“And from this day forward,
I could not settle for lukewarm
Old MacDonald had a farm, and on April 11, 2010… it was on “FIRE!” I know this because two miles down the road, was my church and I was there. It was a Sunday. And exactly one year prior to this day, was Easter Sunday 2009. I would know this too, because just one day before this particular Easter [on April 11, 2009], I thought I had been married at a Wedding feast at Cana [well at least that was my intended theme, ‘the best for last’]. But sadly I was mistaken, and this proved not to be the case. [This will be it’s own post/chapter. I am currently still on the scene, enduring and taking part in the clean-up operation from all the fall-out…]
“And from this day forward,
I could not settle for lukewarm
What I’m about to tell you now has been so painful to discuss, that it has taken me this long to write it. But still, I’ve been very aware that this day and time in my life… God has caused all things from it to work together for good. I know I love Him and that He calls me. And on this particular day, the Lord threw me an evangelical birthday party. The problem for me was– I didn’t know it yet. “Surprise!” It really was ‘one of those days’ that left me feeling stunned, numb, burned beyond recognition, invisible, and abandoned. Like a building had collapsed on me, and there I was- seemingly left for dead [at least somebody was] or just left to go it alone…
The fire changes everything!
It was one of those crazy, hectic Sunday mornings [actually all Sunday mornings are for me- the enemy has a plan too, you know]. As usual, I was trying to get myself and my two children ready, to attend the same church [I so loved] that I’d thought I’d remarried in exactly one year prior, with the man I thought I’d married in it, along with his three kids. This particular Sunday was a little different and set apart from the others because after the service would be the annual dinner and annual business meeting. Dinners are always cool but business meetings… not so much. [It was a rude awakening for me the first year I was a member. “Christians” behave no better in these meetings then any other business or group of people that I’ve encountered.]
“And from this day forward,
I could not settle for lukewarm
I had prepared and was bringing two large pans of meat lovers lasagna for the dinner, which was a pretty big deal to me. The running joke in my family and to all who know me is “If burnt offerings are your thing, I’m your gal.” 😛 But, when it comes to homemade lasagna- I’m pretty good. [Although, since this event, I have not been able to bring myself to make it again.] I’m sharing this because my lasagna is what got me into the doors of the Fire Hall to hear the sound of the alarm and the need for prayer & divine intervention. The church was under renovations for an addition, so the annual dinner and business meeting was to be held across the road, a very short distance, at the Fire Hall.
I walked into the Fire Hall fully loaded with lasagna and delivered it to the kitchen. The fire alarm had gone off before we’d got there and again when we were. There were a few firemen still inside as I arrived and having known one of them [his children attended the school where I was a guidance counselor] I asked him what was going on.
What I already knew was, a friend of mine’s family farm, which ranged from a children’s petting zoo to one of the best farms in our area, had a fire just a couple of days before [three I think], where 99 baby calves died in the fire. This alone, I knew, my friend would have found devastating. So my heart sunk when I heard from my fireman friend that the fire had reignited. When I asked if everyone was ok, I was told that there were injuries but they couldn’t tell me more. They left in a hurry and I, myself, felt that same “rush”.
I tried to rustle up everyone I rode with to hurry with me to the church [across the road a few house lengths]. I could not get to the church fast enough. All those past & recent discipleship charged, Holy Spirit rising, & “greater works than these” sermons, messages, “Christian” events, Presbytery “Words”, Bible studies & reading, and even my daily devotionals that I had been hearing, reading, digesting, and preparing for, had come to life right before me. “Todays the day” I thought, that we could take ‘all that’ and practice what we’re preaching, open those gifts, put our faith to the test, and our love in motion. “Yes” with Jesus… greater works they’ll see.
So this was all I could hear from this point on…
“Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” … Jesus [Luke 7]
12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. [John 14]
13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. [John 15]
I’m through the door of the church and I am at this point, at tunnel vision to find the pastor. I knew not to focus on all the smoke or diversions that could distract me. [During this certain period of time, my recall’s somewhat foggy. Like I said, all I could hear was an alarm, the Word, and “charge”.] When I reached the pastor, I’m sure I interrupted him. I was that focused and figured what I had to share trumped anything they had. I told him what I knew about the fire- that was, and the one happening right then. I mentioned that we should “go” [although I had no idea what to do, other than pray, upon our arrival to the scene]. I must have been talking very fast because he said he didn’t know what was going on still. I quipped back with a shorter version and then said “there it is, what are we going to do about it”. [I’m sure my determination at this point was probably perceived as disrespectful… because it probably was. I am “very sorry” for my entry and delivery now. This could have been the deal breaker in getting others to join me.]
