Thursday, December 16, 2004

Years ago I would imagine my future and this point always seemed so far away. I have just completed the first semester of my senior year of college. I remember thinking that this point in my life would never arrive and here it is. Right now. I used to think, "When I turn 20, THEN I'll be an adult." 20 came and went and now I'm 22. My whole life to this point seems like it was a dream; like I wasn't really the one living it--just watching. Now I face leaving all that I have come to know and love here at Grace. I have to seriously sit down and think about where I want to spend my future tomorrows. I should have some idea about decisions by now, but I don't. I thought I knew who I'd marry least I thought I would by now. I thought I'd know the kind of job I'd have "when I grow up." I thought I'd have my life all planned perfectly. Well, at least enough that I would learn to never procrastinate.

After staying up until 5:30am yesterday finishing a project, I realize that I have a long way to go. I don't read my Bible enough. I don't pray enough. I'm selfish. I really don't mind cold weather, but I hate being cold. I desperately long to have someone who'll let me hold them.....I long more to be held myself. That's my problem: I'm desperate. Why can't I be consistantly desperate for my Lord? Why does everything I desire have to go through some kind of emotional filter before I know why I desire it? Why is it so hard for me to realize that I'll never be a perfect princess in one of those perfect stories where everyone is attractive and sweet? Even knowing that'll never happen doesn't prevent me wanting it so badly that I'm still awake at 3:12am thinking about it. I've always had a facination with fairy tale romance. Sure, every girl wants a prince charming, but my facination runs deeper than just the showy parts of it. Happily ever after doesn't really work. It looks pretty darn good on paper, but I've always known that a relationship takes hard work and dedication; romance doesn't "just happen." Knowing it doesn't work that way doesn't prevent my desire for a storybook romance.

I lie awake at night wondering what my future mate is doing. I wonder if he's thinking about me even though we have no idea who each other is yet. It's tiring to love someone, but it's even more tiring to love someone and have no idea who tbey are. I love my husband without knowing his name. I have no idea how he takes his coffee.....IF he takes coffee at all. I will not settle for less than love (and all the starred items on my list) and I tire of looking for the man who can fulfill the role of my husband. Is that the problem? Have I truly been looking this whole time? Is that what I've been doing wrong? I can honestly say that no, I have not been looking. I have attempted to mold 2 different men into something that I could love forever, but God saved me from my own ignorance. He told me that I don't have to "mold" anyone into my husband because He's working on that now. It's not my job to mold anyone. The only thing that I have to do is to allow God to mold me.

Sometimes when I feel down, Lord,/And clouds are all I see,/My heart begins to question all Your faithfulness to me./That's when, dear Lord, remind me,/Tho' it's hard to understand,/That Lord, You are the Potter,/I'm just a vessel in Your hands.

And teach me to remember,/It's the Potter's right to choose/The purpose for His vessels/And the method He will use./For who am I to question/All You've written in Your plans?/For Lord, You are the Potter,/I'm just a vessel in Your hands.

The Potter takes the clay and turns it in His hands/Sometimes to start again He needs to break it./But when He stops the wheel,/His loving hands reveal/a work of art the way He wants to make it. O Lord, my heart can take it.

So if You want to mold me,/I'm ready for the pain./I know that You will hold me/'Til Your purose is made plain./In every pain or pleasure/I delight in Your commands,/For Lord, You are the Potter,/I'm just a vessel in Your hands.
~A Vessel in Your Hands
By Larry Shackley

I sang this song in church on Sunday. I usually break down in the middle of it, but I didn't this time. Each time I sing it it means more to me. Everything that my soul cries out to God is in this song. I KNOW that things are supposed to hurt sometimes, and I try to be ready for it. I KNOW that God holds me through all the hurts that I experience, but it doesn't make them hurt any less. I am nothing, and God loves me. He loves ME. ME! I have no worth to anyone without God's love. At the end of the day, no matter what I've done, God is there. At the end of this year, with all the wrongs I've committed, God is there, too. God loves me. At the end of time itself, God will be the only thing that I'll even care about. Whether you're in heaven singing about God for all eternity, or if you're burning in hell, GOD is the only thing that any of us will want. And God loves me. Do I love God? Yes. I desire God more than passionately than I desire my next breath. My hope to walk inside His will for my life is more important for me to chase than any hope of attracting any man on this planet. How do I show God that I love Him? I don't preach at people from the TV. I don't give vast amounts of money to the poor.....or anyone else, for that matter. I don't intend to move to Africa to care for the sick and dying in His name. All I can do is live my life for Him. Where I'll do that is unknown to me. But God knows where I'll be doing it, and how I'll sustain myself. All I have to do is trust God. He loves me. At the end of time, God is there........He's the only one who matters. Maybe I should start living like I truly believe that.

