Few Give Thought…

Posted in Bible Topics on December 13th, 2014 by Danna Gesellchen — Be the first to comment!


Think about this...

Think about this…

Sin.  Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as follows:  “To depart voluntarily from the path of duty prescribed by God for man; to violate the divine law in any particular, by actual transgression or by the neglect or non-observance of its injunctions; to violate any known rule of duty.”

That definition became very interesting to me as I considered the topic of sin.  I appreciate the fact that Mr. Webster included the word “neglect” in his definition–you will see why later.  Of course, most of us, when asked to define sin, would turn to 1 John 3:4, “…sin is the transgression of the law.”  And this is good, but I wonder, do we really grasp all that this means?

In Luke 10:27, Jesus narrowed the law down into two principles: love God with all the heart, mind and soul, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourself.  Why did He use those words? Heart, mind, soul, and strength?

Here’s what I believe after study and reflection:

Loving God with my mind means that my thoughts are centered, not in this world and the things of this world, but on heavenly things.

Loving God with my heart means that, as Colossians 3:2 says, my affections–the things I love and look forward to–are those that pertain to serving God.

Loving God with my strength means that, as Sister White says:  “Had the disciples rightly appreciated the exalted character of their Master, they would have considered no sacrifice too costly to offer to the Son of God.”  Signs of the Times, October 9, 1879 par. 13.  In other words, all of my talents and abilities are consecrated to His service–nothing is held too dear to give to my Lord.

Loving God with my soul means:  Since my body and the breath of God make me a living soul, this is all that I am–and all that I am is focused on loving and serving God.  I believe this sums up all the other terms.  It is an entire consecration to God and to His will for my life–nothing held back!

What about loving my neighbor as myself?  Jesus goes on in the passage in Luke to illustrate just what this means in the parable of the good Samaritan.  Jesus described a man who had been beaten and robbed and left to die. A priest and a Levite passed by without helping, but the Samaritan stopped to invest himself–at great personal risk and cost–in this man from a foreign land.  And I believe in doing so, he kept the WHOLE law, for he certainly loved his neighbor as himself, AND he glorified and lifted up the character of God is his treatment of this man.

So what does this have to do with sin?  I looked up the phrase “it is sin” in the EG White index.  The following is a sample of what I found.  “It is sin”:  to indulge appetite, to indulge passion, to read all the books and papers of the day, that separates us from God, that prevents us from loving and glorifying God, that scourged the Lord of Glory, to remain calm and unimpassioned when considering the sufferings of Christ….

Did you catch that last phrase?

Here is is in black and white from 2 Testimonies 212:  “Many who profess to be Christians become excited over worldly enterprises, and their interest is awakened for new and exciting amusements, while they are coldhearted, and appear as if frozen, in the cause of God. Here is a theme, poor formalist, which is of sufficient importance to excite you.  Eternal interests are here involved.  Upon this theme it is sin to be calm and unimpassioned.  (WOW!)  The scenes of Calvary call for the deepest emotion.  Upon this subject you will be excusable if you manifest enthusiasm.  That Christ, so excellent, so innocent, should suffer such a painful death, bearing the weight of the sins of the world, our thoughts and imaginations can never fully comprehend.  The length, the breadth, the height, the depth, of such amazing love we cannot fathom.  The contemplation of the matchless depths of a Saviour’s love should fill the mind, touch and melt the soul, refine and elevate the affections, and completely transform the whole character…”

Now, who among us would really consider it sin – a transgression of the law of God — to be calm and unimpassioned in the consideration of the cost of our salvation to Jesus?  Really?  And, as Mr. Webster pointed out, even neglect of what we ought to do is sin.  But, aren’t we told that we should “spend a thoughtful hour” considering the life of Christ?  Desire of Ages 83.

Consider this passage from Education 263:  “Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the gospel think of it in relation to themselves and to the world.  Few think of its relation to God.  Few give thought (neglect) to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator.  All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity.  The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God.  Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him.”