I remember this part like it was yesterday, because I told them [others had gathered around by then] and they didn’t hear me. I specifically asked ‘what are WE going to do about this’ and all that was done was a request by the pastor to pray for the farm down the road that was on fire again. So the people stopped talking long enough to hear a two minute or less prayer holding hands in a circle, and that was it. I could not tell you even then, what he prayed. As far as I was concerned I was already out the door.
[I’m sorry, I am still a little singed by this. I know now the hard lesson, assignment, and even the blessings from this were for me, but the feelings I had going through it all, and being isolated from all others, are still pretty raw. These weren’t just any people, they were friends & “family”.]
So out the door I went. The only people who asked to go with me, were my children [11 and 8 at the time], but not knowing what I was getting myself into, I knew it would not be safe for them. It was in their best interest to remain at the church– with all the rest of the people.
I was given the keys to the van and I was on the road. I reached my first roadblock in less than a minute because it was just outside of this very small town. I had passed the Fire Hall on my right as I left, still completely focused on the task at hand… getting to my friends [known & unknown] who may possibly need my help. [Why I thought I was so special, I don’t know.] It still amazes me to this day, how passionate I was to get there. This urgency to ‘enter that burning building’ to rescue someone had not been this strong before, or even this great a part of my repertoire of service. Especially, that I did not know who it was that was injured. It just didn’t matter, because everyone qualified as a potential “save” this day… and every day since.
I’d been praying for this! For so long it seemed, I’d been asking the Father to put me to work, to preach the word, to fulfill my destiny with Him. [I said all those things knowing I was not there yet- I just couldn’t feel it or its need] And also, that He would show me how to really love people, that He would show me who to love and to soften my heart, that I could bless them with it.
For all that was said of me, would be true. “People will seek you out. They will invest much into evangelism. You will need others to help in discerning [who is real] through this process. You are an evangelist!” [at Presbytery 2007] This was the first and there has been a whole lot more “word” since then, but honestly, it all just seems to add to my “fail” or regret list, having failed to get ‘er done. [All except for two– one was based on a deposit of the Spirit in Acts 10 and the other, one of my personal favorites… Isaiah 61.]
At the first roadblock, I was blessed to see a familiar face. When I did my school counseling internship, as I was pursuing my Master’s Degree and state certification, I had the pleasure of working with this gentleman who was employed at the school I interned in. I know one of his many responsibilities included that of bus driver. He was an integral part of the school district and the community, of which I also lived. He was always very kind to me whenever I saw him at school or out and about. This day was no exception.
He was very forthcoming with any information he had, but he, like me, was at a roadblock station about a mile away. What he knew he gave me. The silo that was part of the original fire from a few days passed, had rekindled and there had been an explosion [some of this information was relayed to me back at the fire hall]. He knew at least one was injured pretty bad, but that was all he knew. He didn’t know who or what the extent of the injuries were [for some reason now, I think he may have said it could’ve been a fireman- I’m still fuzzy about this]. All I do know for sure, was that he said he could not let me through. He, unlike the next guy I would encounter, did not say “only essential personnel” were allowed through.
“If only I was a pastor, a first responder,
a medic, a fireman, on the rescue squad
[or even part of a church congregation],
maybe then I could get there? Maybe then
I would be essential… a somebody
worthy of admission?”
I could tell my old school buddy felt bad about it. I know he had a job to do. He told me I could detour around by taking the road to my left, but something inside me said to go back to the Fire Hall and take the road that circles around to the right. So to the right, I went. I happened to notice a vehicle stopped at the intersection by the Fire Hall. I can’t remember now if I stopped long enough to tell them what was going on, but for some reason I’m sure I did. They were headed over to the church with their family, and I journeyed on by myself.
I couldn’t help but notice how different everything looked as I drove around to the next blockade, even though this was familiar territory for me. I’d lived or owned a house in the area for a couple of decades. This particular township included a quaint, touristy village set in a beautiful harbor, equipped with a historical battlefield and barracks. This farm of which I’m speaking, and its Petting Zoo, located just outside the village, is notorious and well loved in its own right. But all the beauty and usual significance of the area and the farm went right out the window as I drove around on this day. All I could do was pray, so pray I did. With a multitude of tears streaming down my face, I talked out loud to God for His divine intervention.
