Monday, March 16, 2009

Dreams II

I could write a book about dreams, I think. I've had so many - and I mean daydreams, not night dreams. (Though I've had a lot of those, too!) When I was little, I was quite the dreamy child - always wanting my life to be like a storybook, and becoming frustrated and depressed when it wasn't. I think some of that still hangs with me. I always want life to be "perfect."

I want to marry the perfect man, be the perfect wife and mother, have the perfect little quaint farmhouse surrounded by a white picket fence, short, I want to have a life off in the country, surrounded by family, and never bothered by the world. Becoming a hermit has its appeals, you know.

But some time ago I became convicted about this dream. It all started by realizing who I am.

I'm a Christian. A daughter of a King. A joint heir with the Son of God.

Whoa. Writing that last part blows me away.

Ahem. Now that I've caught my breath...

...I'm also a soldier. Ephesians chapter 6 wasn't written just to sound poetic. We're in a real battle. I am in a real battle. There are Christians in this world who are risking their lives to be calling themselves children of God. I've seen their pictures. They aren't numbers any more. I know their names. Our church prays for and supports some of them. I've seen their faces.

I'm in a battle.

There are thousands - no, millions - of people in this country who are under God's judgment, and are on their way to hell. I rub shoulders with them when I'm out running errands. I talk with them over counters. I chat with them on the phone. I know some of them well. I have relatives who are on their way to hell; people I love who, if they died right now, would be sent into eternal fire and judgment. They are under the thumb of sin and the devil, and they don't even know it.

I am in a battle.

There are powers in this land who hate Christians, and who are striving to be in control of us. It is quite possible that before I have one gray hair some things I do with my life will be illegal.

I am in a battle.

I used to think that "fighting against sin" only referred to fighting the old nature that still exists within me. Yeah, I need to fight against temptations. ...And I can do that while immersed in my paradise, a storybook world, where I never have to leave my lovely little circle of Christian friends.

Now I'm beginning to think differently. My own sinful self isn't my only enemy.

Have you ever read a story in which the hero had a secret enemy? And did you feel the skin on the back of your neck crawl as you saw that enemy creep behind him and prepare to ruin him? And did you feel the hero's terror as he suddenly realized he had an enemy? His lack of skill with the sword...his fears....his own temptations...those were not his only foes. There was someone outside of him with whom he had to deal!

You know what? I want to live Heaven on earth. I really do. Wouldn't it be lovely? To spend each and everyday in the sunshine - my hands in the soil, or mixing up a new recipe, or creating a new quilt, or cradling a child, or playing an instrument....ah, dreams.

These things aren't wrong. You know that. I know that. They are lovely. They are part of the dominion mandate - we are stewards of the earth, to enjoy it, care for it, and love it. God created us to be creative. Why did He make the sweet wind so sweet? Why are the flowers so vivid? Why is the grass so soft? Why is the sun so bold? Why are the cheeks of children so smooth? Why is the aroma of fried chicken so good? Why are sweet potatoes so delightful with brown sugar and cinnamon on top? Why is there pleasure in handling fabric? Why does the ear naturally love the notes of a guitar?

Are not these things for us? Did not God make us this way, to enjoy things that would cause us to say "God, what a God You are!" Did not Adam and Eve bask in the beauty of Eden? Was it not right that they should? Why shouldn't we enjoy the fingerprints of our Creator?

But this is not Eden! I have to remind myself. Oh how I wish it was! I long for the day when time shall be no more, and we shall nothing to do but enjoy our Creator and His handiwork.

However, I cannot devote my life to these things on earth. Enjoy them, yes. Devote myself to them? No.

No, no, no.

I am in a battle.

In some respects, my life should resemble that of a solider. There is no time to pursue empty things. These pleasures I love so much should sweeten the path, not be the path itself.

How this goes against the grain! I'm not a bold solider. I don't like conflict. Sometimes, the only thing I can do is freeze, and whisper to myself over and over "...Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world..."

You know something? It's true; God is greater. The battle isn't so terrifying when I lift my eyes off the waves and see Jesus. It's not as if He's loosing sleep over the outcome - so why should I?

But the battle still has to be fought. Bravely fought. Fought without worry, but fought, just the same.

Maybe God will station me in a dark foxhole of a place. Or maybe He'll station me in a grand farmhouse with a white picket fence. I don't think the location is what makes you a solider. It's a mindset; a thing deep inside you that says "this world is not my home, I'm just passing through, and I want to take as many with me as I can, and get there with a pure conscience."

So the farmhouse dream with a white picket fence has been yet another dream of mine that has had to be modified. It makes me think of something my Daddy told me once.

"Amber, the Bible says if you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart."

"But Daddy, I don't think God's going to give me what I want. I think He's going to give me something different...something I don't like."

"Then pray this; 'Lord, give me the desires of my heart, or else change them."

Give me the desires of my heart, or else change them.

You know what? He does. If I delight myself in Him, I find myself wanting the very things He decides to give me. He changes the desires of my heart. So guess what? If He decides to not give me the farmhouse, I have a sneaking suspicion that He'll do a work in my heart so that I'll not desire the farmhouse. I won't miss it.

That is, if I'm delighting myself in Him.

So, instead of focusing on what I desire, and worrying about whether my desires will come into God's plan for my life, I've found that if I focus instead on delighting in the Lord, I'll get my desires.

Every time.


Mrs. Hurzeler said...

Dear Amber,
Well this is post numbe two that I have read lately that has made me shocked at the similarities in our ways of thinking, but you are definitely teaching me a thing or two.
I don't need to get my way all the time to be happy. Christ changes hearts and changes dreams. You are right about that.
When we moved into this apartment (which is not a farmhouse in the country like I had to have..) I have been amazed at with all its decorating faults, (and there are many!)how much I love it anyway. I was told once when I said I wanted things to be perfect someone said to me, so you don't want to need Christ. Wow. If I were the perfect person I wanted to be, I wouldn't need Him. (Again if you want to post this, go ahead, I more comment just to be able to share with you, but I also have nothing against it being posted either.)

Amber said...

Dear Mrs. Hurzeler,

Isn't it nice to find folks you have stuff in common with? Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I like posting your comments, so that others can glean from the wisdom you share with me. :)

Sandra said...

I know what you mean, Amber. Being a hermit has a great appeal to me too.
And it's so hard to keep your mind focused on what God wants, and not our own desires.
I love the advise your dad gave you, very sound.
My mom has said that before that so many people don't want to surrender their life to God, because they think that God's going to call them to do something that absolutely hate. But if He does, I think He changes your heart and mind about it.
Mom also told me that many time she has had to pray, "Lord, I don't want this! But I want to want this."
As I get older, I find myself praying that way more too.