First, before I get started - I have a good excuse this time for being behind schedule, really I do. I had a hysterectomy. Not a big deal, but no small feat on the recovery end. It set me back a little bit on all fronts - work, home and blog. For a person who likes to move, be busy and get things done, that's a no go. But God said rest. And so did my mom. So I listened, and it's been hard! Quick shout out and a praise the Lord moment, however, for my mom who came to save the day and take care of me and everything in our home, including the three little people she calls grandkids. It's been a week of hot tea, blankets, Hallmark movies and conversation. A week of rest and a week of reflecting on all God has done for me. Sitting in a chair when you are not naturally inclined to do so will do that for you...give you moments to actually be still long enough to listen to what God is saying. This week, He had a few things to say and, in particular, this is what I felt like He asked me to write about...
Two boys, two visions, same city, seven years apart.
Once upon a time there was a boy named Jason. Well, there still is, but the once upon a time part is when God crossed my path with his. And that's what the first part of this story is about. It's a story that I reflect on often because it's one of the first times I experienced watching a vision come to fruition and I had nothing to do with it other than paying attention, writing it down and being obedient. It was also the time I realized God was really, truly in everything. As a Christian, I know that probably should have been obvious, but up to that point I just wasn't paying attention. And I think if we're being honest with ourselves, so many of us don't pay attention or even realize that...He's in everything. The dreams He gives at night, the thoughts He puts in our heads, the butterfly He lands on the ground in front of us, the unexpected check that comes in the mail, the smile from a stranger when we needed it most...everything. And when I finally realized that, my thoughts and dreams and visions came alive and full of color and I began to pay attention.
April 9, 2010, was one of those pay attention kind of moments, when God gave me a vision that I wasn't sure what to do with. In the vision I saw a megaphone, something that looked like radio waves surrounded by a large thin circle and the side profile of teeth...and I heard the words to a song I didn't recognize - Caught up, called out, Come take a look at me now - to a tune I didn't know. Not exactly super obvious. I prayed about it, shared it with my brother Kyle and then waited for God to make it clearer, because I certainly had no clue what to do with it. I just knew there had to be a reason God showed me that - those aren't things I would put together in a picture on my own or lyrics I could even say I knew.
It wasn't too long after that God did make the meaning known. The method of interpreting a dream or vision that God has given me at this point consists of multiple avenues. The first, and by far the best, is when He just gives it to me - when I dream or see a picture and immediately the answer comes to my head and is confirmed by scripture. I love when that happens! But that doesn't always happen, so the second way is to go to scripture and spend time in prayer. Then, God will often lead me to a thought that turns into "research" and I circle back around and confirm it with scripture. He doesn't always give me an answer even after all these steps and I've learned to be okay with that. But the times that He does, I get pretty excited and delve into the meaning with a whole lot of passion. This particular vision, He took me in the direction of research and scripture...I did a Google search for the lyrics that I heard and it led me to the song "More Like Falling in Love" by Jason Gray, where the chorus is: Caught up, called out, come take a look at me now , it's like I'm falling, oh it's like I'm falling in love...Love, love, love, deeper and deeper, it was love that made me a believer in more than a name. A faith, a creed, falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me. More like falling in love than something to believe in, more like losing my heart than giving my allegiance." The words hit home - I was at a point in my life where I was beginning to truly fall in love with Jesus. Not just to say I was a Christian and go to church, but I was developing a deep, passionate love for Christ. And I loved those lyrics that put words to my thoughts. So as I sat thinking through the words, the Lord brought the megaphone, radio waves and teeth image back to me. And I suddenly knew....Jason Gray. Somehow he was a part of the vision. But how? It was like a mystery I didn't have all the clues to solve. I called Kyle and shared what I had learned with him and his response surprised me...he believed we were supposed to invite him to our next outreach in Sedona. He was to use his mouth, his voice. And we were supposed to share the vision with him. Um, no thanks. I don't know the guy and I didn't want him to know I was weird. I guess my answer didn't stop Kyle. I got a call soon after that he had somehow gotten in contact with Jason and shared the vision with him. Yikes.
And just like that he was scheduled to join us one evening in Sedona for our Awaken the Valley outreach. My initial thought - Wow God, I love how you work. My second thought - I wonder if he'll think I'm weird? It was a special evening where Jason shared his heart in story and in song. We were able to gather in a circle and pray for him and I was able to share with him, in-person, the vision God had given me. I asked him why he came, based on a vision from a girl he didn't know, and his response was that if God was in it - he wouldn't miss it for anything. It was an incredible evening that God was smack-dab in the middle of and I was grateful to have been just a small part of it. And learn, once again, the significance of that one little word - obedience.
