This blog has been, since inception, a blow-by-blow account of what much of my faith walk has looked like in that time, with some reference to earlier events as well. There have been some pretty interesting things that popped up here and there over the years. It seemed good that I should document these things. So I finally did. For months and years I documented what became an unbelievable crescendo of potential something-or-other, composed of fits, starts, crashes, and smiles. The thing moved along at a snail’s pace, yet always in the same direction, always with the same theme, however indecipherable it might have been at any given time. Life was one endless WAIT, while seeing the amazing sights.
Then November 2016 happened, and suddenly THE END seemed genuinely near. “How near?!!” I wondered incessantly. “At which millisecond will this years-long slog through hell officially be over, my marriage restored, and a sweet destiny brought to fruition? WHEN?” Work stress perfectly coincided. Physical pain was constant, loud, and getting louder by the day. And I finally and willfully gave away an incomprehensibly amazing destiny in exchange for a few moments’ stress relief.
At any number of places in this blog, I’ve documented my experience of God patiently warning me off a life-long habit of masturbation. I won’t rehash the whole process. Search for the blog for hotspots, or use the Hot Spots tag search.
God told me time and again, for years, “Don’t do that thing that you do.” I mostly stopped. I wasn’t interested in blowing a really great thing in exchange for nothing of value. I’m no Esau, after all. Then, a curious thing happened beginning in the summer of 2016. Some presumably-prophetic people started telling me, “You can’t mess this up. You can’t blow this. This good thing is going to come about no matter what.” One of those people was particularly insistent, and he had no idea that I’d struggled with the notion that I might have it in my power to ruin the potential. Those folks had my attention. I liked the sound of what they were telling me, even as I didn’t quite believe them. I knew that I knew that I knew what I’d experienced with hotspots and all that. Those prophetic people hadn’t lived with hotspots that came and went based on my behavior.
But as the months wore on, and the dubious affirmations continued, I began putting more faith in that which tickled my ears than that which I’d already learned through brutally hard lessons. I lost sight of “Do not satisfy yourself” and began to focus on not getting demonized in the process of satisfying myself. The last time I went through the excruciating learning process, in the spring of 2015, it turned out that I’d gotten a demon while fantasizing about a woman who is not my wife. Instead of just being obedient during the final months of 2016, I began playing with the various shades of disobedience. “OK, I’m not thinking about anything in particular while I do this thing that I probably shouldn’t be doing anyway. My mind is blank, so there’s no lust going on.” Or, “I’m thinking about my ex-wife, who is still spiritually my wife. So that’s OK.”
November 2016. Did God really say? I tested the waters and got no apparent push-back from God. Three, maybe four times in November and December. I was always careful to make sure I thought about my ex, whom I believe is still spiritually my wife. Or I thought of no one at all. Mostly I thought about the ex.
Somewhere in December I recognized that I was losing control of the thing, that it had taken on a compulsive feel again. First time in nearly two years I felt like that. I prayed quite a bit about it, asking God’s forgiveness, confessing my disobedience. One morning I awoke to a female voice saying, “Mr. Joseph.” I didn’t think much about the thing, initially. Voices come and go, after all, and we all knew I was Mr. Joseph. Or was soon to be. It was a done deal, right? I was just waiting for that angelic wake-up call one day. Eventually, I got to where I was thinking, in regard to the “Mr. Joseph”: “See! God doesn’t care about what I’m doing. I’m thinking about my WIFE for goodness’ sake. What could be so wrong about that?” So I thought of my ex-wife, on approximately December 15.
The next morning, I dreamed of:
An animated demonstration of a map showing islands in water. There are spears but no people. The spears are self-propelled and are moving as a group. They are at first wobbly and then firm. They are on one island. The spears move across the water, as if to land on another island. I hear a voice saying something about animists. The spears miss the island and land in the water.
