Month 1:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5941:22 AM|
2Exodus 4/40, Omer Count - Shabbat #2
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 25 April 2017
The Great Ploughing
Lessons Learned in Chronic Illness
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and "may Elohim (God) our Father and the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) give you grace and shalom (peace)" (Gal.1:3, NIRV). I hope you are all uncomfortable because I am not here to entertain you. Yes, I wish you shalom (peace), I wish you simcha (joy) and I wish you ahavah (love) and I absolutely want your emunah (faith) to grow and for your tiqveh (hope) to be rock-solid. But I hope you are uncomfortable nonetheless.
To Be Made Uncomfortable
In case you are wondering, I have not lost possession of my mind. Were I to testify of anything today first of all it would be that Yahweh has made me so progressively uncomfortable over the last weeks, months and years that I have been veritably crying out both for relief and for explanations. Neither have been forthcoming...until now...in part
To be more exact, two evenings ago. I was starting to get confident that maybe I had got the upper hand with my troublesone gall-bladder when, wham, two afternoons ago misery struck me again and my fibromyalgia went off the charts, not wanting to be left out. Normally I heavily medicate, lie down, and try to sleep on and off for around seven hours before the bulk of the pain wears off, leaving me with my usual aches and pains though usually a notch higher than before overall. This condition is very much cumulative. Unfortunately, my fibromyalgia was so bad on this occasion that I could not even lie down at first. This has never happened before - normally I can. Not this time.
Going Through Medical Hell
Now I don't know if you're a griper...of course you are, we all are, even if some of us may be more skilled at griping and some know how to hold out griping longer...but I have griped a lot these last years. I have really been quite a bad pastor, disregarded my own teachings and not been content, and certainly not praised Him 'all the while'. I know a lot of people - dear friends, brethren and sisters, in and out of our community - who have likewise been going through medical hell. It's been so bad, I have to say, that I have never not done so much Bible study all my life, and the same would be true of prayer save in moment of desperation. Lots of people have been praying for me, for whom I am eternally grateful, including one of two very precious prayer partners. I don't doubt their prayers have carried me through. At least I assume so because that's what the Davar (Word) says.
All Cut From the Same Cloth
Have you ever felt that Yahweh was absent, not working any more, leaving you to flounder with unanswered questions and unsolved problems...especially those which you feel need urget attention right now? I don't doubt it. And in case you think pastors are a master race or a breed of superhumans, we're exactly the same the rest of you. There are no superpastors, just men with a mission - a calling and gifting they didn't earn or deserve. There are no superprophets either - well you should know that from all the troubles of Jeremiah's, Elijah's and the like. We're all the same, all cut from the same cloth of humanity, all tried and tested in exactly the same way.
Attentive to a Father-Figure
I want to tell you a story today to, I hope, encoruage you and myself...I certainly need encouraging so I am listening attentively myself too. It really started four nights ago when I found myself listening once again to my favourite Pauline historian and theologian, N.T.Wright. As I listened to him I noticed something I hadn't before - not his words, not his eloquent teaching - none of that. I noticed a great contentment in him. He's a very sweet man too, the sort of person who knows how to relate to and captivate others, a very softly-spoken man, unpretentious in spite of his undoubted intellectual brilliance. The thing is, I connected to that, and whilst I was certainly paying attention to what he was saying theologically, I was listening far more to his spirit and the way Yahweh was operating inside him. I felt like a small boy attentive, enthralled and utterly at peace as with a beloved father. It helped that he was 'one of my own' from the same Anglican background, education and overall culture. It was comfortable, reassuring. I would say that his parishioners in Durham had been truly blessed while they had him.
I had had some disturbing dreams for a few days as I homed in on an issue, heavily clouded and concealed, and long overdue for attention. Unfortunately, like everyone with issues, we often don't know what these are and resist those who happen to identify them for for us whatever their reason. My wife has oftren criticised me, in a loving way, for being too soft-hearted and trusting of people who have subsequently taken advantage and walked all over me, often at great personal loss to myself. I didn't like what she said, probably because I didn't like to admit I was so gullible. But then a dream - two actually - made me sit up and listen.
