I am compelled to share what happened to me recently. I have been very busy lately with work, life, and children. However, I have not put my relationship with the Lord on the backseat; on the contrary, I have placed Him first and foremost on the throne of my heart. When we are busy and don’t have a lot of time to spend in prayer and meditation, it makes that special time even more valuable. When life is moving at a slower pace, I can spend hours in the Word and in prayer and really savor the quiet time with our precious Lord; but when life is moving at light speed, we must be Christians of constant maintenance. I honestly believe that we all go through seasons in our lives and God can teach us through each of those seasons. We cannot reminisce on “how it used to be” but must focus on the here and now and what God can be for us in the present. If we believe that ALL things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose, then we must be willing to follow the leading cloud of His presence as it manifests in our different seasons. We, in our flesh, may prefer to worship, pray, meditate, and have a relationship with Him in a certain way, but our God is an infinitely diverse and creative personality. So we must keep our spiritual eyes open and truly embrace what it means to “wait upon the Lord”…just when you think that there is no possible way that God could be in our present situation, He shows up at just the right time! Sometimes that part of Him makes me embarrassed, sometimes it makes me feel unworthy, and sometimes it just makes me laugh with joy. I have learned that no matter how busy you are or how difficult life can be at times, if you just continue to praise Him, love Him, and believe that He will strengthen your faith, He will always come through!
The following is an account of a three day progression in which I received a vision from the Holy Spirit and the interpretation thereof. I know there are skeptics out there, but you have to realize…I used to be the skeptic of all skeptics, so I wouldn’t dare propose that this is divine if indeed it were not.
After a hard day “at the office”, I had been invited to the Fire Conference being held down at the Holiday Inn. I was tired from a long day, but decided that the conference was worth the investment of time. We had three fantastic speakers: the first preached on the importance of prayer and how our lives need to be centered upon prayer, the second preached on healing and how “by His stripes, we are healed”, and the third preached on the Holy Spirit as a fire for revival. All of these speakers were inspired and the atmosphere was thick with the anointing of the Holy Spirit and God’s glory. One thing that caught me off-guard was the second message which was concluded in a most unorthodox way: the preacher took off his belt, placed a wooden stool in front of the small crowd, and proceeded to explain how and why Jesus was beaten with the cat-of-nine-tails. He explained that He would have received 39 lashes as opposed to 40…because it was against Jewish law to beat anyone more than 40 lashes. After setting the scene, he began to methodically beat the wooden stool 39 times. I, at first, was aghast! “Oh for the love of God, please don’t do this to me!” I thought. I don’t much care for staged, emotional “special effects”, especially when it pertains to my Savior. I watched the movie, “The Passion of Christ” and made myself sit through it…but I did not enjoy it, if you know what I mean. So there he goes, “smack”…one, “smack”…two, “smack”…three. It was disturbing. Everyone was silent but you could hear the sound of the belt echoing down the halls of the Holiday Inn, you could hear the preacher’s breathing become labored by the 20th blow, and by the end of the exercise he was bellowing like a locomotive. It was over and my cheeks were wet with tears…he got me dang it! We sat in silence for what seemed to be an eternity and finally the third speaker made her way to the podium…
I attend a Bible study every Tuesday morning at 6:30am. It is by far the most blessed time I have with fellow Christians that I can ever remember. For whatever reason, the Holy Spirit ALWAYS shows up in a big way. I have told my wife that if we were to exit the church basement at 7:30am, that we could all hold hands and walk across the lake! Yes, it is that powerful. I have never left that church basement saying to myself, “Well, that was good, but it wasn’t as good as last week”, or “That was a little disappointing…hopefully next week will be better”. Anyway, I set my alarm for 5am Monday night as I always do to allow time to read and meditate on the passage of Scripture that we are to address; but early Tuesday morning, before my alarm went off, I had a visitor.