Now there’s a real (dream) world view, not animated. First-person perspective. – I’m underwater looking at a step, like a step in a pool that leads up to the surface. I am preparing to take that step up into a very important thing. Then I notice an underwater disturbance right by the step. There a foamy swirl, like might be at the bottom of a waterfall. The swirl has a menacing, sickening feel to it. I am abruptly launched backward underwater, on my back. I am moved rapidly by an unseen force far away from the step. I see the top of the water a few feet above me, speeding past as I feel and hear water rushing over my body. I keep waiting for myself to surface so I can breathe. Instead I continue hurtling backwards, dragged on until I’m about to suffocate. I am finally freed to reach the surface of the water. I gasp upon surfacing. –WAKE.
This was not an encouraging dream, I recognized immediately. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Or didn’t want to. Islands and spears? Animists? The animation seemed benign enough. But that underwater episode…it was as real as if I’d just been in a swimming pool instead of my bed. And I’d been dragged against my will far away from something good. I pretended that things were cool that day, wanting to vomit all the while.
Next morning, I dreamed :
A first-person perspective. – I am looking up at a WWII-era B-17 bomber, flying in clear sunny skies, approximately thirty yards away. I hear a voice tell me, “The plane was hit by flak inside the open bombay doors. The plane was destroyed at 12:12.” I respond sardonically, “Of COURSE it was.” Doesn’t everything have to happen at some cryptic time? – WAKE.
A second discouraging dream. The bomber was hit inside the open bay doors. In practice the crew wouldn’t open those doors until just before the bombing run. The bombs would already have been armed and thus sensitive to an impact. A flak hit inside that compartment would have obliterated the plane. Veteran bomber crew have described surviving in a formation rocked by such an event as like being under a tin roof in a hail storm.
Just ready to start the bombing run. Bombs armed. Destroyed at the last second.
The next morning, a vision, immediately upon waking. The words formed slowly but brilliantly. I couldn’t read them. I was relieved. “OK. Whew. I can still have visions.” The words themselves may have been stationary or moving; I didn’t document then and I can’t recall now. Behind the words, a line-art animation appeared. It was King Kong, being angry atop the Empire State Building. He was waving his arms and roaring, silently. – FADE
That was good, right? I had a vision. Things can’t be too bad if I had a vision. Not that I had a clue what King Kong was about.
A few days later, I played on the praise team in the Christmas Day service. I had been wondering for a few weeks if God was going to show up in some cool way to me on Christmas. And I say that with no sense of entitlement. I’d gotten used to having encouraging dreams, visions, and other God events on or about holidays and birthdays. The wheelchair vision had appeared two days before Christmas in 2014, for example. Of course, by Christmastime 2016 I was wondering if God was really ever going to show up again at all. The dreams and vision were weighing heavily on me.
At the end of the Christmas service I was gathering up my gear when I heard someone calling my name. It was an old friend with whom I hadn’t spoken other than in passing since the early 2010’s. She was enthusiastic. “I have to tell you this. About two weeks ago, I was waking up and heard a voice say to me: ‘Tell Joe that he is worthy and desirable.’ Or ‘Joe needs to know that he’s worthy and desirable.’ I woke up and thought, ‘That’s weird. I’m not going to tell him that.’ Then I saw you today and decided I had to tell you.”
When my friend first starting speaking the words about having the dream about me, and before she got to the actual content, my eyes watered. I knew God was reaching out to me on Christmas. I had no clue what to make of the message. I thanked her for telling me. I told her I’d been hearing for years that God was going to do something huge in my life, and I’d lately been wondering (again, which I didn’t mention) if I’d blown it. She said, “Well, it’s still on, according to what I heard!”
Hmmm. Worthy and desirable. Worthy of what and desirable to whom? I understood why my friend had balked early at telling me about the experience. And I didn’t share her conviction that all was well. I didn’t spend too much time worrying about whether she had heard from God – she was someone who’d had a clearly-prophetic dream about me at that church several years prior. Coincidentally or not, I’d finally acted on the apparent direction of that dream only weeks before she heard her affirmation about me.
