is different.
But here is what should be the same. Recently, I was filled with joy reading in “Beyond the Hebrew Lexicon” about the Hebrew word for worship, shachah. This is spelled with three Hebrew symbols: Shin denoting passion, fire or a fiery passion; Chetdenotes in a secret place, like a bridal chamber, and Hei, in the presence of God. I understand the bridal analogy intellectually but emotionally it doesn’t touch me as much as it does some people. What is another “secret place” we all have? The heart! So I interpret this as “Come into the presence of YHWH with a firey passion in our hearts. Shachah! This is the way to worship and the way to live. And if you are in the spirit of YHWH, living and worship are pretty inseparable. I have had a number of deep spiritual experiences at the shelter with the homeless friends we have there.
If we look at Hebrews 2:10-18, we see that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels so that He could suffer as we suffer, and He was perfected through suffering and we are perfected through suffering. He experienced the death of the flesh because we experience the death of the flesh. And because of these joint experiences we share with Him, He is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters. And If His brothers and sisters, we are also joint heirs with Him! Gal. 4:6-7.
So, because his passion and his spirit were so great, can we give less? As we see our brother Jesus nailed two the wood, do we offer nothing in our hearts? I say we are blessed to suffer and die for him. Whatever that entails. It took cancer for me to see him. Always trying with my eyes of flesh, and my little logical brain, trying to figure it out. And wham! My world turned upside down. All I could do was to cry weakly, “Jesus! Help me.” And he answered, “I thought you'd never ask.” You see, He had been waiting all my life for the moment I would be able to break through all the preconceived ideas and Aristotelian logic and educated thought to grasp the truth and realize that there is more, much more to this existence than I ever dreamed was possible.
This is why there is no chasm between a wealthy lawyer and a homeless addict. Because the constructs we see in the worldly eye are a sham!
Since then, my life has been a nonstop adventure. Every day has been a lifetime, every activity a thrill.
You know it is hard to see for several reasons. My eyes were veiled until I met him. read 2 Corinthians 3: 14 et. Seq. But, he opened the Bible for me, and it is as clear as a perfect October sky. God, the almighty force that moved the universe of space, time and matter into existence, gave us reason and free will and asked us to come to him by our own choice, knowing many or even most will not. So, he always planned to send his son as a shepherd and high priest to lead us. If you doubt that look at genesis 14: 17-20; 22: 1- 19. All the way back in Genesis, God revealed his promise, the sacrifice of his son and blessings to all mankind, everybody. This was always the plan and God’s plans are always perfect.
Look at Hebrews 7: 1- 10. This explains Melchizedek. But why? Read on Hebrews 7: 11- 28. Why does this matter to you and I? Because when you study the religion of the Hebrews of old, it was entirely based on the feasts and sacrifices, and the Levitical priesthood. But only the High Priest could mediate between the people and God. He could only enter into the Most Holy Place once a year on the day of atonement and only with blood for his sins and the sins of the people. He was as human and fallible as everyone else. Further, the ritual washings and cleansings, the blood sacrifices were only a patch or an external remedy and didn’t clear the consciences of those who had gone seriously wrong. By the way, that’s everybody. See Romans 3. Sorry. We are sinners. We are trying to do better, but we all have junk in the trunk.
We live in a world where the religion of materialism has taken over. Schools teach that it is all there is. If you believe in God,you deny science. This is not true. But that is another discussion.
Materialism has a hard form, Communism and existentialism;and a soft form, commercialism, entertainment and sensuality. I explain about the hard form in Twice Blessed soon to be out.But the soft form goes like this: Do you know people who put more life and passion into fantasy football than they do into Jesus Christ and his mission? Or people who are more obsessed with looks than they are with are helping others? What is wrong with this? These seem innocuous enough in themselves. But there is a problem.
