After I posted this blog entry, the text vision stopped appearing. I continued waking in the middle of the night to read the Bible and pray, after which activity I’d fall back to sleep for a couple of hours. It was at the second waking that I would typically see the text vision, during those days that it was a constant. After a few weeks without seeing it, I stopped looking for it and almost forgot about it.
I continued to be dogged by anxiety and grief about my destiny and whether I’d blown a good thing. At first I was convinced that God had simply taken some blessing from me, owing to my rebelliousness. Then I began to consider the possibility that I’d allowed in a demon by being blatantly sinful. I had on March 29 deliberately done something that I knew God was telling me to stop. That’s an open door for demonic oppression. I don’t know why that one time would have been different than any of the other seven or so times since early October; unless God had allowed the oppression in late March as a way of ratcheting up the pressure on me to quit completely.
For many weeks after waking into oppression on March 30, I badgered God to let me know what had happened. “I know something changed. Either I gained a demon or demons, or You took something away from me. Maybe both. Can You just somehow let me know what’s going on?” He did not, as far as I could tell; and I stopped asking.
In earlier blog posts I’ve described prior episodes in which I chose to satisfy myself, rather than seeking God as the source of my comfort. This despite what I considered a clear command from Him to stop choosing the lesser option. In those prior episodes I ultimately decided God was saying to me, “You can choose a divinely empowered lifestyle, or you can choose your habit of self-satisfaction. You cannot do both.” Working under the assumption that the choice would always be available, I had lazily opted to straddle the fence for the better part of two years. I dialed my frequency way back after the heartbreak in LINY; but I didn’t give it up entirely. I was double-minded, with all corresponding instability that the apostle James suggested.
Double-mindedness was painfully exposed on March 30, when, after waking, there was a suffocating sense that I had irrevocably made my final selection, that there was no longer any choice available. (I will eventually copy some old writing into a blog post, to describe a remarkable transformation that went in the opposite direction of this one and served to introduce me to the invisible realities of our God.) There was a great chance that I’d permanently and willfully exchanged a custom-fit and engaging role in the Kingdom of God for a few minutes (thirty-five years?) of self-gratifying lust and release. In other blog posts I’ve described being sick with remorse over this exact same thing at other times. One might suspect I’m a stiff-necked and slow learner. One would be correct. However being a stiff-necked and slow learner does allow, thankfully, for some eventual learning.
And learn I finally did. Harassed by a relentless sense of loss or some otherwise inexplicably awful thing, after March 30, I had no lasting desire to stoke the fires of lust. There were plenty of times in April and into May where I’d tease myself with some familiar fantasies; but with no legitimate outlet for the resulting tension, I eventually gave it up. In a Clockwork Orange-like process of transformation by association, I reached a point where I would become almost physically ill any time my mind wandered to within a zip code of lust. The dead-end nature of this deceptive sin, compared to the open-ended potential that I’d possibly lost forever, was sickening. By the time June rolled around, there was freedom from compulsion. This actually isn’t the first time I’ve been freed from this particular addiction. But it’s the most recent instance of liberation and the one most pertinent to the current story line.
Since hearing “Do not satisfy yourself” in 2009, and until sometime in the past two months, I’d always associated the command exclusively with masturbation. Once I could pray God straight in the eye and tell Him I was totally done with all that, He began (I think) to show me other ways in which “Do not satisfy yourself” was actually a more broad command for my life than I’d previously considered.
I’ve got a serious sweet tooth, for example. If there is a junk food version of the guy who can’t have just one beer, that’s me. M&M’s, Oreo’s, pretty much anything with chocolate in it…I can and have eaten it all to obscene excess. I have had, by necessity, a pretty disciplined approach to eating junk food for several years – so disciplined because without exerting some self-control, I’d munch on that stuff all day.
