Some things I have experienced in my faith journey I believe are because I have been given the spiritual gift of teaching. Those experiences are not part of my own gifting, but the Lord has let me experience them so that I may teach people about them more effectively, with first hand knowledge and experience. What I write about today, though, is something that has persisted now for over 20 years and it seems to have become more refined over the years. While it is a “gift”, I believe it is representative of the kind of intimacy that God desires to have with each believer.
Many days I awake with a firm recollection of a dream. It may be very brief, even just a snapshot type or brief scenario. It is accompanied by an immediate recognition that it relates to something the Lord has been teaching me through a Scripture, experience, or theme that has been part of my recent consideration. The understanding that it brings assures me that it is from God. This has been part of my relationship with the Lord for nearly 2 decades. It’s been much more frequent, though, in the last 5 years or so. When I talked to a pastor about it one time he nodded knowingly and assured me that God uses many ways to instruct our hearts and minds. He said to me that not everything the Lord teaches me is for those I teach. Some things are just for me. The way he described it was like a Father taking a walk with his child among the fields and buildings of his property and telling the child how to do first one thing and then another, how to interpret the things that are observed in the fields and among the livestock. It is the Father’s way of training the child in the ways of life so the child can become equipped to do the tasks to participate in the family business! It was a sweet picture that he painted. These dreams give me hope and direction and assurance of the Lord’s presence in the midst of the things he’s called me to do.
There is another means that God has used during those same 2 decades that is not a dream scenario, but a fully wide awake way of confirming things he is speaking to me about. It is a private language between us…..not like speaking in tongues. It is a language known to me, but it is more like a shorthand that he uses to give me a “go ahead” or “caution” or “be still” direction. He uses it in moments when I am in solitary prayer or in prayerful conversation with him as I drive to appointments or even in counseling with a student. It requires me to listen and observe carefully to hear God’s input. There have been moments when I have felt that God was even sharpening it by making it somewhat like a game, inviting me to open up further to his direction through this shorthand communication. When I would get it right, he would give me a sense of peace and presence that humbled me to know that the Great Almighty God would care enough to communicate with me so personally. There were times, too, when I got a little too full of myself and began to think I had answers to things when God chastised me for even considering such things. Through it I have learned to revere and honor God, something that is often translated in the Bible as “fear” God. He will not allow me to wander into areas that are not my business with this gift, but strictly requires me to pay attention to the present moment and his purpose.
Just before the birth of these experiences in my life, I had a conversation with two women about God and prayer. One of them said, with tears in her eyes, that “no one has a relationship with God like I do.” I could see that she was speaking in a heartfelt way, but her comment seemed a little arrogant and haughty to my immature ears. I thought to myself, “Who does she think she is, a modern day Mary, mother of Jesus, more blessed than anyone?” Today, as I consider her words I realize that she was absolutely right. No one has a relationship with the Lord like that available to each of us. The Lord is so personal and intimate that each of us is invited into a relationship with him that no one else can know or experience.
This latter shorthand may even be something that my pastor friend would say is one of those things that should be kept just between God and me. It is not something I could teach to anyone or even really explain very well. It is very much rooted in my own personality, education, experiences, memories, and understanding of God’s loving and personal nature. It would mean nothing to anyone else. The point is, that God is very personal and uses everything that we are willing to submit to him, even our minds. He desires to be part of all that we do and will participate in everything to which we invite him. Invite God to be part of everything in your life.