At what point in the early morning hours I do not know when the glory of God rolled into my room. I was lifted up to a different place; a place of peace and unspeakable joy. I was between being awake and asleep. I cannot put into words what it feels like to be “loved on” by the Lord, but I would trade all the riches of this world to be in His presence at all times…just a taste of things to come! Anyway, as I lay there in such a state of euphoria, the Spirit gave me a vision. Understand this if you are not accustomed to visions: visions are not just some apparition of our imagination; although, our imagination is the natural place of communion. Visions, as opposed to useless imaginings, are profound and shake us to our very souls. My son asked me recently how he would know when the Lord was speaking to him. I replied, “You will certainly know!” If you have to wonder, then it probably isn’t Him speaking. Not long after that, we were sitting in church during worship and the glory of God swept through our congregation and no one was left dry-eyed. My son was drowning in tears of joy and love. Afterward on the drive home, he said one very awesome word to me: “Oh…” with a broad smile painted across his precious face!
The Vision, 4:30am
I am sitting under a staircase. People are going up and coming down in droves. I am sitting with my back to the stairs. A family comes down the stairs comprised of a mother, a father, and two male children. One of the children seems to know that I am there and comes around to underneath the stairs. This child is about 3 years old, has jet-black hair, and the most brilliant blue-green eyes I have ever seen. He is beaming with a magnificent smile and runs into my arms like he has known me my whole life. He is beautiful and full of love. He hugs me and I hug him back. We stay embraced as I pat him on the back and just enjoy the moment of unexpected love from such a sweet little fellow. After a short while, the mother peels him from my arms and the little one buries his head in his mother’s shoulder. As the first child is being taken from me, the father proceeds to try to hand me the other child. This child is emaciated, this child has bloodshot eyes, and this child has no hair. The second child is kicking and screaming and is obviously very sick. This second child is repulsive, especially in his protests to not be handed over to me. The father makes me take the child. The child kicks me, screams in my ear, and I can feel his hot breath of misery. I placed the child on my chest and cradled his head on my shoulder as he continues to kick and cry. I begin to rub his back and talk softly to him. After a while, the protests subside and the child begins to relax. Only an occasional quick breath is all that he emits until eventually he is completely calm. I am happy that I could finally get him to calm down. Slowly the child pulls up off my shoulder. He lifts his head, looks into my eyes and smiles at me. What haunts me is the absolute magnificence of his smile! It melted me to the core, it literally broke my heart it was so powerful…my heart melted like wax and left me ruined with love for the child. Then it was over. Immediately I jumped out of bed and began to weep and pace the floor of my bedroom. What could this mean?
Speaking Grace Into the Vision: 6:30am
I sat in the basement of the church as we each shared what the Scripture had spoken to each of us. I listened to each person and thought that maybe I should share my vision with the group, but the Spirit said to me, “Shhhh…just listen”. As I calmed my heart, the Lord began to speak through each person in our group. I felt exposed; like everyone knew where my heart was…here is what three people shared.
1. One of the gentleman, we will call him John, began to share the story of his adopted son. The male child was 2 and a half years old when John and his wife adopted him. He had been abused. How does one abuse an infant? I don’t know. Anyway, the child was scared to death of men and my friend John is about 6’2”, 200+ pounds and has a booming voice. I imagine that Saint Peter and John could have been twin brothers…I always imagine John as the manifestation of Peter. John tells the story with tears in his eyes: “My son was always afraid of me. He never hugged me, he never felt comfortable around me, and he would always retreat to his adopted mother. It was sad really, but I loved him anyway. One day, and I remember it like it was yesterday, after a hard day at work, I sat down as I always did to eat dinner and discuss my day with my wife when out of the blue, my son now 5 years old, ran and jumped into my lap. He wrapped his arms around me and I felt like I would explode in emotion. After two and half years, he had finally learned that he could trust me.” John could not continue; he was too choked-up to continue. After a while of silence and some whispered “Amen’s”, I mustered up enough composure to ask him a simple question: “John, what if your son had only taken a day or two to trust you? What if it only took a couple of weeks? Would you have preferred this short time of trust or was it more powerful because it took so long?” John replied that the moment was so precious that he wouldn’t trade it for anything…it had happened just the way it was supposed to. It meant more because it had taken so very long…but it was real…real trust.
