I wrote yesterday's blog post out of a sincere desire to help several close Christian friends overcome their reticence to letting Jesus set them free. To be honest, I was beginning to feel as if I was failing them and Jesus because I have been unable to convince them of what my spirit is screaming is His Truth! I have tried using Scripture to validate what has been revealed to me, but more often than not, these dear Christians are so entrenched in the Church interpretation of the Word, that they look at me with doubtful concern: "I can see that possibility, but it's not what I've been taught my whole life." And the conversation usually ends there.
Even those who have seen family members healed of their spiritual wounds [and are desperately searching for a way out of their own bondage] just can't bring themselves to step outside the box. Something is holding them back; they are listening to a lie; and I haven't been able to convince them that Jesus is bigger than we've allowed Him to be.
I honestly didn't know what to pray; or how to pray for a breakthrough. I had tried praying for ministering angels to reveal God's Truth to them, as it had been revealed to me. I tried praying, in the Name of Jesus, for specific spirits and strongholds to be bound and cast off my friends. I tried going, in my spirit, to the throne room of God, where I knew [in confidence] that I could ask for mercy and find grace to help in [this] time of need. But all my prayers seemed flat and shallow. As I climbed into bed, I didn't feel defeated; but certainly deflated.
Then, as I often do, when my spirit needs to connect with God, I awoke in the early hours of the morning. Just past 4 a.m., I lay there wide awake, still struggling with how to get my friends delivered from the spiritual darkness they were experiencing. But I couldn't even focus my mind enough to pray coherently. I was wide awake, staring at the ceiling, and it was as if my mind was trying to find its way through a foggy maze. I couldn't form a plan of prayerful attack against the Enemy. So I just closed my eyes in the dark, and started telling myself, Be still and know that He is God... Be still and know that He is God. And I tried to picture, in my spirit, the Light of the Glory of God... the Light shining in the darkness.
I don't know how to explain it in any other way, but the next thing I was cognizant of was that I was part of something like a mini-movie playing in my head. I knew on some level that it was a dream, and it was like I was watching it; but it was also like I was one of the actors in this scenario. The story played out like this: Set in the early 1930s or so, a man and his family are traveling in their old pickup, when it develops engine trouble. They limp into this small town, where they are greeted with hospitality by a man who seems to be the leader of the town. This leader also says he'll be glad to help get the truck repaired, and invites them to stay a few days while he arranges for the truck to be hauled away to the shop.
Now in this "dream", I seem to be playing the part of the husband, who gets his wife and two kids settled in, while he strolls about this town, getting a feel for its citizens. He quickly senses a reserve and restraint about the townspeople; they seem skittish and nervous. The husband (me) tries to ask a few questions... what do the townspeople do for a living? Is it a good town to raise a family? One of the men approaches him, looking over his shoulder, as if worried he will be caught doing something forbidden, and reveals that no one is allowed to do anything but what the Leader permits them to do. No one is free to pursue his or her own interests. The husband asks, Then why don't you leave? The townsman looks aghast and frightened at this suggestion! Oh, that's impossible! The Leader won't allow it!
At this point in the "dream", the scene switches to the Leader returning from taking care of the family's truck, and now I'm playing the part of the wife. I ask him what news he has on our truck, and he replies that he has taken care of the repairs and it will cost us $800. Well, that was a fortune in the Depression of the 1930s, and I inform him that we don't have that kind of money! And the Leader informs me that we will be unable to leave since he holds this debt over our heads. I boldly scream at him, My husband will never give in to your demands, while the terrified townspeople look on, unable to believe that I would dare to stand up to the feared Leader.
At that moment, the husband (me again) appears on the scene, questions us about the uproar, and declares to the Leader that he will not be subject to his dictates. He gathers his family up, and standing in the town square, declares to all the surrounding townspeople that we are leaving; we will not be bullied or intimidated by this tyrant. But the townspeople respond with astonishment and consternation... How can you leave? We are all prisoners here, subject to his command! And we don't have the keys to unlock the gates to the town!
The husband (me) looks at the panic-stricken townsfolk with pity in his eyes and heart. Folks, you don't need keys... there are no locked gates on this town. You have been free to leave anytime you wanted to. This deceitful and wicked man only had you convinced you could never leave. Your freedom has always been there. All you had to do was walk away from him and his lies.
Suddenly I was awake from this strange "dream". It had been 2 1/2 hours since I had begun telling myself to Be still, and know that He is God. But I had just "watched" and "participated in" what seemed like a full-length movie, in all its detail, color, and emotion. It was as clear and visible in my mind as if I had just walked out of a movie theatre. I was baffled as I woke my husband up and told him the strange event I had experienced in my sleep. It was such a strange little story; like it was perfectly scripted for my personal screening. But I wondered, why that particular story line... I couldn't really see any purpose to the plot.
I will tell you that I have never had a "dream" like that before! And I rarely remember every detail and conversation and emotion in sequential order, and in such lucid images. My husband said, "I think God just gave you a vision". At first, I didn't want to accept that because that isn't any kind of language (or concept) that we modern and Western Christians embrace with any comfort or agreement. But I then realized just how similar my experience was to what I have been studying in Acts, Chapter 10.
Peter, who found himself outside the norm of Jewish tradition and Law, was staying with Simon, the tanner, in Joppa. For a law-keeping Jew of that time, it was strictly forbidden to associate with anyone who routinely worked with dead animals. And according to Jewish Law, a tanner had to live at least 75 feet outside a village because of his ritual uncleanness.
But God was laying a groundwork in Peter's heart for a new concept that He needed him to understand, and Peter is less concerned about Jewish traditions and ceremonial notions than he was before. Boy, can I relate to that! This whole ministry that God has laid on me and my husband's hearts necessitates that we be willing to look outside the Western Church's traditions and rituals! And it has certainly set us apart from our fellow Christians.
And what did God do next with Peter? While he was praying on Simon the tanner's rooftop, the Bible relates what it calls "Peter's Vision". Scripture actually says he fell "into a trance". Now this happens to Peter around noon, hence the description of a trance. I would submit to you that if it had happened in the night or early morning hours, it would have been described as a dream.
So, Peter's dream is every bit as clear and focused and vivid as mine was. He even partakes in a conversation with God, and the dream comes to a definitive end. It is not disjointed or disordered; it is articulated with a precise message. And Scripture says "Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant". Like Peter, I searched for meaning and significance. And, I will tell you that when it is that strong an image in your mind, you know how different it is from other dreams you've had.
I understand that the traditional Church, [and perhaps many of you] will be unable to accept what I have related. It will be rejected as my own rationalization or justification, and it is just too far outside the realm of "acceptable" Christian experience. But I know in my heart and spirit, that it was a clarification from God. It articulated the struggles and frustrations I have been facing, and validated that I am on the right path. I was shown that I may not be able to change thoughts and theology in a Christian's mind, but I am to continue declaring what I see as God's Truth. It is then up to each Christian to decide if they are too afraid to challenge the invisible chains imposed by the Prince of this world -- or if they will take that life-affirming step and walk through the gates toward Freedom. All I know is that I have been given encouragement and motivation to continue my walk with My Lord, and it was beyond extraordinary -- it was supernatural!
Ephesians 3:20-21 "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."