My (Preferred) Alter-Ego (come find me here!)

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"God, Where Were You?"

So I was thinking a lot about Abraham and Isaac a few months ago--specifically how at just at the right moment the Lord stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son. I think it has almost been to my detriment at times that I know the end of the story because when the Lord asks me to give Him something, there's always this sense of, "oh, I'm not really going to have to sacrifice that. I'm just showing Him that I'm willing."

The thing is, sometimes there is no voice calling out, "Stop! I've seen your heart. You don't actually have to go through with it." Samuel told Saul that obedience is better than to sacrifice, but sometimes obedience requires sacrifice. One of my amazing friends reminded me just a few days ago that the story of Abraham and Isaac contains the first mention of the word "worship" in scripture--and it was in conjunction with sacrifice. Something always dies when we worship in its truest form.

But back to the often we parade our "Isaacs" across the altar--the dream job, the relationships, the promises to which we cling--all the time waiting for the divine intervention that God chooses not to send. And when we look down and see the life-blood of what we held most dear spilling over our hands, we begin asking in a confused daze, "God, where were You?" In the clamor and the emotional turmoil, sometimes it's hard to hear His whispered response–"here."

Hebrews 4 contains such a beautiful promise to us in verse 15:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. Instead, we have one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet he never sinned.

I know that when I lose something precious to me, the temptation is there to allow myself to be swept away in a rush of emotions. I find myself doubting that I truly heard the voice of the Lord. I struggle with blaming myself and even blaming God for the discomfort that follows. I throw myself into any project I can find to avoid the phrases "it's not fair" and "I don't understand." Six little words not even used in the same sentence all the time that nip at my heels like dogs and tug at my peace of mind. Does Jesus truly understand that?

And then I think about the cross--the fulfillment of the shadow that the Lord played-out in the Abraham/Isaac sacrifice. Jesus came with a purpose and was aware of the end of His story from the beginning, but the Gospels tell us that He agonized enough to sweat blood the night before He died. I wonder if He was thinking about Abraham when they crucified Him. I wonder if perhaps part of Him was also waiting for the Father to speak up and say, "No--there's another way" as Jesus stumbled toward the cross, even though He knew there wasn't.

I think Jesus's cry--"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"--was the ultimate expression of the "God where were You?" question. In that moment, Jesus showed us that He felt, in excruciating detail, every agonizing emotion that comes coupled with a call for sacrifice--with a call for true worship.

That is the Jesus I find myself holding onto--the one who "gets it." And He proved without question that the end result is worth it, even if God doesn't stop the process of sacrifice.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

a dream

I don't ordinarily share my dreams, but I have felt such an urgency to pray this morning and a realization that I cannot carry this burden alone. I had the third of a series of disturbing dreams last night. I dreamed that I was in a large room like a gymnasium. The walls were covered in vertical wooden slats just a few inches across. I was busy painting the room in horizontal red and white stripes, each stripe several feet tall.

While I was painting, a group of men gathered at the top of a stair-case in the gymnasium looking down at me. I believe there were others in the room with me, but I don't remember who they were. The men at the top of the stairs had a list of names and phone numbers, and they began calling the numbers on the list. The numbers matched the cell phones of the others in the room with me. Each time a call went through and a cell phone rang, the men on the stairs would arrest the owner of the cell phone and lead him/her off.

I was given a type of birds-eye view of the list of numbers, and as I watched, black lines appeared across the page redacting the names and numbers so that the men could no longer call.
Just before the list of numbers was completely blacked out, the men were able to scribble down my number. However, before they could call me, another friend of mine called me. When the "hit-men" called my number, my caller-id beeped to let me know I had an incoming call, but my phone did not ring because I was on the phone with someone else--so I escaped detection.

I went up the stairs and found myself in a room with all of the people who had been "captured." My dad was in the room with them speaking encouragement to each one. I came to an understanding that the hit-men would be flying these in the room to another country, where they would be executed.

What followed was a series of very painful goodbyes, as person after person who I knew intimately in the dream came to me. I remember weeping with them, telling some that I would gladly take their place if I could. The last two to whom I said goodbye were my dad and a man I have never seen before, but in the dream I knew him to be my fiancé. After the hit-men took everyone away, I found myself in another room with a couple of other people saying that I didn't know what to do with myself. I awakened with my heart crying for my father.

I asked the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom to understand the dream this morning, and felt that He gave me a little insight and some simple instruction.

1. Pray “hiding prayers” over yourself and your family. My parents trained me in the significance of praying hiding prayers from an early age. Psalm 17:8 and Psalm 64:2 give a good example of this type of prayer. I believe the red and white stripes of paint symbolized the blood of Jesus, which I was actively involved in applying to the “boundaries” of my environment. The hit-men came in through an opening where the blood had not been applied. There can be no room for “chinks” in our defense system.

2. Pray for others around you, especially those who you recognize to be intercessors on the “hit-list” of the enemy. I believe there is an attack that has been launched against our tools of communication (essentially, our prayer lives) to turn our greatest assets against us. I also believe that this attack primarily targets those who have dedicated their lives to prayer and pleading the blood on behalf of other people. In the dream, the call of a friend saved my life. The enemy may “have our number” but a friend who commits himself or herself to be a mediator on our behalf can subvert his plans. Definitely pray for those who are “names” on a national prayer level – Lou Engel, Mike Bickle, etc. – but also pray on a local level for your pastors, teachers, mentors, and friends.

3. Pray for leadership. The two individuals who stood out most in the dream and were being taken away to their deaths were the two men in primary spiritual leadership in my life—my father and my husband to be. I believe this applies to the political state currently in America. In the dream, I was in an engagement season where the “headship” of my home was passing from my father to my husband, but the transition had not yet taken place. I did not recognize the man I was to marry, although I knew him in the dream. In the same way, the leadership of our nation is in a time of transition with the upcoming election, going from one president to a new one (whom we don’t yet know). There is an attack formed against leadership that would endeavor to execute spiritual covering and leave us vulnerable and exposed.

4. Pray for a generation crying out for fathers—and commit to becoming a mentor. I believe the last scene of the dream gave me insight into people desperate for someone to speak life into their lives—screaming silently for a father. We must pledge our lives to showing them the Father. We must also take the challenge to become spiritual mothers and fathers to those who feel orphaned and widowed on a spiritual and emotional level. James 1 shows us that this is the kind of religion the Lord honors.

God bless you all.