I believe, if we really think it through, that Jesus is the wounded man in the story of the Samaritan.  Which am I?  Which are you?  The priest?  The Levite?…or the one who really loved God and his neighbor?  Do we just pause to casually observe the sufferings of Christ, then go about our day?  Or do we let it grip our hearts enough to move us to action?  Isn’t Jesus crucified afresh by our sin?  Hebrews 6:6.  What are we doing to alleviate the pain of sin to our Lord?  Are we loving Him with all our mind, strength, soul, heart?  or as we love ourselves?

Do you see what I see?

Mount of Blessings 9,10  “And as one is drawn to behold Jesus uplifted on the cross, he discerns the sinfulness of humanity.  He sees that it is sin ( even a mere neglect to appreciate and strive to alleviate the sufferings of Christ) which scourged and crucified the Lord of glory.  He sees that, while he has been loved with unspeakable tenderness, his life has been a continual scene of ingratitude and rebellion.  He has forsaken his best Friend and abused heaven’s most precious gift.  He has crucified to himself the Son of God afresh and pierced anew that bleeding and stricken heart.  He is separated from God by a gulf of sin that is broad and black and deep, and he mourns in brokenness of heart.”

It is sin, friends, to allow Jesus to continue to suffer on in the Most Holy Place without loving Him with heart, mind, strength, and soul and seeking to alleviate His pain.

Oh, that we would fully realize the promise in Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn.”

Truly, “The mourning here brought to view is true heart sorrow for sin”,  and, “they shall be comforted…” Mount of Blessings 9; Matthew 5:4. Let us give thought…

The Ultimate Health Law

Posted in Bible Topics on November 23rd, 2014 by Danna Gesellchen — 1 Comment so far

We hear a lot these days about health and healing alternatives and I believe that’s a good thing. But it can be confusing. Navigating through so many voices and choices and miracle cures. But, boil it all down, what is the single most ingredient to the well-being of our entire being? Listen to find out:

The Emerging Church-Steve Wohlberg

Posted in Bible Topics on November 22nd, 2014 by Danna Gesellchen — 1 Comment so far

Gospel Medical Missionary Evangelism

Posted in Health and Healing on November 18th, 2014 by Danna Gesellchen — 2 Comments

Have you ever heard of a Gospel Medical Missionary?  You have if you’ve heard of Jesus.  Did you realize that Jesus spent more time healing than He did teaching and preaching?   His was a life of unselfish service and ministry to those in need, which is all of us.  And He calls us to be just like Him.  Listen to learn more:

What about the Sabbath and the sick?

Posted in FAQ on November 17th, 2014 by Danna Gesellchen — 3 Comments


I don’t know about you but for me, no amount of classroom teaching can convey what an actual experience of the topic can do.  As I consider the topic of the Sabbath, specifically of keeping the Sabbath, my mind goes back to my own experience of many years in the nursing profession.  I know that working as a health care professional on the Sabbath is one of those “hot potato” topics in Adventism, but here goes!

I was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist shortly after graduating from nursing school and working on the Sabbath quickly became an issue for me.  I was working in critical care in a Catholic hospital and for some time justified my choice to work on the Sabbath, citing Jesus’ example of caring for the sick.  But something just wasn’t “sitting right”.  Eventually I began to study the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy on the topic, and I’d like to share with you what I found!

The purpose of the Sabbath, and how to keep it is clearly seen in Isaiah 58:13.  This passage, along with Exodus 20:8-11, Numbers 15:32-36, and Nehemiah 13:15-21, was my springboard for study.  Next I went to the Spirit of Prophecy to look for instances where Sr. White counseled those “compelled” to care for the sick on the Sabbath.  My findings were really surprising.  I first discovered what “kind” of nurses and physicians Seventh-day Adventists were called to be, and what “our” health care facilities were intended by God to be.  Boy was than an eye-opener, and though not my topic for now, bears much consideration.

I found in Medical Ministry 216 that: “It may be necessary to devote even the hours of the holy Sabbath to the relief of suffering humanity.  But the fee for such labor should be put into the treasury of the Lord, to be used for the worthy poor, who need medical skill but cannot afford to pay for it.”  Well and good, for even Jesus healed on the Sabbath, and the sick don’t stop being sick just because it is the Sabbath!

