Not too long ago I had a dream. When I dream, which is not very often, my dreams are typically short with a fairly discernible message. Not always but many times there’s no huge plot to navigate . (Unlike my son Brady who use to wake up in the morning after having colorful, epic battle dreams and with great enthusiasm share them at breakfast…the whole time we were eating!) Love you, Brady Lane…we will see if he reads his mama’s blogs!
The dream was short. In my dream, I was walking into a very majestic building-like structure and entered a room where I walked through two very large open doors. As I approached what appeared to be a massive throne, an arm reached out to me and handed me a folder. I didn’t see a face, but I knew it was the arm of God. I took the folder and on the cover it simply read…Assignments. I immediately woke up.
I laid in bed for a while and prayed. I said “Yes.” I said yes several times as to indicate that I’ve surrendered my life to any assignment God would give me. I didn’t say yes like I did in my 20’s…not that 20-something yes’s are less valuable because of age, but my 20-something yes came with immense naiveté. I sincerely wanted to do great and mighty things for God. I already believed He was worthy of it all…however, my understanding was a tad skewed of what being used by God meant.
Not only was my understanding skewed, I had very little understanding of myself. I knew things had happened to me and I knew I had done some things but I was mostly unaware of the impact those things had on me. I was oblivious to things like character formation and true humility. The shame I grew up with and took on as my own truly wreaked havoc on my ability to see and understand who God was and what being His daughter meant.
It wasn’t until my early 40’s when my eyes were opened to the fact that my theology and understanding of myself were not serving me well. The pain of looking back after a grievous failure, and wanting so badly to take my good days and moments as proof that I wasn’t a bad person, was too much to bear. My actions spoke louder than any words I had previously spoken. My behavior seemed to prove my existence was a really bad thing.
There were other offenses in previous years but I had been a good girl for a really long time so I swore I was “delivered” and would never do such a thing again. I knew the struggle that would still rage in me at times but I learned to say, “No, not going there!” By sheer willpower, I was overcoming deviant behavior.
Being a good girl didn’t ever seem to be enough for me. My soul wasn’t deeply satisfied and my heart would still wander, even if my body stopped following. I had a difficult time coming to terms with Jesus going to the Cross so I could merely say, “Jesus, after that one last time, I was never bad again.” Frankly, it was exhausting…being a good girl in body but feeling the shame of bad desires. Can anyone relate?
Please understand, it wasn’t about the body (And it never is), though the body is involved. It’s about being filled. It’s about being satisfied. It’s about something greater than being appeased in a moment of passion. It’s much greater than being noticed, adored, thought well of, desired and being told you’re awesome.
It was a deep well that was only receiving a trickle of water when the need demanded infinitely more than a trickle.
It was a well in my soul (And yours too) that was created for what Jesus calls Living Waters. My well was polluted with debris representing a myriad of lies. Those lies prevented me from freely receiving the grace Jesus freely offered me… and unfortunately, I had been misinformed theologically in my early years of formation. I don’t use that as an excuse for bad choices but I do see how it led to bad beliefs, such as:
If you’re struggling, hide it until it goes away.
If you mess up, try to cover it up.
Walk by “faith” until you mean it. (A.k.a Pretend)
Another trip to the altar will fix me for a while and if I cry it might last longer.
Jesus loves me this I know but the Bible is impossible to “live up to.”
God’s grace saved me but my efforts will “keep me saved.”
There’s more. That’s just a few. Maybe you can relate to one or two?
When my willpower failed me at the most inconvenient time in my life and after boldly proclaiming Jesus was enough for many years, I was crushed by the exposure of my sin. I asked Jesus to take me home because I was incapable of getting this walk of faith stuff right.
I questioned everything I thought I knew and picked of a book by Dallas Willard called Renovation of the Heart. I read and wept and read and raged and read and surrendered.
It was messy, I was messy and few people could handle my mess.
With God at the helm and the few people who could love me up close, real transformation was fueled by powerful and amazing grace. Lies were dismantled, theology cleaned up and a transparent, free life began to emerge. God’s mercy came in sweet and profound ways. Instead of hiding or running, He assured me that if I hid myself in Him, (Colossians 3:3) I would be healed. As I leaned into the pain of exposure, His love grew large. He took what the enemy meant for evil and my horrible selfishness and turned it around for His glory and my good.
He prepared me for new assignments.
When God handed me my folder of assignments in my dream, I woke up sober-minded. I said yes with a greater understanding that assignments are filled with both joy and sorrow. Assignments from God are awesome and amazing but they are also sanctifying and trying. Assignments from God are a privilege. We don’t earn our salvation but assignments involve trust. God has assignments for all of us and He is committed to conform us into trustworthy friends who will do His will. He doesn’t stop loving us when we mess up, but He may need to take us aside to heal and restore us before new assignments are given. That’s what the loving discipline of a father does. To send us out wounded and unprepared would not be love.
Our Father knows our greatest need is to be filled…for our wells to be over-flowing with Living Waters…to know deep acceptance and to be loved, defended, protected and honored by our Creator. When we believe that deep within, we don’t grasp for temporary fixes that leave us wanting. The rejection of others no longer feels fatal and we turn our loneliness into the mystery of meeting God in our solitude. We then start to tell others where the Water is…and we want to share the Good News that our weary souls can finally and fully be satisfied. And that’s the goal of every God-given assignment!
“For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9
“As we drink daily from the cup of Jesus, it becomes evident to those we interact with that Jesus is enough and our hearts will “flow rivers of living waters.” Phillip Holmes