By Fred Pruitt
Years ago, I reveled in being strident with folks, in “nailing” them, so to speak. In the 80s my ministry partner and I used to make a joke about our being assigned to go around “taking names and kicking butt.” But today for me to be “discovering and rooting out sin,” is the furthest thing from my mind and especially my heart. I would far rather affirm, console, lift up.
At this point, more than twenty-five (25) years later, it has settled in me that folks are exactly where the Father means them to be, at that moment. Things may change if necessary, but it is a great release to know that all are held in God’s hands, wooed by the Spirit, and it is HE Who brings forth the end in resurrection in those who hear and respond to His call.
We are only as “seed casters,” or farmers bringing up crops which grow of themselves by God’s sun, water, air and earth, with us really only being harvesters. We cast seed; God gives the increase, and then we participate in the harvest. It is glorious! This is something that has “taken me,” and despite the feelings of the flesh and soul, I am relaxed even in “process.” It has become something “fixed” in me.
That does not mean I have my head buried in the sand and do not see what is happening in the temporal or in the flesh. However, for me, my “seeing” just means that over and above and through all that “process,”(i.e., things in flux, changes, etc.), I see only God and His perfect loving purposes, moving all creation (including us), towards the perfect harmony out of which all things have come.
We might consider “trouble,” or “process,” when contrasted with harmony, to be dissonance. Imagine a great symphony, which starts with a rousing inspirational overture, beautiful melody, lifting us figuratively “into the heavens.” But as the symphony moves from one movement to the next, things began to clash, to be dissonant. The timpani beat ominously, sad minor key strings, alarming horns, and runaway melodies move us from the gentle harmony of the beginning, to the contrariety of the middle.
If we have not seen a symphony before, we may wonder where all the beauty and harmony went. We had been transported into the heavens by the first overtures, but now it seems like we have been taken down into the uncertain chaos of disharmony. Then, as the final movement starts up, the original melodious theme begins to be barely heard in the undercurrent of the chaos and disharmony. The dissonance seeks to hold its ground and fights to keep it, but little by little, the original theme sounds more and more, while the disharmony gradually recedes into nothing. We move finally into the grand finale’, where suddenly the same instruments which had seemed chaotic and disharmonious before, now all join one by one the grand theme from the beginning. As the theme rises, building and building off the tension and contrariety of the middle, until at the climax, everything becomes an explosion of beauty and sound, harmony and rhythm, that is now even more beautiful, even more grand, even more uplifting, and even more certain, than at the beginning. In spiritual terms, the end is greater than the beginning, made greater by the tension, chaos and “negative,” of the middle, so that we may see, by contrast or conflict of opposites, the greater and fuller resurrection of harmony and beauty, which now having overcome the conflict, becomes the final declaration and victory of the whole.
That is how I view our temporal world, and how I view life in every one of us. That is why I can look out into the world, filled with chaos, violence, disharmony, the elevation of the pride of self, and see through to God and the final resolution, which is already there and working, behind, under, over and through all things. I am a player in the symphony, knowing primarily only my part but also cognizant of all the others in their individual parts as well. I know the music of all the movements, and when I am playing my part, even though sometimes my part calls for dissonance, I see the Conductor with his baton, leading us perfectly, each one of us, into the end I already know. So I am not stressed in that middle part, because the end is already a fixed reality in my consciousness, for myself and also all the other players.
What I have also experienced is that, in God, the temptations, anguish and chaos of the world continually assault us. Nonetheless, it is also all swallowed up in the Cross, so that the release from this chaos and death we continually experience, is also continually coming out in resurrection and victory. The manifestation of the Light, built upon the anguish and darkness, comes out more radiant, more beautiful, more glorious on the other side. And through this continually occurring process, we learn to live in the Light, not in the anguish. The “anguish” is the process, and comes and goes. But the Light is always there. It is an absolute.
Let me put it in a brief nutshell. When we live in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Life originates from the Eternal within us, where we live by a different framework from our old life. In the old life, we are defeated daily by the temporal realities, because we think that this unrest – violence, sin, whatever – is the only thing there is. Therefore, all our focus is continually on the temporal to “fix it,” to make it better, or “avoidance,” to escape from it. In a temporal world, things are happening 1-2-3 in sequence, so that everything appears disharmonious, and we cannot see through to the end result. We are stuck in time.