A Peculiar Recurrent Dream
The first dream was about feeding a flock of chickens and other animals that I didn't know I even owned or was responsible for. We have our own chickens and pets in real life but in my dreams - and I have had this particular dream many times - I discover another flock or clutch of animals, realise they're somehow 'mine', and am shocked to discover I have forgotten to feed and water them. When I see how hungry and emaciated they are, I am overwhelmed by guilt and without a second thought, rapidly busy myself feeding them, hoping I won't forget them again. Of course I 'do', each time, but on each occasion I realise something isn't right. And it came to a head with these two dreams.
Something That Needs Attending To
If you get a recurrent dream - a dream that returns either exactly the same each time or based on a similar theme - pay close attention to it and ask Yahweh for the mening. It usually means there's something inside you that you urgently need to attend to. Something needs your time and attention.
Tricked by a Snake
In the first dream, I am feeding the chickens and other animals as usual only I notice they are now much fewer in number compared to the earlier dreams. Also this time there are a couple of miniature tigers. They looked so cute so I picked one up. Next thing I know, the animal has suink its teeth deep into my hand and won't let go. Worse, I now see this is not the jaw of a tiger but the jaw of a vicious snake presumably injecting poison into me through its fangs! I kill the beast in the end and wake up realising that I have been tricked. I have been fooled into feeling sorry for animals which were not domestic but wild and dangerous.
Fooled into Giving Money
As I look back over my life I can see how I have been suckered into helping people who either really didn't need help or who were acting on false pretences in some other way. It has a weakness of mine. I have grown wise after being proverbally bitten many times, mostly by people who wanted to borrow money, who seemed to be in need. I won't rehearse to you the stories of how I have been tricked over the years. Nevertheless as I look back in retrospect I can see how Yahweh has used my gullibility to teach those who deceived me. Some may still be major works in progress in this area whom Yahweh would save if they would but repent.
The Aggressive Cat
The second dream too place in my childhood home in England, so there is a different setting but we are getting closer to the root issue. There's a little boy there - me - playing with this cat, though it didn't look like any cat we ever owned. Suddenly, the cat springs onto the boy and sinks it teeth into his arm and, like in the previous dream with the miniature togers, will not let go. In the fracass a very fragile and precious piece of porcelein gets knocked off the bedside table and would have been smashed had it not been for a cushion on the floor breaking its fall.
Rescuing the Bitten Boy
Now here is the weird thing. Though the cat's jaws were sunk deep and locked into his arm, the boy just laughted pleasantly and innocently oblivious to his injury and pain as though the cat was playing. But the cat had murderous intent, its predator instinct having kicked in. I was shocked. For some reason I loved the cat and was loathe to kill it as I had the miniatuire tiger in the dream the day before and instead took a knotted pillow and hit it as lightly as I could until the cat let go. Then the dream closed.
Deceiving Familiar Spirits
The cat is, of course, a demon posing as a household 'pet', a "familiar spirit" and apparently benevolent. We all get tricked at some time or another into thinking that a demon is either the 'holy spirit' or a friendly 'spirit guide' or whatever, or we might not even know what they are, thinking we are just experiencing some impulse from deep within our souls which we may even mistake for ourselves. And whilst the enemy can play 'nice' for a while, he cannot long resist manifesting his baser nature in being obvious, blatant and often violent at some point. We see this playing out in life of people in abusive relationships, particularly where the abuser plays a deceptive and manipulating rôle as a 'benefactor' or a 'good cop' when in truth he or she is a monster in disguise. In deliverance ministry you come across this all the time. We even have these demonic archetypes rehearsed to us in our fairy stories so that as chidlren can learn to identify them. It's a pity such fairy tales play an increasingly diminishing rôle in our growing up these days because they're a way of sensitising or priming children to be on guard against predator adults.