My first step in that disciplined direction had been in the mid-00’s, when I did a voluntary sugar fast for one month, ‘sugar’ being desserts and snacks. I wasn’t interested in trying to weed out all sugar completely from my diet; it was the blatant stuff that I wanted to stop. I fasted one month from such foods and very nearly became a homicidal maniac. I remember seething at the dinner table in a near rage one evening because of nothing in particular. My family were all staring at me silently and with no small concern for my sanity (and their own safety, surely). Minor life annoyances had become colossal affronts to my endless and splitting headache. “EVERYTHING BE PERFECT…NOW!” It was my first sugar detox, after a lifetime of ‘normal’ American sugar consumption and with no prior understanding that there was even going to be a detox process. Welcome to surprise insanity. We all survived it, fortunately, and I gained a valuable insight into addiction and withdrawal.
I had a milk shake at the end of that month, as a reward for my efforts; then I fasted another month. Another milkshake, and another fast. After minimal junk food for three months, I felt great: I’d lost a ton of weight, and I was sleeping more deeply than I could recall having done before. I figured I should kick up the reward program because, hey, I really liked and deserved those reward milkshakes. I increased the milkshake thing to once a weekend.
That was first step onto a slippery slope that I fought against for a long time. The ‘one milkshake per weekend’ discipline plan became the ‘eat as much junk as you want, but only on Saturday’ program. Then I went ahead and green-lighted Fridays for a sugar free-for-all. Some weeks I’d go for it every day. Eventually, I’d recognize that I needed to get it under control, and I would. But not for long. Back and forth, ebb and flow. This ebb and flow continued on into this year, punctuated first by phases of and then my now-current routine of regular ‘water only’ fast for spiritual purposes.
Looking back on it now, it reminds me of the apostle Paul telling the Roman church that the Law revealed Sin. That is, before the Law, there was no understanding that any one act or another was sinful. With the Law came a clear exposition that there is such a thing as Sin, that certain acts are sinful, and that Sin offends God. Once the reality of Sin is understood, we struggle against the the Law because of our fallen nature. On a far less grand scale in the cosmic scheme of things, I never struggled with regulating my intake of junk food until I decided to minimize it. Once that ‘law’ was enacted, there was a continuing struggle against that law.
Some time during this past May, I think, I was really starting to think of the junk food struggle as, first, an addiction, and second, as an impediment to my relationship with God. I shelved that concern in favor of eating with my fingers in my ears. Then I ‘heard’ something one night about being completely surrendered to the Holy Spirit. I had already surrendered much, and I wasn’t in the mood to be even more empty and obedient before God. But, knowing that Phase I was done and that I was still getting prompts to surrender, I knew there must be officially more to let go. I began in earnest to scale back my sugar intake.
Some weeks thereafter, Mary and I discussed our own twin calls to give up things that we’d been putting ahead of God. I mentioned that I was working a substantial change in sugar consumption. A couple of days later, she sent me an email saying she felt led to encourage me to get junk food out of my apartment. That sounded like a great idea for someone who was out of control with their eating. I wasn’t out of control at that time. Right? I’d already halved my intake of garbage on weekends, and I was magnanimously open to the idea of eating even less. The way I saw it, there was no reason to get rid of a bunch of perfectly good trash food. What a pointless waste! I’d decreased my consumption so much that it would have taken me months to eat it all, with no need to buy more. “See,” I would tell God, “I’ve got this.” And that was the problem right there. I was surrendering on my own terms. MY terms. Mine. “Thanks for the suggestion, Creator of the Universe; but I have decided that Your demands are unnecessarily stringent. I have come up with a more reasonable method.”
The truth of the matter was that in these recent months when I was finishing Phase I of Not Satisfying Myself, I was concurrently getting more and more focused on planning when and what snacks I’d be eating during the coming weekend. I was replacing one addiction with another; or, in this case, transferring one addiction’s compulsion onto another existing one. I wanted to think I had it all under control. I wasn’t binging to excess, after all. Much to the contrary, in fact. However, fastidiously planning a compulsive act of any kind is definitely not the same thing as ‘having it under control,’ as much I pretended otherwise. The precision and care with which I schemed to have no more than one handful of M&M’s on a given Friday was not any less a compulsive act than if I’d eaten a whole bag on a whim. The creepy way in which I was essentially counting minutes from Saturday’s last snack until Friday’s first was truly indicative of how much or little ‘control’ I had.
