Back in Installment 13, I said that I had been reading the book “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy”. I am not certain when I finished that book, but based upon my journal entry of October 31, 2011 it seems that I finished that book some days before my journal entry. In that entry I wrote:
I put off watching the movie [Valkyrie] for months…. But having read Bonhoeffer last month, I am glad I waited to see this film. Knowing the involvement of Bonhoeffer in the Valkyrie plot it made the movie far more poignant.
I am having a new found appreciation for heroes. Heroes die. Heroes do not have a “story book” ending. Heroes die in order for others to live. Or heroes die in order to try and help others find freedom. Heroes live beyond death because death cannot kill heroes.
…[H]eroes, true living heroes, do not seek “hero status” the moment is thrust upon them as ordinary men and women. The ordinary people had extraordinary conviction that truth and freedom must be upheld, and it came to them personally “at all costs”. Sometimes these heroes are not even remembered by history, names and faces lost to human past. Sometimes some heroes are remembered, but remembered years later, after the fact. It seems on the rare occasion, heroes are recognized at the moment they demonstrate their bravery. But many times heroes are lost to time, their stories somehow become fables, myths, traditions having power to convict the hero within, if the hero within will accept his situation. Heroes do not seek medals of honor, they do not seek favor with the people. Heroes do what must be done, because in not doing what must be done they have sacrificed the right to breathe. But in sacrificing their breath, their life, in doing what must be done, they live. …
What an interestingly odd way to end October. But it seems proper to say that heroes exist everywhere, in every walk of life. Some heroes are recognized, while others are not. Yet, we want heroes, but it seems heroes are hard to come by.
My journal contains a November 1, 2011 entry that runs for several pages. In it I record my discussion with Mary regarding a dream that she had.
[Mary] did most of the talking today, I just tried to listen and had to listen closely…. There are times, perhaps most, that I am resistant to hearing the information [she presents] because I am so grounded in listening to the Bible having been taught that God does not speak in any other way. I have to force myself to overcome this barrier.
As I have discussed in previous installments, it has been quite the challenge for me to move from a theological position that relegates God to sitting in Heaven simply waiting for the end of all things. Many refer to that concept as Cessation Theology, where the age of miracles, signs, wonders, dreams and visions are long gone.
But I was experiencing a situation where my wife was having dreams and those dreams were containing things that had come to pass, like dreaming about someone having a child. In the years since, she has even had dreams about people in relation to their occupation. It is just weird to know that these things exist, and then come to terms with them.
So I finished my journal entry with the following comments about her dream:
I just re-read [my note of]: wall of three impact marks. I can recall telling Mary that I have a difficult time understanding how the impact marks represent events. … She said that she was not completely certain. Things like this make it difficult for me because I *want* to know with certainty. Alas, I suppose “walking by faith” requires trust whereas “walking by sight” requires confirmation.
We talked about the wall and the damage. It was interesting to me that the wall was short and circular because [in the dream] Mary walked around it, well I took it [to] be circular, like an ancient walled city seeking fortification. But the damage, as Mary described it, was three major indentations into the wall like it was caused by a bow of a ship. I remember not liking the damage because it seemed to be a lack of success in pulling down the wall, but as I think on this maybe the wall is short and circumnavigateable because others have chipped away at the same wall. I say that because Mary said my work damaged the wall, but I may not get to see the impact (pun intended – the results) of my efforts.
As you can tell, I write that I was truly trying to come to terms with these things. Trying to make sense of imagery that is, at best, difficult. I look back and I wonder: what does it all mean?
My next journal entry is of interest because it concerns God answering prayers. If you recall, I have written that on several occasions I had prayed to God regarding specific prayers, and had prayed including several people and their requests in my prayers. On November 2, 2011 my journal has an entry with me discussing prayer with someone.
Recall that I had been praying for people. One of them was also praying for me, and they asked me: Have our prayers been answered yet?
According to my journal, I didn’t reply quickly to their question, I thought and prayed about it before I answered. In my journal, I recorded:
Your question is a good one. I was praying about your question and I believe I received some insight – by faith (as in trust) we believe and trust God to deliver because he knows exactly how and when and to what degree to answer our prayers; we must believe that he has already answered and it is like vegetation, the seed is sown, but the fullgrown plant takes a season in order to be seen and used.
