[NOTE: The writing below is an excerpt from The Promise of the Cross ©2011]
“These are a shadow of the things that were to come;
the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
A few months after receiving God’s message through the Colonel, I received an update from another unexpected source, an individual who remains anonymous.
On November 8, 2009 at 3:28 am, the telephone next to our bed rang. My husband reached over and answered it. In the silence of night, I could hear every word of both ends of the conversation.
Before I proceed with this story, I must explain that during this event two separate conversations took place. The one conversation was on the phone, and the second conversation was in my mind. I will convey both conversations simultaneously, just as they occurred.
The conversations began with my husband saying, “Hello.”
In the time that it took him to say that one word, the first oddity of many concerning this call had transpired. Not a sign of concern or anxiety appeared in either one of us. The notorious middle-of-the-night phone call fear just wasn’t present. We acted as though receiving a phone call at 3:28 in the morning was a normal event. It wasn’t. Neither was the conversation.
An emphatic male voice on the other end of the phone responded to my husband by saying, “I want to talk to Cathy.”
My husband asked the expected question, “Who’s calling?”
The voice remained loud, responding, “VinCENT (strong emphasis on the second syllable). I want to talk to Cathy.”
My husband, unsure of what the man had said, asked again, “Who is this?”
Again the man said (even more loudly), “VinCENT. Let me talk to Cathy.”
My husband and I only know one Vincent, our niece’s husband, and this voice certainly did not belong to him. So, once more my husband asked, “Who?”
Once more, the voice yelled, “VinCENT. Now let me talk to Cathy!”
During the entire question and answer session, I never contemplated the identity of the person on the phone. Instead, the only (and I mean only) thought that I repeatedly had was “I wonder what the name Vincent means?”
Just as unusual was my husband’s next response. Normally at such a point in a middle-of-the-night phone call with some unknown agitated person, my husband would be expected to say, “You have the wrong number,” and hang up the phone. But he didn’t do that. He did something totally out of character. He handed the phone to me and said, “Here, it’s for you.”
I couldn’t believe it. He was giving me the phone to talk to a stranger in the middle of the night to discuss we didn’t know what. I was shocked, but I did what was expected. I said, “Hello.”
Then, out of the phone came none other than a loud, distinctive voice that sounded exactly like that of Dr. Phil (Phil McGraw) emphatically asking me, “Are you denying reality?”
In my mind, I had only one thought: Jesus Christ is reality. That was all that I could think. But even as I was thinking it, I heard myself saying, “You must have the wrong number.”
As I removed the phone from my ear to hang up, one very loud word came from the phone and resounded throughout the room. “NO!”
Could I be denying the reality of Jesus Christ in my life? Of course I could, and I undoubtedly was. Having the courage to speak publicly about what one believes does not come easily to everyone. It didn’t to me. Neither did acting upon what I believed.
What prevented me from doing so? The entity that was preventing me (or, more accurately, that I was allowing to prevent me) from living the fullness of my convictions was fear of rejection of my beliefs and, hence, fear of rejection of me. Unfortunately, this fear is all too common among many Christians.
Paul addressed the problem in Galatians. “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
Bingo. I was convicted and guilty as charged. Even though I had completed the writing of two books that were forthright, I knew that hesitancy to speak the totality of my convictions still lived within me, especially in particular situations and circumstances. The real question was “What was my reality?” Which of my beliefs were really believed, and hence convictions, and which ones were merely thoughts that had not yet become part of my identity?
God had brought me a long way in my faith walk from where I once was, but I still had a long way to go, and I knew it.
I was being prepared to write what would become book three, The Power of the Cross, about true discipleship. I just didn’t realize it yet.
Admittedly, talking the talk and walking the walk are not always easy for any Christian for one reason or another. But neither are they as difficult as we often make them out to be. They simply require our willingness to make the decision to place Truth before comfort in order of importance. The matter is one of submission of our ways to God’s Way, for the very sake of Truth itself.
I don’t know whom God used that night to make the phone call and to ask the question that needed to be asked. Maybe it was someone who dialed a wrong number, maybe it was a prankster or maybe it was an angelic being on a direct line from God. No matter who was on the phone or the intent of the individual’s call, God used both the person and the phone call to deliver God’s message. The words go out to every Christian: “Are you denying reality?”
Following the phone call that night, my husband, completely in character, went immediately back to sleep. I, also completely in character, could not. After some restless moments, I got out of bed to attempt to answer the question that was still reverberating in my head: “What does the name Vincent mean?”
Going to the computer, I entered the name in a search engine, and up popped its meaning: Conqueror!
The message that night was one of loving conviction that gave me hope. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Who leads me into all Truth, according to my Father’s Will, I do live in the reality of all of God’s Word because of the victory of Jesus, my Conqueror.