In Counsels on Health 422, I found that: “Those who, from whatever cause, are oblige to work on the Sabbath, are always in peril; they feel the loss, and from doing works of necessity they fall into the habit of doing things on the Sabbath that are not necessary.  The sense of its sacredness is lost, and the holy commandment is of no effect.  A special effort should be made to bring about a reform in regard to Sabbath observance.  The workers in the sanitarium do not always do for themselves what is their privilege and duty…”  So, there is a danger to those who work on the Sabbath of losing the sense of its sacredness.

I encourage all to read 7 Testimonies 103-9 on this topic.  Here Sister White warns that working on the Sabbath in our sanitariums is liable to bring about “A spirit of irreverence and carelessness in the observance of the Sabbath”, and that “The nature of his (the physician’s) duties naturally leads him to feel justified in doing on the Sabbath many things that he should refrain from doing.” and that “unnecessary work, such as ordinary treatments and operations that can be postponed, should be deferred...” and that we should, “Let the patients understand that physicians and helpers should have one day for rest.  Let them understand that the workers fear God and desire to keep holy the day that He has set apart for His followers to observe as a sign between Him and them….In keeping the Sabbath, which God declares shall be kept holy, they give the sign of their order, showing plainly that they are on the Lord’s side.”  She goes on to state that, “we are to stand as a distinct and peculiar people, free from all worldly policy, unembarrassed by confederating with those who have not wisdom to discern God’s claims so plainly set forth in His law…. our medical institutions are established as Seventh-day Adventist institutions to represent the various features of gospel medical missionary work and thus to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.  We are to show that we are seeking to work in harmony with heaven.”

As I reflected on these and other statements I studied, the following were and are my conclusions:

1) If Sister White had such strong cautions regarding working on the Sabbath for those working in OUR sanitariums, where the Sabbath is understood, what of those who have no regard for it?

2) Please tell me which hospital will permit an employee to practice laying aside “unnecessary work” and “ordinary treatments and operations”?

3) We are to be Gospel Medical Missionaries whose focus is “to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.”  We know that the Sabbath will be a major issue in the closing events of this earth.  Can we afford to lessen the sense of it’s obligation?

4) What is the undergirding purpose of nurses and physicians working in worldly hospitals?  And can one truly be a Gospel Medical Missionary in the popular health-care system?

After I realized the importance of the Sabbath and kindly spoke to my supervisors regarding my convictions, I never once, in my many years of subsequent practice, had to work on the Sabbath.  I changed jobs many times, and repeatedly God opened some amazing doors for me!!  The Lord has since completely brought me out of that system of health care to practice His way (Counsels on Health 323), where I can both honor the Sabbath and follow His example in caring for the sick using His principles.

Every act of healing that Jesus did exalted the Sabbath and was a fulfillment of His mission.  And as a Seventh-day Adventist, I too, must be about my Father’s business!

This SAME Jesus

Posted in Bible Topics on October 30th, 2014 by Danna Gesellchen — 3 Comments
This same Jesus!

This same Jesus!


It’s funny, isn’t it, how people and places can affect us so much–how they can get into our hearts in ways we don’t really realize? My tears flowed freely as my husband and I drove away from the lovely autumn colors of the rural Kentucky hills and “hollers”. Just days before we left Kentucky, where I had lived for 9 years, we left my family in Alabama.  I’m sure, like me, that you’ve experienced tearful goodbyes.

We are headed back to the plains of the second coldest state in the union, North Dakota.  Don’t get me wrong, there are things I like about North Dakota, but the cold weather and treeless landscape are not among those things.  I appreciate the farm and ranch mindset (with all the horses) and the honest work ethic and loyalty of the mostly German people of the prairie.  I’ve made some wonderful friends in the Dakotas that I will hang on to.  But for a southern girl, it’s really tough to weather -30F and 40 mph winds.  Not to mention being so far from family and old friends.  Mostly I try not to think about it, but at times it gets the best of me.  But this experience reminds me of the opportunity to look to Jesus.

