Wednesday, May 24, 2006

the revelation window

The other night I had a very interesting dream... The dream itself was nothing shockingly dramatic. In fact, this dream in particular was quite simple. What made it so powerful was the emotion and the thought it compelled in me.

It was dark. Very dark. I was fumbling around for something, anything, to tell me where I was and how I could get out of the darkness. The space I was trapped in was not very big at all. I felt suffocated by the darkness and fearful of what it could be hiding from me. I kept patting down the walls in a desperate attempt to find something that would give me a clue as to where I was and why I was there. Suddenly, as I made intense contact with one of the walls, I discovered that it was, in fact, a window, just shy of the length and width of the entire wall. As I forced all of my weight on the frame, it swung wide open, breaking free of the shutters that had provided a protective enclosure. Sunlight rushed in on me, and although it was a warm relief, its intensity was quite painful to my eyes, and it took me a few moments to see into the light.

Is it just me, or does it seem that this is often the story of life? The story of faith? There have been so many times that I have felt like I'm stumbling around in the darkness, timid and afraid, cursing the walls that trap me, when all along, my "entrapment" is actually encompassing a window that I simply cannot see-- a window of freedom, a window of light-- encased entirely by my misguided perception of imprisonment.

I find it not at all startling that the light that suddenly pours in on us during such moments of revelation is often more stinging than soothing. (Have you ever felt the burn in your eyes when you sit in a dark room for a period of time, and someone suddenly turns on the lights?) There is an initial shock that comes with revelation. No matter how much you want to see, it still takes a moment or two to adjust to the brutal exposure. The end result is, indeed, triumph... but those initial moments of adjustment are, without a doubt, bittersweet. The illumination of truth demands the dissolution of what had previously thrived in darkness, and somehow, in all of their somberness, we miss those things. We attach ourselves to our ideas, our words, and our ways, and the very nature of revelation shakes them to the ground.

In hindsight, it is all quite beautiful, but the destruction of all the things we had previously thought true is, in its time, devestating. Just like the blinding light that flooded in the window of my dream. It was a sign of freedom, a sign of hope, and a sign of life. And yet, for a moment, it was piercing, it was staggering. I have found myself often in these circumstances: either cursing the walls or cursing the throes of the light. It shouldn't be this way. The walls are embracing my window, and the sting in my eyes is merely a sign of new truth.

Yes, in hindsight, it is all quite beautiful. Perhaps in foresight, I can call it beautiful even before I am able to see it.

Reposted from my original blog

Sunday, May 21, 2006

cleansing mud

I was reading an interesting passage of scripture today... 2 Kings 5. It taught me a lot about myself.

Naaman, commander of the army of Aram, had leprosy. He had gotten his king to send him to Israel (Aram's enemy) in order to be healed by the prophet Elisha. Upon his arrival in Israel, Naaman received the order from Elisha's messenger that he would need to go and dip in the Jordan river in order to receive the healing. Naaman got a little upset. That's where he started to remind me of myself...

v. 11-12 read "But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage."

I practically tripped over myself in that passage. The first thing that I recognized was Naaman's frustration that his move from God wasn't coming in the manner HE expected it to. "What?! All I get is a stinkin' messenger?! Isn't the prophet going to speak to me? Aren't I going to feel something? Isn't this going to be a big deal?"

Second, Naaman was bothered by being told to wash seven times in the Jordan. The Jordan, from what I understand, isn't exactly a pristine river. It's murky. It can be downright muddy. "Are you kidding? You want me to dip myself SEVEN times in this nasty water? How can something this disgusting possibly cleanse me?" I get the feeling that this wasn't the grandiose healing experience that Naaman was hoping for.

And so, here I sit--guilty as charged. I too have thrown fits like Naaman. I have ventured off on desperate journeys in search of an act of God, only to find that He doesn't move in exactly the way I had expected Him to. I couldn't even begin to count the number of times that I have expected God to turn a situation out a certain way, and not only does he NOT do it my way, but he also sends me to be cleansed in ways that aren't so pleasant at the time. And not only are they unpleasant, but sometimes it seems like what God asks me to do will take me in the opposite direction of where I'm trying to go!

There have been so many times that I have sought cleansing, and God has pointed me to muddy waters. How often do we expect our renewal to come as a nicely packaged, sweetly fragranced remedy for life, when in fact, what we need is a humble dipping in the mud of our own understanding. Ah, but yes... just as with Naaman in v. 14, obedience releases the grace of God for me to understand...

Somehow, every single time, it works. Every time, the muddy water that I try to avoid is exactly what carries me into the next sphere that God has for me. It washes away doubt, fear, pride, pain, and self-reliance, and it flushes me clean of my own expectations.

Reposted from my original blog


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