We had a special connection with the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, through The Flame song that was given to me to pass on for that event. Subsequently, the wind of the Spirit blew the message far and wide both in Australia and to other countries.
On our return from ‘Down Under’, I remember watching that Olympic opening ceremony live on a TV in Colorado and seeing Cathy Freeman, pictured above, the Aboriginal runner and final torch carrier, standing on the platform that was supposed to rise up through the fire and through the water for her to complete the lighting of the Olympic flame. Due to a technical hitch, nothing happened initially, but eventually to everyone’s relief, the platform did begin to ascend, the ceremony reached it’s climax – and the Games could commence!
Afterwards I was lead to Psalm 66
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
How appropriate for this representative of a people group who have so experienced these fiery and watery trials. I realized Cathy could have panicked with fear or with shame and embarrassment and run, but as she simply stood her ground, she was lifted up…….and ultimately, awarded a gold medal!
When we too are able to face down the shame from our past and the fears for our future, then ‘having done all to stand’ – firm on the finished work of Christ, we too will ascend, cleansed and purified (CATHERINE) as mature Sons of God (FREE MAN). Passing through our own fires of affliction and waters of trouble, is what prepares us to receive ‘the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ (Phil.3:14)
Our Adamic ‘Beast’ nature first surfaced after the fall. “I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself” Adam confessed. (Gen. 3:10) Now in Christ we can draw near, without shame or fear. In contrast to the tormenting human emotion of fear, (1 Jn.4:18) ‘the fear of the Lord’ – submissive wonder, awe inspired reverence, profound respect, brings us peace. I love meditating on Proverbs 19:23;
“The fear of the Lord leads to life. Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” What a wonderful promise for these troubled times!
One of the people who picked up on The Flame song all those year ago was a lady who lead a meeting at the Massachustes State Capital in Boston of leaders interceding for the rekindling of the flame of faith in New England. This was where the Pilgrim Fathers emerging from the fire and water of opposition in Old England, carried the torch of the gospel message to this New World.
Our friends Collins and Cheryl Lein have pastored faithfully for many years in that North East corner of “Amel reich” (heavenly kingdom) At the site where they meet is an ancient graveyard where the local Indians requested to be buried in a circle facing the white pastor who brought them the good news. Their hope was that at the resurrection, the first face they should see was the that of their beloved pastor.
Sadly however there was much that was flawed about other bearers of the gospel and the baggage that came with it to this New World. Tragically the arrogance and greed of the newcomers culture meant the Native Fathers here were not properly honored.
Interestingly, just yesterday there ended a conference organized by a diverse group of believers in that New England area, called “Revive and Restore” I like the word Restoration as it denotes not just a temporary stirring up of fire, but a returning to the way things were meant to be, or as I say in The Bridge song,
“He is our way BEYOND Eden………For He’s King of this heavenly realm.”
This gospel of ‘the kingdom of heaven’ lifts us to a higher plane beyond the limitations of any particular culture and time. “Of the increase of His kingdom and peace there will be no end…. until.… the knowledge of the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.” (Is.9:7, Hab. 2:14)
This we know is the glorious end of His-story….. as hinted at in the next line of Psalm 66:12,
“…..yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance….saturated and soaked, satiated and satisfied…… filled to overflowing!”
In searching the internet for a photo of Cathy at that pivotal point in the ceremony I found the one above as part of an article that described how after the opening ceremony the soaked garment Cathy was wearing mysteriously disappeared from the dressing room. This too speaks of how when we ascend with Christ we will together be “filled with all the fulness of God’ (Eph.3:19) exchanging our earthly apparel for spiritual garments enabling us to ‘follow the Lamb wherever he goes’ on earth and in heaven. ( 2 Cor. 5:1-3, Rev. 14:3)
P.S. By way of confirmation of the timeliness of this blog I had two unsolicited conversations with two local Native American leaders today….both telling the story of how they recently rose above flooded basements!!