Obviously, somewhere in the process I had come to believe God was really calling me to give it up. Maybe not necessarily with the same sense of finality as He was the other thing; but still, surrender. On His terms and not mine. He’s not interested in my terms, or yours. He wants what He wants for us because He knows that what He wants is what is best for us. I dragged myself, leaving finger nails embedded in the walls and floor, to admit that He wouldn’t ask or tell me to do something unless it was the best thing for me. Even if it meant that obedience for the sake of itself was the goal. I was actually shocked at how much resistance I put up to my final decision to finally get rid of the lion’s share of my junk food stash. It took me days of basically being a brat before the Lord before I resolved to do away with it. “I’m not fornicating and I’m not even beating off. You can’t let the candy thing slide? THE MAIN REASON I DON’T WANT TO GET RID OF THIS IS BECAUSE YOU DO NOT TASTE AS GOOD AS ALL THIS CHOCOLATE. BOTTOM LINE.” I figured I might as well be honest; it’s not like I could hide myself from Him, anyway. Seriously, it’s embarrassing to write this. Do I not sound like some slob housewife who’s addicted to TMZ, celebrity tears, and Blue Bell?
No es mas macho.
Whatever relationship I have right now with God began when I was an early teen. It was a superficial and perfunctory relationship from that point until my late 20’s, marked by me doing pretty much what I wanted to do for many years and with little regard for what God might think about any of it. After some genuine casting about for something better than my own self-styled disasters, I eventually surrendered in a major way to God in 2003, with tectonic results. In 2009 I was given an opportunity to throw myself even more into His care, unencumbered by most everything I consciously valued in life at that point.
Starting back in around 2005 and then dramatically increasing in 2010 and up to the present, God (I think) began giving me encouraging words through prophetic people. If it all is as it appears to be, then He’s been using these people to encourage me in a direction that He would find more productive than the chaotic meanderings I tend to do under my own steam. He essentially began telling me that He was going to use me powerfully at some point in the future. There were and are many layers of belief and unbelief involved here; I don’t claim to know if any of it is true or false. But I know that I didn’t ask for any of it; I wasn’t seeking it out; and it appeared to be coming from someone who wouldn’t stop sending the comfort until I believed that it was OK to be encouraged, despite my life circumstances.
To a large degree then, the strength of my relationship with Him on March 29 was based on the precision-guided cheer these people gave me, presumably at His direction. God had my undivided attention, and He had become more real to me on a day-to-day basis than He’d ever been before. I’d learned that He cares for us even in the most minute details of our lives; I relaxed into trusting Him with my future, which trust was completely unprecedented in my life of prideful control; and I’d finally reached a point where I could and did regularly say to Him, in absolute meek honesty, “I love you with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind.”
Then I did the deal with the thing and woke up on March 30 in a very bad world. After weeks and then months of regret and confusion after that toxic wake-up, I was no longer as sure of my standing with Lord as I had once been. Maybe He’d moved on to someone more trustworthy. That would obviously be His prerogative – but where would that leave me? Because it’s all about me, right? I accused Him of not keeping His promises. “You never told me that if I didn’t stop sinning, that You’d take something away from me.” Which was technically true – none of the prophetic reassurances came with a disclaimer that fulfillment was contingent upon me not exceeding some level of sinfulness. But still, the brat factor was very high here.
Prior to March 29 the spreading fire in my relationship with Him had been, in part, a trusting, relational connection and growing desire to not offend this wonderful Creator that was spending so much time with me. The accelerant to that fire for several years had been the prophetic encouragements and, realistically, some budding evidence that they were coming to fruition. After the March stupidity it appeared that the terms of our relationship had been radically defined down. Had I lost God’s trust? More importantly, did my love for God remain unchanged, in light of a future that loomed possibly much less bright? I couldn’t tell Him truthfully that it did. “I’m not sure I love You. Which is pretty pathetic, I know. I am called to love you with my heart, soul, strength, and mind. Period. That love is not to be conditional. But the fact is, I don’t know how to relate to You without all that other stuff.”
