Graham Snow - Collossians 3:1 - Cape Town, South Africa - December 29, 1998

A little boy came to one of the South African workers at Magaliesburg convention and said that Uncle Snow White speaks too long - I hope you will not also feel like that this evening! Coming here to South Africa has a special meaning for me, as it is tied up with my testimony. My grandparents had a little shop in Ireland, and this little shop was boycotted for 7 months - that was a long time and brought a struggle in their lives. (This happened as a result of my grandparents making their choice to serve God in 1907.) After that, they decided to leave Ireland and go to New Zealand. They got onto a ship in England and came down the coast towards the Cape of Good Hope. That was in 1914. When they arrived there, war had just been declared. They could have stayed there, and I would have grown up a South African, but they didn't, they decided to move on to New Zealand. At that time, my mother was 4 years old. There were other brothers and sisters, too.

 

I'd like to read to you from Collossians 3:1, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." In our field, there had to be a few changes made and although there was a home there that we felt was very worthy of a Sunday morning meeting, because of a circumstance, I was going to have to ask that couple to rather travel to another area where there was a need. It was about 10 kilometres away over a little hill. So I approached the elder of the meeting and asked him if he would mind. I will never forget his reply - he said, "Graham, I have learnt over the years that 'There is no gain but by a loss' (In the German language it is like this, 'Loss alone brings gain')." I was so touched by his response. Later, this elder told me that a few years back he and his family had been involved in a dispute over an inheritance and he said he had fought desperately for the rights of the family but after some time he'd realised that, "There is no gain but by a loss," and he said after he was willing to take the loss, he realised that he had never stopped gaining. God wants to teach us how to take a loss so that we may gain or profit spiritually.

 

''If ye be risen..." We've all fallen into the ground and died, but how much of this risen Christ is there in us? In the book of Acts, we read of many messages of the disciples, and you'll notice they are mostly messages of the resurrection. To preach the risen Christ, is what I always encourage my companions to do. We need to do this over and over, to realise that He was resurrected.

 

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, with the nails through His hands and through His feet, He cried out to His Father. We read of Him throughout the gospels always speaking to and about His Father. Now, for the first time, He said, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Jesus just could not bear to realise that His Father's face was turned away from Him. All to give us salvation. And this is also the first time we read of Jesus saying, "Why?" Before this, He had never questioned His Father's will, and now in the worst time of His life, He posed that question, "Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" We can have so many questions in our lives - "Why me?" "Why this?" or "Why that?" If we had more faith like Jesus had, we would have less questions.

 

On this earth, there was never a man who lived like Jesus did - never a man who spoke like Jesus did - never a man who taught like Jesus did - never a man who died like Jesus did - and never a man who rose like Jesus did. All that Jesus said, lived and did on this earth, even His death would all be in vain if there had been no resurrection.

 

In Proverbs 11 there is a verse (171) that says, "The merciful man doeth good to his own soul." I've appreciated this verse very much, many times. We think we're doing the other person good by showing mercy, but actually it is to ourselves we're doing good. David showed mercy to Saul, not only once, but many times. And he would have been very glad for this later on when he himself needed mercy. "Love your neighbour," here we have the same thing. When we love others, we are the benefactors.

 

In James 2:13 we read, "For He shall have judgement without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgement." In the German Bible it says, "Mercy triumpheth over judgement." I like that - mercy wins every time. If mercy and judgement come to blows, mercy always wins. Jesus prayed, "Father forgive them." No one ever spoke like this man, no one ever lived or died like Him, and if Christ had never risen, we would not have been here.

