MIDWEEK MESSAGE #49
Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #49. Thanks for letting me into your inbox this way and taking the time to read the MM. Just when I think it might be time to hang up my pen computer, I have people email or text me that they really appreciate hearing from me this way. I have a story to tell you so I’m going to get right to it. I am actually setting aside working on a sermon this morning in order to write this while it is still fresh in my brain. (It gets scary if I wait). My story is actually a dream I had last night (Monday).
I woke up in a sweat. My t-shirt and pillow drenched. This was different than other nights. It wasn’t the temp that woke me. The dream was vivid, almost real. I am writing it down as I remember it, as I sat in my chair and relived it after getting out of bed at 1:00 this morning. Here is my dream:
I was the age I am now and the pastor of a church. A small church like this one. I was out of the room at the time but they were enjoying a pitch in meal. There were, I’m guessing, close to 100 people there. Included in that number were about 5-6 from a previous church where I was dismissed under a cloud. The previous church was making changes. It was reaching people who were not “their type.” Suddenly the long-time members were not comfortable with the piercings, and the gauges, and the grunge-look, and the “perverts” who were finding love and acceptance in the Gospel. A bottle of booze was found in a drawer in my desk and business cards of a “working girl” and a questionable masseuse were found among my other cards. False accusations flew until Jo and I quietly left. We had no idea where, but God led us to a place where I found a job and eventually began to pastor a start-up church. At this dinner, some of the renegades from the other church did their best to plant seeds of doubt and indiscretion into the minds of the people.
When Jo and I came in (we were late because we were meeting with some new people), I was surprised to see them there. The strangers from the past church began to move forward and I could tell they were “loaded for bear.” But they never got a word out of their mouth. One young lady, the healing from piercings and gauges evident, stood up and said to them, “I have no idea why you are here. But it would be best if you would leave. I am saved and have hope because of Pastor Bill’s ministry to ‘my kind.’” A young man, dressed somewhat similar but obviously trying to transition from what he once was spoke up. “I was about to take my own life and had given up hope in my former lifestyle, when someone told me about Pastor Bill. I am here today, alive and healing, because of him.” The couple whose marriage was dead. The young mom who wanted to call it quits. The husband/father whose job had become his idol, but he was losing his family. It went on and on. I never had to say a word.
Then a surprise. An older couple from the previous church group spoke up. “We (the two of us) came to see what was going to happen. But we have also come to apologize to Pastor Bill for what we (our group) did. We planted the bottle in his desk. We planted the cards in his business cards. Our church has lost all the folks we had gained, but lost even more. We lost the respect of our community and even of our own people. We are separating ourselves from these others. We are here to ask forgiveness.”
That is when I woke up. Sweating profusely and drained. Not agitated. Drained. Like I had been put through a wringer. I’m not a purveyor of dreams. I’m not one who puts a lot of stock in them. And I’m honestly not sure what this all means. I know what I’d like it to mean.
As we move deeper into 2021 life is returning to “some normality.” It will never be the way it was, no matter how much we want it to. Be that as it may, I find my love for OVCF growing. I know our influence in this community is not done by any stretch of the imagination. But what will it be? Without compromising the Gospel, will we reach those who want to live an alternate lifestyle? Those who are coming to the end of their road and want to give up on life? Those whose lives are wracked by sin, poor choices, and a lifestyle filled with emptiness? Those who look like they have it all together but really are just shells? Couples ready to call it quits? Children who are abused and mistreated? Addicts? What impact will we have when we come to the end of 2021? I realize no one can answer those questions since only God has the knowledge to do so. But I sure am curious. 🙂 Aren’t you?
As I sat in my chair and replayed the dream, I could not go back to sleep. So I rode for an hour and prayed. I prayed for “my monthly people.” I prayed for me, for you. For wisdom. For guidance. For us to be ready for what God has in mind.
Thanks for reading my different MM this week. And no, I haven’t lost it yet. Yet… 🙂 Have a great rest of the week. I love you all.