I even argued the point that He had been the one that got the ball rolling with all those prophecies. “I didn’t believe that kind of thing existed. I thought it was a lie, and I distrusted anyone who claimed to have the ability to ‘be a prophet.’ But You showed that it was OK to trust. You did all that, without me seeking it out. So it’s not like I’ve made a practice of seeking out the next prophecy fix to satisfy my jones for such. Not much anyway (There’s no point in lying to Him – rgVI). I didn’t have to seek it out, because you kept sending it.”
In the end it didn’t matter who had done what, except that I’d been flagrantly disobedient to a patient and merciful Father. That was on me. So I complained that He’d left me nowhere else to go, in my frantic grasping, even if I lived the most un-Charismatic future in the history of the post-Apostolic church. “I can’t go back to the old slime that I used to call home. I know that’s nothing but yet another self-styled catastrophe waiting to happen. There’s no trying to live any kind of life apart from You, because there’s nothing worth living for without You. I’m stuck here, waiting and wondering, no matter what the future holds.” Not quite a church camp testimony, but I was waxing as honestly as I could.
I calculated the cost of a stack of candy bags in my pantry. It totaled about twenty-five sale-price dollars (I never buy stuff like that unless it’s on sale). I considered a scenario in which God told me that if I’d flush twenty-five bucks down the toilet, literally, then He and I would have a stronger relationship. Would I not jump at the chance? Verily, I say to you YES I would. And yet I had dug in my heels over a bunch of junk food that made me feel sick when I ate it, anyway.
(Imagine another paragraph about whining and dying to self. Imagine that it’s not at all flattering of yours truly.)
I gave in. “I surrender. I’M SURRENDERING. Would it be too much to ask Your terms of surrender?” I acknowledged that He didn’t owe me an explanation. I got no response. I took twenty-five dollar’s worth of chocolate and left it in the reception area at my office. You know it didn’t last long there.
There are a couple more things I’ve had to give up. In the interest of finishing this post before anything else noteworthy happens, I’ll try to be brief. I will fail to be brief:
I’m an endlessly curious person who loves to learn new things. Taking my interest to its logical extreme, I would like to know everything. And so I’ve been a voracious reader ever since I was a kid. My reading tastes have gravitated since childhood toward non-fiction over fiction. One constant topic of extreme interest over this time span has been World War II history.
I had the good fortune to work for a time in an environment where I had easy access to a huge number of books at employee discount. I built up a substantial personal library, largely dedicated to WWII history. Pulling from that library and from new purchases since then, I’ve spent much of the past fifteen years with one or more books by the side of my bed or next to my easy chair, where I’ve read whenever time allowed. I’ve had a vague plan that I would read the all of my books, eventually, in some mythical future age in which I’d have nothing better to do.
Starting in 2009 I began reading more exclusively about various aspects of Christian faith. I’d read one of my old history books periodically, for some variety. I was also reading with an intent to move out of my apartment with fewer books than I moved in with me. Every book that I could finish and sell would be one less book to pack and move. For better or worse, I’ve believed for many months that God would have me prepare to move out soon. I thought it was going to be this month (July 2015) ((It wasn’t – rgVI, 08/05/15)), actually. To that end I’d ramped up my reading-to-shrink-the-library efforts in May and into June. In addition I was worn out from thinking about God and destiny and loss, and I just wanted to take a break from that nebulous reality which otherwise dominated my every waking thought.
I began working my way through some of the WWII books that I’d been dusting for fifteen years. It had been a long time since I’d read a succession of books about WWII, and I quickly fell into a comfortable rhythm in familiar territory. As soon as I was comfortable, however, I just as quickly developed a concern that I shouldn’t be getting so comfortable in a place where I was effectively trying to stop thinking about the things I was trying to forget. I pushed the concern aside initially, thinking it ridiculous that God would care if I was reading to facilitate an easier move out, even if a motivation to read at all was to escape the trying nature of day-to-day life. Would He have me instead stress out over things I couldn’t control?
Thus began another episode of struggling against a perceived call from God to give up something that I valued. This one was in some ways harder than the junk food thing: whereas there’s no redeeming value in junk food, there’s at least some educational value in reading history books. History is, after all, a subject in school. Used to be, anyway. The point is, I didn’t believe I was ingesting mental garbage by reading the memoirs of Albert Speer or a first-hand account of the siege at Bastogne. Cutting to the chase, why would God change the rules of engagement about me reading history books? Or any of the kind of books I normally read? Had I not spent a large chunk of my life reading similar books over the years, without a nagging sense of guilt? It’s safe to say that I’d done all that reading without the slightest concern that I should be doing something else instead.
