March 12, 2010
I had a dream. I dreamt that the street ministry here suddenly became really “popular” with local churches, and they organized a big get-together/ celebration/ whatever in some big hall. All kind of people were there, all dressed in their Sunday best. Pastor P, the street pastor, was supposed to speak, and everybody was very excited. But they were waiting and waiting, while the Pastors, in their suits and ties, were keeping him out of sight in endless meetings. So while the people were waiting, they decided to have the juice (kool-aid or some such) and snacks they had prepared, so I picked up a few cups of juice to take to Pastor P and the other Pastors – but people got mad at me, and took the cups away from me, because Pastor P (and the Pastors) were “special” and couldn’t be expected to drink just cheap juice out of paper cups like ordinary people (I was shocked – I was wondering what Pastor P would think if he knew what was going on….)
Then people were settling down for the speech that was supposed to be coming, so I and some other street ministry helpers sat down where there happened to be some space, which happened to be near the platform. Immediately people came and physically pushed us off the seats and made us stand at the back, because this get-together was apparently for “important” people who “support” Pastor P and the street ministry (it didn’t seem to be about money or helping or whatever, just “rah-rah rally” type support; and I have to admit, I was pretty ticked off because I though they should recognize that we were actual, faithful, helpers… and because their “support” seemed so shallow to me… oh dear…). Anyway, it seems that since we were just lowly hands-on-helpers of Pastor P, we weren’t worthy of sitting there….
Then I looked around and asked why no street people had been invited. The people looked a bit embarrassed, but seemed to think that street people wouldn’t be “comfortable” here, and after all, this was about Pastor P and his “ministry,” and besides, nobody really knew any of those people on the street, so how could they be expected to invite them? Since Pastor P was still obviously being trapped in meetings, I said maybe I could go and find some of the street church people. The people at the get-together said, “Well, I guess you could,” but I could see they weren’t very enthusiastic about it. But I went outside anyway – and then I woke up.
After I woke up, I wondered, “What was that about?” Was it a warning to me, because I was annoyed in the dream about how they treated me (and the other helpers), and I had wanted to be recognized as an important part of the street ministry? (Okay, obviously I needed to be warned about that attitude!). Was it a reminder I need to be absolutely humble? (Yep, I sure do need to be reminded about that… a lot… oh dear…). Was it a warning to not get “caught up in politics?” (Yes… but rather I must keep my eyes on Jesus!!! Off the world and its ways!!!).
[Pastor P said, the other day, to someone, words to this effect: “Norma won’t let me get dragged into doing things the church-y way,” and then he turned to me and said, “Will you?” And I laughed and said, “That would be the day I quit, if you started doing things that way!”] Hmm… just a dream???
My friend G wrote an email (to a group of people) a week ago. As it turned out, I didn’t even see it at all till 4 days later, and then circumstances interfered so that I didn’t have a chance to actually read it until just now (another 4 days later), just after writing that stuff about the dream. And Father – You knew I wasn’t prepared to read it till just now, didn’t You?!?!
G wrote: “I don’t have to understand the big picture. I only need to focus my eyes on Jesus, see what He seems to be up to today and follow Him. I know it sounds crazy, but whenever I do that I seem to have great clarity about what today holds, and doing that the future takes care of itself…
But I find it very difficult to do that as long as my focus is on myself and others…
The cross makes us all equal in the eyes of the Father. When we understand that we will never have a need to exalt ourselves over others or tear them down focusing on their weaknesses.”
[Maybe that dream is a message to me about my “self-exaltation” over others whom I see as not yet having reached a position – as I obviously think I have… - of turning away from “worldly ways” like hero-type-worship of “holy men” … and my own desire – which obviously still exists, though I keep thinking I’ve dealt with/ overcome (with Your help, I thought…), to be “recognized” … which of course means that deep down I am still caught in that trap myself… ]
G continues “And at the cross all the righteousness of the law has been met in us, so that we no longer have to live by rules, guidelines, expectations even principles. We are now free to serve in the newness of the Spirit where the only rule is, “Follow me!” And the one saying it is the one who loved us more than anyone else in all the world.
It’s hard to imagine what relationships look like when they are no longer steeped in competition, isn’t it? So many of our relationships even with other believers have been tainted by it. But the Scripture paints an incredible picture of believers who love, share, support, serve, give; without a need to gossip, envy or complain about what God is doing in others.”
[That’s where I want to be, Father… but it seems almost impossible to ever achieve – even, okay, especially – in myself! I have questioned over and over, “How could they act like that when they are believers?” And I’ve been pretty sure they are believers, and they do want to follow You… others have suggested to me that maybe they aren’t really believers, or that they have turned away, or something… but I can’t accept that… maybe because I see that same struggle in myself so much – and yet I know that I really to want to fully follow You! I see it in my “self-righteousness,” my feeling that I have somehow reached a higher level of “spiritual maturity” … and in things like my trying to stop – if not solve – all the arguments and stuff by presenting even more rules and regulations for them to try and follow… and my getting hurt when they apparently don’t listen to my advice… and my pride of apparently being able to maintain neutrality (but meanwhile, underneath, being frustrated, angry, hurt, sad, even gossiping – in attempted disguises – to the point of my becoming physically ill from all the “stress” )….