Seven years later, in February of this year, I was back in Sedona, AZ to say good-bye to a dear friend in our ministry. A small group of our team flew in on a Friday and decided when we got there to spend some time out on the streets loving on some people in Sedona. The minute we hit the ground, it took us down memory lane and I remembered back to that day we circled up in prayer with Jason. I prayed that God would use me again, in the same kind of way, in a way that I couldn't piece together or come up with on my own, but in a way that could only be of God.
Split into teams, we all headed in a different direction, listening to where God was leading. I was with two other friends and we headed toward a park. We parked the car and started walking, anticipating who God would put in our path. And in true form, He didn't disappoint.
It was there that we met Gavin and Rena, a New Age couple hanging in the park, one playing hackie sack, the other on a blanket, watching. Gavin was a transplant and Rena had grown up in Sedona, living there much of her life. They both worked in a chocolate shop together and relied on the energy of the new age way of life to keep them on the path they were taking. Adorned with crystals and a hoodie with new age symbols sparkling in gold, they were a unique pair whose prayer request that day was for the honesty of people's hearts. They were welcoming and open, seemingly enjoying the conversation and banter. We learned a lot about them in the hour we spent with them, a lot of heartache and wandering - two young kids lost in a world that was confusing and consuming them. But the one thing that was clear; they were deep in the new age way of life and it didn't seem we were going to be able to break through. A quick mini lesson for those who, like me, aren't really familiar with New Age...
New Agers are Universalists who believe that all paths lead to God. They believe that God is in everything (pantheism), that all things are one (monism), that man is in fact God, that the mind creates it's own reality and that a person’s own experience validates the truth.New Agers do not believe in evil -therefore, they do not accept man's problem as separation by sin from God. They instead believe that each of us has forgotten his or her own divinity. The New Age solution is to seek "higher consciousness" through meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, diet, crystals, channeling. spirit guides and other means. The purpose is the same in each of these diverse practices and that is to awaken the god in man.
It's an intimidating belief for me to come face to face with...they believe in so much and yet so little. They simply can't trust that you could possibly believe in just one thing - God. Gavin and Rena were hard for me to walk away from, after all they are two people created by God, with big hearts and dreams and yet so very lost. But there didn't seem to be anything that was going to switch their direction, at least not that day. As we were saying goodbye, Gavin lifted his hoodie up over his head and tucked his hands in his pockets. And as he did, my heart dropped. Suddenly I knew I had seen him before - that image of a young man in a hoodie with his hands in his pockets . And then I realized what it was. He was from my vision from a few days earlier. God had shown me a guy walking on a beach with a hoodie on, his hands in his pockets, a scruffy mustache and beard, curly dark hair peeking out of the hood and had a very "disguised look."
My heart would't slow down and for me, that's the sign that God is asking me to speak up. The good news was that at that point I knew Gavin wouldn't think I was weird, his life was full of things most would consider weird. But I wasn't sure how he would take what I had to say. Before we split ways, I spoke up and told him I believed God sent us there for him that day and why. I shared with him my vision and that I believed he was the one wandering on the beach and then I waited for his reaction. He took it in and then he acknowledged that it was true of his life...that he was in a wandering of sorts and that he spends much of his life in disguise. But the part that seemed to really tug at him, was the part about him walking the beach and as he looked up longingly into the sky he told us why. Years earlier he had a moment where he believed God opened the sky just for him and what he saw was a beach. He said he has felt drawn to the beach ever since.
It was in Sedona seven years ago that I first learned that I could sense or discern evil and what kind of "atmosphere" was in a room or surrounding a person. For Gavin, I sensed that day that God wasn't finished with him yet. I didn't sense evil, just a boy who was confused, filled with all kinds of deception and needing a clear path to see the light. He wasn't ready for change, his mind and life were too cluttered with junk. But that day, as he looked up at the sky and remembered a time when God drew him close, I sensed that there was a dent in the armor he had piled up around himself. I pray that he continues to look up...only that this time he will listen.
God truly is in everything - always. It is His desire for us to always be listening, always be loving, always be obedient. When we don't understand what it is that He's saying or it makes us nervous, it can be easy to shut it out. But my challenge to myself and to you, is to trust what God is showing you and giving you. You just never know what He will do with it. For me, Sedona, AZ made my world just a little bit smaller, my God a whole lot bigger. Jason and Gavin couldn't be more different, but what they have in common is that God brought them both to my mind through two very specific visions. God spoke differently to each of them-one listened, one didn't. But I'm trusting that one day that will change and the new title will read: Two boys, two visions, same city, seven years apart, both listened.
"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
- Philippians 4:9