As my thoughts run wild and my emotions deep, a quiet Voice speaks to my heart.  What about Jesus?   “What about Jesus?”, I asked myself, as I began to reflect on His experience.  In Hebrews 2:14 it says, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same.”  And in the fourth chapter it says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmity, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

He, also, Himself, likewise! How emphatic!  “…”Touched with the feeling of our infirmity…”  These words should paint a graphic picture of Jesus in our minds, and a very touchingly human one.  We really don’t grasp this.  I know we don’t because if we did, we would be very different people.  We need to think about Jesus.

How many of us make concerted efforts to keep in touch with family and friends?  We not only make phone calls, but we have email, text messages and Skype to fill the airways as we strive to stay connected.  If a loved one is in some peril we beg all of our friends to pray for them (hoping they don’t do like we often do and forget).

I remember my mom telling me how hard it was not to hear from my dad when he was in Viet Nam.  She could hardly bear to watch the evening news!  Was he dead or alive?  Was he injured…or a prisoner?  I can only experience her story through second-hand emotion since I was a baby then.  But I think this is why Jesus allows us to go through personal experiences.  We need to understand not only other people, but other Person!  We need to understand JESUS!

The Bible says that “…this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”  This same Jesus!  The same Jesus Who became partaker of flesh and blood.  The same Jesus Who is touched with the feeling of our infirmity.  The same Jesus the disciples of old watched as He ascended:  “As He passed upward, the awe-stricken disciples looked with straining eyes for the last glimpse of their ascending Lord.” DA 831.  I wonder, how did HE feel as He ascended?  Remembering the ache in my heart as I turned from my family to get in the car and drive away helps me to understand.

And what was it like for Jesus to even come to this earth?  What did it mean to Him to leave behind the beauty and peace of heaven?  We are told in 2 Testimony 201, “He endured struggles and torture of soul in a world of sin.  His humanity made prayer a necessity and privilege.  He required all the stronger divine support and comfort which His Father was ready to impart to Him, to Him who had, for the benefit of man, left the joys of heaven and chosen His home in a cold and thankless world.  Christ found comfort and joy in communion with His Father.  Here He could unburden His heart of the sorrows that were crushing Him.  He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (emphasis mine).

This same Jesus…when He walked the earth, was touched with the feeling of our infirmity.  “…Mine iniquities have taken hold upon Me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of Mine head: therefore My heart faileth Me.”  Psalm 40:12.  “I said, LORD, be merciful unto Me: heal My soul; for I have sinned against thee.” Psalm 41:4.  Read these chapters in their entirety and you will see…this is Jesus!  So closely was He identified with us that, as our Sin Bearer, He felt guilty!  He felt like HE had sinned against the Father.  The Perfect One felt vile so I could feel free!!!  Can a situation more “unfair” be imagined?

I find I must say with Job, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee?  I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.” Job 40:4.  What more complaint can I offer of situations I face when I consider this same Jesus?

Jesus? An Exile?

Posted in Bible Topics on October 13th, 2014 by Danna Gesellchen — 6 Comments


Welcome home!

Welcome home!

Being an exuberant kind of individual, I think my heart has been longing for years for a cause worth releasing all the pent up expressiveness I know is locked within me.  But where shall a cause worthy of letting all this go be found?  Now I think I know!

As I meditate on Psalm 24 I “listen” the distant shouts of the angels as they welcome Jesus home.  Oh!  it gives me goosebumps!!  Seeking to give the emphasis merited to the return of the Holy Exile, the angels shout ahead for the heavenly gates to be thrown back on their hinges.  They toss back and forth the question, “Who is this King of glory?”, while others answer with unbridled excitement, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle!”  “Then the portals of the city of God are opened wide, and the angelic throng sweep through the gates amid a burst of rapturous music.” Desire of Ages 833

Can a scene of greater excitement and joy be imagined?  What would you or I have done had we been there?  But the more I think about this scene, I can’t help but wonder how Jesus really feels about it all.