God, I know that You love me more than any husband ever could. You didn't die just because You love us.....You died to SAVE us. You're the only one who could ever truly save anyone; all I ask is that You point out to me those who I can tell about Your wonderful gift. All I want is to show who You are to the lost. Just say "Go" and I'll go.......and I know that You'll go with me. I'm ready, Lord, show me where.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

God's voice

In the first dream I was walking up a staircase with 2 men unknown to me in reality. In the dream, I felt a sense of responsibility toward both of them. We were headed to a specific room with one big wall-sized window covered with a sheer curtain. On the back wall was a large bookcase filled with old, dusty books. The wall opposite the window had 2 doors in it. I remember feeling an evil presence as we three climbed the stairs, and I knew I was engaging in spiritual warfare. I was leaving the younger man at this place--an asylum of some kind. The older man was his brother. The younger one kept attempting to harm me physically by biting me and pushing me, but I wasn't afraid of him. I started talking to him about Jesus. I could tell his older brother was talking, but I couldn't make out his words or meaning. That fact didn't seem to bother him or myself. We entered the room and I sat on the arm of an over-stuffed chair with the older brother. Jesus came up again with the younger asking to know more about Him. I moved and sat on his lap and he transformed as I began to tell of Christ. His eyes became darker and wider, his bared teeth had large gaps in them and were covered in blood--as if he had just bitten through someone. I drew backa little and put my hand to his throat to hold him back and cried to to Jesus to help me. All this time the older man had a been yelling at me and slapping at me, but was never quite able to reach me. I knew that asking Jesus' help would make me safe. I knew that if I kept calling for Him I would be okay. I was still very afraid. The next thing I saw, I was rocking back and forth on my knees on the floor with my eyes closed and my hands covering my ears, and I was singing a song which must belong only in my dreams. The words and tune I can almost remember. I could see the demons in human form dancing around me in my mind's eye and I could hear their evil laughter and taunts, but I continued to rock on the floor trying to drown out their sound with my song to my savior. I knew that they could not harm me as long as Jesus would help me.

It was a mix of knowing I had nothing to fear, but still being afraid for my life. I was afraid that I would get tired and fall asleep on the floor and that they would take me over. I was afraid of losing my soul to the dark side if I were to fall asleep. I was fearlessly afraid.

In the next dream, I was leaving campus on an errand in our suburban during a soft rain. It was dark and I had to go through a series of tunnels to reach my destination. On my travels, I realized I had made a wrong turn, but had no way of correcting the mistake. I was in heavy traffic and suddenly found that all vehicles had disappeared, but this seemed normal to me. Hundreds of people were milling around in this underground tunnel wondering what to do. I had the feeling that there was some information missing from the posted directions for exiting the tunnel. I KNEW something was missing, and I could ALMOST remember what it was. I tried to break away from the confused mob to search for the needed information, but the people were everywhere; it seemed they were calmly panicking. I remember feeling frantic. I sensed a time limit to finding the way out.
Towards the back of the tunnel there was a conveyor belt--much like the baggage claim area in an airport. The page with directions on using it to escape was partially missing. Not just any part, the CAUTION! The part where it outlines all the things you need to be careful to avoid in exiting the tunnel. My father was there helping me try to remember. (He wasn't really a prominent figure in the dream; I had more the feeling that he was there.) Eventually we just jumped onto the belt and rode it to the top. We went through danders and made it to the top with some (fleeting) thought as to how the other people in the tunnel would make it out. I almost wanted to find a way to go back and tell the others how to make it, but the desire to finish the "race" and get through the new dangers I sensed to be coming won out and the last thing I remember is jumping off the belt in a factory-type setting and trying to avoid the workers who were yelling at me to stop. It had the feel of a movie ending which leads into a continuation.

In both of these dreams, nobody touched me in a harmful manner. The people would reach for me and threaten me, but they were never quite able to touch me. I was afraid of what they threatened to do to me, but I was also fearless because I knew that they could never really hurt me because I knew and called on Jesus. They would scream at me that Jesus didn't really love me and that He wasn't really there, and that He was imaginary, and I was afraid to fall asleep because I was afraid that I would awaken and believe it. I kinda feel like God allowed me to hear and see my own demons and guided my dreamed-of actions so that I would be reassured that He never leaves me......not even in my sleep.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Schindler--I mean, Amanda's List

So, I pushed the "Publish" button and lost everything I just wrote. I'll just do it all over again. Everyone should have a list of necessary qualifications for one of the opposite sex to have before being considered for personal romantic affections. This is mine......