 

I've been thinking of Jonah. He was sent to that great city Nineveh to preach to all those people. I do not know what he preached; it does not tell us, but I am sure he would have preached about his experiences on the boat, the terrible storm, how he had been thrown into that stormy sea, and as he was sinking down, about that great fish that was there, and swallowed him up. And then after 3 days in the fish, it coughed or vomited him up. I'm sure that is what he would have preached about. The people who were listening to him, would have had every right to disbelieve his words, "How can this be?" "Did anyone see what happened?" "Was there any witness?" "No," Jonah would have said, "No, there was no witness." Only through having great faith could they have believed what Jonah was telling them. And that is the same with the resurrection of Jesus, it is only through having great faith that we can believe the story of Jesus' resurrection, as there were no witnesses. Like Jonah went down, down, down into that stormy water, circumstances can drag us down too. Great is the person who is able to rise above all this. I like to look at a carpet or mat. On the top is a beautiful pattern or picture. But, turn it over, and all you see is just a mixture of different threads, a criss-crossing of lots of different threads. That is how we see things, as we only see from below. But we must rise above and see as God sees from above. This is only possible if we're risen with Christ.

 

There was once a farmer who had fields, a home, barns, and animals on his farm. One day, he noticed an aeroplane circling his farm quite a few times and he wondered what it was doing. Three weeks later, he received a large envelope in the post with some photographs in it. On looking at them, he just could not understand what this was all about. He saw a house, he saw barns, fields, and even some animals - and then suddenly, he realised that that was his house, his barns, his fields, and his animals, but this was the first time he was seeing them from above, the first time he was getting a bird's eye view. And it all looked so different. The same as that carpet or mat, the view is so different when we see things from below or from above. Try and do this; try and always see things from above. This too, is only possible if we're risen with Christ.

 

When Saul died, a messenger, an Amalakite ran to David to bring him this news, he thought he was bringing him wonderful news. He said, "I saw..." He saw that Saul could not rise again. Have you ever heard that voice telling you that you cannot rise again? Have you ever felt like that? And have you ever felt, "Don't even bother trying?" That was so different to the prodigal son. He said to himself, "I will arise and go to my Father." This son could not have sunk lower in life. The swine were despised animals, low animals, and he had sunk lower than the lowest. But he rose again, he went to his Father. If we can only say that, even if we' re sunken in sin. If we can get to our knees, our Father will help us to our feet. Have you ever heard that saying, "Everyone makes firewood from a fallen tree." When you see someone has fallen, don't break him further, don't make firewood of him, try and help him up, help him to get to his knees so that the Father can help him further. This is the message of a risen man.


Simeon - when the little child Jesus was brought to him in the temple that day, he said to Mary his mother, "Behold this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel." Do you notice the order in which this is said? "The fall and rising" - quite different from the way it is in the world. In this world, we see the rise and fall of different empires, like the Roman Empire for instance, the rise and fall (of kingdoms, the rise and fall of the nations first the rise, then the fall). But not with Jesus - Jesus is there for the fall first and then the rise. For the fallen, to help them to their feet again. And that is what Simeon saw that day. One of the South African brother workers once said to his younger companion who was just starting out in the work, "You start at the bottom and keep on going down." And that is true. Fruit on a tree - the seed falls down, then the tree rises with the fruit on it. A building - they have to dig down very deep for the foundations first, then they can start going up with the building. The day will come when we will rise.

 

One day, I went for a walk up a little hill, and on top of this little hill there was a fortress. While standing on top of that little hill, I looked around me and noticed on other little hills there were other fortresses. And there on top of that little hill, I could see everything around me. In days of fighting, the enemy would have been able to be seen all around, and while it was still coming, it could have been attacked. Because they were higher than their enemy. It would have been hard work to get up but it was worth it, as then the enemy, being lower, had no chance to attack them. I do not find it easy to get up early in the mornings. Often I am up and dressed, but Graham is still lying in bed. I must get up in the mornings, as this is the worst time of the day for me. If I remain lying there, I find myself getting very low as I begin worrying about all the problems, about different things that are not right, about my own personal trials. And I just get lower and lower, so for me the best thing is to rise on awakening, and get onto my knees and pray, to read and to meditate. That helps me. Life is full of stress and negative things, poverty, unemployment - but those are things we must rise above.

