The Father's Smile
I am a workaholic.
Yes, unfortunately that is a real thing. In the span of about 25 years I have attempted several business ventures, none of which made a profit; some actually caused us to go into debt. During a period of about 5 years, while trying to raise teenagers, home school and milk dairy goats, I also grew vegetable and herb plants for sale, grew a half-acre garden, mixed essential oils as well as my own herbal teas for sale, raised and processed chickens, turkeys and rabbits, retailed organic skin care, and started a non profit organization. I probably missed something but it doesn't matter.
I lived in fear of being called stupid or lazy and set my standards so high even I could not reach them. I was desperate to prove that I was capable of doing something right and good that would be a blessing to my family now and in their future. I was afraid that God was waiting for a chance to squash me with His giant thumb if I did something wrong, but I didn't realize I would never be able to work hard enough to please Him. I didn't realize He cared about ME, not what I could DO.
During those five years I had asked God to show me what to do to help my family. I thought if I could start a business that was good enough, that maybe my husband could stay home and we could run our business as a family. One morning I was awakened by a dream. It was simply a white index card sitting on my very messy desk on top of a pile of other papers. On this index card was written clearly "John 4:38". I spoke the scripture aloud the instant I woke so that I would not forget it. My husband asked, "what's John 4:38?" I didn't know, so I immediately got out of bed to look it up. "I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."
Huh? I didn't get it. I got up and resumed my usual routine, working so hard and expecting my children and husband to enjoy working with me that I was frustrated when they didn't. I was so tired that I would nod off after driving only a few minutes to town. I didn't dare sit still because I might fall asleep or feel guilty for being lazy.
Then in the 5th year everything crashed. My husband injured his neck and shoulder and lost his job of 12 years and he had to take a buy-out so we could pay our bills. I lost my mom for a few years. Our oldest son enlisted in the Air Force, our 2nd born son graduated from Home school High School, we began the adoption of twin toddlers, we put our house/ hobby farm up for sale, let the gardens and little business ventures all die, sold the goats, slaughtered the chickens, had to give the twins back to their birth parents who had changed their minds about giving them up, and sold the farm just barely in time before the lump sum retirement ran out.
The Lord provided just enough from the sale of our farm to purchase a very nice house in a wealthy neighborhood with CASH. I called it our Healing House. Our two kids still with us said it was like a vacation home, very fancy compared to what we were used to, and nothing needed to be done to make it live-able. Soon after we moved there, my husband was hired part time as a bus driver. Friends I hadn't heard of in years called to say "you're on my mind. Are you o.k.?" They recommended books for healing, met me for coffee, called to check in, and prayed for me. I filled up three journals as I talked with God about all the hurt I had been trying to cover up in my heart due to my childhood abuse and everything I had messed up on. It turned out that working my tail off didn't make any of that pain disappear. That's when it struck me that I had always believed the lies my workaholic and abusive dad told me - that I was stupid, ugly and incapable of doing things right. I realized that Jesus loved ME and I needed to LET Him love me without all the extra work. John 4:38 - He sent me to reap what I had NOT worked for. His love was and still is unconditional. What a profound concept!
Fast forward 6 years to the present. God has blessed us in multiple ways and I will share more testimonials at some point about how He provided another home with cash and we became foster parents and then adoptive parents to two beautiful and traumatized little children.. For now I just want to share what is relevant to TODAY.
We are all, in the entire world, living in a nightmare, it seems, as we try to avoid contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to others. Fear has sneaked into many hearts, including mine, again. I have found myself worrying about the future, feeling more and more frustrated, and not responding lovingly to our two little ones. After over a year of spending long periods with the Lord every morning, that time became more filled with trying to sell my newly published book. Realistically some effort needs to be put in, but when spills over into the time I need to spend with my children, I have forgotten the whole purpose. Raising PEARLS is about quality time spent to Prepare, Empower, Armour, Restore, Love, and Secure our kids. How am I doing that if I'm too busy looking at my computer or phone to notice or care about my daughter asking me to play with her?
Yesterday a friend quoted chapter 4 verse 38 from a couple different places in the Bible while sharing his own testimony. Before I went to bed I remembered John 4:38 from the dream many years ago and I asked the Lord to give me another dream. I felt guilty that I had not been spending time with Him. I didn't expect to dream, but I hoped that I might. I changed my alarm setting to go off at 6:00 a.m. instead of 4:30 a.m. because I intended to give my morning to God instead of "my" book.