I’d arrived to the next road intersection and roadblock, passing the Petting Zoo to my right [This zoo was a family favorite. Even before our children were born, my husband and I would frequent it. And after they arrived we would take them every year. It was a family tradition.] Driving by this spot usually makes me smile, but not today. Just passed the petting zoo on the left [corner], was the barn and silo that still held the smoke from the fiery re-ignition and explosion. A young over confident NYS trooper [I’m sure young enough to be my son] stopped me from turning down the road that faced the farm. I rolled down the window to see if I could get anymore information or state my intent to help, when I was directed to continue on my way- only essential personnel allowed. He was very short with me and said he didn’t know anything [which I had no problem believing]. Still, I pressed him, giving him what I already had been told, and it was then that all of a sudden he knew something– “I think it was just a farm hand.”
I drove away feeling worse than I already had [I didn’t think that was possible at the time]. The words of this young pretentious trooper still resonated in my mind… “only a farm hand.” I thought “How dare you insult me, like I’m the shallow one and easily appeased by lies.” & “What does a person’s job have to do with the value placed on their life anyway?”
I kept driving on and thinking “would they [the church] have come if it was the farm owner, a fireman, a rescuer, a doctor?” “Would they have come if it was me?” “If only I was somebody, anybody, anyone other than a nobody, then I would be there and not by myself?”
All I could think about was how I was going to get in there [like it was my sole mission and this was my field]. I had no clue as to what I would do if someone welcomed me in, but I so had to keep trying and trust that what I would need, I would have when I needed it.
I was praying more fervently now, because when I was in the process of rolling up my window as I was leaving the trooper [second] roadblock, I heard him tell one of his buddies who’d just pulled up that they were calling in the helicopter for an emergency transport.
“Oh my God… I can’t get in there, but I know You are! Lord please save him, whoever he is. I don’t know his reality, but You do. Please God, touch his heart and make him Yours and help all those who are standing there with him- touch them too. Save them too.! God, I know You’re there!!!”
And this Scripture…
“O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
today let it be known that You are God in Israel
and that I am Your servant and I have done all
these things at Your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord,
answer me, that this people may know that You,
O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their
heart back again.” [1 Kings 18]
And what about… “the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” [Luke 7], “greater works than these” and even… “Jesus heals!”
After praying, crying out loud, and praying more [and when I say praying, I’m just talking to God], I began to think of people who might be able to help me. As I look back now, I think this whole thing was a little strange even for me. It is true that I am not who I was. Now I have a heart bent toward chasing the hurt & wounded souls [many times at the hands of “Christians”] because the fire really had changed everything, but back then this was all in my head. My heart was just coming around.
So I found solace in thinking of others who could help me gain access. My husband of 18 years came to my mind as I rounded the half-way mark on this tour of duty. [He was the first, the best, the only husband I’ve truly ever had – I guess I should just avoid wine altogether, especially when at Cana 😉 ] I thought surely he could get me in and would help me. After all, we were still friendly toward each other [and not just because of the children]. And considering all his professional media connections, his plethora of volunteer work and charitable events to help anyone or any group in need, and especially for a friend… I was sure he could & would help me get to where I was going. He knew this farm too, these great people, and he himself had family members [his cousin’s children] die in a house fire a few years before this. [He did the benefit for that. He would be passionate about this too.] But something stopped me in my tracks. I suddenly knew to head back.
I reached the last stationed roadblock, right back to where I’d started. I had come full circle around the mission field. The Lord had impressed upon me that I had prayed all around it. And… “I did what I could!”
I rolled down my window to merely ask for an update at this point, and found a different volunteer fireman manning it. I played back to him what I already knew, including the helicopter, and he said to me “one is so bad, he’ll never make it by air.”
“Oh my God…” And then the Lord said “Come home!”
At this point I thought my heart had been ripped out of my chest. [I’m still amazed today at how much compassion and drive I had for this unknown soul.] All I could do now was head to the church. It was then that I remembered something God showed me several months, if not years, before this. It was a vision where I walked up behind a seated person [very short hair so it could have been either a male or female], I laid my hands on the person’s shoulder, and said “Jesus Heals!” This thought gave me great hope because now I was on a mission to write “Jesus Heals!” on my tithe check in the memo section. For some bizarre reason, I thought this was a big deal at the time [remember it’s annual dinner & annual business meeting Sunday].
And thankfully, it proved to be just that– and not with amount of money, but by words.
So I walked in the front door and sat just outside the sanctuary to write out my tithe and “Jesus Heals”. What happened next threw me. I looked at my check, as if to proof read it and in the memo section it read “Jesus Saves!” [Say what?… I didn’t write that, but it was right there in print.] I had no idea why this happened at that time [although I would quickly find out], but I felt that it was acceptable for the time being.