I recognized that the timing of her voice experience might have directly coincided with my waking up in the morning to hear a woman’s voice say, “Mr. Joseph.” Funny thing is, it was a black woman’s voice that I heard. My friend is a black woman, and I believe it was her voice that I heard. Maybe at the same time she was hearing her thing about me. The black woman motif has been strong in my experiences over the past few years. I’d been saving that whole story for a stand-alone blog post about how I thought God was going use me specifically to submarine the racial animosity that is boiling over in this country.
In the weeks since all that stuff happened in mid- to late-December, I’ve been over and over all the facts as I know them. I’ve tried desperately to make it work out somehow in my favor. I can’t do it. The island-drowning dream; the bomber dream; the King Kong vision; the Christmas Day message. All of those things fit perfectly each in an independent web of phenomena that have been a part of this whole years-long journey. On this very day (Jan 18), my ex-wife is getting married in Hawaii. The dream about the islands indicated that I was about to step out into something very important before I was physically removed far from that possibility.
Two years ago I dreamed of traveling to Hawaii with my ex-wife’s adult son. Somehow I was going to Hawaii at a day’s notice, and for the price of $25. That made no sense to me. The dream was extremely vivid, however, so I made a point to document it. Then I found out a few months ago that my ex was getting married in Hawaii. Weird. I wondered if there was some connection to the dream. But I didn’t see how it made sense that I would be going just with her son, since that whole family was flying out together. Turns out the son and his wife left a few days early to have a little private anniversary celebration. There’s no doubt in my mind that, if I’d been obedient and rated a divine intervention into my ex’s wedding plans, the son’s wife would have transferred her ticket to me. I can see how that would run about a $25 transfer fee.
I did a web search for ‘Hawaii animism’ a few days after the dream. Plenty of hits. It only just now occurred to me that IF I had been obedient and somehow ended up in Hawaii with a divine imperative and capacity, any Hawaiian animists in the neighborhood would have been able to see the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in action. They could have put their faith in the One True God through a saving relationship with His son Jesus Christ. But you see, it was somehow more important that I should masturbate a few times, from June to December.
The bomber dream fits a theme that includes previous dreams of WWII-era bombers being repurposed for something grand in modern times. I was in fact reading a non-fiction book about a WWII bomber during the weekend that I had the bomber dream. The bomber crew were on one of the their final missions before they would have completed their 30-mission tour. The war itself in Europe was obviously just about over. The bombing mission was ill-advised due to terrible weather conditions. The actual primary bombing run was in fact cancelled. All squadron navigators agreed the best course to fly out of Germany was one particular direction. But the flight commander demanded against all good advice that they should instead make their turn right over Regensberg*, which city was known to have a flak battery. The squadron encountered light flak. But one shell blew the wing off of the protagonist bomber. Two crew members safely parachuted down. The others all fell to their deaths when the plane broke apart or went in with the plane.
I finished the book after I’d satisfied myself that final time and then had both dreams and that King Kong vision. The proximity of bomber dream to bomber book magnified the many ways I related to the book’s story. One crew member had a wife and two children to whom he wrote regularly. He was living for the chance to get home to a normal life with them. That desire has defined my own existence for nearly eight years now. The crew were on one of the last missions they were required to fly before they could go home. I had presumably been right at the end of my own wait before Something happened. There was mention in the book of how bomb crew members often started ‘acting out’ as they got closer to the end of their tour. The tension generally affected them in ways that would encourage heavy drinking, gambling, womanizing, etc… in some of the guys. Went there, did that. The obstinate flight commander had demanded that the formation take a dangerous route, in spite of the good advice of those who knew better. I had effectively been that same guy in my own life.
The King Kong vision meant nothing to me until a revelation just this week. In context of everything else, we all know what happened to King Kong after he got to the top of the Empire State Building. I didn’t have to see the end of that story in my vision to know the deal. Just like I didn’t see the bomber in my dream disintegrate into multiple explosions; I know that’s what would have happened to a bomber in that circumstance.