Papa, I want to really “be free to serve in the newness of the Spirit where the only rule is, ‘Follow me!’” So why does it seem so impossible? Every time I think I’ve taken another step in that direction (with You!), You show me – and sometimes it’s just so blatantly obvious that I see it myself – another area in which I am still enslaved, chained, foolish, caught up in the old worldly ways of selfishness and, yes, competition…]
G also wrote [but I skipped over it, thinking it didn’t apply to me… or more likely, I’ve not wanted to face the very distinct reality that it does apply to me…]: “But I find it very difficult to do that as long as my focus is on myself and others… I’m battling… the superiority complex of accentuating God’s grace in my life and focusing on others’ flesh. The fact that I’m even trying to find wisdom in comparison is the problem…. by doing so I…miss out on the marvelous purpose of God unfolding in our lives and people around us.”
[I also skipped over that paragraph because I saw the line, “… I’m battling an inferiority complex based on viewing my own failures and other people’s strengths” and I thought, “Well, I’m past that.” But maybe I’m not. Maybe my superiority complex is an attempt to deny or bury an inferiority complex! I wouldn’t be surprised… I’ve always felt inferior – then superior, then inferior, then superior…. Oh dear…]
[So how do I get out of it?!?!?!?!?!?!?]
G wrote: “These kinds of relationship begin only in Father’s lap. I love how Paul expressed it: ‘For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth is joined.’ (Eph. 8:14-150. When we really understand Father’s love, competition no longer has any power over us. We can finally value in each other, what God values in us.”
[But Father! I have knelt and knelt and knelt! And I have come to experience and know and feel secure in Your love in ways I could never have imagined just a couple or three years back! And I do value in others what You value in us, in far greater measure than I could have imagined…. Which is why I have had such great sorrow in watching people disagree so strongly with each other, and is also why I cannot accept what some people say, that they mustn’t be really trying to follow You…. I see them trying so hard, and I long for them to just let go of the “trying” ….
Someone important in my life – funny, I can’t remember who! – used to tell me, often, when I’d tell them I was trying my hardest: “Don’t try! Just do!” And it hurt me to hear that, because I WAS trying my hardest, but still couldn’t get 100% (and that was about just every-day type things in life…)…
But Father, it seems to me now, after that dream, and then reading this email from G, that competition does still have power over me….
What do I do? I long to be in Your lap… I find myself there so often… but every time I think, “Oh thank goodness, I can rest, finally, in Papa’s lap!” I just end up seeing how much I am NOT there… and I begin to wonder if maybe I’m just totally navel-gazing, thinking way too much about myself and “my” relationship with You…
I don’t seem to know at all how to just “be quiet” and “be simple and have faith like a little child,” or know at all how to “just let it all go,” or know how, at all to “rest in Jesus.” Is resting in You actually just “emptying my mind and thoughts and heart” and becoming… I don’t know… empty? Denying what it sure seems to be to be how You created me (a mind that won’t stop and just “accept” … I’ve gotten in “trouble” all my life for refusing to just easily “accept” what I’m told… yes, even from You, sometimes…]
G wrote: “Our world values people who conform.” [Well, every time I’ve conformed, I’ve ended up frustrated with “the system” and longing to get out of it… But it seems so hard to “get out” when it seems like hardly anyone at all want to even consider that there might even be a problem…]
G wrote: “If we’re angry at God, don’t you think He’d rather have us be honest about it and work through it rather than hide behind meaningless words that do us no good?” [And boy oh boy, that has really been my experience with You… it’s been such an incredible joy and relief to just pour out my heart to You, no matter what… and You don’t ever make me feel like my words are meaningless, and You Yourself never reply with meaningless words, either… ]
[But, oh, Papa, it just seems like there’s hardly anybody else I can be honest with like that… without ending up being seen as a troublemaker or non-submissive or whatever… well, I guess that’s why I like the “street church community” … people seem to be more open and honest, mostly at least…]
G wrote: “A believing community is a confessing community. People are not posturing to be better than others, but letting God’s glory shine through their brokenness and failures… In our conversations and our prayers we can freely look at our failures and mistakes, knowing that He is at work to change us…
We might be well served to revisit the cross and remember how none of us have earned anything by our acts of righteousness. When we understand that, we can encourage others past the most painful obstacles into the fullness of life in Jesus.”
[Okay, yes, that is where I want to be. Please help me… and please help me to help others… and please help others to help me… and help me to accept that help…
I don’t know how this works… so I guess I just do have to leave it up to You… even more…. and I have to figure out how to leave my “trying my best” behind … and just let “You do!” in me, through me… hard as that is for me, eh… Help? Please?!!?]
[Thank You. Again. And again, and again….] Amen!