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Day Thirty-Three

 

But Then Face to Face…

 

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  ESV 1Cor 13:12

 

            Every time we are blessed with a revelation from the Lord, perfection has come to us.  Yes there is a day when we will be before total Perfection forever, and while that day is perhaps not today – Perfection does draw near us even now to dispel darkness, to remove the haze of obscurity, and to usher in crystal clarity into our hearts.  It is important to see how we are fully known – in His eyes.

            I had such a moment a few days ago – where the Lord brought understanding within the context of something that I have been teaching on Sunday Nights.  In this group I have been teaching from Watchmen Nee’s, Spiritual Authority.  Without any fanfare the Lord suddenly juxtaposed all that I have been learning about spiritual authority – in particular rebellion – and placed it directly beside the time in my life when He was consolidating an experience that would bring me to Him in crisis.

            It all has to do with me (not) – and my best thinking.  Let me tell you in advance, our best thinking is one of the very things the Lord would have us continually surrender as we surrender our faculties and members to Him as a living sacrifice.  While my perception of this crisis previously did not lack understanding – it did however lack the fullness of insight that He wanted in my own heart.

            So – here’s what happened.  Back in February 1991 I was called to active duty from a reserve status to support Operation Desert Storm.  I was an intelligence officer in the United States Air Force – a Captain to be exact.  I was being sent to a unit I knew very well (at Langley AFB, VA) as it had been my very first active duty assignment, plus I had continued to serve there as both a reservist (after leaving active duty) and also as a civilian Government Service (GS) employee.

            My husband (who was active duty) had been deployed early in Operation Desert Shield (Aug 1990) to the United Arab Emirates.  We had two small children at that time and I had been dividing my time between caring for them, maintaining our household, augmenting force assets at Hill AFB, UT, and running a spouse support group for AF member spouses of those who had deployed. 

            It seemed an amazing intersection of God’s timing and provision (although I was unaware of that and Him at the time).  I was already trained as a Counselor, was the wife of a Commander of a large maintenance squadron (over a thousand people), and had access to unclassified information, people, and other resources to be of help to approximately 350 squadron wives whose husbands had deployed.  We commenced the support group as of 12Sep1990 – just one week after our troops had left.  We met weekly and our meetings coincided with several crucial campaign events.  As part of the overall support I also worked with other base assets and non-deployed squadron personnel to provide support.  We had a team of thirty wives who would monthly call ten other wives for a morale check.  The squadron executive officer would also send out a bi-monthly email of things going on with the service members overseas.

            You must understand this was in the 1990’s — when deployments were more rare than regular (as compared to the last ten years) – so these efforts were all unprecedented support for a deployment. We were one of three units to have the Air Staff interview us afterwards to see all that had been done.  I was awarded the highest volunteer award the base had as a result of this effort (the Angel Award).

  Meanwhile, for me and my family a great change ensued the day I got the call that I was being deployed.  Everything was about to change – but that was not as crucial as the fact that I had just spent the previous six months providing incredible levels of support to 350 spouses of every unimaginable nature.  The result was – I was totally depleted.  Used up.  I had nothing.  I had expended all this effort in my flesh.  I did not (technically) know the Lord at this time, although I would have told you I was a believer.  If I was saved it was by the skin of my teeth like the thief on the cross.

I am deployed on verbal orders.  It could be for up to a year.  All I know is that I am going to Langley, but on the way I will be dropping my children off at my mother’s home to be looked after.  They will be eight hours away from me.  I close up our home, my mom flies out to us to help us make the drive from Utah to Pennsylvania across a wintry interstate system in February 1991.  While we are making the trip an interesting thing occurs that shapes all future decisions.  A cease-fire is called.  Before I even make it to my mom’s house – the conflict is in a draw-down mode.

Cell phones were not common at this time either – so I wait to call my contacts until I get to my mom’s home to verify if I should still report.  Since there is no order other than the one calling me to active duty I am told to report, although I am told that it will be for a period probably shorter than a month –most likely just a couple of weeks.

The day I leave Pennsylvania to drive to Virginia is icy and snowing.  But it is not nearly as cold and barren as the state of my heart as I drive away from my children.  They haven’t seen their dad since August.  Now their mom is leaving as well.  They are 3 and 21 months old – too little to understand much.