Isn’t this great? Pay attention and learn how lose a divine blessing. I’m providing expert instruction.
The “Mr. Joseph/worthy&desirable” thing is a little less clear cut, if any of this is clear cut. I’m inclined to think that those words were some sort of last-ditch effort to encourage me away from being stupid. Never mind that I didn’t hear it from my friend until after the fact. My own hearing of ‘Mr. Joseph’ only made me more comfortably disobedient. I suppose hearing from my friend in a more timely manner might have had the same effect, since I was rebellious and not obedient in my heart.
I will say that, if that whole thing was from God, whether or not it was intended as a warning, I take heart in the message. If God was telling me I was worthy, then I don’t really care what I was worthy of; it’s just good for God to call you worthy. The ‘desirable’ thing makes sense in context of the church being the bride of Christ. Maybe He was saying that I am desirable in that way. IF all of that is true, and He told me I was worthy and desirable before I trashed years’ worth of preparation and hopes, then I imagine ‘worthy and desirable’ didn’t go away after the fact. Worthy and desirable are not transient qualities. I think. So if it was God, then He still considers me worthy and desirable – just possibly if not likely as such without the opportunity to be what He’d been training me to be for several years.
(* update: the original post showed this city to be Darmstadt. I corrected to Regensberg on May 1, 2017.)
For Biblical precedent of such spectacular failure that wasn’t hidden from the world (thanks to the Bible), see: Moses missing out on the Promised Land, after FORTY YEARS of dealing with the Israelites; Esau trading his birthright for a meal from his worm of a brother, Jacob; and the young prophet who esteemed a fellow prophet’s instruction over God’s, and which young prophet was subsequently killed by a lion. All of those example failures are mirrored in my own. In the span of one month (or just a couple of minutes, depending), I’ve gone from being something like a potential Biblical-scale hero (Joseph, Joseph, Joseph) to being a Biblical-scale goat.
It was really the one thing God has ever specifically told me not to do. As I’ve explained ad nauseaum in this blog over the years, He didn’t say, “Do not satisfy yourself, unless you’re thinking of your ex-wife or keeping your mind blank.” There were no such outs provided. And here I am again, losing out on the chance to bless massively in the name of Jesus. And maybe losing out on the chance to have another chance again. Circumstance being what they are, this feels like End of Story.
This blog may well be my most important legacy, that of providing a warning to anyone who might find themselves in my situation. Not that it’s a common thing, of course. God in heaven provided me an irreplaceable opportunity the likes of which I’ve not heard of before. Outside the Bible. It was going to be that big. I wonder how long Esau remembered that stew he got from Jacob.
Where to go from here? I’m too numb with grief and shame to make any good decisions about the blog right now. There’s too much decent material here to just shut it down immediately. My plan had been to eventually turn the blog content into a book. I could still do that. The process would be with a leaden heart, instead of the glorious enthusiasm that I’d imagined. I’ll likely leave the blog up indefinitely and will make updates as seem fit. I officially believe I’m no longer waiting on anything in particular; so I expect any further blog updates will continue in a faith-related vein, only in a more general sense. There will be a few more January 2017 posts, just to cover as many bases as possible. One post in particular, I think, will highlight just how loving is our Father in Heaven.
Outside of a handful of friends who both know me and know about this blog, very few people have any idea this stuff has been going on in my life during the past few years. Which is nice. I like to think God has been keeping things under wraps for my sake. Given my propensity towards self-destruction, maybe He was preventing wide-scale awareness to spare me any public shame for blowing it so spectacularly and pathetically. There have been a few people whom I told over the years that they should have hope that a personal incurable malady would not be permanent. I have now begun the grotesque process of going back to those same people and setting the expectation that, if there’s miracle, it will likely not be coming through me. Father of Year is mine for the asking, I’m sure.