I began to explain to God why He shouldn’t care that I was reading the same kinds of books that I’d been reading my entire life. This effort turned into an argument against myself, regarding why I was reading in the first place.
Why are you reading these books in the first place? – Because I’m interested in the subject matter. WHY ELSE WOULD I BE READING THEM?
Do you want to know everything about World War II? – Theoretically, yes.
Will you ever know everything there is to know about World War II? – No. If I had access to every book ever written about WWII, I wouldn’t have time to read them all before I died. So what?
So you would like to know everything about World War II, but you know that you cannot? – Right.
How much knowledge, short of all of the knowledge, then, is enough knowledge? – I have no idea. I’ve never thought of it in those terms.
How many people do you know with whom you can have a meaningful conversation about WWII? – Less than a handful, and I rarely see them, anyway.
How many people to do you know who are even remotely interested in WWII? – Slightly more than the small number in above question.
So this information you’re learning will not serve to enhance your relationships with other people at all? – Not as far as I know.
How will this knowledge of WWII serve you in any work you do on behalf of God? – I don’t know that it will.
In the life after this one, how important will it be that you have read, in this life, any number of books about WWII? – I can’t imagine that it will be important at all, unless the knowledge opens doors that I’m not yet aware of.
So there’s no apparent eternal value to your gaining more knowledge of World War II, and there’s little apparent mortal value in same? – Pretty much.
Do you agree that time is more precious now than when you first got interested in World War II, way back when you reasonably assumed that life would last forever? – Yes. Of course.
Do you agree that God might have good motives for asking you to give up this or anything else, provided that it’s He who’s doing the asking? – Yes.
I honestly couldn’t come up with a good reason to keep reading the books, other than I always had read them and had never before felt guilty about it. That felt like a hollow complaint, after a week or so of serious examination. To the extent that I maintained that stubborn attitude, I quickly dropped it when I ‘heard’ something about needing to destroy ‘some of your possessions.’ That made it an easy final decision. I stopped reading the books and took a load out to sell shortly thereafter.
I don’t think there’s anything ‘wrong’ with reading history books. I just think God wants me to use my time in a more ‘right’ way now, whatever that might look like.
I transferred a huge amount of my reading time to the internet platform in the late 90’s. The Internet provides a way to move life along at whatever speed I want. If the real world tends to move too dang slowly for my tastes, I can plow through various websites at whatever speed I desire, endlessly. For someone who loves to learn for the sake of learning and for the sake of practical application and for any other reason, the Internet is electronic heroin. I am truly an information junkie. Why get exorcised about a finite personal library of World War II books, when there are terabytes of WWII info just laying around on servers all over the world? If not WWII, how about WWI? Or the American Civil War? Or any other war that’s ever happened? Or any other THING that has ever happened or is happening right now? It is magnificent.
In addition to having an insatiable curiosity about Everything, I have a similarly limitless capacity to (mostly) read and, to a lesser extent, respond in discussions and debates about Everything. I didn’t know this about myself until Internet. Until my late-20’s I was an entirely apolitical and unaware human being. Then I woke up because of the Internet and haven’t been able to go back to sleep. There’s a 24×7 flood of news from Everywhere about Everything, and with countless venues for discussing and analyzing said news. For whatever reason I simply do not tire of reading people’s comments about the latest events in the world (or book reviews, or movie reviews, or any other type of discussion about whatever topic.) I used to post on forums a lot myself; I gave that up after I got banned from my primary hang-out. Now I just read. Were there no other obligations in life, I could rotate focus amongst a particular group of websites all day every day until I fell over dead of old age in front of my computer.
I need to end this post. I believe God has been telling me for years to lay off the information addiction. Three or four years ago, in fact, I went to see Todd White at Upper Room in Dallas. Towards the end of his ministry time, Todd looked right at me in the crowd and said, “Stop paying so much attention to the news.” Then he looked away and carried on. “Do we really need to know more bad news?” The answer to his rhetorical question was, of course, no. No, we do not. I was already feeling convicted that I needed to stop frittering away so much time in that way. The Todd White episode really hit me hard, in that context.
