by Kathi Pelton

Recently, my husband and I stood with two of our dearest friends as they buried their precious son, Jason. Walking with them through his brief illness and death these last few weeks was both agonizing and beautiful. The pain and grief has been truly agonizing, and yet, as they kept their eyes fixed on the One who is forever faithful, we witnessed true beauty.

As we watched Jason's casket being lowered into the ground at his graveside service, his two young daughters (ages nine and two) moved as close as they could in order to wave goodbye to their daddy one last time. The scene would have moved the hardest of hearts to tears, and in the midst of it, I heard the Lord whisper to me, "Who do you say that I Am?"

Faithful and True

"I saw Heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God. The armies of Heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.

Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." Revelation 19:11-16

Though often we do not understand God's thoughts or His ways, our spirits know without a doubt that He is forever faithful and true. Is God faithful to our friends, who just lost their son in the prime of his life? Is He "true" even though there were many unfulfilled promises that they buried with him? Though my mind cannot comprehend, my spirit cries out, "Yes...He is still faithful and true!"

On the night of Jason's death, I was taken into a brief encounter at the very time of his passing that greatly impacted my life. This encounter was not like having a vision or a dream; it was more like being taken somewhere unknown for a brief moment in time. In this encounter, I was standing in a place with swirling colors all around, and directly in front of me stood a man with curly hair. I knew in my spirit that it was Jason. I reached out to grab hold of him, but as I did, he saw something that I could not see and shouted, "My Husband!" and ran to the One he obviously could clearly see. Jason's words, "My Husband!" jolted through me like an electrical charge and instantly ended the encounter.

This very brief experience literally imparted something so beautifully intimate and full of life to my spirit that it is still difficult to describe. Those words, "My Husband!", carried in them a fulfillment of hope like nothing that I have ever experienced. It was like hearing the hope of all creation fulfilled in one moment, and in one life. I have watched video clips of American soldiers returning from Iraq to the arms of their wives and children, and even those moving reunions pale in comparison to what I heard in Jason's voice. He ran to the One who is forever faithful and true, the One who fills every promise with just one glance of His beauty, and the One who is the only King of kings and Lord of lords.

The God of Bethel

This month marks a ten-year anniversary in my life. In April 1998, I was confined to a treatment hospital for sixty days with a serious eating disorder. Though I was the wife of a pastor and mother of four small children, I had a problem that threatened to take my life. I asked my husband and our church family to help me get into a Christian treatment center so that I could recover and get the support I needed.

I had married young as a new Christian. Within a year after our wedding, my husband and I went off to Bible College together for him to study missions. Due to the fact that I had been raised in an abusive and dysfunctional home as a child, I should have taken the time to let the Lord heal me from the years of pain and wounding that I had experienced. But we were young and in love with each other and with Jesus, and we wanted to be world-changers.

During our years in Bible College, I didn't know how to deal with the pain that would emerge from my past, and I didn't understand the compassion that Jesus has on the broken-hearted. I had quickly developed a religious mindset that falsely believed that Christians didn't have broken places. Oh, how young we were! Therefore, my outlet became the development of an eating disorder that lasted over fifteen years, leaving me void of healing and full of shame.

When I came to the point of desperation and was able to humble myself and reach out for help, knowing that many would not understand, it was as though I entered a time and place in my life that I would call, "My Bethel."

The God Who Speaks

"Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel." Genesis 35:15

Though I look back on my time in the treatment center as my "dark night of the soul," I would also say that it became my Bethel. Bethel means "House of God," and in this time and place, God spoke to me more clearly than I had ever heard before and it became my House of God. I began to learn just who God was to me. Though I had called Him my Savior and Friend, in that time, I began to experience Him as Savior and Friend.

Living in the midst of sixty other broken lives, I began to discover the beauty of humility and dependency. I watched young girls and women who had lived through great suffering come face-to-face with the compassion of Christ and the love of their Heavenly Father. I was one of them. Though some did not recover, those who did stand today as pillars in the House of God. They carry a compassion for the broken and an understanding of the mercy of God like few I have ever met.

In this time, our God is speaking to those who have ears to hear. I sense that this season will mark for many a "Bethel" experience where God has spoken to His people, and it will be like an altar in their lives of moving from darkness to light.

The God Who Overcomes

"Now the salvation, and the power, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the Blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death." Revelation 12:10-11

Recently, I have become keenly aware that God is calling forth the broken ones and those who have felt the darkness; He is calling them to step into the Light of His love and be transformed. These will become pillars called "Overcomers," and they will know the One who is faithful and true; the One who has written on His thigh the words "King of kings and Lord of lords."

"I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of My God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of Heaven from My God; and I will also write on him My new name..." Revelation 3:11-13

Just as His name is written upon His thigh, so will His name be written on our lives as we overcome the accuser of God's people. We are in a type of spiritual boot camp where we are learning to overcome the world so that we can go into the world and not be overcome by it. It is a very vulnerable time because we are facing places of darkness. Yet, we are gaining authority through great adversity, and we are being prepared as a great army of overcomers...through the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies.

The God Who Keeps His Promises

Though most of us entered this year believing with great excitement that we were entering a new day, this new day, for many, has not come in the way we expected. I am sure that our friends who lost their son did not think that this new day would begin with such a great loss. I am also sure that many of you reading this did not expect to face some of the trials that you have encountered in the first months of this year. But do not lose heart! When the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the land that God had promised them, the first things they encountered were fortified walls and great enemies. Remember what Joshua said not long after crossing the Jordan:

"And Joshua said, 'Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!'" Joshua 7:6-8

Even great men of faith like Joshua questioned God's ways. God never said that we would not face great battles; He said that we would win great battles. I believe that Jason's family has not yet seen the end of the story of his life. His life will be known as a victory! The battles that you are facing may be fierce and look as if they will overcome you...but through the Blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony, YOU WILL OVERCOME!

There is great authority in this time being given to those who face such trials and overcome. God is creating pillars in His house. Pillars are made to hold things up! When the storms come and the battles rage, it is the pillars that strengthen the building under siege.

So, who do you say God is? I say that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. I say that He is faithful and true, even when we don't understand. I say that He is the God who keeps His promises, the God who gives us victory, and the God who heals our wounds. He is the Great I Am! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith, the beginning and the end, and our Everlasting Father.

God is asking us, "Who do you say that I Am?"