What you focus on most of the time becomes the center of your world. And when the storm comes the center has to hold. If the center is yourself, there will come a time of testing and you cannot save yourself, and you will have nothing to grab. If the center is other people, you will be bitterly disappointed because people are fallible, fickle and weak. Looks fade, the body disintegrates, money and fortunes are lost when the pandemic hits. Property and possessions are left behind in physical death. Read Ecc. 1&2. It is all worthless, fruitless, pointless. Camus, the existentialist writer, recognized this and, being an atheist, and rebelling at the unexplained fact of suffering that as he saw it would not be allowed by a “just God,” he posited that the only question left is whether to commit suicide.
But if that knowledge of the reality beyond the physical world is in focus in your little brain and you see it, then the deeper realitycomes into focus. God is the center, the first and the last, the reason for everything. He is the giver of both worlds and not like we are used to with people or government, giving with one hand while snatching back with the other. In him the answer is always yes. 2 Corinthians 1: 19.
The worldly body was taken from the earth and with the earth it must stay. The Potter digs clay from the riverbank and forms it and fires it to use as a vessel for water, wine, oil etc. In the end, it is usually just pieces tossed in the rubbish and broken down by the elements. But the spirit that is in the vessel is the eternal part. See 2 Cor 4:7. We don’t throw out a vessel with the juice still in it. Our father loaned us this vessel so we can fulfill His purposes. It's meant to be seen as a tool, an avatar. Useful, but not be-all or end-all.
We construct these ideas of the past, the future, our place in the world. What do they mean? Nothing! This is one lesson the homeless teach. All the things you think you have, you really don't have. You imagine that they're something they're not.
Your worldly job could be “attorney” or president. You are not. A man may think he is a drunk, an addict of an ex-convict. He is not that either! This is all false. You and I are not really these mental constructs but are beings of light and spirit who have been gifted the use of this flesh for a purpose. By seeing the spiritual truth clearly the world is turned upside down.
So passion comes when you wake up in the morning and cant wait to get to your Godly calling, or you can't wait to get to your brothers and sisters to join hands in praise. Passion is when it's 4:00 AM and you can't wait to get up to your Bible and revel in its glory!
Someone said we should shut up about Jesus in polite company. I cannot. Someone says it's too risky to go down on the riverbank at night. Risky to what? Someone says … the devil pushes back when you are passionate about Christ and you suffer all sorts of things for him. Sometimes you suffer rejection, humiliation, shaming, derision. Sometimes people die for him. This is a growing problem. There are about 100,000 annually who are martyred for this faith, refusing to relinquish even at gunpoint, his blessing. Passion.
The day before his assassination, Martin Luther King said he was happy. Reading his speech, it is clear he expected something to happen. He went through his life discussing all the things that had happened since he had been stabbed at a speech some years before. But he was aware that he was here for a purpose, and even though he might not be here much longer he was happy to be doing God’s work. Such was his passion.
My own challenges are different. Statistically, I have already lived past the expected time for my cancer and I have now a second form of cancer, so I don’t know whether they or something else will finally set me free. But the time grows short. God keeps me here for His purpose. I served meals through the worst of the pandemic and at that time there were no shots or proven treatments. Other friends died, but there was no CoVid19 in the shelter. So, I was here for a purpose. It’s the only explanation I can conceive of. He sis sovereign over all things. I may have already done what He wanted, or there might be more, but this I know. I am happy to be doing His work today. “Today if you hear his voice do not harden your heart.” Heb. 3:7. I am willing, even when the flesh is weak. Doing His will sustains me. Living water is in me. Passion drives me in my heart.
And as long as I feel that passion I can always go a little farther. That is the stronger heart. A Jesus heart! Amen, Lord, amen. Let it be so.
This was one of my morning meditations. I do these for myself, and post the ones I think people might enjoy. They are meant to point our gaze toward higher things. And to encourage people to gain perspective over issues like suffering and death, a perspective many in 21st century America seem to have lost. Enjoy!