However, in the Spirit, God, “All in all,” is our reality. As we are seasoned through life, disappointing though it is, we learn that the anguish continually returns to find a foothold in us. We are continually assaulted, as I stated above. If we could clearly see with eternal eyes, into time, we would see as Elisha saw when his servant Gehazi could not see. Gehazi could only see the enemy army encamped fully around their city, and was undone in fear. But Elisha prayed that his eyes would be opened, and when Gehazi’s eyes opened, he saw an even greater sight than the fearful army that besieged them. He saw the whole host of heaven on horses and chariots of fire, surrounding the enemy army. (2 Kings 5:14-17). Here, then is the contrast. Elisha saw through the manifestation of evil to the chariots of fire round about. The servant could not see the heavenly host, even though they were already there. However, once his eyes were opened to the Eternal, then he really saw! And it is the same with us.
Now we see, that even though the darkness, anguish and chaos come, which we feel and experience in the depths of our humanity, nonetheless, through the Cross of Jesus, all the death, anguish and chaos are continually swallowed up in Him in us. So that by that operation of death, comes the also continual and Eternal manifestation of heaven. In other words, the death (which we experience in the temporal) is continually swallowed up ETERNALLY by the operation of the Cross, and are submerged, and in a real sense, not seen in God the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Though there is the anguish, it is eternally swallowed up in the Cross and the manifestation of God as The Light, Word, The Way, and manifestation of Heaven in us. So what we end up with is that there is no anguish in God, nor in us, because we are in Him!
Though we may despair that the day will never come, there does come one day a “fixedness” of relaxation in the Light side, the Resurrection side. “O God, my heart is fixed,” as the Psalmist said. (Ps 57:7; 108:1; 112:7). There does come that day. John Bunting calls it the day of graduation. We DO graduate! We live in the Light, as He is the Light, and we KNOW it!
And that day is the Day we take all this in the simplicity of receiving any other gift. We just take what has been freely offered. “Oh, that’s it! Thanks, I’ll take that!”
I was thinking today that if you didn’t know me, had never met or seen me, and we were talking on the phone, that if I told you that I have graying blonde hair, am overweight, have pale white skin, etc., that you would probably take that at face value and believe it. If someone asked you later to describe me, you would probably simply give them the description I had given you. Unless you had some reason to suspect me to be a liar, it would be entirely reasonable to accept my description as truth. It would be no great strain on your intellect or your will to do so.
That is like the promises of God to us. It is really that simple. It is time to go beyond the process and say, “I really don’t have time for this. There is work to be done. There is a calling God has for me. I must be on with it!” I can say truly that life on the other side – on the “fixed” side – begins to exhibit a confidence and a authority that does not come while we are concerned overly with process and overcoming the negative. Yes, the negative still comes; yes, there are still temptations; yes, doubts, fear, hurts arise and claim their rights. BUT – and this is a BIG “but,” even in very throes of struggle and doubt, there is an inner confidence and Light, in which we continually consciously live, so that we KNOW, even in this anguish, that God is All in all.
It could be said we are like men in a foxhole with the enemy bearing down upon us. Who has time to think deeply if we have enough bullets or if the Colonel has made the right decisions? The battle is upon us. All we can do is rise up and give what we have and trust that it is enough. After all, we are already as dead men – are we not? What do dead men have to protect or to fear?
David overcame process (after all, he did take FIVE stones) and went to meet Goliath on the field of battle. I’m sure there might have been a butterfly or two. But he confessed only one thing — that this man could not defy the God of Israel and stand.
Do we say the same? Do we live continuously in that same place? That is our calling. We live in the Light, because He IS the Light. He shines “out of” darkness — but the point of that is that HE SHINES! That is where we place our bet, on the Light, not on the darkness!
Well, are we there? It has come to me that we are there. What I took so long ago has taken me. We ARE the Light! It is our whole environment.
God said, “Here this is for you,” and we say, “Thanks, Lord, I’ll take it!”