Mills for Pedophile Rings
We can be tricked and trained to accept abuse as 'normal' in all sorts of perverse ways. It happens all the time. Society has been dumbed down and trained to accept abuse from government agencies like, for example, Child Protective Services which are often little more than mills for producing children for pedophile rings. And of course, once you give them an inch, they'll take a mile, and more and more until you have had enough and finally say 'No'.
Enough is Enough
Those two dreams started stirring up thing in me and inside I finally said 'enough'. I'll not go further into that here as it's not important. Abusive relationships must be ended, abusive programming dismantled even if the latter takes place long after the original abusive relationship has ended. I am grateful to my wife who has sensitised me to the reality of much of this in her own horrendous growing up experience. I might still have been blind had her own experience not lent some weight to my own process of discovery. But it can take a long time to see when you are blind, often many years.
Now I use a personal experience to illustrate a little of what Yahweh is doing with me and with everyone currently. Like I said, I was really ill again three days ago and I went to my room to try and unsuccessfully sleep. I often pace around for hours inbetween brief naps until the pain subsides sufficiently to let me grab two or three hours of proper sleep.
Vision of the Plough
I had laid down for one of those brief naps inbetween tussles with extreme pain and was struggling to try and find a patch of my body I could lie on when a vision vividly opened up to me. I saw a field and a plough working on a very hard field. The plough had a large, broad and sharp metalic blade and it was cutting into the earth hardened by the months of winter and turning it over. Seeing the soil rise up in sheets and turn was very spectacular. The soil was rich, a deep brown colour. I actually shook as I watched this vision as I felt this was happening inside of me.
Reseeding Hardened Hearts
I sat up on the edge of my bed, clutching my scalding hot water battle (to numb the pain) and understood immediately what Yahweh was saying. We have to have every hard place in our hearts ploughed up because Yahweh means to reseed them. It doesn't matter how our hearts have been hardened, what the circumstances may have been to have rendered us unsuitable for planting, because He wants to plough us up, break down the hard soil, and make it fine enough to make something fragile like that piece of porcelein I thought the cat had destroyed in my dream, yet also tough like the brow of Ezekiel too. These are the twin identifying marks of the Remnant - incredibly fine and sensitive but at the same time tough and resilient. In a word, Jeremiahs'.
Refining and Disciplining
The whole Remnant is currently being ploughed for the next and FINAL harvest. And ploughing, parabolically understood, 'hurts'. It hurts a lot. And few there are who are willing to subject themself to such refining, such discipline, such pain. If we have suffered, or experienced delays in our callings, it is probably because we have resisted this 'ploughing up' because of the fear of what cleansing and purifying actually does, as our issues are dealt with, one by one, systematically, none escaping. I am not saying there aren't other reasons for our suffering because these are always diverse, some of our own making (though the folly of sinning) and some the making of others (through harshness, cruelty, persecution and the like). The point is, if you are serious about being a Remnanteer you have got to be serious about being ploughed up even if the whole of your life has to be turned over. Your whole being has to be oxegenated with the Ruach (Spirit), every sin-root exposed for drying up and every weed's seed consumed by the birds of the air. Yahweh wants to do a new work and He must do it thoroughly. None of the old dross can come along. It won't be allowed to escape, and most especially not in the leadership. The old Shavu'ot soil won't do. It's time now for the plough to prepare the Sukkot soil.
Directed to the Bible
Now this isn't the end of my little story. After the vision of the plough, in which I experienced a shaking, I felt led to get up and get a partilar Bible. With 5 or 6 different versions in my room, I 'knew' it had to be one in particular - the New American Standard - so I went and got it, sat down on my bed, still clutching my water bottle over my raging muscles, and opened it up. These are the words:
A Healing in One Place
"Delight yourself in Yahweh;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to Yahweh,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday" (Ps.37:4-6, NASU)
There was no doubt He was speaking to me through this davar (word). I just knew it. I paused to digest it and then noticed something. My agonising gall-bladder pains had lifted and I was back to where I had been before my latest gut bout. This has happened before under similar circumstances. I have been in prayer and suddenly, boom, it has been taken. He was there to make sure I understood that He had not abandoned me and that He had a purpose in what He was doing.
