Dreams can be a scary place, and I've struggled with them for a long time. They're consistently full of conflict and temptation. Recently, I recognized how lonely and isolated dreams feel.
God, through something I read, encouraged me to pray for blessing upon my dreams. While I was doing that, I began praying about the loneliness and isolation that I was feeling in the dreams. God reminded me that He is the only One who I can connect with there. In fact, He's been there all along. Not only is He everywhere present in the physical universe, He's everywhere present in hearts and minds...where dreams are made.
There may be areas of struggle in your life that seem hopeless, lonely and isolated. Know that God is there and waiting for you to connect with Him in the midst of it.
“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.”
Psalms 139:7–10 NLT-SE
“In your presence there is fullness of joy.”
Psalms 16:11 ESV
…..Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior……..
Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you……..
When I was four years old, decked out with a cowboy hat and holstered six shooters by my side (and terry cloth tank top with corduroy shorts (Hey, it was 1980)), I tugged on my mom’s shirt and told her I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart. At age 10, I was baptized.
….I didn’t know truly who Jesus was . . . I initially desired Him because I was scared of hell (yes, my church at the time did well in teaching about hell to 4 year olds). This time up to college I call my “Pharisee years”; because of church, because of my upbringing, I learned how to “walk the walk and talk the talk”, yet I can surely say I truly didn’t know Jesus.
When I was 22, I was pressed by the Holy Spirit to go forward and commit my life to Him . . . surrender to the One who was truly my source. I wasn’t any different than most others at college, and not being under my parents umbrella allowed sin to saturate me. So that day in 1998 I truly saw something about God I had never seen before.
…..I still didn’t know who Jesus TRULY was, but this surrender profoundly affected me.
At age 36, I was spiritually debunked. Caught in sin and just miserable in my relationship with Jesus, I repented and desired to make my relationship with Him true. About a half year after that, God floored me; not in an ‘angry father’ way; not in a malicious, contemptuous way; but with the purest of love. A love that I had heard of since I was a child, but never fully grasped. Prior to 2013, I was living as if God loved me, but when I sinned, that love dwindled. I was living in shame, desiring to hide in the dark . . . because when you don’t grasp the love of God, you still are comfortable with hiding. But the beauty of God is that when He has you and you hide, He makes you miserable (which, contrary to how it sounds, is a very good thing! (check out Psalm 32: 3-5)).
Here’s how He showed me love: He brought me to Romans 3 (mainly verses 10 through 18). Of all chapters in the bible, He brought me to the one that showed me that I was depraved, that I was rebellious, that I was unrighteous. But through this, He created the baseline . . . of all the years I was His, I was finally broken enough to see that He loved me even when I was all of what Romans 3 described. I saw the great chasm between Him and I, and how my sin separated me from Him (Isaiah 59:2). Then I saw how His love bridged that chasm. I saw that He knows who I am . . . He knew from day 1 how I would be . . . . and He STILL rejoices and sings over me (Zephaniah 3:17).
Throughout our life, we come upon seasons God uses to grow us. In these seasons, He shows us His love for us, yet in our ignorance or even rebellion we end up overlooking the very thing which will draw us closer to Him. For me, the years of rebellion came to a head and God was finally able to work. My pigheadedness finally broke and I was able to see the truth He was showing me all throughout my life. I see these events I spoke of as major milestones in my faith. God showed me aspects about him during these times which did change me as a man and as His child.
Am I still a sinner, yes . . . I need to consistently remember His love for me. I still echo the heart of Paul in Romans 7 where, “The good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice”. But shame has taken a back burner. As you go on reading Romans 7 Paul asks who will deliver him from this body of death . . . . then he goes to the source of love: God through Jesus Christ our LORD! Shame drives us away from God, away from fellowship, away from healing. So instead of walking in that shame, I walk in Gods truth. That’s exactly what Psalm 26:3 says,
“For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth”
What about you? Have you witnessed His lovingkindess? Have you tasted and seen the goodness of our Lord? Or have you lost your first love (Revelation 2:4), walking in your strength or in shame instead of walking in truth?
However you have been walking, you need to know this and hide this deep in your heart . . . God loves you! There are many things in this world that will draw our affections, but as we realize the love of God more and more, the quicker we see that those things don’t satisfy. Isaiah 43 is just one set of verses that shows Gods love for us, it’s ribboned throughout His Word . . . He loves you!
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
This scripture recently came to mind while I was replacing the alternator on our Honda Odyssey minivan, strange as that may sound. I really enjoy working on our cars, and it (usually) makes me feel good to make a repair, save money and have a sense of accomplishment when I’m done. Here’s the story…
It was a Saturday afternoon, and all was going pretty well when I got to the part of reattaching the wires to the back side of alternator as it’s sitting in place on the engine. It was a bit of a tight fit and I was using my fingers to get a small nut and washer tightened down that holds the wires in place. As I was trying to turn the nut with my finger, the nut and washer both fell down either onto the motor, or into the radiator, or onto the inside of the front bumper. I couldn’t tell where they fell and couldn’t see them at all. I looked with a flashlight, fished for them with a magnet and felt in every crevice and crease I could fit my hands into… no luck. They were nowhere to be found.
Of course the car won’t run without these wires hooked up to the alternator. It was getting late and I was getting tired and frustrated. I knew it was time to stop for the night, but I needed to get the van fixed so I could drive it to work on Monday. Tomorrow was Sunday, and as I was going to sleep I was trying to figure out how I was going to find that stupid little nut and washer! I didn’t want to miss church, but I might need to if I wanted to make sure I got the car repair done.
So… I prayed and made a deal with God (I know, I shouldn’t be making deals with God… He will hold you to it!). The deal was if He helped me find the nut and washer in the morning before church, I would go. If I couldn’t find it, I’d have to go try and chase down another nut and washer so I could finish fixing the van.
Next morning, I went back out in the garage, crawled under the van (again) to look (again!) for the missing nut and washer. The flashlight was no help, I couldn’t see them. I reached around and felt for them everywhere that I thought they might be and found nothing. As I was lying there on my back under the van looking up at the motor, I felt the Lord say to me, “put your hand up on top of the air conditioning compressor and feel for them”. I thought this was kind of silly since I’d already looked there from above and even used the magnet to try and locate them the day before. So with an attitude of “Nevertheless Lord, at thy word…”(Luke 5:5), I reached up and blindly began feeling around and sure enough, I felt something, and with a little push and pull with my fingers, down fell the missing washer, then the nut!
I was obviously very happy… and a bit humbled, but felt the Lord clearly say to my heart at that point, “Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there”. Wow, that struck me and made me think about faith (and Hebrews 11:1). God’s at work all the time, even though we don’t necessarily see it. We just have to have hope in Him, even though we don’t see things happening, often times, especially when we don’t see things happening. God can even use a car repair to get the message through to me! (And yes I went to church, and yes I got the car fixed that afternoon J ).
Words of encouragement from the leadership at Calvary North.