Purpose and Reality…

My children are growing up literally as I look at them..  Just yesterday, I came home to look into my 3 year old, Rachel’s eyes and saw some unknown cognition had clicked inside her. She was… older.

This morning, Daniel conveyed to me a dream he had where he and his siblings  were looking for black bears to hunt down in some wooded location. Not yet five, he displays a courage and gentle fierceness often overlooked due to his  tenderheartedness. As I got ready to leave for work, my own mind began to think on young David. He too chased down such animals… and I wonder if it started in his dreams as well.

Someday I shall ask him myself.

“But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,  I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.”   (1 Sam 17:34-36)

There are some very old rites of passage in some cultures. Each one of them holding to certain traditions that once completed, officially announce the passing of boy from child into manhood.

These events  are specific, singular acts that can be reflected upon as one grows older. Within those cultures, there is never a question after that point in time as to whether that person is considered a “man” or not.

A certain old Indian ritual is to have a boy’s father, uncle and some older men of the tribe walk the boy deep into the woods at night, to a predetermined location where he is to sit. He is then blindfolded and told he must remain that way until he feels the morning sunlight on his face. At dawn, having braved the entire night in complete isolation, the boy returns to the village, then being introduced and forever welcomed by the community as a man.

With a final hug and reassurance, his father’s eyes are the last thing the boy sees as the cloth covers his sight. Then the branches and underbrush can be heard being crushed and snapped as the small company of men retreat back to the safety of the village, leaving the boy to his solitude.

The blindfold must never come off.

As he hears the sounds of the jungle all during the night, he must draw upon all his courage and mental fortitude.  All his father’s teachings and life lessons are brought to bear on this very singular moment.

How many of those lessons were squandered?  Which ones were allowed to be sown deep within the child’s heart.  

Every sound seems amplified, which serves to magnify what the child is thinking, believing and drawing upon.  Sleep comes to some, not so much for others. One thing is constant in every event though. As the boy, moments away from now officially becoming a man, feels the morning warmth, hears the nocturnal sounds give way to morning activity…

He lifts the blindfold…

The first thing he sees is his dad sitting directly across from him, less than a dozen feet away. His father was there the entire night, making sure he was safe. His son was never alone. Ever.

The sons and daughters of the living God walk through similar experiences that are created by the hand of our Heavenly Father. Their purpose is to allow us to draw upon all we have been taught on that subject, and galvanize it forever through our own experiential rite of passage.

“For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Heb 5:12-14)

We are not meant to re-live the same fears, expressed in numerous and different circumstances.  They are meant to be used to draw upon what we learned in the prior encounter. Disappointments, rejection, insecurity and pride.  These are signal flares lighting up the darkness of the carnal mind. They are beacons, encouraging us to get away from the rocks of  “dark” thinking. They let us know  we are not resting in the new mind we have through the Holy Spirit living in us.

“The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam 7:37)

Many of us are going through seasons of pushing through hurts, pains, and above all fear. These circumstances are intended to transition us from an aspect of spiritual immaturity to maturity. From childhood to manhood in whatever arena these trials touch. I want to remind you of two main aspects of these trials.  

The first is understanding the Purpose. You are meant to enter into a deeper, richer, fuller aspect of His nature. This is the purpose of a trial.  Said another way, a trial is an event or experience, singular or seasonal that is being used to refine our faith. (2 Peter 1:1-8, James 1:3) You are meant to walk in a deeper revelation of Him as a result of this trial. Do not squander it or contend with the season. Recognize it. Agree with its purpose. It is hand forged by Father out of His love for you.

The second is just as wonderful. It’s a revelation of a deep, beautiful Reality. He is with you always. When young David ran toward that Philistine, though no one saw it, David knew this already. The lion and the bear taught him this truth. David grabbed hold of it. He took possession of that reality for himself. The trials served their purpose. David had already entered into a deeper rest in his God as a result of them.

Realize this: the confrontation with Goliath was NOT a trial.

The trials were somewhere out there on that lonely grazing pasture. Somewhere between that first lion and the last bear that dared roar against a child of the living God. By the time that young boy entered the Hebrew camp and stood before King Saul, his brothers, and all the other quaking soldiers, David had already accepted the invitation, and entered into the deeper walk that was invited him through those challenges. The confrontation with the giant represented only one thing to David. A slaughter.  Please, remember this.

“See, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. “ (Matt 28:20)

You are never alone.

Ever.

A Simple Plan

Selling my current motorcycle in order to get a larger, more chromed upgrade was simple enough. I asked for the Lord to bless the work of my hands, committed it all to Him, and proceeded to watch as the whole series of events unfolded in such a way that He yet again used something to teach me more about His nature. There was just one snag on my end.

I almost died.

Truly. I had ridden motorcycles for many years, so the thought of driving this cruiser to the buyer down on Long Island in rush hour traffic on a Friday didn’t phase me. This is why I found it very odd that the moment I swung my leg over and pulled out to embark on my 2 hour journey last Friday,  a sense of dread came over me.

I began to talk with the Lord immediately about it, asking Him to show me what He was trying to speak to me about, but just could not get a sense of what was going on. By the time I pulled out onto the parkway, following my dad’s car (he would have to drive me back) I had begun praying some serious protection over myself, my dad and our trip. After all, I knew I had a purpose in life. 

