Monday, November 15, 2004


A Generosity of Dreams

The camera story wasn't really complete when it hit the 1000-word limit I
observe on Blog entries. The ideas I wanted to write hadn't quite come
together, either, so I let it go. My friend Kim wrote back with some
observations and questions, and her words acted to pull mine into some

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.
God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear him. (Psalm 67:5-7 NIV)

I got a radical idea the other day: God gives me wants, so that I want to
do His will. Can it really be that simple? Not necessarily easy, but rather
than spend my energy in stewing over God's will, I just go on doing what
I'm good at, what brings me fulfillment, and that ends up being God's will?
I've always thought that His will would be something imposed from the
outside, a forced fit of person and niche. The person is shaped to the
niche. Maybe God already has the niche planned and designed to fit me.

What's interesting about this camera purchase is that, yes, I wanted it,
but easily could have lived without it. If you look at pure function, the
point-and-shoot does a good enough job. The EOS camera is something I
thought would be a good solution to my needs but not essential and far more
expensive than I could justify.

Could it be that I've been so dead that I wouldn't recognize a heart's
desire if it rose up and bit me? I always thought those verses applied to
God's general life, such as my heart wanting to be free from the tight
self-control I've always used. It's hard to have real life inside a
concrete enclosure.

I thought my heart's desire was restoration. I'd never thought beyond that.
What does a restored heart want? My assumption is that anything it wants
will be bad, but God is steadily teaching me otherwise. I don't really know
how He does this, but He guides, or suggests, things that are congruent
with who I am.

I keep expecting God to turn me into one of the several standard model
Christians. Re-mold me, re-make me, into an instrument. Could it be that my
wants are ideas that He has given me, and if I stay in conversation with
Him that these wants will improve the quality of my life? I've always been
afraid of wants, because so many people exemplify the pursuit of gadgets
for happiness. Could it be that God cares about the quality of my life?

Evidence and experience say yes. History says it's impossible. God is
helping me to believe experience, and the verses in the Bible that talk
about God's generosity. There are a lot of these, once you start looking
for them.

The people praise God... He blesses them... and the whole earth will
notice. Sounds too simple to be true, doesn't it? How many churches would
buy this idea, that all they really need to do is praise God? My experience
indicates that God really does operate this way: I don't deserve a thing He
has given me, but I know where the gifts come from and I know that I
wouldn't last long without Him. I appreciate what He's doing and give
thanks. He blesses me. It's His choice. I'm glad.

Kim asked, "Is God is your Dream Maker?"

He has to be. I have no dream, really. Daily survival has been as far as
I've gone for years. Don't think beyond today. This has worked out much
better than I deserve. I think God was holding His hands around me even
when I was ignoring Him. That sentence is interesting. I was writing along
and came to "...ignoring" and was thinking "Him" but actually typed "me."
Why shouldn't I ignore any but the most basic needs? I can't do anything
about them. I've burned a lot of dreams. I don't try to burn other
people's, but I purposely keep mine very, very small.

I don't know what kind of dream God has in store. I used to think He was
just going to download a dream into me. Now I suspect that He is
rebuilding, fertilizing, nurturing, and waiting to see what kind of dream
erupts from the restored life. I should probably be scared... but could it
be that the dream He's guiding me to will be such a perfect fit that I
won't even notice that it's impossible? In other words, the dream that
comes to life will grow from who I really am, not what a church or some
other teaching has imposed. I have no idea, Kim. This is all blue-sky, way
out there stuff for me.

But I'm seeing that we truly are in spiritual warfare. Kindness is a tough
sell in our world. What's the first thing that comes to mind when someone
says "God?" "Judgment Day." All the wrong ideas get reinforced, and all the
right ones disappear into the noise. God has to exert a lot of effort to
keep us with Him because there's so much countervailing noise, and He must
teach us to recognize His voice, but why learn when all we can expect is
judgment? Our enemy would love for us to keep that idea.

One aspect of this deal that I'd like to be very clear is that God makes
His own choices. I in no way have earned any of His kindness; the camera
wasn't a reward for anything I've done. It is a gift. Even the way it
happened was a gift of His timing: I just decided to go to the store
Saturday afternoon, which is a very busy time. I walked in and within
seconds was talking with the counter man. Right after I got there it got
more crowded.

God's best gift to me is His Son, Jesus. Jesus' sacrifice enabled the next
great gift, the Holy Spirit. Generosity is His nature, and I experience
this in many ways more important than a piece of hardware, nice as that is.
The camera will be enjoyable, but it won't bring life to a self-made
desert. Maybe the camera is an outward marker of those internal changes.

I think we were always supposed to be united with God by the Holy Spirit.
It was supposed to be easy, but we dug a deep hole and God had to reach
down to pull us out. I'm glad He is generous with His dreams.

2004 November 14, 15 (originated as Email to Kim)

I've been wondering about all this myself. I know that God has good gifts for us. And sometimes He meets us in our wants, and gives those to us just because it makes Him happy, brings Him pleasure to do so...