But I continued on being myself, especially about current socio-political events, justifying my addiction by arguing to me and God that I needed to know as much as I could about that world so that I could make the best decisions possible. If our decisions are only as solid as the data informing them, then it follows that the best decisions ever will be those that are informed by the greatest amount possible of accurate information. “You don’t want me to be out of touch with the times, do you, God?”
Actually, I think He does want me to be out of touch with the times. At least with regard to mortal matters that I generally have zero capacity to influence. And in late June after I’d given up masturbation, junk food, and feeding my World War II jones, I was left staring squarely at Internet Addiction Extraordinaire, as (Primarily) Manifested in Obsessive Socio-political Observation. I went through an analysis very similar to the one I did about WWII. Bottom line was I can never know enough information to force the world into being what I want it to be; but I can expend a depressing amount of time trying to do so.
The news out there isn’t getting any better, and I’m not going to be a remarkably more effective Christian if I know Everything about current events. I have for fifteen years been as aware of things as a person can be. It breeds only anger, hopelessness, and despair in me.
There is no salvation through earthly power struggle.
Time is of the essence.
I gave up Internet.
On Sunday, June 21, I awoke at exactly 0100 and began praying. As best as I can recall I said something like, “I don’t know if I’m squared away with the whole Bright Future thing blah blah blah, but I love You and worship You as my Creator, regardless.” Something like that. It wasn’t a throw-away prayer, but neither was I really dialed into what I was praying. Sort of a sleep/prayer effort. Sometime either during or after the prayer, I ‘heard’ a loud voice say, “You’re going to be my son.” I was taken aback by it, and there was a physical sensation that went through my body upon hearing it. I was immediately convinced that I hadn’t imagined the message. It was too abrupt and surprising a message to have come from my own mind. Then I spent an hour trying to make sense of what I’d heard. These were the possibilities I considered:
‘You’re going to be my son.’ – Such a word coming from God didn’t make sense, because I’m already one of His sons. I assume. If it was a demonic entity speaking, then there were numerous possible motivations.
‘You’re (you were) going to be, My son.’ – As in, “This is God telling you that you WERE going to have that bright future, but you were too rebellious.” I hated to even consider this possibility, so I mostly didn’t. A demonic entity would presumably be interested in leading me to believe all is lost. So that seemed possible.
‘You’re (you are) going to be, My son.’ – That is, “You aren’t yet where you need to be. But you are going to be there one day, My son.” Perhaps an encouragement from God? There in the wee hours and while wondering, I remembered that it was Father’s Day. It was nice to imagine that God was calling me His son on Father’s Day. And it could have been a demon trying to create false hope.
Neither the second nor third option really rang true, because I’d not heard an implied comma in the statement. Which left me with the first possibility, and that went nowhere; except that it might have been God giving me the ‘son’ message on Father’s Day, which was still a comforting consideration.There was ultimately no figuring it out that morning. I went back to sleep.
A few days later, Mary emailed me some relevant scripture from Hebrews that gave a hopeful perspective on the thing. Thanks, Mary.
Thursday morning, June 25, I woke up very early and then did some Bible reading and praying. I fell asleep again, challenging God over some rescue work that David ascribed to God in Psalm 64. I was expressing skepticism to God that God behaves the way David described Him to behave. “Will You REALLY shoot them with Your arrows and turn their own tongues against them? I’m not saying I don’t believe it. But I’ve never seen it happen,” which I could have followed up with “in my life right now, where I think it should be happening but is not.” Then I was asleep.
After a couple of hours’ sleep, I had a dream in which a nominal male authority figure in my life was harassing me. I was repelled by him and his actions. I became aware somehow both in the dream and in real life that I was possibly under spiritual attack. I said in the dream, “In the name of Jesus, STOP IT!” Things got immediately crazy. (This is the Hope is Restored part, in case you were wondering.) Apparently I’d spoken the words out with my actual real world mouth, as well as in the dream. I could tell because I was pulled to a dark and fuzzy awakening by the sound of the words. As soon as I got the words out, I felt my body heave, and I coughed a cough that didn’t come from my lungs. More like self-propelled wind rushed out of my body via my mouth. This spasm was followed by a deep sense of peace permeating my entire body.