2. Another lady in our group began to share about how she had decided to go and visit a nursing home as part of her local church ministry. By the way, one of the many reasons that I love our Bible study group is that we have a bunch of different churches and denominations represented. Anyway, she began to tell us just how much of an impact the visit had been for her. She said the smiles and the love and the hunger for interaction on those lonely faces was unbelievable. She had been changed; she admitted as much. Now this woman is not new to ministry and spreading God’s love around, but it hadn’t occurred to her to visit a nursing home. After the Bible study was over, I asked her, “Who was blessed more, the people in the nursing home or you?” She beamed a smile back at me and sheepishly admitted that she had been the one blessed most!
3. A new guy was there this particular morning; and to be honest, I haven’t seen him back since. Another thing I like about our Bible study group is that you never know who will show up; it is a hub of spiritual strength that attracts many different people at different times. Anyway, this young man began to share a very insightful point to consider. He said, “You know, I love these little groups, I love getting together and worshiping with my church, I love all the time I get to spend with my Christian brothers and sisters. But…the Lord has taught me that this is only half of the story. To spend time together is a blessing to be sure, but it is easy to be around loving and joyful people. What is hard is to take it to the streets! I am involved in Bridges ministry, and we have the honor of going to dark places and meeting people whose lives have been ruined, just to share Christ’s love with them…now that is awesome! I am growing every day in my love for others that, to be honest, are quite unlovable. They are the ones that really, really need the love of Jesus. And you know what? It is an unbelievable blessing to finally begin to see that the Lord’s love is being accepted by these hurting people. It sometimes takes time, but is so worth the effort…It has changed me.”
The Interpretation of the Vision
The beautiful child represents people that are easy to love, people who love us, and people that are receptive to love. The ugly and hurting child represents those people who are hard to love, people that are forgotten and sick, people who are not receptive to love. The more profound movement of grace and glory and blessing is the ugly child finally receiving love. He is unwilling, unable, and too sick to accept loving arms; he has been abused, he has been ignored, he has been lost and is unconvinced that anyone cares for him. The sick church (and this includes me!) is the “body of Christ” sitting under the stairway of heaven and simply watching people ascend and descend. We find it easy to love our own and are more than willing to love the lovely; we find it difficult to love the ugly and are repulsed by the sin and decay. The mother is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. The father is…well…the Father. So the scenario sets up like this: the sick souls don’t want us and we don’t want them. This simply cannot be acceptable! As you can see above, through my friends speaking grace into my vision, that trust is earned by unwavering and consistent love, that to extend oneself to the lonely and forgotten enables us to be blessed, and that to love the unlovely is our calling as true disciples of a loving God. Jesus tells us that He came to heal the sick…not the folk that are well. Jesus tells us that it is of little value to love those who love us and tells us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. The Son of God not only had a heart for the poor, the rejected, the ugly, and the sick…but He actually sought these out! He tells us that if we extend ourselves to “the least of these” that it is the same as doing to Him! This is not some philosophical, poetic notion; this is what being a Christian is all about. If we are unwilling to love the unlovely then we are not followers of Christ. In the book of 1 John, he tells us that if we say we love God and do not love others…that we are liars! You have heard it said before: “Love is a verb!”
Special Note: there is much more meaning in this vision, but allow yourself to meditate on the implications. I won’t wax on you. But let the Spirit lead you down the path of wisdom that He has for you personally.
Oh gracious and heavenly Father, forgive us! Oh God, do not turn Your face from us! Forgive us for our inability and unwillingness to love the unlovely. Hear our supplication that You speak Your love into our heart and into our lives in a real way! Teach us love, teach us grace, teach us patience, and teach us to wait upon You. Move our hearts and our faith to seek out the ones that are lost, the ones that are hurting, and the ones that most need Your precious and wondrous love! Oh, Jesus, as our intercessor, pray the Father with us that we are worthy of Your name, that we can make You proud, that one day You will tell us to our face, “Well done my good and faithful servant”! Oh, Holy Spirit, empower us and purify us to do the will of the Father, to walk as disciples of our King and Savior. We repent because of Your goodness; teach us to be Your hands and feet and heart to show Your goodness to the ones that hurt.
We ask this humbly in the Name above all names…let it be so…