I wasn't sure if I should share this post because, well, I am aware that it will make me sound like I just drove in on the crazy bus. I also have been trying to process it for myself and have been scared to pieces that I would write something unscriptural. That is my greatest fear in life. For real. Even more than snakes, I fear leading others astray.
With all of that said, what I want to tell you about is how the presence of God has manifested itself to me lately and when I sat down to do my Bible study today's lesson was called...drumroll please...Cover by Cloud & Led By Fire. It was a look at the way God manifested Himself to the Isrealites, which was a cloud by day and fire by night. (Exodus 13:21-22). I learned a fancy new word: THEOPHANY and it is defined as- A theological term used to describe a God-appearance when God assumes a form and supernaturally shows Himself within the natural realm. Did that leave anybody else with a confused, not so Biblely scholarly, head scratchin' "Say Wha?" Well, basically all it means is that in Old Testament times God often took on the form of natural elements (like the burning bush to speak to Moses) to make His presence known to His people.
The questioned is asked, "Do you believe God desires to reveal Himself to modern-day believers?" What do you think? My overwhelming response was YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ABSOLUTELY!!
Thankfully, Ms. Shirer agreed. She is the edumcated one and she said, "God still chooses to display Himself to people today when, for reasons we'll never know, He orchestrates nature or circumstances to dramatically show His presence. Although manifesting Himself directly is no longer God's way of relating to His people as it was during the wilderness wanderings, His desire has not changed. He still wants to make Himself fully known to us and does so by working through what He has created. He can and will encourage us in our journey by allowing, when He sees fit, His children to have visible evidence of His working on our behalf."
Why am I busting out the theology and Bible study today? Well, because I have recently experienced these manifestations in my own life, and it's just not something you can not talk about. John 14:16-17 tells us, "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot recieve, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." These verses show us that while God isn't working through the clouds or speaking by fire anymore, we have an even greater, more direct relationship with Him. Through Jesus, He is IN us! Since the coming of Jesus He chooses to manifest His presence in our own lives and for us to experience Him with our own senses.
So, now I have tried to set this up scripturally so you don't think I've become a "new age baptist" as I recently heard someone put it. I know that anything not on our order of worship gets us all worked up. :) So, this is what happened. Josh is the only person I've shared this with because he already knows I'm a loon and nothing I say surprises him. Here goes. I think I have shared that I have been having trouble going to sleep since my Dad passed away. Thankfully, after I wrote the last blog about his passing, I stopped being haunted at night by our time in the hospital. It was as if typing those words on the page pulled the images out of my head. Well, this last Saturday night we were back in Panama City and I was sleeping in my brother's bed, the same bed I had cried myself to sleep in the day my Dad died. I've dreamt of my Dad EVERY SINGLE NIGHT since he's been gone. But in the last few weeks, they haven't been nightmares of what happened. He has just been there. He never talks but he is just always there. Well, that night I don't remember if I had a dream about him, but I did have another dream.
At first, I was driving up and down the coastline along the beach at sunset. It was the most beautiful scene, but even more than the scenery, I had the most amazing peace I have ever felt. It is absolutely unexplainable. I've never experienced anything like it in my waking hours. After that, I was walking on the side of the road in the country and I realized I was walking between my Mimi's house and my Mamaw's house. My great-grandmother lived just down the street from my Mamaw and I often went between their houses when I was little. I was about six in my dream. The sun was so bright and warm. Again, it wasn't the scenery that was important, it was how I felt. I felt free. I felt unburdened. I felt six again, the way life felt before tragedy, responsibilty, and grown-up stuff had entered. I can honestly say I can't remember the last time I felt that way, and again, I can't make myself feel that way now if I tried. There was something about those dreams.
I woke up thankful for the peaceful sleep I had gotten, especially as that particular day was going to be a tough one. But, I didn't think much about it again. Until we were on our way home the next day. I always do my thinking when I am driving. Since I am homebound most of the time, I don't do much thinking anymore. :) Anyway, as I thought about those dreams it occured to me that those feelings I experienced must be what Heaven feels like. The peace. The freedom. The lack of stress, burdens, and worry. My Uncle Reg had just talked with me the week before about the moment my Dad left this world. I wasn't there, I was doing Christmas with the kids. But my Uncle Reg told me he was holding my Dad's feet and at the moment my Dad took his last breath, he felt almost euphoric. He said a peace just came over him. When he told me that it gave me chills and helped me understand something I have been wondering about. You see, in the midst of my grieving, the anger, sadness, denial, all of that, I have also had moments when I have felt so excited I could almost jump up and down. I didn't understand that until he told me he experienced that and I got it. I believe that God has given us tiny, microscopic feelings of what Heaven holds.
I may have lost you the minute I started talking about dreams or maybe in my first sentence. If you're still hanging in there, I have to share what that revelation led me to think about. My baby Kate. She was a big surprise for us. A BIG SURPRISE!! I found out I was pregnant with her the week after Josh was ordained in the ministry and 2 weeks after we had moved into the parsonage. I had only been at my new job for 6 months. I'm not going to lie, it took me awhile to adjust. Please don't get me wrong. I was thrilled to be pregnant, but it knocked me for a loop as I came to grips with the reality of our situation. My company didn't offer maternity leave and I wouldn't be there long enough to have enough time saved up for the paid leave that I would need. I was very overwhelmed with my caseload at work that was way above what it should be and was adjusting to my new role as a preacher's wife. I often found myself feeling guilty that I wasn't able to enjoy my pregnancy the way I had with my other two. Before when I had been pregnant EVERYTHING revolved around those babies for me. This time, with two small children and a huge amount of other responsibilities, I just didn't feel as excited. Then, I had a dream one night. About a curly haired little 2 year old. I got so excited. I thought it was just wishful thinking on my part, but now that I have that 2 year old curly haired little girl, I really believe God was giving me a little glimpse at what was in store.
As I soaked in the knowledge of what God has revealed to me, I realized that there is a part of God I often overlook. God the Creator. God the Comforter. You see, when I thought about that dream I had while pregnant with Kate I became overwhelmed with tears. It occurred to me that God created Katelyn Ann Fidler and knew about her long before me. And He was excited about her! Have you ever thought of God being excited about the people and things He has created? I don't think I ever had until that moment. It was like He was SO excited about her, he just had to give me a little glimpse. He couldn't keep her to Himself.
Once again, I think that as He has drawn near to me in my grief and suffering, He was too excited about His place called Heaven. He knows my heart. He knows it hurts and misses my Daddy. He knows that my pain may last as long as I walk on this earth. But He just had give me a glimpse at what my Daddy is experiencing and I will, too, one day.
I know that some people don't like talking about stuff like this. It makes them nervous to take God out of the neat little box we put Him in. We get scared God's reputation will be ruined if the crazy folks start telling stories like this. I say, God is waiting for people to take Him out of the box and expect Him to move and work. He does. Even in the lives of us crazy people!