At 6 am I was jerked out of a dream before it finished. Sleepily I tried to reset my alarm instead of just clicking on "snooze". Of course my phone required my password to open the alarm settings. I entered the password but it got rejected. Confused, I entered it again. The 3rd time I entered it I was in a panic, thinking my phone had somehow been hacked. I sat up in bed to re enter the password, and finally it worked. Now I was wide awake, realizing that I had promised God I would get out of bed and spend time with Him. Then the dream began to flash back. I had to write it down. Here it is:
I was at a hospital with my children, and there were A LOT - all different colors and ages. I was sitting in a wheel chair next to a desk at a nurses' station. The desk was cluttered with papers and the doctors and nurses were busy, a couple of them talking a small distance away. The children were playing everywhere without supervision. I was feeling guilty about sitting in a wheel chair when someone else might need it, but I didn't know why I was really there.
I found myself suddenly walking down a long, dim hallway, toward a very bright open doorway with an old man, hearing the children's voices and laughter around us. This man was old, I thought at least in his 80's, but he seemed ageless. He was tall and upright, built very strong yet very kind and gentle. His hair was very thick and perfectly white. As we walked he patted his solid upper arm, (I was on his left) motioning for me to put my hand on it, so that I could stay in step with him and keep my focus as we talked. Near the end of our conversation He questioned me about the children, asking why they were there with me, and everywhere in the hospital without supervision. I answered, "it is better for these children to have no parents at all than to have parents who ignore or abuse them. You are very blessed to have a strong family with a strong legacy." ( I was assuming that he had a happy life because he was well dressed, confident, and must not know what it was like to grow up without a GOOD father). I continued, "We are starting over. We - these children and I - are learning how to CREATE a legacy so that we can be strong in the future." The gentleman looked right at me with His tender eyes and smiled.
That's when my alarm woke me up.
As I began to write my dream down, I saw the gentleman more and more clearly, and soon I could not see through tears. All my adult life I have wished for a father like the ones I hear others praise on Facebook or see at church. Fathers whose children and multitudes of other people look up to, lean on, and follow so that they can emulate lives like them. Then it struck me. The man in my dream WAS my father. Not the one who planted his seed inside my mother over 50 years ago; my Heavenly Father!! He not only gave me a dream as I had asked, He MET me in it and WALKED WITH ME.
If meeting my Heavenly Father in my dream is not phenomenal enough, I'm blown away that He SMILED at me when I remembered what He had sent me to do. Instead of yelling at or scolding me in the same way I have yelled at or scolded my children, He spoke gently. Instead of bossing me around, He asked me questions to make me think about what was most important. He was tender, gentle, and patient. He WANTED me to keep in step with Him so much that He invited me to put my hand on his strong upper arm as we walked together. He had no intention of leaving me behind.
I was in the hospital because, as Jesus said in Luke 5:31-32, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." The children that were with me were also fatherless. I needed to see my Father to be restored. Jesus Christ knows that coming to me in a dream, the form of a gentle father in the absence of my earthly one would touch my heart deeply in a way it has never been touched before. He showed me so very tenderly what LOVE really looks like in only what seemed like a few moments. I craved those moments so much I wanted to go back to sleep to soak in more. But even though He was walking me toward a very bright light, the dim hallway was long. I am not done walking yet. It's often hard, dark and painful, but I am not walking alone, I'm not supposed to try to fix everything. (remember John 4:38) I was sent to PLAY with my children. To pour my heart into them and smile at them, giving them security in the knowledge that they are LOVED.
The coolest thing is that His strong arm, tender smile, and gentle voice are not just for me. He is there for all the children in the world who need a Daddy, a Mommy or both, and all the adults in the world who have lost their way no matter what the reasons. Life is scary sometimes. So scary that we can easily let it get the best of us. His purpose for you might be different than mine, but whatever it is, He is there to walk you through it.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:8-10 NIV
Prayer: Father, please put Your hand on top of mine so I never let go of Your strong arm. Amen!
To my readers: I would love to hear your testimonies! How has your faith in the Lord gotten you through hard times? Sharing positive stories are especially helpful during this strange and scary time.
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