I didn’t have time to reflect, because the peace which passes understanding was accompanied by -TA DA- the text vision, which had been absent for weeks. The letters were crystal clear. I still couldn’t read the words, but I could see that they all started with the letter ‘a’. Still no time to reflect because there appeared over the text a new element to the vision: it was a small shape, repeating and arranged in a regular pattern, scrolling down the face of the text. The shape was of a tiny, solid grey iconic lampstand with seven candle holders. There were many little lampstands scrolling down the scene. I looked closely to verify I was seeing the shape of a menorah. Indeed I was. In addition to this new lamp element, the vision on that particular morning had a near-immersive quality about it, like I was almost in the scene and not just looking at it.
It was a heck of a way to start the day. From spoken command (“STOP IT!”) until silent recognition of the lampstands took about three seconds. In those three seconds I’d 1) woken myself out of a dark dream by 2) commanding an evil spirit to stop harassing me in my dream, which command 3) I’d actually spoken out in real time and had 4) subsequently expelled a real-time demon from myself, which demon 5) exited my body through my mouth causing 6) me to convulse and cough, after which 7) I saw the text vision again, this time with both 8) increased clarity and 9) the addition of the lampstand figures. Very interesting. I lay still, quiet, and disoriented for a bit, reveling in the peace that had so thoroughly supplanted the despair and confusion of the previous three months. Without question the immediate struggle since March 30 was over.
I reached over for my Bible and turned to the description of the golden lampstand in Exodus. In the Thomas Nelson study notes, the author remarked that the number seven signifies completion and that the candles would be burning even when the priest wasn’t in the Tent. Both of those realities resonated within my spirit. God was speaking directly to me in those moments, though I wasn’t entirely sure what He was saying. One thing I believed He was not saying was, “Too bad, so sad. You blew it.” That fear had vanished out my mouth, in a rush of something dark that straddled the physical and spiritual worlds.
Reading the ornate details of the golden lampstand that morning, I was mildly bothered by the fact that the tiny lampstands in my vision were matte grey, two dimensional, and devoid of light. A week later I was looking further into Exodus on an unrelated matter. I saw God’s instruction to Moses regarding the oil of the lampstand. He told Moses to command that the Israelites should provide pure olive oil for the lamps. The study notes remarked that the purity of the oil was indicative of the purity God demanded in all the Israelites’ sacrifices. I wondered if the lamps in my vision were bland and not lit due to impurity in my own relationship with God. That was certainly a theme of the preceding months, what with my sincerely struggling to let go of various comforts that were not God. Weeks later, I still think it possible that’s the case. It’s also possible that God is very gradually unveiling Himself to me as a matter of course, and that perhaps the lamps are duly going to be lit one day, period. In consideration of that possibility, I’m not willing to test limits and see if I can somehow get away with lazy self-discipline and still expect to see lighted lamps. Of course, it’s speculation that I’ll ever seen the lamps or that text vision again.
***** ***** *
The day after this remarkable experience, the Supreme Court made their landmark decision regarding marriage. I took heart in knowing that, as dark as the spiritual climate of this country is getting, God is simultaneously preparing and deploying various elements of light into the same country. My pastor remarked about the same thing two days later. There is a very real yet invisible struggle going on, and the two opposing sides are, to an increasing blatant extent, moving their pieces into position.
***** ***** **
The lampstand vision happened almost two and half weeks ago. Since then, I’ve actually gotten lax with Internet reading and, to a much lesser extent, junk food. The other two things aren’t a factor. God used the three months of misery to force me into confronting some things that I’d likely not have, otherwise. I’m headed in the right direction and increasingly unburdened by distractions that aren’t in His best plans for me. With His help, I will become what He needs me to be.
I pretty much breezed right by the introduction of demonic deliverance in this post, like it’s standard fare in everyday conversation. I know that it’s not. I think it will be in the not-too-distant future.