Fibromyalgia Gets Worse
I can't tell you how optimistic and hopeful I felt. A word of assurance from your Heavenly father is a blessed thing. But if the training isn't over, if the cleansing is incomplete, don't go making assumptions and quit overcoming. I really hoped I would be back to where I was before this latest bile attack. A couple of hours later, my fibromyalgia was worse than it has ever been and I was once again in despair. The momentary tiqveh (hope) was gone and out of the depths an anger arose. Every time shooting pains shot across one side of my body I thumped the table and groaned. I doubled my medication - I had to, just to survive, sleep and function, and that's the way it is right now, only really I need three times as much, but that is more than unsafe and not therefore do-able.
How Great I Am?
I remember a sister in the Besorah (Gospel) many years ago flippantly and naïvely declare in a Sabbath School lesson, "I'm a firstborn", that's to say, one of the "elect" or "Remnant". I know I have told this story before but it bears constant repetition. She fell away years ago, vigorously opposed this work, contributed to the destruction of a marriage and tried to destroy a family, lives in adultery and is to all intents and purposes an unbeliever. Those who make fantastic claims about how great or important they are, are deceiving themselves. Most run at the first whiff of opposition. They just don't have what it takes because they don't love the Master of Chayim (Life) to sacrifice and suffer for Him. And most do not want to give up their sinful lifestyles. They want Yah'shua (Jesus), as they suppose, but they also want to do their 'own thing'. All sinners do...and that's all of us at some time or another and to differing degrees.
Crossing the Sovereignty Line
Every episode of the Science Fiction series I grew up with, Star Trek, speaks of "the final frontier" and of "boldly going where no man has gone before." The final frontier of the carnal man is that line which finally divides his own will and Yahweh's. To be a true talmid (disciple) he has to cross it. I call it the Sovereignty Line, the border between the outer reaches of the Flesh (Carnal/Adamic Nature) and that of the Ruach (Spirit) and the Kingdom of our Elohim (God). Like leaving the atmosphere of earth, forsaking the flesh requires a lot of propulsion fuel to get away from the air of self-will and into the highly rarified atmosphere of earth - the border between the air and outer space - and into that domain where only Yahweh can sustain, to a place of utter dependency. That's the real challenge - are we willing to go that far up? And are we willing to undergo a complete change in lifestyle, from the familiarity of fallen nature, and into that new world where Elohim (God) and His purified ones live, where you live by emunah (faith) moment by moment?
Thousands of Little Choices
I can't honestly or truthfully say I have made this journey at all well. I am still on it, kicking and protesting. But I have committed myself, if necessary even unto death. It has required - and is still requiring - tens of thousands of little choices along the way, and a few big ones too. Actually, I don't think there's anyone who doesn't kick and scream. It's tough being a talmid (disciple) but it is absolutely worth it. Ahavah (love) is not as easy as most tend to believe. It costs everything to possess and even then it can't be hoarded. It has to be given out pretty much as soon as it is received or it turns rotten like uncollected manna.
Vision of the Carnal Man
Two nights ago was not so good and I had to get up for two hours until I could no longer bear sitting. During that time I thought through what I am sharing with you now. After I went back to bed, by then weak from exhaustion, a vision opened up to me. I saw the face a a human-like creature with large yellow cat-like eyes. The creature was lying in a coffin, the 'fit' of which was so tight that it was wearing it much like a suit. Moreover, I was aware that this thing was directly 'under' me. It wasn't moving but I couldn't tell whether it was dead or alive - I'm assuming the latter. The face was strange too - very sharp edges, almost robotic. I seemed to know, right away, that what I was looking at was the body of my flesh - not my physical body, but the carnal man. I saw what my flesh 'looks' like, at least in a representational form.
