30. Cutting the Covenant with God
Throughout our lives, we pass through the cutting open of everything that we are. It feels to us that everything inside is exposed, all our "secrets," nothing is hidden any more. We feel utterly cut apart in a shadow of darkness. Yet through those times, as we look back upon them, we see God, very clearly, walking between the pieces of our broken hearts.
30. Cutting the Covenant with God
I want to share, now, what God has only recently shown me really happened during my experience with Him at and just after Graham River Farm. I have remembered and written about these things, but only now know their significance.
First, I want to include a strange passage from the life of Abraham.
And he (Abraham) believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” And he said, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?”
So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him… And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram… Genesis 15:6-18
Paul makes Genesis 15:6 the foundation of the New Covenant. This strange experience between God and Abraham was the birthing of the New Covenant; it had nothing to do with the Old Covenant given through Moses.
In the same way that Abram fell into a deep sleep, so Christ fell into a “deep sleep” upon the cross. In the same way that the sacrifice was cut wide open, exposed for all to see, so God’s heart was ripped open upon the cross of Christ. Now, God could be seen by all.
It is by the passing through of this cut-open sacrifice that the covenant is made between the Father and the Son, and all who are found in Him.
God takes each one of us through a similar kind of experience. Our outward circumstances may be very different, but in the heavens, in the Spirit, inside of us, it is the same thing.
We pass through the cutting open of everything that we are throughout our lives. It feels to us that everything inside is exposed, all our “secrets,” nothing is hidden any more. We feel utterly cut apart in a shadow of darkness. Yet through those times, as we look back upon them, we see God very clearly walking between the pieces of our broken hearts.
This experience is Holy. By the cutting of the Covenant, God plants His own ripped-open heart inside of ours.
Through the summer months of my time at Graham River, something really strange happened to me. Over and over, stretching over a period of several weeks, I kept hearing a phrase in my mind, my heart, my spirit, welling up, ringing in my ears. It was these words, “That the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed.” “That the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed.”
I did not know where those words came from or what they meant. Finally, I got out my concordance to find out.
Mary had just brought forth the life of God into the world. Her Son was eight days old, so she took Him up to Jerusalem from Bethlehem to offer Him to God in the temple and to be circumcised, as the law required. When she arrived at the temple, she was met by a priest by the name of Simeon, a very old man. God had spoken to Simeon years before that he would not die until he had seen the Christ of God with his own eyes.
Simeon, upon seeing this little manchild in Mary’s arms, his heart moved beyond what words could tell, looked straight into the woman’s eyes. His words were to her, not to the infant. He said, “A sword shall pierce through your own heart also, that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed.”
Yes, he was speaking of those six hours on a Friday, when Mary stood, as close to her Son as she could, watching the passion, the agony, and the death of her Child, never taking her eyes off of Him. Yes, he was speaking of a mother’s heart ripped open like no mother’s heart before or since.
But Simeon was speaking of far more. He was speaking of the cutting of the Covenant. He was speaking of you and me.
When I read those words in Luke, they stunned me, they scared me, they went right through me like a sword. I do not like pain, yet I seem to suffer more pain than most, pain that many do not know.
Next, I shared with you the experience of leaving Fort St. John on the Greyhound bus after those several months at Graham River. As the bus left the depot, the sense of judgment that had rested upon me for those entire nine months lifted. My spirit was raised up into joy.
As we drove through Pine Pass, on our way to Prince George, I heard these words from my Father. “You are My son.” They were precious words.
I continued on in the joy of those words until we arrived at the bus depot in Prince George. As I walked through the station waiting for my next bus south to Vancouver, something extraordinary happened inside of me. Without warning, great fear came upon me. This was not any kind of demonic or human fear. It was Holy; it was the fear of the immanence of Almighty God.
I could not remain in sight of the public. I was trembling from head to foot. Not knowing what to do, I went into the men’s room and into a toilet stall, finally finding privacy. I sat down on the closed toilet seat.
The fear of God rested upon me. Out of that fear came the words, “Will you give yourself to Me without reservation or holding back.”
My heart was wide open. All my desire, all the secret places.
“Yes, Lord.” I said.
The fear lifted. Peace returned, and I continued on south towards Oregon with the peace and joy continuing, a bit more sober, yes, but also more real.
I will not go into the detail of the next several months as I did concerning my time at Graham. I eventually made my way down to Bowens Mill, Georgia, by June where I helped finish the new convention center in time for the first Bowens Mill convention in July, 1978. After that, I spent three months at a Christian community in Florida, called Citra. Citra was Sam Fife’s farm, so I had the opportunity to interact with him personally, and to see him up close for a few weeks.
I discovered that Sam Fife was a silly little man, one whom no one would follow. I also saw that the source of the anointing upon him was the single-minded passion for the revelation of Jesus Christ in His people that gripped his heart.
Sam Fife, however, was completely sectarian, and thus I do not point you towards the words that he preached. That may well have been what was needed then; I know I needed a strong context in which to grow and to come out of my shell. But that is not what God is doing now.
I returned to Oregon for the month of November, and then drove back up to Graham River Farm for four more months, through March of 1979. My experience at Graham continued in a similar vein as what I have already shared.
The more than a year that I spent at Graham River Farm is etched more deeply into my heart than any other time of my life. Going back through and re-reading the account I shared with you in these pages, written in early 2002, re-awakens such a pathos, such a longing for something beyond, something glorious beyond measure, something more real than anything I have known, in its own way, before or since. When I returned to visit Graham years later, there was nothing in any way the same.
