Many years ago I walked into a Salvation Army thrift store not suspecting that I was about to find an object of great value. I walked around and looked at different items when my eyes fell on a gold-framed picture in a baby crib. I looked more closely and saw it was a picture of St. George in full armor sitting on a white horse. A spear was poised in his right hand ready to be hurled at Satan depicted as a dragon. I liked the picture and purchased it for one dollar.
For a long time the picture found a place just above my bed where it was a daily inspiration for me.
I aspired to be like St. George. I like to “Dream the Impossible Dream, to fight the unbeatable foe, to bear the unbearable sorrow, to run where brave men dare not go.”
One day, I showed the picture to my future handmaiden and shared my impossible dream. I said, “Rebekah, I see myself as the warrior in the picture above my bed.” Without premeditation, she responded, “Peter, Jesus is the hero in the picture. You are the horse.” I knew that Rebekah, or actually, Jesus through Rebekah, had spoken a powerful and liberating truth. But it took a long time for me to be able to digest it. Self very reluctantly vacates the throne it has occupied for such a long time to make room for a new king. In my case, His name is JESUS, JESUS the CHRIST. The moment the Lord showed me that He was the Deliverer and that I was His delivery boy, I began to walk in far grater freedom. I realized that the words in the song “The Impossible Dream” referred to Jesus, not to me.
Several years later, another picture which was offered for sale at a local art exhibit caught my eye. I did not buy the picture the first time I saw it; but when it was still available the following year at another exhibit, Rebekah purchased it for me. It was an original oil painting of a farmer covered only with a loin cloth. He held a clay pot in his hands out of which he was pouring a small stream of water onto little plants neatly planted in a number of long rows. I immediately identified with the farmer.
The picture became a permanent fixture on one of our bedroom walls. It occupied the choicest place where my
God the Father expressed both the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God; and we are to be conformed to His image.
eyes would fall on the painting whenever I sat up in bed. For eighteen years it was a part of my internal dialogue, and also many conversations between Rebekah and myself. But, finally it surrendered its prime location to another picture. The painting had served its purpose when Rebekah one morning spontaneously remarked, “Peter, you are not the farmer. Jesus is the Farmer. You are the clay pot; and the water is the Living Water of the Holy Spirit.” I immediately knew that Rebekah was right, and once again, I had to surrender my exalted position.
Those words, however, complicated my search for my identity. How could I be a horse carrying Jesus into battle, and a clay pot for the Living Water of the Holy Spirit at the same time? One identity is so contrary to the other! This produced a great amount of conflict or split within my soul, because for a time I felt the need to choose one identity or the other. Eventually, by the Grace of God, I was able to resolve this apparent dichotomy. Our earthen vessels are not only to express both His majesty and authority, but also His mercy and His long-suffering. There is a time and season for each to be expressed. Through Jesus,
It all seems so very clear to me today, some twenty years later, who I am. I am a clay pot, a house for the King, and a horse for the King. I am the land, and He is my Landlord. He has the option to use me as a hospital, a playground, a temple, a school, a stretcher bearer, or an invincible tank. I now have the confidence that in whatever way He chooses to use this vessel, it is always best, and always right. I have relinquished the control over my life to the only Someone who is capable to direct its course.
Until my spiritual eyes were opened to these truths, my identity, who I am, depended upon where I was born, who my parents were, where I live, how old I was, where I went to school, the profession I followed, my church or political affiliation, and so on. My wardrobe determined my identity. It was extensive, and changed as frequently as the seasons. At one time, I was a student, then a soldier, then a systems analyst, then married, then divorced, then a schizophrenic. I searched for identities that would flatter my ego, but I was not always successful. There were those times that identities were forced upon me by circumstances beyond my control, Some of these were very difficult and painful to wear.
But today, “who I am” no longer depends upon my profession, where I live, how much money I have accumulated, whether I am single or married, or how old I am. I wake up in the morning with joy and gratitude. There is that tingle of anticipation as I wonder if I will carry my Lord into battle, be used as a clay pot to water a thirsty soul, or if I will get to kick up my heels in a lush meadow. Every day is new, different, and exciting.
The transition from trying to be perfect and allowing the “PERFECT ONE,” the LORD of lords, to indwell me was and still is a gradual process. We are all “in process.” It seems so logical now, and so right, to allow someone with superior love, wisdom, and strength to be in charge - to run the show so to speak.
I attribute the insight I have received not to any superior intelligence with which I may have been endowed, but to God’s Grace. Walking into a Salvation Army thrift store many years ago was no more than a random act when viewed through my human intelligence. But in God’s master plan, there are no random acts. He knows when and how to draw us into the net of His unconditional love. He knows when to send His angels to minister to the heirs of salvation. I hope I get to meet my ministering angel face to face one day and be able to say, “Thank You.”
Gratitude is built whenever we receive anything from anyone for which we did not work, or which we do not deserve. In my case, I can clearly identify the giver of my good gift, the knowledge of who I am, as Father-God. My heart overflows with gratitude. Jesus instead of self is now the center of my life. I no longer have to accomplish something in order to be worth something. My worth is defined by the fact that today I am a child of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. P.T.L.!
When I began to unravel my thoughts for this story, I focused on the question, “Who am I?” Maybe I should also ask, “Whose am I?” Whom do I rely upon for support, protection, strength, comfort, and inspiration? Do I primarily rely upon my own abilities? Am I an island or a kingdom unto myself with its own set of rules, laws, and entertainment centers; or have I pledged my allegiance to a King and country whose power and wisdom I recognize as superior to my own? Our destiny is determined by whom we pledge allegiance to. If I bend my knees to no one but my “self,” I am flirting with Satan himself, the prince of all pride. If I bend my knees to Jesus, I belong to God. He is the only one who truly cares for us, and He is the only one who is able to care for us.
How is it that so few settle this life and death questions that so profoundly shape our lives and destiny? One reason is that we have never asked the questions, “Who am I?” and “Whose am I?” We are just too busy with other pursuits that seem more urgent or more fascinating. The second reason is that we may be digging in the wrong soil for answers. We might be compared to prospectors searching for precious metals, but are not sure where to sink our shafts. I sank many a worthless shaft before I hit my first bonanza. When I finally humbled myself, and asked Jesus to help me, He told me to dig in the rich soil of His Word.
Compared to those days when I thought I was to be the hero on the white horse, I am very whole and very new. The “PERFECT ONE” was nailed to a tree 2000 years ago for the healing of my tormented soul. That act of love does not have to be repeated, and cannot be repeated. Trying to be the hero on the horse, and the sacrifice on the cross, only guaranteed space for me in a mental ward, and gave me a foretaste of hell on earth. Jesus is the only “PERFECT ONE.” He can occupy the human heart only when the ego, the self, voluntarily gives up its place of preeminence.
Only Jesus can give substance to the words of the song “The Impossible Dream.” And He can give substance to the words over and over again through you and me when our ego surrenders to Him.
The last verse of the song reads:
And the world will be better for this,
that one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with His last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable star.
Jesus has reached the unreachable star. It is called planet earth. Take the “h” from the word earth, and place it at the beginning of the word, and Jesus has reached the unreachable heart - mine. He came from heaven to build a launching pad to heaven. It is called -“The Cross”. Walk humbly and expectantly! Don’t miss the launching pad. I had to get down from my high horse and onto my hands and knees to find it. Who am I without Jesus? Not much to brag about.
A bird has a song to sing. I had a story to tell. God bless you for listening. God bless you for taking the time to read these words.
Serving Jesus as Stretcher Bearer, Peter D. Laue