One Day at a Time
Seeing that entity stirred up revulsion and a desire to utterly die to it so that Messiah might fully live. Though still in much pain when I finally arose a couple of hours later, I was aware of a heart-softening going on inside me, and a renewed sensitivity. The adventure continues. I do not have a clue what tomorrow holds. I don't even know if I will continue to live from one day to the next. That's not even important in the bigger perspective. I know what my calling is, I don't know how to accomplish it beyond the tasks set each day. I hate my illness because it debilitates me and prevents me from doing what I want to do. But at the same time I know there is a carnal nature that is not my friend, that is preventing me from doing my work as well as I would want to, and and I know that it has to die. It belongs in its coffin. The thought of it dying, moreover, sometimes scares the living daylights out of me. At other times I am more than happy to say, Adios! I do not enjoy the sensation of dying and anyone who says he does is a liar. Nobody enters Yahweh's 'star system' on a surfing board. You have to die to the flesh and be re-equipped.
The Previous Life Like Rubbish
I ask you to sustain me in your prayers as I go through this spiritual grinding machine and I will do my best to do the same for you. I do know that the fruit on the other side is very, very tov (good) indeed. Paul, having obtained it, regarded his whole life before that as rubbish:
Foregoing Creature Comforts
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Messiah. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) my Master, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Messiah and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from [legalistic observance of] the Torah (Law), but that which is through emunah (faith) in Messiah (Christ) - the righteousness that comes from Elohim (God) and is by emunah (faith). I want to know Messiah and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Phil.3:7-11, NIV).
The seven women of Isaiah 4:1 were willing to forego their creature-comforts in order to take hold of the Man of Galilee and so receive His Name and Kingdom. They said:
Foregoing Imagined 'Rights'
"We will eat our own food
and provide our own clothes;
only let us be called by your [good] shem (name).
Take away our disgrace!" (Isa.4:1, NIV)
We will forego our 'rights', as the world understands them, to receive this worthy Bridegroom-Name that is above all names, if this is the only way to end the disgrace of our separation from Him and break the curse of the flesh, which is death. We won't nag or pester the Master when we don't get the things we feel entitled to because that attitude is born of the false belief that we have somehow earned our salvation when we have not. We didn't do a thing or personally merit anything of the Kingdom of our Father. And like the seven polygamous brides in this passage, we will not go measuring our 'losses' but consider the infinitely greater and more important gain which is the shared Bridegroom. We'll eat our own food and provide our own clothes if needs be, the usual job and responsibility of a husband, because the Name - the Character - of the Heavenly Groom is what overwhelmingly matters to us. Everything else is as dross, relatively-speaking. Forgive us for our presumptuousness in demanding anything at all! We have no 'right', only our duties as the Bride of the One who voluntarily gave up His chayim (life) in death so that we might receive all that He has inherited. Things, you see, are done a little differently in the heavenly realm to the ways things are done on earth. They're the diametric opposite. Dying to the world's expectations and hopes is a good place to begin, and then take it from there.
If Yahweh is ploughing up your old life right now, as He is mine, rejoice. He has something better to replace it with. You will look back on the old life and regard it as dross in comparison with the new. There are, however, no free samples - the test of the pudding is in the eating - you have to make the choice to follow Yah'shua (Jesus) in emunah (faith), without doubting, without looking back and yearning for the old life as Lot's wife did. There is plenty of evidence that the Besorah (Gospel) is true - overwhelming evidence, in fact, but you must want the emet (truth) before all else. Let us go into this tribulation unencumbered by the flesh, walking in the light of emet (truth) and tuned in to our Heavenly Father's daily instructions. I will see you at the Rosh Chodesh assembly in a couple of days. Yahweh bless. Amen.