But there was to be one more encounter with God that would bring His dealings with me through Graham River to a close. This incident happened in May of 1979. Sam Fife had died in a plane accident in Guatemala on April 27, 1979. I learned of that news while visiting a move fellowship in Portland, Oregon.
Meanwhile, Dan and Joanne Kurtz had left Graham River Farm and the move. They had come down to Oregon with all of their children to stay with Joanne’s family in Oregon, between my home and Portland. It was about a two-hour drive for me to Portland. I got in touch with Dan Kurtz. There was a ministry from the move visiting the Portland group; since I was going, Dan wanted me to pick him up on the way and take him along. He wanted to converse with this brother. I did that, and we attended the service together.
Now, I want to set the entire background for the drive home from Portland.
In more than 18 years living in Christian community, the three months I spent living with the Kurtz’s were the most precious. Their home was a place of joy and peace, a place of safety for me like nothing I have known before or since. I loved Dan and Joanne and their family. I went way out of my way years later to find them in Ohio. The peace and the goodness of their hearts and home was unchanged.
At this point in time, I had lived nearly two years in Christian community, three different communities with very differing experiences. I had become acquainted with many hundreds of committed, godly believers. I had attended six move conventions, sitting under countless hours of word. Through this time, God had spoken to me over and over; He had opened His word to me and taught me many wondrous things. I had tasted of the throne room of God; I had seen His glory upon His people.
At the same time, God had tested me concerning His word. During those months, I had committed my heart and life without reservation to the revelation of Jesus Christ in His people. And it was Dan Kurtz who had first spoken the word of Christ into my heart when, leaning on his pitch fork in the pig barn he had asked me, “Daniel, where is Christ?” And then answered his question by pointing at me with his rough finger, “He is in you.” Through those words, God had birthed in me the passion of His kingdom.
On the drive back from Portland, Dan shared with me why they had left the move. He spoke of wrongful things done in secret. He spoke against the word, against the ministry, against community, against everything I had come to embrace over the prior two years. His words stripped everything from me.
I dropped him off and continued on with more than an hour’s drive home yet ahead. It was dark, but the road was familiar to me, having driven it many times.
I was shattered. Everything I had embraced as holy, true, and of God was stripped away. There was nothing left. I drove for miles sobbing and empty.
Out of the depths of brokenness, out of the depths of my heart, out of the depths of Desire, I entered into a covenant with God.
“God,” I wept. “I do not know what is true. But I know this. I WILL know you in fullness upon this earth, and I will know a people who will know you in fullness upon this earth.”
Through that hour’s drive in the darkness, in the depth of the “sleep” of everything I had ever believed swept clean away, God laid my heart wide open before Himself – before my own eyes. I know what is my center; I know what is the definition of my life.
I will know God in fulness in this life and upon this earth. And —
I will know and walk with a people who know Him together in fulness in this life and upon this earth.
Life continued on over many years and over many experiences with God and His people. Though these four things surrounding my time at Graham River remained in my memory, yet they faded into the years as seemingly small, and maybe insignificant events.
Let me list them again.
• First, the word that came to me from Heaven. “A sword shall pierce through your own heart also, that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed.”
• Second, those most precious of words, “Daniel, you are My son.”
• Third, the fear of the Almighty and my full and unconditional surrender of will to Him.
• Fourth, the laid open emptiness, the exposure of the bottom-line of my existence, “I will know You; I will know a people who know You.”
Last week (as I wrote these words), I pulled the several chapters from a piece I wrote about nine years ago, the beginning of my attempt to put on paper the Great Story of God, into this volume, including the chapters concerning Graham River Farm. I read through them, editing and chopping. But again, the pathos of those months filled my soul.
Through the praise service at Lakewood Church on Sunday morning, April 17, 2011, I did not sing. My heart was lifted up into the heavens along with the anointed praise, yes, but the burden of God was upon me. I knew that something must come into my heart concerning these four things God took me through at Graham. There was much more going on inside me, things I will not share here, but that was one of them.
In the middle of that service, something shifted inside of me. What it was and what will unfold, I will certainly witness, I have no need to imagine beforehand.
Yet in the midst of that experience on Sunday, in a further cutting of the covenant as I have known it many times over the years, God in me reached back and seized hold of that series of experiences with Him when I was 20 and 21. Suddenly I saw them, for the first time, as what they really were.
I had thought of them as just some of an unending number of silly things I went through, a bumbling, naive, hurting, ambitious, autistic boy, longing to know the living God. They were that, but they were also so much more.
Through His word spoken into me, through the cutting open, and through the darkness, God entered into a covenant with me and I with Him.
I am not speaking of something outside of the normal Christian life. I am not speaking of something “elite.” I have no doubt that every single one called to this great marriage of Thirst and Desire has passed through something similar at some point in their walk with God. Similar in its reality, though most likely very different in the course of the human experience.
I first read of such a thing at age nineteen in Norman Grubb’s Reece Howells: Intercessor. The fire of that knowledge, that God and man can walk in union together, has never left me since.
I now go forward with a foundation and a personal certainty I have never known. I am no longer overly concerned about the fulfillment of my knowing God in fullness in this life or on this earth. That is a given.
The passion of desire that now grips my heart is focused on one thing alone. The revelation of Jesus Christ inside of His people, inside of you.
To see the gathering together of a people, sisters and brothers, elderly, youths, and little children, in one in Christ. Right here on this earth. Without measure or limitation of any kind. In all the fullness of Christ revealed, not in a bunch of individuals, but in a people.
The birthing of the age to come.
Nothing else exists for me. For this I live.
This IS my home.
My feet WILL find their way home.