 

Saul that was called Paul, was happy to be doing wrong, until he met Jesus. I don't know, but I think in that moment when the light shone, and he heard that voice, the reason why he said, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me do?" was because he suddenly realised, "All that I've been doing was completely unacceptable, I've made a terrible mistake, I've made a complete mess of my whole life." Everything was wrong. But all that Jesus just said to him was, "Arise." We have the same message in the Old Testament. Joshua 1:2, Joshua was standing before the Jordan river. He had all the people with him. The river was full, was overflowing its banks. The waters were deep, strong, swirling, swiftly down. He would have wondered how he could ever get across that Jordan that day. He would have thought to maybe rather return when the waters were less, in another season when the river would have been lower, emptier. But no, that is not what God wanted, God said, "Therefore arise, go over this Jordan." And now. It all seemed so impossible, but God would be with them and that could make the impossible possible. Everyone of us has a Jordan to cross in our lives, and sometimes many more than one!

 

I want to tell you a story, a true story about a couple I knew in Switzerland. They were both professing before they married, and they both desired to have an open home after their marriage. Especially the little woman, as she had grown up in a divided home. They got married. And soon afterwards the man started reading other things like science, philosophy, etc. etc. - and he lost his faith. As time went on, he got further and further away. And eventually, when I had a meal there one day, he did not even say grace, he forbade it. He just went from bad to worse. In this marriage, there were two small children. Eventually, that woman came to the workers and said that she would not be coming to any of the meetings for a while; this was her husband's request. A year later, he did not even want her anymore and told her to get out as there was someone else. She had lost all. Salvation and marriage.

 

Every year, I went to visit her. She was so bitter. She was so hurt. Therefore, she just could not cross her Jordan. And so years and years passed by. One day on my usual annual visit, she said that her children were now asking her about God. And she did not know how to answer them. I asked her a question, and told her to think about it, and let me know in a week's time. The question was, "If you would like us to come and have little meetings here once a week to tell your children about God, you can let us know." In exactly one week's time the reply came, "Yes, come!" We started little meetings there in that home for those two children, and that mother came, as well as the grandmother. We tried to keep them simple, telling the children about God. We continued for a couple of weeks, and eventually that mother took courage to arise again. She could now cross her Jordan. She had got over her hurt, her bitterness - and she could cross her Jordan.

 

[At this point Graham looked at his watch and said, "Uncle Snow White, you've done it again!!" Too long???!]

 

Joseph - we all know the story about his dream when he was still at home, where his sheaf arose on its own. Now we all know that it is impossible for at sheaf to rise and remain standing on its own. A sheaf always needs another, or others to lean against. Like a pen too, a pen just cannot stand on its own, it needs something or someone to support it, or hold it up. But Joseph's sheaf STOOD, and it stood alone. There was an invisible Hand holding it from above.

 

In Genesis 49, we read, "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall." We often hear this verse spoken of, of Joseph's fruit being the result of the well and the walls he had in his life. I've in different feeling regarding this. Satan tried to 'wall' him in - there were the walls of the pit, the walls of Potiphar's home, the walls of the prison...the enemy really tried to 'wall' him in, BUT the higher the walls were around Joseph, the higher Joseph grew. He rose above all those walls, and his branches went over them.

 

Have you ever thought of a fruitful tree? A fruitful tree grows in 3 directions. Down, up, and around. Down, towards the foundation in search of water, living water. Up, towards the light, to God. And then around, to be able to reach out to others.

 

I want to tell you another little story, also a true story of a worker who planted a tree for a widow lady. Someone wrote this to me in a letter. She bought the little tree, and he dug the hole for it. Then he planted it for her, and filled up the hole. When all was done, she asked him whether he had put a bucket of water into the hole before planting the tree. "Yes," he replied, "I did." "Well, that was a mistake," she said, "You should not have done that at all. Now the roots will not make their way downwards and get strong as they have all that water there right by them!"

 

Collossians 3:3, "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Is that so with me? Is my life hid in Christ? Is there nothing of Graham showing when others look at me? Is it only Christ they see? For example, the roots of a plant are hidden in the soil, you can only see the soil.

 

I like to think of the eagle, it soars the highest of all the birds in the sky. High above the highest peaks. Someone said of the eagles - the little ones must be taught to fly on their own - as they stand on the edge of the nest to take their first flight, they need a push from the bigger one, as the fear of falling comes before the thrill of soaring. May we learn to rise above everything that would seek to drag us down.


**Not verbatim.