Sometimes I go through long stretches of feeling like I have learned absolutely nothing. This feeling is probably an illusion at best and a tool to humble me at worst. I would hate to think that God uses dry spells to humble a person, but if I’m honest I would have to admit that the strategy works quite well! Most seasoned folk of the Christian faith understand that spiritual growth is mostly behind the scenes anyway; meaning, we are probably growing without our recognizing it. Anyway, I have felt a bit stupid lately, or hard-headed, or left out in the rain, or maybe a combination of all of the above. But as usual, the Lord comes storming into my reality with a cacophony of messages that have echoed the same, incredible truth.
I simply must share this revelation. First of all, I promised my Walking in the Spirit class that I would share the dream (I didn’t want to take up class time with it). Secondly, all of my blog readers deserve my best and I must make good on my promise to “live out loud”. Lastly, if I don’t write it down, I am liable to forget it…remember, I’m mostly a foolish and forgetful man with a dash of heavenly grace enabling me to effectively stumble into eternity!
This dream started with me sitting in a chair, like a witness in a courtroom. I was not there to be a witness; I was there to be judged. The people sitting in the courtroom were people from my past and present. Each person in turn began to hurl accusations and admonishments at me in rapid succession. Some of what I was being accused of was simply false, but most of it was true. That is what hurt the most: they were mostly right and in fact the ones closest to me were indeed spot-on in their assessment of my wretchedness!
What I want you to know is that this was a nightmare at this particular stage of the dream. I could feel my heart about to burst, I felt as low as a person could feel, and I was riddled with guilt, shame, and an inability to respond. I had no words; more specifically, I wanted to defend myself but could not speak. I hate that aspect of dreams sometimes, don’t you!? The two awful things to me in dreams are the inability to run and the inability to speak. So I was trapped in this courtroom being absolutely beaten up without the ability to express my sorrow, my defense, or my apologies. This went on it seemed for a long, long time.
Then something happened. The back door to the courtroom swung open and Jesus walked slowly to the front of the courtroom. He wasn’t looking at me as He made His way up to the area where I was seated; He was looking at each person individually as they looked at Him. He didn’t seem angry or judgmental towards them; He just met with each person’s eyes. When He got to the front, He turned and looked out over the whole of the courtroom. All I could see was His back.
At this point, I assumed He was there to come to my defense; I waited for Him to start a sermon with, “He who is without sin can cast the first stone”. I waited for Him to chastise my accusers and give a little perspective. He did nothing of the sort. After taking His time and looking to and fro, He slowly turned around and looked me square in the eyes. Oh crap, I think He is going to join in and begin to accuse me as well! I could not take my eyes off of His. Then He said the sweetest words I think I have ever heard in all of my life (dreams or otherwise). He said, “I love you.”
I understand that this does not sound revelatory to you as a reader, but you must comprehend the weight of the words. The words were His response to my being accused. The answer, or rather the defense, to the fiasco in the courtroom was simply that all that mattered was the fact that He loved me…ME! It was personal, it was glorious, and it was full-blown grace. When all that can be thrown at you has been thrown at you, the only thing that matters in the end is that we are deeply, truly, personally loved by the One that laid His life down for us! That’s all that matters in the judgment seat! A weight just flew off of me and my spirit began to soar; I had just been set free! I was so overwhelmed with this feeling of being loved and the tangible essence of grace and mercy that I began to cry tears of joy.
I woke up with tears in my eyes and a wet spot on my pillow. Praise you Jesus…I love you too and oh so much it literally hurts my heart.
MY DAUGHTER’S EPIPHANY
Ok, now that the table is set…On the same day, Sunday as it were, I took my daughter to church. Just so you know, we have several churches and my family sometimes rolls together, sometimes apart, and we mix it up depending on how we feel moved. This is not a bad thing I can assure you! But this particular Sunday, my wife and son decided to go to a large church known for its musical productions, and my daughter and I decided to go to my small, intimate service.
For reasons unknown (yeah, right), all of the kids were out either because they were out of town or sick, so my daughter was the only child there. Bummer, right? Oh no my friends, this was simply an opportunity, an opportunity to fellowship with a precious woman I will call M. Now M loves kids like nobody I know; M lives and breathes to minister to children; M is one of my favorite people on this hunk of rock we call Earth! Anyway, they just had Sunday School downstairs, just the two of them, while we did church upstairs.
At the end of the service, my daughter rejoined us upstairs for the final part of the service. We end on a lovely note; we end our service with worship. So as she sat down beside me she whispered to me, “I learned something today.” I whispered back, “Really? Do tell.”
Before I give you her reply, I want you to know that this is kind of a dad thing, the whole “what did you learn today?” thing. After every service, I ask my children what they learned and invite them to share with me their insights and gleanings. By the way, if you have children and don’t do this, I highly recommend this simple yet effective strategy of solidifying their understanding of spiritual truths. So you must understand that her offering up this notion of “I learned something” must have meant that it was sufficiently profound, as usually I have to prompt the conversation and the conversation usually happens after church and not in the middle of worship!
She leaned over and said, “I learned that everything that is created was created out of love.”