What did Jesus do?  “…He waves them back.  Not yet; He cannot now receive the coronet of glory and the royal robe.  He enters into the presence of His Father.  He points to His wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet; He lifts His hands, bearing the print of nails.  He points to the tokens of His triumph; He presents to God the wave sheaf, those raised with Him as representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming.  He approaches the Father, with whom there is joy over one sinner that repents; who rejoices over one with singing.  Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Father and the Son had united in a covenant to redeem man if he should be overcome by Satan.  They had clasped Their hands in a solemn pledge that Christ should become the surety for the human race.  This pledge Christ has fulfilled.  When upon the cross He cried out, “It is finished,” He addressed the Father.  The compact had been fully carried out.  Now He declares: Father, it is finished.  I have done Thy will, O My God.  I have completed the work of redemption.  If Thy justice is satisfied, “I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” John 19:30; 17:24. DA 834

Do you grasp that?  “I will that they also…be with Me where I am.”  Jesus had just returned to His Father, to His heavenly home, to His friends, the angels, with all their adoration, but what was in the forefront of His mind?  YOU and ME!  Would the Father accept the sacrifice?  Was it enough?  Can they be with Me?  Oh!  We really need to think about this and must grasp the significance of the statement from Desire of Ages!  Exiled from His home, His Father, His angel friends, and foremost on His mind is those who caused Him such torture.

He took upon Himself the nature of Adam, and the Bible teaches that this nature was “the seed of Abraham”, which means He was made of the same “stuff” that you and I are made of.  And because of this, He is our Brother, the “Elder Brother of our race.”  And because He is the Son of God, and the Son of Man, no matter where He is, so long as sin is an issue, He is in exile.  Can you imagine?  He is no longer omnipresent.  He is either with His heavenly family, or with His earthly family.  We know that the Holy Spirit represents Him here, but He, our flesh and blood Brother,…is gone from us now.

Do you have loved ones who have moved away from the rest of the family?  How does it feel?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have the entire family back together again?  Do you long for those occasions when the family is all together again?  So does He…”I will that they be with Me….”

Oh, friends, Jesus wants His entire family back together again, and He is planning a great family reunion.  He is exiled–separated from us.  You and I hold the key to ending that exile.  We hold the key to crowning our Brother King–to end this whole experience with sin.  How?  We are told here:  “It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, (2 Peter 3:12, margin).  Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel.  Quickly the last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain.” Christ’s Object Lessons 69

Isn’t this worth getting excited about?  It’s time to go home…and it’s up to us.

Rejuvelac–Homemade Probiotics!

Posted in Health and Healing on October 7th, 2014 by Danna Gesellchen — Be the first to comment!

My husband and I are attending medical missionary school in Tennessee this month and want to share part of what we are learning with you.   One of our classmates, Taasha Francis, demonstrated how to make Rejuvilac.   If you’re like me, and have never heard of this, please take the time to watch this very informative presentation.   But even if you have heard of it, this presentation is very thorough to show what Rejuvilac can do for those who suffer from digestive issues and need help with digestive enzymes, Vitamin B12, and probiotics.   The Lord’s ways of healing are very simple and very affordable!

The farmer across the way had just hit the power pole with his tractor and knocked out our power, so the lighting isn’t the greatest, but this is still a very valuable presentation!

A Candle in the Cave

Posted in Bible Topics on September 20th, 2014 by Danna Gesellchen — 2 Comments
Mammoth Cave Entrance

Mammoth Cave Entrance

My husband and I recently visited Mammoth Cave in Central Kentucky. Any attempted description of the magnitude of that place, and the intensity of the experience of being hundreds of feet within the earth falls dreadfully short of actually experiencing it–I won’t waste time trying. But there were several things about this experience that really gripped me that I’d like to share with you.

As we prepared to enter the cave, our guide, an African American gentleman, told us of how his forbears had been, by the law of imminent domain, ordered off their land–land that became part of the Mammoth Cave National Park. “My home was just over that ridge over there!”, as he pointed beyond the building that had become the hub of the park. He shared how his great-great grandfather, Mat Bransford, had been a slave tour guide for kings and dignitaries who wanted to experience the cave–an experience where the slave became master! He shared how his ancestors would enter deep within the bowels of the earth there to have “preaching service”, and escape from the sweltering August heat. One sermon was recorded to have lasted six hours!!

