I didn’t take any notes during the Bolz ministry time, so I’m going to go from memory regarding his message. Both of the main points that I can recall were prefaced by his asking for audience participation: “Raise your hand if you believe you are waiting on a promised promotion from God.” Something like that. A large percentage of the hundreds in the room raised their hands. We hand-raisers all believe that God has promised some version of ‘more’ in our future. To those who were, by definition, waiting for something from God, Shawn advised:
1) You cannot be righteous enough to earn the next level. That is, you can’t be good enough to earn the reward. The ‘thing’ will come, independent of your efforts to coax it along. I wish I could remember more about this particular point that he was making. After the previous eighteen months of my life, I was disoriented to hear someone address the topic at all, and I don’t remember much more of what he said about it. I think the gist of it was – don’t spend energy specifically trying to ‘righteous’ the change into happening; just live your life for Christ as you should be doing anyway, and your promised increase will happen in God’s timing.
To be frank, even when I heard him say it live, I wasn’t sure I believed him. I’d spent the better part of the previous year-and-a-half sweating bullets, trying to not blow my chances at the promised and expected promotion. My concerns are documented ad nauseum in this blog, as are the legitimate reasons I was concerned. I think they were legitimate, anyway. I have a conviction that God told me to give up certain behaviors, perhaps because they ultimately minimized the opportunity for Him to be my comforter. Sean Bolz clearly has some supernatural gifting. He does his work in the name of Jesus; so that people of refreshed, encouraged, and healed. And he was indirectly challenging the conviction that been the fulcrum of such of such a huge struggle in my life.
Either Sean Bolz is right – and I’ve been worrying for no reason; or Sean Bolz is wrong – and he’s possibly misleading people. Or maybe I misunderstood what he was saying or intending to say. Or MAYBE I did hear God correctly, that I should give up certain behaviors, AND I misconstrued certain events to mean that my promised promotion was contingent upon me being good enough to earn it by giving up the behaviors. That is, I should give up the behaviors because doing so would maximize my relationship with God; but whatever anticipated change might come isn’t contingent upon me giving up those things. Dunno.
2) The waiting should be an active, aggressive time. This one is more straightforward. His point was that you should make the most of your time while waiting for the “next level”, or how ever he described it. Because, he said, once you get the promotion, you will not likely have the discretionary time that was available during the wait. Bolz said that he has wished more than once that he had used his time to better prepare for the life that came along with a promotion from God.
This one also hit close to home for me. My current life situation is such that I have all kinds of time to fill as I see fit, largely without consideration of other human opinion. For the past year or so in particular, I’ve been aware of the fact this lifestyle will not go on indefinitely. It’s not my nature to waste time (whatever that might look like to me), and I think I’ve generally done a good job of making the most of all this. But starting with the 12/31/15 dream about “You have until October 15,” I’ve been really deliberate about maximizing minutes. And to Bolz’ point, I’ve been doing all that maximization with an eye to whatever comes next. Disciple of Jesus; musician; songwriter…all these things and more I have been sharpening with a steady intent and expectation of something that will justify, among other things, a vision of people in wheelchairs.
Going into that August evening, I couldn’t remember hearing of anyone outside of the Bible that ever waited for a promised increase from God, such they could actually prepare deliberately for it. Abraham and Sarah got a promise from God, with a year’s notice that they would have a child. God made a promise of increase to Joseph, son of Jacob; but it was in a vague “your family’s sheaths of wheat will bow down to your sheath of wheat” kind of way. There wasn’t any obvious way for Joseph to prepare for that, other to than to ultimately trust in the Lord throughout years of trial. Which is no small thing; but it’s not quite the same thing as believing God has given you a time frame (even if ‘in this lifetime’) within which to get ready for whatever he’s got in store for you. Apparently that kind of promise is common enough that someone like Sean Bolz thought it was worth polling a crowd and with some obvious expectation that there would be hands raised. And it’s common enough that several hundred people in that auditorium immediately raised their hands at his question.
Not a big deal, but I thought it was interesting.
My ex and I had a frustrating text exchange one evening. My blood pressure spiked when I read one comment in particular. I looked to the heavens and my kitchen ceiling and inquired of the Lord, through clenched teeth in a sort of shouted whisper, “Why do You still let her breathe?” I knew even as I hissed my rhetorical complaint that He loves each of us, whether He’s wild about our behavior or not. Me included.
My phone buzzed again with an incoming text. I looked from the heavens and the ceiling back to my phone. My ex was asking if I would trade one of my regular visits with the kids, so that she could have them on the weekend of October 14. She wanted to take them on a trip. I knew on the spot that she was planning to take the kids to see her fiancé and his family. That meant they would all be together on October 15. And that fact further set up October 15 to be a significant day. Is how I figured it on August 14. With my mood radically altered for the better – if not suddenly manic – I agreed to make the trade. I wondered if I was watching from front-row seats while God moved things around to His liking.
My diabetic child had a minor crisis one afternoon that ultimately required a visit to the ER. We spent several hours at the hospital, doing the IV thing, waiting, talking to the doctor, waiting, talking to nurses, waiting, and walking around being bored. We did find out from the doc that the lack of any re-admissions to the hospital after initial diagnosis a few years ago was a clear indicator that we were managing the condition well.