(*=denotes a quality not open to question or debate; #=quality which is open to subjective review)

*Must be a Christian
Emotionally stable
*Financially responsible
Genuine with emotion....not superficial or 'fake'
Kind to those he supervises
*Respected by all who know him
#No "experience"
Musically talented
*Faithful and loyal
*Self-assured and confident
*Has direction in life
*Willing to work hard
*Must get along with my family
Willing to have fun
Puts his own wishes aside for those of others
Not afraid of a little dirt
*Puts God's will and desires ahead of his own
*Won't pressure me....lets things happen in God's time
Healthy, but doesn't obsess
Doesn't want another mother
*Keeps track of his own stuff
Willing to help with household chores
*Loves his family and wants to start one of his own
*Learns from past mistakes instead of repeating them
Enjoys the simple things in life
Likes being indoors AND outdoors
*Enjoys his own company....not too clingy or needy
*Is a leader....but not domineering or tyrannical
Not afraid to cry
Talks during movies.....or at least doesn't mind that I do
*Willing to share his opinion...but doesn't try to convince others to agree with him
Knows when to stop pushing an issue
Not afraid of my tears
*Considerate of me and others
*Realizes he doesn't know everything
Knows that sometimes all I need is someone to listen, I can "fix it" myself
*Won't compromise my integrity

I'm sure this isn't a complete list (even for me), but this is all I can add now. Perhaps more will develop as I meet new people and stuff. Now I wonder if men like this actually exist in reality?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The stuff of life

As I go through my classes here at this institute for higher learning, occasionally things strike me as profound. (Gosh, that means I must pay attention in class or something) For example, I learned today the vast importance of considering other people and respecting their opinion during conflict. You're probably thinking, "Duh, of course it's important to be considerate." But not everyone is Christian. And some people like to argue just for the sake of having some kind of a disagreement. Then there's the people who take every little comment out of context and become offended by them. In the corporate world, conflicts arise and each person experiencing the conflict automatically asks the question, "How will this affect me and my success?" How does God see conflict? Whether or not the conflict is good or bad in our own selfish eyes, God approaches it with OUR interest in mind. Christ had a conflict of sorts with the rich young ruler. The young man came to Him and asked how to gain eternal life. Instead of only telling the ruler that one thing is needed, or that it was too late for him, Christ looked into the man's heart and got right to the point. He pointed out that which was closest to the young man and made him see that his worldly wealth was distracting him from the ways of God. No doubt Jesus' words continued to cause a war in the young man's mind long after. We talked about this in class joke!

Would Jesus have confronted the rich man's heart if He were only looking for personal gain? I think not. Selfish people claim to look to the interests of others, but (sometimes unknowingly) truly desire only their own gain. The "ladder of success" needs to be climbed by someone, right? Who better to climb it than me? I've never seen an episode of "The Apprentice", but from reading the reviews for the show and talking to those who have seen it, I have come to the conclusion--and I realize that it's not a completely educated conclusion having not watched it myself--that the contestants on the show were perfect examples of what I'm talking about. Those people were willing to do anything and everything to get ahead of the others. Now I know it was a competition, but what I'm trying to illustrate is the difference between a Christ like attitude and the attitudes we'll all come into contact with in the future. I can't bluntly tell a non-believer that he's wrong without alienating him, but I can set a good example. In the same way, I cannot MAKE someone believe that Jesus loves them, I have to SHOW them. Among friends that show often includes a conflict. I've often heard the term "call to account." I've even tried it a few times. It's not a pleasant thing to have to do, but we are called to be Christ like and Christ did tell people when they do something that's wrong.

But we also have to be willing to have others tell us that we're wrong too. Last I checked, there has only ever been one perfect person, and I'm not him......neither are you. This week I had to tell more than one friend that some of their actions were wrong. They didn't like hearing it and I didn't like telling it. Sometimes we have to do those things we really don't want to do. I'm sure Christ didn't WANT to suffer the atrocities that He did, but I'm glad He did. That's kinda morbid, isn't it? I'm GLAD Christ went through horrible nightmarish physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain. But at the same time, I know that He conquered death. And because He conquered death, I can live with Him forever in heaven. (I'll have to write more about heaven later.)

So, yeah.....conflict is astounding. Friends who come through conflict and grow closer because of or in spite of conflict are even more astounding to me than the power of the deeper emotions...I should stop there.