As we followed our guide hundreds of feet below the surface of the earth, he assured us that we really didn’t understand the true experience of the cave–as people of yesteryear did. But he did something to help us get a dim idea of what the cave is really like. He gathered our group around him, cautioned us to stand next to someone we knew, hushed us…and turned off all the lights.

Standing there in the cold and pitch black darkness gave an entirely different feel to the cave. I became very, very aware of every sound, and my eyes searched in vain for some bit of light. Could I find my way out of this place if he left me? Would I fall into some abyss–perhaps what the guides refer to as “the bottomless pit” (actually only about 100 feet)? I was completely at the mercy of this man I’d never met before that day.

But then our guide did something very interesting–something I’ll never forget! He lit a very small candle. The intensity of the darkness there in the bowels of the earth was sufficiently pressed back by one little candle so that I could make out the walls, the ceiling, and thankfully, the floor of the cave. I could faintly make out the faces of my fellow tourists. But most significantly, the light very clearly showed the face of my guide. To me at least, the spiritual reality of this moment was almost palpable.

I don’t think we really appreciate as we should the light that we have as a people, and I’ll tell you why. I believe it is because we don’t really realize just how dark this earth is–just like I had no concept of how dark that cave was until the guide shut off the lights. Neither do we realize the darkness coming upon this earth when the light of God’s Spirit is withdrawn. I know this because we are told that, “the ‘time of trouble such as never was,’ is soon to open upon us; and we shall need an experience which we do not now possess, and which many are too indolent to obtain. It is often the case that trouble is greater in anticipation than in reality; but this is not true of the crisis before us. The most vivid presentation cannot reach the magnitude of the ordeal. In that time of trial, every soul must stand for himself before God.” GC 622

There is another aspect of this experience that is etched in my mind. Being significantly hearing impaired, I quickly realized that if I was going to hear the instructions and teachings of our guide, I had to press my way close to the front of the group. I had to be near that man or I’d be left to follow the movements of the crowd. In that dim light, all of my senses were centered on that guide! Could this be why the Lord allows the darkness of trials in our lives? What a blessing! ( All trials that are received as educators will produce joy.” 6T 365)

How is it with you spiritually, friend? Are you pressing close to our Guide? Are you thinking you can see, when the Lord says that we really are blind? The spiritual lights in this world will soon be as distinct in the darkness as that candle in the cave. Will you be one of those lights? We know that it is at midnight — the darkest hour — that the cry goes forth to go out to meet the bridegroom! Are you prepared for the darkness ahead of us? Do you have oil in your lamp to lighten the path before you as the darkness intensifies? What are you doing to prepare?

I can tell you this much, I would have been in big trouble in Mammoth Cave if I had been without that guide. And I am convinced that our problem is that, in this world, we don’t really realize we are in just as much of a maze, in darkness even more intense, and completely dependent on our Guide than I was in that mammoth cave.

Get ready, brethren. It’s getting darker.

Just Like Jesus?

Posted in Bible Topics on September 7th, 2014 by Danna Gesellchen — 7 Comments

Hebrews 10:16

“It’s not a salvational issue.”, “That’s works!  We are saved by grace!”, “It was done at the cross!”, “That’s nit-picky.”, “It doesn’t matter what we eat. Jesus loves us!”,  “It doesn’t matter what we wear. Jesus loves us!”, “I’ve studied that issue out and I’m not convicted…!”, “I’m not going to die on that hill!”, “Don’t talk about standards, you’ll discourage people.  People just need Jesus!”, “We don’t need doctrine.”

The above and other questions sort of haunt me these days.  Honestly, they make me ashamed.  Do we “have” to obey?  Really? Having come into the faith in a very conservative environment, I naively thought all Seventh-day Adventists were like those around me.  It doesn’t take much exercise of the imagination to grasp my chagrin as I learned the truth.  But the conservative environment I was surrounded by was not a focus on Jesus, but on “do’s and don’ts”.  I became a really good legalist.  But in His mercy, God sent me a very dear friend who really loved and knew Jesus, to help me become thoroughly grounded in the faith–the faith of Jesus. (John 8:29).