But does He give me wants... which are actually His will...? Which is what I got out of what you were saying.... That's quite a leap to take. It's not that its beyond God. It's just so far beyond my paradigm of what God is supposed to be like. I'm still struggling to wrap my mind around it....
I'm not sure, Lu, but there are hints. I think I don't know what I should want. I've covered over real wants with resistance and obfuscation to the point where I just try to forget about it and think of everything as a tool. I can justify the purchase of tools, as long as they are the right tools and no more expensive than necessary.

This camera is just plain extravagant. It's a better tool than I really need... but isn't our God extravagant in what He does for us?

I'm aware that I could be far out on this one. I expect God to correct me if I am, and He can do this. More and more I'm convinced that we have not the slightest idea of what God has in store. We're so taken with flashy things in our material world that we naturally judge all gifts by that standard. We expect God to give us those things... but what if He has even better things to give?

I can buy a camera. Only God can give life. I wonder what it will be like.
-->Only God can give life. I wonder what it will be like.

You don't want to hear my opinion on that one right now. You really don't. It won't be positive.

--->We're so taken with flashy things in our material world that we naturally judge all gifts by that standard. We expect God to give us those things... but what if He has even better things to give?

That's something that's always scared me... For the most part I've always figured God's gifts would be "flashy" somehow. Flashy power. Flashy knowledge. Flashy peace. Things that are obvious to everyone... kinda like a huge diamond ring that flashes every time I move my hand.

But God's never, ever, and I mean ever, given me flashy gifts. So, then, what do I, what can I, expect His gifts to be like? Therein lies my fear.

What others have told me are "gifts" have been painful, difficult, even heartwrenching experiences..... Huh???? What the---?!

Yet at the same time, out of those difficult painful times comes a sweetness to my relationship with Jesus that's like steamed milk with sugar (YUM!!). Warm, inviting, sweet, filling...

Is this the only gifts God will give me? It's not that I'm ungrateful. I just can't help wondering... Is this all there is? Is this all life is about? ...because I thought there was more to it...
--->Is this the only gifts God will give me? It's not that I'm ungrateful. I just can't help wondering... Is this all there is? Is this all life is about? ...because I thought there was more to it...

One of the first gifts God gave me when He brought me back to Himself was the idea that "the first bricks go on the bottom." Churches and sermons are full of fire and zip, and the implication is that we're supposed to be instant Christians. Just add Jesus.

I've held to that idea ever since. I'm not going to allow myself to be buffaloed into overextending myself, as I've done in the past. I'll let the bandwagon just roll on by, and I'll keep walking in the belief that Jesus is holding my hand and that we'll catch up with the bandwagon if we need to.

I think there is a lot more to the life that God wants to give me. Us. All of us. We don't, however, have the patience of the oak tree that spends its first few years making roots so that a four-inch tree has a six-foot root underneath.

I believe that God's life needs that root. I believe that there is much more to the life He wants to give us, but we can't live without the root.

In short, I think you're doing fine. You're making roots. Sometime, if you just simply keep following Jesus, you'll find out what your heart desires and He will give it to you. Being enraptured by Jesus' glorious face is, I believe, where we start.

We're used to living in a desert. If God were to dump all of what He wants to onto us we'd choke. It's like feeding someone who has been starving for years: you don't put him before a table loaded with pizza and steak. You start with broth.

God is a most excellent builder. He will do for us what He has promised.
Oh, Larry, Thank you!

I hadn't even thought of the idea of making roots. But that really is what's going on right now in my life, isn't it.

You are so right, we are far too often in such a rush to get somewhere. To jump on the bandwagon and go-go-go. I had a dream about this idea once... which I think I shared with you... about my car needing tires very badly, and yet I had so many errands I wanted to run, yet my dad waited patiently for me, even though I was very late, and getting later, and couldn't go over 30mph because the tires would explode, and I had to go all the way out to Riverside...

God interpreted the dream over a day later (I guess so there was no mistaking it was His dream I'd had), saying that this was my life ---- at the time, His point was about discipline, the tires being "feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Eph 6:15) And that as long as I continued the way I was, I would still be okay, but I wouldn't get where I wanted to go very fast. I was left with this feeling that He was waiting, patiently (as my dad was in the dream) for me, so we could get the "tires" replaced so I could go-go-go.

This dream has stuck with me, with vibrancy and clarity I don't normally experience with my dreams. And it pops back into my head on occasion. As it did just a bit ago, as I started to write this comment.

Perhaps it's not just about discipline... or perhaps part of growing roots is discipine... or visa vera...

Your words here give me hope! Funny that my blog is called "A Voice of Hope" and yet, it seems, that others are always more a voice of it in my life than I am in theirs....
You do offer a voice of hope to those who read your Blog. It may not be the classic textual hope, but rather a real-life hope. Anyone can write words such as "God loves you" but not many are willing to write about what happens when God introduces His love into a human being's life.

I think there's a lot of hope in what you write. You haven't quit. You go up and down but you don't quit and you hold on to God. The classic view of the Christian life is of endless smooth fields of green, but as attractice as that might be it isn't real life. No life is like that, unless you're mostly dead as I was.

Ups and downs are signs of life. Where there are God an life, there is hope. We sort of pass it around in our Blog Fellowship. It gives me hope just to know that, even when you're hurting you don't quit.
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