I have to admit at that particular moment I considered this to be an abstract notion, a whimsical yet sweet statement, and something that would require a bit more explanation. On our way back home, I asked her what she meant. In a very matter-of-fact way she stated (I’m paraphrasing here) that God would not create anything unless it was out of love because the Bible says that God IS love. He couldn’t create from Himself out of any other motive but love. I still just didn’t get it. A nice notion, but my theological neurons were firing too loudly for me to hear the simple beauty in this statement. But don’t lose hope; God wasn’t done with me yet! Remember, I just had this ridiculously liberating, divine dream of Christ’s love for me that morning. But I didn’t make the connection. Like I said, I am dense most of the time. Thank God for His patience and mercy!
That evening in our Walking in the Spirit class, M brought up the fact and shared with the class that she and my daughter had been led by the Spirit into an amazing truth: That all things created are created out of love. Here is where I missed something: I thought that M had taught this to my daughter; I had no idea they worked it out together. How interesting I thought. The class responded well to the discovery, but yes you guessed it…I still didn’t get it.
I should have named this section “God Beating Me Over the Head”, but I thought that might drive some away. All kidding aside, I must tell you that when I finally DID get this revelation it was quite simply amazing. When the Spirit revealed to me the core of the revelation, I could hardly bear it!
Every now and again I have to be alone; I mean like alone, alone. I have to withdraw from everyone and everything. I’m not sure whether this is a neurosis or a genetic disposition; but sometimes I feel I will explode if I don’t have some real alone time with God. Now don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of alone time throughout a typical week, but it just isn’t the same. Because the hotel rates are so ridiculously low this time of year (November) along the South Carolina coast, I decided to visit Myrtle Beach.
On my first evening (I arrived at the hotel right at sunset) I checked in, tossed my luggage into the room, and headed straight down to the beach. People who know me better than most will tell you that the ocean is my soul-mate. I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way (love you honey), but rather I feel most at home when I am at the edge of the ocean. I’m sure many if not most people feel this way. There is just something about the sights, sounds, smells, and activity of the ocean that makes my soul sensitive to the eternal and infinite.
It was a lovely sunset. The air was humid and warm, the sky was clear and tinged with orange and yellow, it was quiet except for the waves, and best of all I was the only one on the beach for miles! I walked for a while and then turned and sat down on the soft sand to stare into the waves. This is when I finally got it.
Spiritual truths are hard if not impossible to express in words, but I will do my best. The revelation I had in my spirit was that all of nature and creation is pointed in our direction; all that is created is a postcard, a love-letter, a revealing of God’s love for us. What made me reel in awe was that God loves us so much that He created the entire natural world as a sign to point us to His unending love for us! I don’t know about you, but this epiphany about did me in right there on the beach…I was ready to meet Him face-to-face at that exact moment. Now all you scientists out there just shut your brain for a minute; even a scientist in his or her best efforts can never ever even approach the question of why, let alone the answer. We know a little about the how, we think we know enough about the when, we are still scraping the surface of the what, but if a person was completely honest they would have to throw their arms up and admit that nobody scientifically knows the why! Why does the universe exist, why does this planet have life, why am I here, and why do I even contemplate the why?
I KNOW THE WHY!!! MY DAUGHTER KNOWS THE WHY!!! AND EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD KNOW THE WHY!!!
The reason is that all, and I mean all, that is created is the wooing of a God that loves us. I simply cannot fathom the depths of this truth; I just know that it is true. Think of it this way: when autumn puts on its full array of colors, that is a painting just for you to enjoy…pointing you to the One that created it; when the waves break on the seashore, the lullaby that is created is a song written just for you…pointing you to the One that created it; even the love we have for one another is but a small taste of a love that was created…pointing you to the One that created it!
CONCLUSION AND EXHORTATION
So my dream hit me personally, my daughter and M hit the theology of creation, and the Spirit on the beach tied it all together…now I share it with you.
The issue is whether you believe this to be a true revelation or whether you think I am full of proverbial bologna. I know it hurt my brain when I first contemplated it because we all feel so unworthy. We just aren’t worth all the effort…are we?! How can we treat God so badly and yet Him still be so in love with us!? That is why I couldn’t hear what my daughter was trying to say: I simply did not have the ears to hear. But now I get it and I hope this reminder will leave an impression with you. If you don’t believe me in this, then pray about it and ask the Spirit to reveal it to you personally.
By the way, this revelation quickened a poem out of me. The name of the poem is “What If…” and you can read it by clicking on the title.
I will leave you with this: I am convinced that the only way to truly be changed, the only perfect way to salvation, and the only thing we each need is the revelation that the Lord loves us. I don’t mean in some intellectual capacity, I don’t mean in “the Bible tells me so” way, I don’t mean an emotional stirring by a preacher way…I mean in a personal, good old-fashioned revelation. If a person seeks the Lord, then He will manifest Himself to that person or rather reveal Himself to that person. The most powerful revelation of God is the revelation of His love. Once you encounter that love above all loves, you cannot help but to be changed…forever. The ability to live a victorious life comes from that love, the strength to traverse the difficult times comes from that love, and anything worth having or striving for is born out of that love. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! My job as a Christian is to point in the direction of God, hoping that each person will find God’s love, for that is the only force in the universe that can save a soul.
Be blessed, be creative, be brave, and be beautiful,