I arrive at Langley AFB late in the evening, check into my room and prepare for active duty the next day.  As I report I am in for a surprise – although truly I shouldn’t have been.  Remember forces being called to active duty in this magnitude haven’t happened for a long time.  Desert Storm was a very large-scale call up.  Because it was unusual — bases hadn’t modified their reporting system to provide for one-day in-processing.  Also, my assignment was to work in a sensitive environment which required Top Secret clearances to be in place.  That also takes time.  The result was, for the roughly two-weeks that I could estimate I would be on active duty before the deactivation order would come down, I was going to be in-processing.  Right!  I would be going through in-processing like a normal asset coming to Langley.  That means: social actions; drug/alcohol/abuse training; driver’s safety, etc.  For all this upheaval with my family, dislocation, emotional trauma – there would be nothing to show.  I would just get in-processed in time to be out-processed.

I thus made a command decision – and a wrong one.  I chose to do limited in-processing.  On my own, without anyone else’s approval – I chose to do the minimum – only what was absolutely necessary.  I signed in for pay, for emergency data, got clearances issued and went to work.  I knew this unit extremely well.  That fact plus my state of mind justified my thinking to myself.  I assured myself it would be a travesty to not have something to show for all the upheaval.  I likened it to requiring a congressional investigation for misuse of funds.  It didn’t matter that this decision was truly not mine to make.  Somewhere – my thinking stopped tracking with reality.  I was full of pride over what I had just walked through and what I had gutted out.  I was primed for a major fall.

When we walk in massive pride – we can’t always tell how we are being received.  But I know I immediately rubbed a young first lieutenant in the wrong way.  She was coordinating reservists coming onto active duty.  It is quite possible that she was performing duties based on ground-work I had laid as a civilian in that same office some four years before.  I don’t know what I looked like then on the character spectrum, but I am pretty sure my tail feathers were raised high and flashing as I paraded around the squadron getting updates on how everything was, bragging on my husband the Colonel.  Whatever it was, something in me ignited a ferocious dislike in her!

This formed the crucible for the first breaking of me and my pride that the Lord had in store.  Because I refused to in-process correctly, when the time came to out-process – it was a nightmare to say the least.  Armed with information that my husband was due home in two weeks and was diverting from traveling with his unit to meet me in Pennsylvania – I was determined to make that happen no matter what.  I am sure I was all hair, teeth, and nails as I scraped and scrapped my way off active duty.  As a result of my actions, an investigation ensued which I had to reply to.  It was a humbling, and difficult time. Out of it the Lord spoke His first words to me that I could hear:  “You can do nothing without me.”

In the following months – I was brought to even greater humility and repentance, but more importantly – a lasting relationship with the Lord.  As I came before Him, He virtually dispelled all charges against me which would have cashiered me out of the reserves.  Even more astounding – He got me promoted to Major.  He is an Awesome God!

The capstone on this – some twenty years later is this:  my failure was based on operating in my own best natural thinking which led to my total disobedience towards authority.  In my natural self, it seemed horrid to have nothing to show for all of the upheaval in my family.  What I didn’t understand was that the Lord wasn’t interested in my production efforts – I was His production effort!  He established this crisis (the intersection of my depletion and work in the flesh, great pride and inflexibility, and Him, His authority and His example of complete and perfect obedience).  Though the in-processing requirements were entirely inefficient – they were not wrong.  I had no basis to violate them.  What was being shaken in me (although I initially would have called it the breaking of pride) was confidence in my independence and thinking removed from God.  What I understand now more fully is that he was setting up things then that would take 20 years plus to come to full understanding.  In the moment that He made the juxtaposition of that old event with the new understanding – I was meeting Him — again.  Twenty years ago – I knew in part.  But now, because I know Him in His authority and in His obedience – I see Him face to face – to His glory!  Who would believe He would patiently invest and wait for a full-yield understanding that took twenty years?  He is indeed our long-suffering Lord and King!  To Him be the glory and praise!

Be-loved! Be obedient!

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Protected Ground

Protected Ground


In Peter’s heart burned agony,

He spoke with hostile heat.

“No! I don’t know Him!”

Then fled in full retreat.


Yet the Cross soon broke his spirit,

His precious Lord would die.

Hot tears of desolation,

No longer could he hide.


How was it that he failed?

He saw his nature flawed.

The vital test not passed,

To put his trust in God.


The words of Jesus rang,

Like cymbals deep inside.

They spoke of “sifted wheat,”

Threshing out his pride.


This pride and his ambition,

Set him up to fail,

Though Satan used this darkness,

It served God after all.


The caution stands for you and me,

Where darkness lurks within.

Where thought- life goes un-crucified,

A stronghold grows for sin


Let not our carnal thinking,

Or religious pride abound.

For deception seeks safe harbor,

Within protected ground.


© 2001 Sandra Gilloth

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