Dawn loved Jesus like no one I had ever met before or sadly, since (may that change).  As we studied together, new scenes from the life of Jesus were presented in such a way that I HAD to know this Man (2 Corinthians 2:2).  Dawn had a gift for sharing from the Bible and Desire of Ages such scenes from the life of Jesus–in my flesh and blood–that I began to see how much He is identified with my struggles. (Hebrews 4:15).  She would be so happy as she shared that her joy was almost palpable!  Sadly though, my journey took some unfortunate byroads of self-endeavor because of the mindset I’d already adopted.

As the contrast between my own life and that of the loveliness of Jesus, presented and lived out before me day by day in the life and character of my friend, became more and more apparent I began to become very angry.  Why couldn’t I live like she lived?  Why couldn’t I love Jesus like she did?  Dawn was a faithful friend, and I knew she loved me because she would tell me the painful truth about myself, but stuck with me, always offering hope.  (Revelation 3:19).   I was determined to obey if it killed me…and it almost did.

My anger became violent.  So violent that my friends began to wonder if I was possessed, or at least oppressed by demons.  I wanted to do right but I couldn’t and it seemed it would drive me insane.  Then one day we got the diagnosis of breast cancer for Dawn–late stage 4 with three weeks to live.  I was devastated.  I really loved and cared for my friend, and the thought of her dying seemed to me to cut off my last hope of knowing Jesus.  But God knew better.

Shortly after we got the horrible diagnosis I was bringing in some things I’d purchased to help in caring for Dawn when something life changing happened.  Dawn was still able to walk and held the door for me.  As I entered, she said something to me and my response was the usual angry rebuff.  I turned to look at her and saw a tear in her eye and a gentle shaking of her head, followed by the words, “You are so selfish!”  (Luke 22:31-32).  I flew into a rage, but what came out of my mouth surprised us both.  “I don’t want you to be sick!”, “I don’t want you to die!”, and then I turned and pounded the wall so hard that I broke my finger.  I was angry with myself that I could not treat someone I cared so much for with kindness.  And now she was dying.

The air still thick with emotion and trembling from head to foot, I looked at Dawn and said, “I can’t do this!  I can’t live this life!”, and I fell to my knees.  For the first time in my life, I broke.  For the first time in my life I fully realized my helplessness.  For the first time in my life I fully surrendered.  I begged God to come in and help me.  He did, and my life did “a 180”–I am not that angry woman anymore, and haven’t been since.

As I looked up I could see in Dawn’s eyes that she recognized this was genuine. Thank God, He changed me!  He gave me “power steering” to go in the way of His commandments.  But it wasn’t until I was brought face to face with my own helplessness and wickedness that I finally broke.  (Jeremiah 3:12-14).   Until then, it was easy to blame circumstances, people, the standards, and even God for my failure.  It was the raising up of the standards–doctrines– that showed me my need.  The law brought me to Jesus. (Galatians 3:24).

Three weeks later I attended the funeral of this dear lady–somehow even mustering the courage to sing.  But those last three weeks taught me so much about the character of Jesus.  See, for more than thirteen years my friend had put up with my shenanigans and unkind treatments.  For more than thirteen years she showed me Jesus.  I had a living witness of the power of God for all those years, but do you know where I saw the greatest manifestation of His power?  It was in the final scenes of my friend’s life, when she suffered most.  Sound familiar? (Desire of Ages 83.4).   Now, don’t get me wrong, I give no power or real credit to my friend.  I know better.  She was made of the same stuff as me.  So was Jesus, Who is our Example.

As Dawn lay dying, what dumbfounded me the most was that she wanted ME to care for her.  It was me, the one who gave her the greatest grief, that she wanted to be there with her.  (Matthew 26:37,38).  My friend had become very much like Jesus, Who wanted His friends, including Peter, who hurt Him the most, near Him.  The light finally came on for me.  It was the realization of such complete forgiveness–from Jesus and beautifully reflected by Dawn–that deepened my repentance, set me free and empowered me to obey like I’d never imagined possible.  That’s Jesus.  Do you know this Jesus?  He is wonderful!  He not only transforms, He empowers.   And He wants us near Him–so we can be just like Him.