But the dread only built, and with each passing mile, I knew in my spirit I was hurtling toward some unseen event that was of great significance.

Sadly, my first thoughts were of myself.

“Lord, if you don’t want me to sell this bike, I’ll let it all go. I don’t need a nicer one. Its Ok.”

I was answered by a rather sudden backfire that, being at highway speed, lurched the bike pretty violently.  No release. No relief. Nothing but anxiety.

This went on and on. By the time we had traveled 70 miles I was a mess. I had to keep fighting off visions and vain thoughts of me being thrown over the handlebars. I kept speaking “life” over me, refusing to accept those thoughts. “I have a destiny in you, Lord. I don’t accept those thoughts.”

“I have a wife. I have 3 children. My time is not yet come.  I have a purpose in life. I know this Lord.”

Finally… finally… I heard Him speak.

“David, do you think I care enough about you to want you to sell this bike so that you can buy the one you want?”

I am staving off feeling like the devil wants to kill me, and He is asking me about this bike?? Speeding down the highway, the sun setting low, surrounded in glare and traffic, I had the brilliant idea that I cannot believe I never thought of before.

I decided to do what He often does with me. I answered His question with a question.

“Lord, do you love me enough to care one way or another?” I asked, tears actually beginning to well up rather unexpectedly.  Just great. Another crying session with the Lord while I am floating on a couch of death doing 65 mph.

I also should have known better. He simply repeated His question back to me… Yeah, well, back at cha’ Lord… again.

This went on and on, and to be honest, it was comforting, as it stayed the extreme anxiety I was managing. Then suddenly, another backfire. I switched the fuel to reserve thinking it must be a fuel issue and the result of some work I did on the valve.

A half hour later, another backfire…and another. I signaled to my dad and pulled over. We were 10 minutes to the buyer’s house and I had determined that it was not a simple valve issue. No way I could sell the bike.

“Lord, I give this all to you. I trust you. I don’t understand what is really going on here at all, but yes, I do believe you love me enough to be involved in everything I am doing. I do believe you are interested in all of me.”

I turned to my earthly dad who had pulled over and stood beside me.

“Let’s go home, Dad. No deal. Lets just get off the next exit. I need a moment to think.”

I Started the bike back up and began to pull out looking west into the sun. I heard the truck only as it was passing. It was swerving to get around me. I had pulled out in front of it. Never saw it at all… and then, with some colorful gestures aimed at me,  it and his driver, were gone.

Was that it? That was what all this angst was about?? What a joke I was thinking to myself. I must be getting soft.

I was back up to speed, the bike backfiring constantly now, and heading toward the exit less than a mile away. Very heavy traffic was on either side of me when a thought not my own suddenly popped into my head.

“David, you are going to die now.”

The bike lurched one last time… and died. No power. I tried to re-start. No juice. It was a dead stick… on the freeway.. in the dusk.. without lights, and no throttle.

There was also no chance. Any second I would be slammed by a semi or some other vehicle. There was nowhere for anyone else to maneuver. My speed sloughed off in a matter of seconds to under 30 and I could feel the wall of air as the trucks swept past me on either side. In times past, and I know in times yet to come, my words would be one of proclamation of protection and authority as a child of God. “No evil shall befall me..” sort of stuff. Not then. I understood.. finally. I saw it all. I finally saw… Him. And all that He had worked out… in His love for me, to bring me to this place. A quiet calm overtook me. I was at peace in Him. My wife and the faces of my children flashed through my mind and I was OK with it all.

“Lord, I know you love me. It’s your love that sustains your children. It all about you. I commit myself to you. Please take care of me now.”

I turned toward the shoulder, and as I did a semi swept passed me so close I felt the bike shudder under me. I would be tempted to try to recall all the horns and flashes and bright lights of the vehicles all around me.. but I heard nothing, and the only thing I truly do remember seeing was a row of cars stacked up one behind each other as they all broke around me.

I had barely gotten to the shoulder when the bike stopped rolling.

I sat there a while taking in all that had happened. My dad was very patient with me, as he waited for me in silence. Finally I feebly suggested we look under the seat at the wiring… and there we saw the loose battery terminal.

The bike fired back up to life and my dad and I took some time to praise the Creator of all good things for a few minutes.  I later found out that several family members had been prompted to pray protection over my life that evening, including my wife. My mom, at dinner with another believer at the time that night, later described to me the exact scene in detail, the Holy Spirit having showed her a vision of me riding moments before the incident, and began praying fervently for me. God is faithful.

While I was surrendering to Him, He was prompting others to take up arms for me. He knew I wouldn’t. That night was about gentle love and surrender for me.

And here, perhaps oddly enough, is my point. He sustained me not because of any commission I had yet to fulfill. He protected me not because of anything I had yet to accomplish in life. Or because of how much I love Him.. or how faithful I may or may not be..

It was His love that sustained me….

One of my favorite things to look upon are the old relics of toppled statues and idols of cultures past. And so I got to enjoy seeing another one shatter in my own heart that night. That being the idol of self-importance.

Link-Study: Carnal Mind Exposed Part 2- The Idolatry of our Calling

In its place He erected a new image. A much greater one.

One of His love.