Tuesday, 16 June 2009

dreaming GOD'S dreams and visions

Up at my cousin's place, which also has a bit of pine forest, but also lots of well-watered fields around their place (which would hopefully impede any fire), it smelled wonderful, bringing Pine Grove family Bible camp to mind. I sometimes wonder why it had to come to an end... but Papa, You know best. You know I dreamed of being part of an intentional community, of people gathering to bring healing to others through Your mercy and care lived out by Your people in unity with You... in a setting like that beautiful camp... maybe in that particular setting, even...

Papa, there used to be this big "visioning" thing a few years back, when we were told to dream our dreams and then to trust You for them... but Papa, number one, I saw a lot of "big-time dreamers" fall... and number two, I don't see that in Your Word, either. It sounds to me more like the "American dream" than "God's dream" ... and no, I really don't think those two things are the same at all!

Yes, Joel prophesied, and Peter proclaimed the fulfillment that "it shall be in the last days, God says, That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams...." (Acts 2:17)... but Father, that wasn't "our dreams/ my dream" ... those are speaking of prophetic dreams and visions... and when one reads of such dreams and visions in scripture, not only are they given by God (not self-dreamed by us), who has poured out His Holy Spirit on people whom He has made righteous (for example, in Isaiah's case, by the coal on his lips from the altar in the heavenly throne room of God; in the case of the apostles, by the shed blood of Jesus redeeming those who have believed), but they are messages not only of glory (future glory, always brought by God - His glory) and they are dependent upon our response to warnings to truly repent and turn back to God and love Him and obey Him (with dire warning of terrible destruction for those who fail to do so!).

Yes, we humans - even we believers - often "dream" grand visions of great amazing ways we can help others, love them with the love of Christ, proclaim the gospel to them... by raising great programs and projects and outreaches and such... and while our "motives" I suppose are "noble" at least to some degree, I don't see in the scriptural record any "dreams" that worked that way (except maybe David's dream of a magnificent temple for God... who as it turned out wouldn't let him do it, but allowed his son Solomon to do it... and then look what became of that magnificent temple within such a short time period, for, as even Solomon admitted at the temple's dedication, "But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built." (2 Chron 6:18).

No, the prophetic dreams in the Bible - Old and New Testaments both - were God speaking, calling, begging His people to return to Him, to return to righteousness, to repent, to fully turn from their sins and walk with God in new life, the life Jesus came to bring! Always, it is God's speech, not man's ideas. Always it is God's work, and man is simply called to hear His voice, and to turn and to fully participate in the eternal work God already has in progress, whose purpose and end is sure and already complete and victorious in Christ.

We are called to dream, to envision, righteousness among all people, the restoration of God's design for humanity, as it was before we chose to turn from Him and go our own way... before we chose to go the enemy's way. We are being called to walk in the garden with God, in perfect relationship, as Adam and Eve did before their fatal decision to disobey (Gen 3). Yes, we dream utopian dreams - even non-believers dream these kinds of dreams - of a perfect, uncorrupted world and society - for deep inside each of us is the memory (sense, consciousness, call from God to return to Him) of what and who God created us to be.

But then we go on to "dream" of "how we can make this happen"... and while God does use "practical" means (Jesus Himself healed, physically, emotionally, spiritually; and fed the people and calmed the storms... and both Old Covenant Law and the New Covenant church cared for the poor and the foreigners, and sought to live righteous lives, and shared their goods with one another, and so on) - we, after all, are creatures of flesh, and this is a hands-on, touchable world. His call is first of all to inner, spiritual transformation, without which those "practical means" can only be temporary and will quickly become corrupted and cast aside and destroyed - just as Solomon's beautiful temple was.
As Jesus told the woman at the well (John 4), "whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life" (verse 14); and, "an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (verses 23-24). The work is God's, the methods are God's, He has given us freely of His Spirit and His Word (His written revelation AND His Son!). We just need to truly repent, to truly turn to Him, to accept the salvation Jesus' sacrifice on the cross has provided, to truly walk with Him daily, literally abiding in Him moment by moment, seeking His face, conversing with Him (prayer), sacrificing our own desires and ways in the process (which is where, I believe, the repentence and humility of fasting comes in...is that right?). And as we do, we will learn to hear His voice, respond to Him in obedience and love, see the world as He sees it - "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). And in that process, that true life, that walk in the garden with our Creator and eternal loving Father, His "dreams" (His sure eternal plans and purposes) will also become ours:

our dreams and visions, from and in - abiding in - Him, and He will lead us into the practical ways He has determined and prepared for each of us individually and as His family, Christ's body, the church (local and universal) to work toward His final realization of His dreams in practical ways, even on this beautiful (practical, hands-on) earth He created for us, His creation (for whom, in His love,He has given all (He has given Himself!) to restore the Eden - to create the "new heavens and new earth," an earth which includes both the perfect physical home and the perfect full relationship with Him, that He intended before He ever created it and us!

So... (thank You, Papa.... this writing surely is from You, isn't it? I did not have it in mind at all when I started writing, and it contains much that is "new to me." All I had when I started was questions and wonderings... about what it is You want from me/ us, where You want me/us, why it seems like we wait and wait and don't receive any great "vision" of a "great work" You have for us to do, why it feels to me like I am a failure and never seem to really bring anyone to You, how it can be that my "work" at this time should be just making fry bread and cookies and being kind of shyly friendly (and why You don't seem to give me the courage - BOLDNESS - I've kept asking for - aka Josh 1: 7-9... though that simple word to me from Your through Your servant - "mighty (valiant) warrior" (from Judges 6:12) - has never left my heart!), and so on and on... well, I sat down to write down my questions to You... but before I could think them clearly enough to write them down, You spoke these words - Your Word! - to my spirit through Your Holy Spirit! Thank You, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit (Sarayu - wind of God, blowing in my heart!) - my Lord and my God! Praise Your Holy Name! Thank You! Wow!

Again yesterday someone asked me, "What are you doing these days?" and again I told them about writing and illustrating the family story... and the small, little things I am "doing" for this very informal "street ministry" as You give me the opportunities... and yet I actually found myself wondering, "But am I really doing anything? It seems so small... and maybe inconsequential..." and I found myself really feeling (and speaking) defensively about it because I could "see" how other people see it and think maybe like I'm just wasting time and talent (not to mention not contributing to the family coffers - and church tithe... oh dear...).

Father, are You also asking me to de-dream, to de-vision... as You have already asked me to de-systematize (de-school, de-church, de-be-self-sufficient, etc etc etc)? So that You can completely replace MY dreams and visions with YOURS? My ways with Your ways? My timing and impatience with Your eternal purposes and great amazing loving patience ("The LORD is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentence" 2 Peter 3:9)?

(How amazing! You have brought all these scriptures together for me in just the past few days, in my "daily reading"... unplanned by me, but totally planned and executed by You! Amazing, wonderful, awesome God! Thank You!)

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