Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Change In Altitude

April dreamed recently our bed in our second floor bedroom was moved to the first floor.  A bed in a dream means rest or intimacy.  Prior to our move, but, after we received the invitation to move here, our sister-in-law told us she believed God told her we'd come here to rest.

April dreamed twice recently of going down a flight of stairs.  I told her the weeks before and after we moved this summer into the second floor of her brother's beautiful house I'd see phrases in my daily scripture readings that stood out to me of moving or looking upward to a higher place.   Consequently, we moved to the second floor in April's brother's home.  In the post, High & Extended (posted 7/11/14), I detailed the scriptures and related irony of these scriptures and parabolic symbolism in analogous dreams to our second floor home.

Its curious to me we're seeing new dream symbolism moving us from the second floor of rest to the ground floor.  I sense this means change is pending which is what we've believed for weeks.

With these dreams being part of our recent conversations, its funny the sermons we've listened to and through which we've felt the Lord speak to us.

Bill Johnson from Bethel Church, Redding, CA, preached a couple Sundays ago, "God counts it victory when you pray again after loss."  He went on to say the Lord is building a people to contain his purposes.  When the Lord says no, that's because there's a better yes to come.

We've struggled with the delays we've experienced.  We've received prophetic declarations and divine promises we've trusted as the Lord's will for us and for our destiny as ministers of the gospel.  We know what it is to refrain from boisterous expressions of praise to God when we've wondered if it was our fault the fulfillment of promises hasn't come.  We're familiar with praying for the well being of family and friends but abstaining from passionate prayers for the fulfillment of our promises.

Bill said, "We're learning to apprehend what was promised, but we're becoming something that can contain the fullness of what God is doing."  This spoke, first to April, then to me, the truth of where we've been and where we are.  Sin hasn't brought delay to our fulfilled destiny.  Guilt and shame are a waste of our time.  Simply, we're growing in our capacity to hold all that God has promised in and through us.

While there have been days when praying or worship have been difficult, we've still prayed and worshiped because the overall character of God we've encountered is still true - He's good and always good.  Bill's word to us legitimized our recent experiences as common to everyone, but the Lord is holding nothing against us.  We have prayed and worshiped without seeing fulfillment.  The Lord counts our faith as victory.  This brought us joy and hope.

After listening to this and celebrating with tears, I went on to listen to an old sermon I archived three and a half years ago.  It was a sermon Graham Cook preached at Bethel Church to their Supernatural School of Ministry.  I bookmarked it with the title, High Places.  I listened to it with new ears.

Graham said height, biblically, was associated with quality or power of something.  Height is transcendence, going beyond current limits, surpassing previous experiences and outside natural boundaries.  The high places in both Old and New Testaments were the places heaven touched earth.  They were the thin places.

Graham went on to use the illustration of high places and high altitudes to describe our growing relationship with God apart from natural limitations.  We're not normal people.  We're to live from a high place, a place where heaven touches earth.  Our starting place of life with God is not from need but a place of relationship, provision, love.

All of his language of height and a high altitude struck me afresh because we're living on a higher level, the second floor.  We were invited to live here.  I was inspired by scriptures describing high places and elevations before and after we moved here.  The promises given to us over the last few years involved ministering by providing a place of God's Presence to the broken and sick and lost of Sand Mountain, the largest plateau east of the Mississippi (I've been told).  We're learning to expand our capacity to hold all God has promised us. We're becoming something that can contain the fullness of what God is doing.

Graham said at high altitudes, you must take small steps and adopt a child-like simplicity to living.  While living in this season, we've had to grow in our child-like dependence on God because we don't have anything else and to take small steps, small actions because our resources are limited. 

Complex thinking can't be handled at high altitudes.  We've had to keep things simple.  Graham said to keep it simple when you're going through difficulties by reading the gospels and the psalms, not Paul's epistles.  The past two years, the gospels and the psalms have been my food.  Paul's writing has not been a staple source for me.

Emotions are in flux when you're in high altitudes.  Graham said the Sherpas in the Himalayas told him to keep your emotions steady by bringing yourself to peace and rest.  Climbers are prone to swing emotionally from ecstasy to depression in moments.  We've been inclined to feel optimistic one day and depressed the next.  We've had to learn balance in our spirits by focusing on who we are in Christ alone.  This has been, perhaps, the biggest challenge.

There's a price to pay to live at a high place, where heaven meets earth.  Graham said you have to accept a certain level of discomfort, hardship in order to fulfill the dream of being with God.  You pay a price for the anointing. 

"God measures our faithfulness by how much we persevere and press in," Graham said.  This is where Bill and Graham collided.  Faithfulness and victory is marked by pressing into your relationship with God and praying despite the loss or difficulty.  Partner with the God of favor and grace.

We've lived in a high place.  We've struggled with disappointment.  We've cried out for justice day and night.  We've felt abandoned.  Now, we feel our God, our Comforter has granted us peace and joy we haven't experienced in quite a while.  We encountered our Savior in worship and study and soaking readily the last few weeks knowing we have nothing else.  We've paid a price.

Could it be we're now descending, like walking down steps,  from our current position in order to ascend to a new place, a high place of quality and power in God?

April dreamed recently she was in a rocket with a man she believed to be her husband, but it wasn't me.  The rocket blasted off.  She was frightened, but her husband, who we now believe to be Jesus, laughed and said, "Be sure to put on your oxygen mask."  

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