The church and congregation were still in worship when I arrived, but I felt so out of place and distant that I honestly could not engage. The betrayal was so strong to me at that time that I sincerely just wanted to leave but knew I had a long day ahead of me there. I do remember getting such a strong message for a young woman I saw across the isle that I went to her and spoke it. I could not even have told you that day, what I said to her. [She remembered though, because months later we connected on Facebook. She told me that the very same thing was delivered to her a week later in a Presbytery that I did not attend- due to my burnt status from the fire. God had sent me on another mission (also painful) in a different direction– or maybe I was just running away. I can’t even tell you the answer to that now.]
I couldn’t get over how people could continue to go about their “Christian” business and not feel that something really bad was going on around them. Someone’s in peril, dire straits, dying. Someone needs our attention and His intervention. “Why am I the only one seeing this? And why do I feel like I’m all alone, as I stand here in this crowded room?
Now were getting to the really bad part…
I do not know how much time had passed, when all of a sudden there was an interruption from the back of the sanctuary with this announcement…
“The firemen have come to ask for all the pastors, because a fireman has died!”
“Oh my God… why weren’t they [WE] there?” And this slid out of me immediately following… “Be judged!” [I sadly understand now that this utterance was a curse. I sincerely want no ill will to happen to anyone, especially people I care about, but there it was, already up & out. The very next Friday evening I had attended an Isaiah 6 concert, instead of the Presbytery, so I guess I didn’t run too far away & got to the place I needed to be.]
I was livid! I could barely move and yet I still had hours to go here. Some pastors [& want to be’s] left for the farm, and then the rest when the firemen came a second time saying they needed more. [The fireman who died just so happened to be a local hero, in two states. His funeral had to take place in the school building and was televised just to meet the demand of people attending.]
They attempted worship, but could have been singing Mary had a little lamb, for all I heard. It wasn’t working so the decision was made to head over to the fire hall to commence with the meal & the meeting to follow. The remaining people were praised for their flexibility and understanding for allowing their service and the annual dinner/business meeting to be interrupted, cut short, and any inconvenience they may have suffered. [“GAG!”]
“And from this day forward,
I could not settle for lukewarm
It somehow all came to a head for me when I heard the trumpeting of “good works” as the pastors or leaders returned from their trip to aid the grieving firemen. I thought “How dare you!” [But I’m sure now, that what I had heard and what the others heard, would’ve been completely different. It depends on where you’re standing. I was sincerely not in a good place at the time.]
So there I was, feeling like I was in the middle of a really bad movie, with no one to share the misery with or feel comfortable enough to sit next to. It got to the point where I could no longer breathe inside. I was asked a question but quickly said “I’m sorry, I’ve got to get out of here.” I ran outside and began crying out loud to God again. I did not understand why any of this was happening. “If only I was somebody, anybody, maybe then I could make a difference.” When out of nowhere, I heard Him say “This will be the last time you will be a no body!”
I’d learned several painful lessons on that day, but the one that blesses my heart the most, even to this day, is–
He doesn’t just heal… “Jesus Saves!”
And I can prove it… “12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it“
… Jesus [John 14]
To be continued and still under construction…
The Fire Changes EVERYTHING!
Isaiah 61 (NKJV)
The Good News of Salvation
61 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But you shall be named the priests of the Lord,
They shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
7 Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery for burnt offering;
I will direct their work in truth,
And will make with them an everlasting covenant.
9 Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles,
And their offspring among the people.
All who see them shall acknowledge them,
That they are the posterity whom the Lord has blessed.”
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
John 15 (NASB)
Disciples’ Relation to Each Other
12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.
Disciples’ Relation to the World
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27 and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
John 14 (NASB)
Jesus Comforts His Disciples
14 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Oneness with the Father
7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
8 Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
Role of the Spirit
16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) *said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
25 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. 28 You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. 30 I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; 31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.
An excerpt from Respectfully submitted…
“As I was writing this [♪Old MacDonald had a farm♪… eiei Oh my God…], I realized that the location to where I had poured out my heart…
“O my God… I fail You at every turn… if You Lord want a website, You are going to have to build it Yourself, miraculously implant this ability in me, or place someone in my path to teach me.”,
…I was driving on a two-mile stretch of road leading to “Old MacDonald’s Farm”. These fields and this farm will always have a place in my heart and in my field of mission and dreams [God gave me the back field behind the church, only the owners don’t know it yet 😉 ]. A family of friends, a ‘roll-over’ accident in faith, a devastating explosion illuminating ‘on-fire heroes’, solo prayer warriors, unseen miracles, an evangelical birthday, and numerous testimonies of “♪ we’re gathered together ♪”, were found in this certain place. Praise the Living God. And why wait four months and then the harvest… for the fields are white!” I respectfully submit.