May 2017, pt. 1 – More of the same, indeed.

The beginning of May saw a continuation of the rich and unexpected activities that erupted in April. For the sake of continuity, I saw no evidence that anything had changed in me at the end of April, despite a days-long period in which I definitely felt very different. My limited experience shows that a holy visitation can sometimes leave me “feeling” very different for a few days after the fact.

May 1, 2017
DREAM
A pack of three dogs approach me aggressively. They are intent on attacking me. Because I have power and authority gifted by the Holy Spirit, I calm the dogs with a gesture and maybe a few words. END.

DREAM
I am with a bunch of high school friends. We are up on a high cliff, overlooking the ocean. I am completely naked. I jump off the cliff, much farther out over the water than I should be able to. Launched out over the water, I am aware that my friends are behind me, still on the cliff. I descend toward the water and protect everything as well as possible for the inevitable and violent splashdown. END

Five months ago the dog dream would have been very encouraging. Today, it is immediately discouraging. “This is all I’m going to be able to do…calm packs of wild dogs? How often will that even be a thing?” I apologize to God for devaluing His gifts, even without knowing if the dream is from Him at all.

I drift off towards sleep again. I hear a question: “Does this journey make sense to you?” I think, in reply, “No, not really.” I figure it should make more sense than it does by now and that it’s probably my fault that it doesn’t. Somehow I get around to asking, “Are we ready to go?” As in, is it time to get going for real, on this journey that doesn’t make sense? After all, someone just acknowledged that this is, in fact, a journey, and not just a series of disjointed and oftentimes interesting occurrences. I hear, within a few minutes, “This path is yours to exalt.” Or exult. Exalt works better grammatically. Taken at face value and either way, it sounds like someone is telling me the ball is in my court.

I eventually got out of bed to face Monday morning life. I was still noticeably disoriented or whatever it was from the previous morning’s confirmation that “he” does, indeed, want me to have those things. That strange perspective was further compounded by the two messages from this morning. Three spoken words in two days, after who-knows-how-long it had been since the last one. Crazy. If the ball is in my court, I considered, maybe I need to be really proactive somehow. Had I not been already? Who knows. I was already on record as saying the journey didn’t make sense to me.

May 2, 2017
I pulled a “Me, Myself, and I” stunt on this day, which resulted in immediate chagrin, given the context of preceding dreams and what not. I had been planning for weeks to take the day off work specifically to do some writing and other chores. This blog was running months behind since December; and I was determined to get a chunk of content published. The day finally rolled around, after I’d made the necessary plans to be away from work. I had scheduled and prioritized writing, shopping, exercise, and cleaning, down to the minute. On a whim of half-baked sincerity, I asked God that morning, “Is there anything You’d like me to do today?” That was me being proactive. I didn’t hear anything directly in response; but there was an immediate “sense” that I should relax and spend time with God. I recognized straight away that God didn’t understand how much I needed to get done, or else He would not have suggested I spend precious time with Him. All that writing to do! I ignored the impulse to spend time with God and then set about my day. God would surely be impressed by my productivity later on. Even if He was not, I planned to be.

In late morning I was busy thinking and writing about the particular social dynamic of increasingly radicalized anger in black Americans. I believed God had been highlighting black Americans to me for years; with the understanding and growing hope that He would use me to address the situation in a profound way. I was actually writing blog content about same, when an initial report came on the radio news about a black guy with a rifle who had shot a fire department paramedic, in what was an apparent ambush. The situation was developing, they said.

I was stopped cold. I immediately felt the sting – real or imagined – of reproach from God. My thoughts returned to the strange vision I’d had on April 24, the day that all of this current round of excitement burst onto the scene. That morning one week prior, I’d felt like I was reading a personal journal entry in my sleep; the entry had something to do with sliding down a pole and something else about getting to some ammunition. Those two acts, distinct from and possible unrelated to each other, were what I was trying to decipher, when I’d heard The Voice say, “Right after we said, ‘We are starting again’ is where you will find more of the same.'” Then there was a bright flash of light, which clued me into the fact that all that stuff had been happening while I was awake, not sleeping.

What if the vision (such as it was) had been some warning about this day’s shooter getting his ammunition and the paramedic going down a pole in order to quickly respond in a way that saw him walk into an ambush? Perhaps if I’d been obedient to the perceived invitation from God that morning, things might have worked out very differently for the two men involved in the ambush. Of course, it was just as likely that the vision elements represented some idealized version of myself, ready to go at a moment’s notice, fully stocked with ammunition to deal with whatever God had put in front of me. There was no proof that God would have used me to thwart the May 2 attack. But there was no proof that He wouldn’t have. That’s the problem with ignoring God’s suggestions – it introduces uncertainty about situations for which there are eternal consequences.

It had been obvious for years that much of what I perceived to be delay or frustration with a release of blessing into my life and the lives of those around me was due to the fact that I was hung up on doing my own agenda. Or doing God’s agenda on my own terms. “I’m going to live this way, despite the fact that God is suggesting a preferred alternative.” Less so than in the past, in any given month; but still enough that I was left to wonder in early May 2017 about something as crazy as whether God would have used me to stop an ambush in East Dallas. Old news, of course, for anyone who has read much of this blog. And here I was, mere days after being encouraged by words spoken into my spirit for the first time in years, caught still doing my own thing.

This episode forced me to formally assemble and act on some thoughts that had been floating around in my consciousness for a while. Jesus reported in at least one of the Gospels that He only did what He saw His father doing. That is (I take it), He didn’t walk around with a completely blank agenda on any given day; He got something like marching orders from God the Father and then acted accordingly. Somewhere else in the Gospels there is also a description of Christ spending early morning hours in prayer, communing with His Father. Maybe it was during that early morning prayer time that Jesus got the day’s agenda from God the Father. And if that’s how Jesus did it, then might not we be able to do something similar? If any one of us were to ask God to provide His agenda for our day, there’s at least a chance that He would actually provide His vision for those hours.

Taking it a step further than merely asking for His agenda, it necessarily follows that we can expect to sacrifice our own agenda to satisfy His. I can expect that, anyway. There are slim odds that I awaken on any given day with God’s agenda burning in my heart. (As I type this, I recall seeing Bradford McClendon teach about doing this very thing, maybe three years ago now.) And if I’m giving up my plans to satisfy God’s, it’s going to be a sacrifice of my own will. There’s clearly no shortage of my will getting in the way of good things, these days. There is much material for available for sacrifice on the altar of My Own Plans. But it would presumably be a sacrifice worth making, since He would be the one coming up with the agenda. And His ideas are better than mine, if our ideas aren’t the same.

I resolved while leaning on my kitchen counter, disgusted with myself yet again, that I should start each morning by asking God in all sincerity, “How can I live as a sacrifice today?” That is, “How would You, God, have me spend my time, above and beyond that which is possibly or probably already laid out in the normal course of planning a random day in my random life?” If Christ is the role model – and He is – then I had to give this intentional and daily sacrifice thing a shot. Isn’t that essentially what Christ did, day in and day out – live as a sacrifice on behalf of others? Sure looks that way from my reading. And I’ve already speculated that He got His agenda from God during morning communion. I would strive to do the same, starting the following morning.

Incidentally, I lost track of and apparently deleted the aforementioned blog content about black Americans, during the chaos of May. I’ve recreated this day’s entry from memory, just to get the main points across.

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