“The silence that makes it possible to hear God speak also makes it possible for us to hear the world’s words for what they really are – tinny and unconvincing lies.”
-Eugene H. Peterson
In the past few weeks I’ve needed time and space to listen. Then I needed more time and more space to sort out the voices.
The Bible says not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits to discern if they are from God. The enemy of our souls is also called the father of lies. A lot of the work of inner healing is about identifying and letting go of lies we have believed about ourselves. When Adam and Eve covered their shame and hid from God after they believed the tempter’s lie God said to them, “Who told you you were naked?”
Hint: If he was asking, it wasn’t him.
I’ve had a lot of emotional healing in my life. Each time I think I’ve addressed everything by forgiving, taking my hands off the throat of the person I felt hurt me, blessing them and turning to Jesus Christ to meet my needs. And he does.
Then after a while Holy Spirit decides it’s time to take me deeper.
The process of healing the soul and renewing the mind sometimes makes me feel like I am going in circles. I thought I dealt with this memory or this resentment already, but here it is back again. I am realizing that the circle is actually a spiral and each time we go around we go deeper. Each time I am more willing to let him touch the more painful places because I am learning to trust his love and faithfulness to complete what he started.
Recently two kind women were helping me recognize barriers that were keeping me from staying close to God. I needed to forgive again and bless again. Then one asked me, “How did you envision God when you were a child?”
I told her about the recurring nightmare I had for years as a child. In the dream I’m sitting on a dock and dangling my feet in the water. Others are enjoying putting their bare feet in the lake and laughing and splashing each other, but there is no room for me so I sit on the left side of the warm wooden pier. Suddenly the sky turns dark and wind blows sleet in our faces. The adults are angry with me for starting this. They tell me it is forbidden to put my feet in the water on that side. I am taken to a pit that is the bottom of an elevator shaft to be punished for my crime.
My family is sad that I am about to be crushed but they try to cheer me up with gum and comfort me by covering me with an army blanket. Nevertheless they do nothing to rescue me because this is what God requires. People who commit sin, even if they didn’t know it is a sin, must be punished for the good of the community. I watch the square floor come down and I know that this is God Himself coming down to crush me. I wake up just before the cold metal touches my face.
Of course I don’t believe there is any truth in that dream. I think it was sent by an agent of the father of lies to keep me from being able to love God freely. I didn’t think there was any reason to talk further about it. It was a long time ago. I have moved on.
“I’m going to do something different,” said the counselor. “I do this to help people who have been in traumatic situations. I have never prayed through a dream before, but because this nightmare was traumatic for you, let’s ask Jesus what he wants to do instead.”
We prayed, then I closed my eyes and walked through the dream again. I pictured Jesus with me.
“Where is he?” she asked.
“In the pit. He’s under the blanket with me.”
“And what does he want to show you?”
I waited. Then I saw Jesus take my hand as he welcomed the elevator.
“What does he want to show you about God?”
“He’s showing me that God is my elevator, not my annihilator. He is introducing me to the God who has come to lift me out of the pit.”
Oh, my God! (I mean that in most most literal respectful way.) In all the years that dream has been lingering in the backroom of my memory I never noticed the significance of the word elevator. It is God who elevates me, lifts me up to sit with him in heavenly places.
That which the enemy of my soul sent as a message to fill a child with fear and discouragement the Lord of Life, in his goodness and mercy, could turn around in a few minutes into a symbol of hope and deliverance. The fearful image has been transformed in my mind into an image of hope.
The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always.
He provides me rest in rich, green fields
beside streams of refreshing water.
He soothes my fears;
He makes me whole again,
steering me off worn, hard paths
to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name.
Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness,
I am not overcome by fear.
Because You are with me in those dark moments,
near with Your protection and guidance,
I am comforted.
You spread out a table before me,
provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies;
You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil,
filling my cup again and again with Your grace.
Certainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me
where I go, always, everywhere.
I will always be with the Eternal,
in Your house forever.
(Psalm 23 The Voice)
Thank you, Lord.