“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
As we have walked through this difficult season since my (David’s) diagnosis of cancer, the Lord is taking Karen and I into deeper depths in our relationship with Him and with each other. Karen’s primary call since coming to know her Messiah over 30 years ago, has been to lead others into the presence of the Lord through worship. After decades of public ministry, her role suddenly shifted a few months ago, as she took on the intense demands of being my primary caregiver. Both of us have been deeply impacted as well by our seven weeks at Oasis of Hope Hospital where we have had the privilege of walking through the “valley of the shadow of death” with patients and caregiver companions from all over the world, witnessing the tenderness of husbands sacrificially caring for wives, wives for husbands, mothers caring for daughters, sons caring for mothers, sisters and brothers and dear friends caring for one another.
When we arrived at Oasis of Hope we were so blessed to discover that the Director, Dr. Contreras, and many of his devoted staff, had a genuine love for Israel. The beautiful stone wall interior of the little chapel at Oasis was even inspired by the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem. Many of the patients and companions would insert their prayer requests written on slips of paper in between the stones, just as people do at the Wailing Wall. However, in contrast to the Wall in Jerusalem, there was a large, simple wooden cross mounted on it with a glowing light behind it. Whenever Karen could find a free moment, she would come into the little chapel and sit and pray right in front of the stone wall with the cross on it. Here are some of her experiences there which she just shared with our School of Ministry participants:
“As a Messianic Jew whose life has been devoted to reaching the Jewish people with the gospel, it was not often that I found myself standing in front of a cross. (Most of you know that for Jewish people, crosses and church buildings are painfully associated with Christian anti-Semitism, therefore most Messianic congregational buildings, including ours at Kehilat HaCarmel, intentionally do not have physical crosses present.) But one particularly difficult day when I needed to pour out my heart before the Lord, sitting there in the Oasis chapel, I felt riveted by that simple wooden cross on the wall and I began to hear in my spirit the words of Yeshua, ‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends’ (John 15:13). As His followers, His disciples, we, too, are called to lay down our lives sacrificially for our friends, our spouses, our brothers and sisters, to live a crucified life with Him, ‘no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me’ (Gal. 2:20). Hidden in Messiah, our lives are to be given over to His purposes for us, that we may say at all times from the depths of our being, ‘I delight to do Your will!’
As one who has been leading and teaching about worship for many years, during these recent months of being ‘hidden away’ from public ministry, and even away from my own keyboard, I have again asked myself the question: ‘What is worship?’ I love to worship the Lord with a song, but genuine worship is always foremost about Abraham putting his Isaac on the altar, about being a living sacrifice for the Lord, when every action, every simple act of service, becomes our worship unto Him.
When I met my husband many years ago and the Lord began pouring into my heart His unconditional love for David, I remember lying in bed one night, and the Lord asked me, ‘Will you marry this man, as your service, your ministry to Me?’ I said ‘Yes, Lord!’ Today, as David and I continue to walk together through our present valley, we are truly able to say, ‘I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Messiah who strengthens me (Phil. 4:11-13).’”
We are seeing the incredible beauty of His love and grace shining through the many acts of kindness poured out upon us through our precious brothers and sisters in the body of Messiah. We are deeply grateful to all of you. May we all continue to minister to and serve one another, with “every joint supplying,” with the strong bearing the burdens of the weak, the abundance of those that have supplying the needs of those in lack, comforting others with the comfort with which we ourselves have been comforted.
-- David and Karen Davis