Saturday, February 16, 2013

God's purifying fire

In 1984, the year oil prices and the economy plummeted in Houston, it was made evident to us that we had to leave Houston and come back to a dry climate where I could live without being bedridden from allergies to pine and mold. The shady pine forests, frequent torrential rains and high humidity blend together to produce mold in that beautiful city. Breathing mold, for me, threatened to be fatal. I was exhausted from the headaches. Allergy shots did not help. Nothing helped. As is so often the case, one phone call from a messenger from God opened the way for us to come to this place of physical healing for me, high on a California mountain where the air is dry.  ...but the "way of escape" that God provided appeared at the time, to be brutal.

No homes were selling. Our personal home had been trashed out by renters. My family began the tedious, sweaty process of ripping out carpets, painting and doing what we could to repair the damage. ....and then what seemed to be a disaster struck! An arsonist came in the middle of the night, threw a match into some cleaning fluid and the result was a horrifying thick covering of filthy black sticky residue that ruined every effort we had made to restore our home in order to put it on the market.  We had moments of wishing the house had simply burned to the ground...but that was not God's plan  (...and NO! I didn't strike the match!).

I had heard of a Christian family who specialized in restoring burned homes and buildings. I called them.  Our daughter, Dee, summoned our family and friends to come and pray over the ghastly mess. While we were praying,  John Freidrickson, burn specialist, showed up, prayed with us, and we made a plan. ...a plan that led to a nearly gutted house with walls opened up to a beautiful view of ...Yep! You guessed it...a pine forest!  Because the fire department declared the cause of the fire to be arson, our insurance paid every cent required for the renovation. We put the house on the market and the first people who answered the ad exclaimed: "This is like a California house! We love the openness! We'll take it!" ...and they did!

That was  twenty-nine years ago. God made a way for us to come to Bear Valley to pioneer the building of a church here on this lovely mountain that has clean, dry air. Yes... in California that is known for its smog down below in the valleys.  We rented the only available house through the efforts of Nancy, a lovely Christian realtor and a year later purchased this family/ministry home. There was no way we could afford to buy this house, but God could, and He did.  I remain in this home where family has gathered countless times and literally thousands of people have come for help and restoration. I have not had one day in all these years suffering from the agony of debilitating headaches.

As I revisit the shocks that have been followed by God-surprises throughout my long life, a pattern emerges and here it is: First comes the burn. Then comes the cleansing. The burnt offering is the oldest offering known to man. The burnt offering went up in smoke. As in the Old Testament Tabernacle, the animal without blemish was burned in the brazen altar, the first piece of furniture the people saw as they entered the Outer Court. This burnt offering is a picture of Christ in death...a death that exonerated us from the penalty of sin and death, once we receive the dying Lamb's substitutionary blood-letting for us on the cross.

The next piece of furniture in the Outer Court of the Tabernacle, the laver, which is made of mirrors, represents the Word of God which shows us our need for cleansing. The law cannot cleanse us and neither can the mirror. Beneath the mirror, however, is a wash basin. The laver is where we confess our sins and receive his forgiveness and cleansing.  Today only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from all sin. The blood offering under the old Law merely covered over sin. Christ's blood offering erased sin. Forever.

My family could never have dug into the walls deep enough to dislodge the filth and the mold. It took a Specialist. That's our Jesus.

Maybe we will proceed with my very elementary explanation of the Tabernacle as it relates to us today: God's redeemed children. ...or maybe I won't. That's a whole week away and lots can happen in a week. Boy Howdy! Can it ever!!

                                     Hymn of the Week: There is a Fountain

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

Thou dying Lamb, thy precious blood shall never lose its power
'Til all the ransomed church of God are saved, to sin no more.

E'er since by faith I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply
Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.
Then in a nobler, sweeter song I'll sing Thy power to save
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

Love, Jo