Like any other time diabetes raises its head front and center, or even in the same neighborhood of front and center, I thought back to the curious weeks in 2013 wherein my child’s rogue pancreas was responding to my prayers for healing. There’s no other way to explain the episodes of too-low blood sugar in the midst of the regular insulin routine that we were following at the time; too-low blood sugar that dropped that low only when I commanded healing in the name of Jesus; too-low blood sugar that hung around until a couple days after the kids and I had been apart. Over and over, for weeks. Then The Pancreas (as we refer to it, with cool medical detachment) stopped responding, and we resumed status quo. There have been endless question marks and a few solid answers since those weeks.
We eventually got the all-clear from the friendly and efficient medical staff. The IV’s had done their work to spec, and we were released back into the world. When we had arrived earlier in the afternoon, it was hot and sunny. After several hours of hospital care, the parking lot was relatively empty, and it was late on a steam-bath August night. My child and I remembered a traumatic visit to that same hospital for that very same child, years earlier and early on in a marital separation that would eventually lead to divorce. “Life has been nothing if not efficiently brutal for my kids,” I stated the obvious to myself, as I started the car. The dashboard clock read 11:11.
11:11 used to be nothing more than an attractively symmetrical pair of numbers on the clock face. At best. Frankly, I never gave 11:11 a second (ba dum tss) thought, at either time of day that it rolled around. Then Mary and I figured out we were spiritual twins, in early 2014. She eventually told me about her life with 11’s. I was interested, but from a distance. I had grown to trust Mary’s perspective on many things I would have otherwise considered juuust a little nuts. I even did some half-attentive Internet searches and found that a LOT of people reported seeing 11:11 enough to get their attention. But I had no personal experience with anything like Mary’s 11’s. So I took it at face value and left it at that.
Then 12:37 happened in 2015 and into 2016. The clock face gradually revealed a dimension to itself that I’d never seen before. Mary’s 11’s seemed suddenly more concrete, to the extent that she mentioned them at all. Then August 2016 rolled around, and I began seeing 11:11. The first day I noticed it, I didn’t think much other than, “Oh look. It’s 11:11. Mary’s number.” The next day I saw it again and thought, “Oh look, it’s 11:11. Mary’s number. Again.” Then I saw it the next day, and the next. The thing began taking on ‘that’ feel: “If I acknowledge what I’m seeing, it might mean I’m insane.” I resolved to not see 11:11. All that did was make 11:11 more persistent. It’s hard to explain.
I admitted to myself that I was seeing 11:11. I told Mary. I felt a little guilty at first. 11:11 was Mary’s deal. My deal was 12:37. I decided I must be seeing 11:11 out of some spiritual twin parallel obligation to Mary, just in case she missed it on any given day; because 11:11 didn’t mean anything to me. Between the two of us, we were seeing it almost every day for a while. We even crossed over emails one day, announcing to each other that we’d inadvertently seen it.
By the night of the diabetes ER visit, 11:11 had taken on a highly personalized ‘12:37’ feel. I had been sucked into the 11’s. When I saw them on my dashboard clock that night, they got my attention more than they would have even a month prior.
Additional note from same day as original post: Mary reminds me to point out that 11 is considered the Biblical number of transition. That’s the possible point to all the 11’s that are happening in my life now. I’m about to enter into a time of transition. Check out this explanation for 11 in the Bible.
For the two weeks following the hospital visit, The Pancreas was in hibernation. Blood sugar was off the charts high. After waiting two weeks for confirmation that higher blood glucose had become the new normal, my ex planned to ramp up the nighttime insulin dosage. She would make that change after my weekend with the kids. During that weekend I made a deliberate effort at commanding healing of The Pancreas. Beginning immediately and continuing at least the following three weeks, as of this writing, The Pancreas has been active enough that we have been consistently managing lows, with relatively few highs. That’s the first time we’ve gotten such distinct, positive, prolonged results such prayer in a couple of years. And, of course, it could be coincidental pancreatic activity, unrelated to anyone’s prayer effort.
I have a particular coworker who shares my interest in interesting things. I’ll refer to my coworker simply as “Dave.” Late in August, Dave related that he’d had an interesting dream during the previous night. He had dreamed about another coworker and me. My participation in the dream was to proclaim aggressively, “You have to eat cake for breakfast!” Complete with emphatic hand gestures. Entertaining and bizarre, for sure. It wasn’t until the following day that it occurred to me…I’d been eating cake for breakfast that week. I had some leftover birthday cake and had been consuming that wildly healthy alternative each morning. Prior to that week, I couldn’t have told you the last time I’d had cake for breakfast. I told Dave that his dream accurately reflected my reality, and we were both appropriately interested.
Dave’s dream wasn’t actionable, but it served as a reminder: we would all do well pay attention to our dreams; and we would all likewise do well to overcome fear of inviting others to compare our dreams against their reality. Neither Dave nor I got any grand imperative to do anything based on the dream. But the dream served to further encourage me, at least, to pay attention and ask around.
Additional note from same day of original post: Just for clarification, there’s a reason for determining that someone has accurately dreamed about another person’s life, other than that it’s just interesting. If Person A dreams a dream that reflects a real aspect of Person B’s life, both Person A and B can take comfort in knowing that God sees all and is using the dream to at least establish that fact. Beyond that point the dream might also serve as an encouragement or warning or any other necessary thing that God wants to communicate to from Person A to B.