That was my response to their question, but I find my reflection more revealing:
The answer seems spot on, but how does one answer “Have our prayers been answered yet?” confirming faith in God, yet knowing that sometimes, many times, prayers are given but results seem nonapparent, almost translucent, to the point that some feel that prayers go unanswered.
Like I have mentioned in a previous installment, we want a miracle to sweep down out the sky, prove itself. This is because we need certitude. I once heard a man say to the effect, “I won’t believe in miracles until I see a man get his ear cut off and then his ear is ‘miraculously’ reattached.”
That is what we are up against – our own disbelief. Each of us has expectations. Each of us demands that God perform according to our personal expectations. What’s worse is if/when God does not perform according to those expectations, we dismiss God’s involvement, or worse, we dismiss God altogether.
If there is anything that I have had to learn through the last five years is that my expectations are NOT God’s expectations. As sure as I sit here typing this, God does not really care if he upsets our personal applecart, because requiring God to perform to and meet our personal expectations means that we have made God in our image. Scripture is clear – we are made in his image, not the other way around.
Since I am discussing prayers and expectations, allow me to share another dream that I had. This one occurred November 4, 2011. In my journal entry I write about it, feeling like the dream had an Alien (the movie franchise) and Predator (also the movie franchise) elements. Personally, I don’t think those elements have anything to do with the dream, nor does the dream have an “alien” or a “predator” from those film franchises. Instead, it appears to represent a person.
This morning I awoke a few minutes before five [AM] and realized that I had been dreaming.
From what I can recall I was in a business building, something like a movie theatre (I think), but I, and many others were gathered in this large room and the people were harassing another “alien”. I call it “alien” because it changed to a translucent appearance when the people started throwing things at it. The translucence reminded me of the Predator’s camouflage in the Predator movies, and this may be why I feel like it was a theatre.
Anyhow, the alien made itself into a ball and began rolling towards the doors in the lobby area, I went and helped it through a door that was neither locked, nor completely closed, more like ajar. But I opened the door and let out the alien.
Someone came to me asking if I had seen it, I somehow answered, “No.” But there were other people outside and I either replied or answered the question saying something like, “These people don’t fit the [description].”
One of the things that I seem to recall is that leaves, and other earth debris clung to the alien as it rolled, but no one could see it but me.
So as you can see it’s not really an “Alien” and it’s not really a “Predator”. Since I am a fan of both franchises, I probably just used them as a method to describe what I dreamed. Yet, it appears to be some type of person that can’t be seen or doesn’t want to be seen, and I help them through a door from one place to another after they have been harassed by others. What the earthen debris symbolizes, I have no idea.
Before I close out this installment, I want to share an entry from November 4, 2011.
I was listening to [a radio program] yesterday a caller called regarding how [they] went to [an event] and spoke with some of [those there] gave them facts, logic, tying to reason with them but to no avail.
[The host] responded that one or two instances will not change their mind, because they are “set” in their ways because of the upbringing and the teaching that they have received, and to accept the message would discombobulate (my word, not [the host’s]) their little world and the safety net they have built for themselves, and all the misinformation they believe which gives them purpose.
I could not help but apply that to religion, and the situation is exactly the same. It is very hard to let go of the teachings that one has been given because we “assume” them true, without ever critically examining the issues.
Discombobulation is exactly what I was experiencing, a reshaping of my approach to life. I had spent years learning to study the Bible. Then those studies led me to conclusions at variance with my upbringing. The two collided. Only one could be a victor.
So my mind was aswirl with these things. I was rethinking dreams, prayers, God’s reaction, intervention, even his involvement in humanity. The cessationist’s position was fading in favor of intervention. But I was not ready.
I will close out this installment with the following. In part, I recorded this on November 7, 2011:
[Reflecting on ministry] made me think about my understanding of theology, how [I told someone], that certain people really are never going to change or learn, and that is not necessary for them to understand [God’s] authority in order to go to heaven, because faith is what saves not knowledge, even knowledge of theology. So while theological discoveries are good, having the best theology even better, and having the best exegetical skills matter for the best understanding – none, and I mean none, of it matters for faith. Either one has faith that Yeshua [Jesus] is the Messiah or they don’t, everything else, absolutely everything else is secondary.
Blessings and Shalom