Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Image..

Ok so.. I have been praying for a friend of mine.. I'd like to say "you know who you are"but I realized that there are about 10 of my friends that would fit this description..... My friend is in a place where he is trying to make some decisions and listen for the call of God in his life to lead him in the right direction or give him insight into what God wants to do with him. He didn't give me too many details but asked me to pray for him as an intercessor (praying on behalf of someone, or in his stead.. this is a spiritual gift that I crave using, so if anyone needs prayer let me know if I can be a part of that)..

Now to clarify.. the past few months of my life have been pretty rocky in the spiritual arena, I have made some less than desirable choices, and sort of went through a phase of turning my face from God in shame, and in fear. I have posted on it before, but some of it was a need to have a season of anger.. I had some things built up that I needed to express to God. I can explain that more on a one-to-one basis if you are interested in hearing. You guys know me.. I love to wrestle through my experiences by sharing them with others. Wanna wrestle? haha.

So the point of this post:
All week I have had moments where I really wanted to just stop and pray. Names popping in my head, different situations. I would take a few minutes to satiate the craving, but never sat down to actually pray in depth about the situation. Finally Tuesday night after some good conversations with different people I set aside the time before bed to get down to business. Now those of you that know me and my spiritual gifts, when I pray for or over someone I usually pray in images. An image pops in my mind, and through describing it and walking through its different aspects and the key words that come out of that image, I end up with some sort of a "word", understanding or insight into the situation. I believe that this is God putting something on my heart, or the recollection of images from His word. Either way, though fallible because I am human, I believe it could be inspired by God.

Like I said before.. I started praying and ALLL of these names started popping into my head. I won't disclose all of those names here, but if you feel like you are one of them and want to leave a comment please do.

So the following scenario came into mind when I was praying and I will try to walk you through it as I experienced it as well because I think a lot of things came to light in the process rather than the ending image. I journaled this image, vision, visual whatever right after experiencing it so I will type what I wrote down as important to remember at the time.

So I was praying for my friends who seemed to be in a place where they no longer had direction.. and the image of being lost in the wilderness came to mind. Actually it was a scene from Man vs. Wild when Bear Grylls was in I think Africa (shout out to phil and brandon! Oh Bear!).. the middle of the desert. The question that came into my mind at that moment was "what now?" and I think that echoes a lot of the frustration that many of the young men in my life are experiencing (not that women aren't experiencing it as well, but I had this strong feeling that this was for the guys who I have been talking with the past two weeks or so..) They seem to be stuck in a place where they felt led to in the first place, but now they are in this tangle of wilderness where they can't see forward or back, they don't know what is "out there" and they are lost as to which direction to head. So the question developed into "When you are lost in the wilderness, what do you do?" The keyword that then came to mind was "Find your bearings" . Well that is all and good. Seems simple.. figure out where you are at now, and you will know where to go from there.. done and done. Yeah right! haha. So I kept exploring the idea.. How do you find your bearings when you are lost in the wilderness? Well.. ehem.. on Man vs. Wild he would do a few different things depending on the situation.
1. Find a High Place- mountain, cliff, overlook etc to survey the situation
2. Find a River- follow it downstream because usually water leads to life (isn't that the truth!)

Why? In order to get anywhere we need to direction, to get direction we need bearings, from bearings we get"GUIDEPOSTS" to direct us..... Those were the flow of words. Ending in Guidepost. i thought it was a strange word to pop in my head because I don't use it that often and I honestly wasn't sure if it was the right word for the case.. but I know my intuition so I trusted the word. And rightly looked it up:
1.a post, usually mounted on the roadside or at the intersection of two or more roads, bearing a sign for the guidance of travelers.
2.anything serving as a guide; guideline.

Despite this definition.. There wasn't much information in the dictionary.. which was intriguing so ofcourse the next logical step: I googled it :)

I found that "guidepost" is primarily a word used in devotional, religious language. There is a magazine, and some other things using this word. When I did a keyword search through a bunch of different translations.. the only verse that used that exact word was:

Jeremiah 31:21
"Set up road signs;
put up guideposts.
Take note of the highway,
the road that you take.
Return, O Virgin Israel,
return to your towns.

So what is the process then.. here at school the "process" is the most important point of everything we learn. Despite the process being important it is the goal and vision that guide this process.. So.. continuing prayerfully in this exploration. I came up with this:

1. Find a high place to reclaim the vision
This part was interesting to me. I remember thinking about how when you go to the top of a mountain or hill you can see for miles and miles and miles. You tend to log that picture away and when you get to the bottom, you still keep that vision of the land in mind. You feel like you know where you are within the scheme of that overall vision. But without that vision, you feel so small, and confused about where you fit in, and where you should go. When I was praying through it.. if felt like this was the first step to take, but I also felt like this wasn't the key point to the whole process. In fact I kept thinking well, many of my friends know to get away, to find a "high place" and re-engage the vision that God has for them.. rather the issue is where to go next, or what to do when you follow that vision and then still get lost in the wilderness at the foot of the mountain.
2. Find your bearings within this vision-
This one kind of threw me for a loop. I mean what does it mean to find your bearings.. figure out where you are? Figure out how you fit in? I mean it isn't quite to the point of deciding a direction.. but it is finding out where each direction could lead.. The other aspect of this that came out was the fact that even when you are at the top of the mountain, reclaiming your vision and finding your bearings.. you still only see part of the vision. I mean you don't see over the next mountain, or the next mountain.. just what lays directly around the mountain you are standing on. So this led to the idea that the need to find your bearings within the overall vision is a continuous process and that how well detailed those bearings are is up to God. If he decides to make it a cloudy day or clear skies, that could change how much of the vision you see, and how many mountains you see in the way.. which can change how you "find your bearings" and get to a point of deciding direction.

3. Set and follow guideposts in direction towards the goal of this vision
At this point comes the hard part. Deciding what direction. I think for me I struggled with this part the most because when we are trying to follow God's direction.. sometimes it is difficult to decide which direction is "God's direction". Do I follow the river towards a city? Do I head down the mountains in hopes of finding food and shelter? Do I head for the next peak? Well in my prayerful explorations.. I honestly didn't get anything to address this aspect. Anybody else have input? Is it just the feeling of calm? When you look out in the vision does one thing come into "clarity" while the rest blurs? I think it is different for everyone, and takes practice as well.

I think the trick is that once you have set your eyes on the goal, the other difficult part is setting guideposts. What will be the thing to consistently lead you in the right direction? The sun/stars? Different aspects of nature like the slope of the mountain or the current of the river? Whatever it is, it needs to be consistent with the goal.

This is the point in the prayer that I began to really feel out what some of the issues were.. so I am going to type out what I wrote at 1 in the morning ;) Some of it is echoed above.. but it is interesting to read the actual journal of how it came out on paper in the midst of it.

While at a high place you may see miles and miles ahead, where a riverbed lies, in a valley over a peak, etc. Once you come down from the mountain, however, you need the guidepost to guide you through the wilderness. You may no longer see the mountain, but the sun is a constant, the stars are a constant. At times you will be in a clearing and see a few miles ahead, others yo will be in the thick of the forest barely able to see past the tree in front of you.

However. God can provide guideposts toward a goal.
God wants to give you the vision, but may not want you to see past a mountain or two.
Trusting God is not guessing that there is a city over the next mountain or being disappointed when there happens to be another mountain the "the way" or the city doesn't have running water.
Trusting God is not pride in "catching on" and foreseeing the city filled valley or lack of city within it.

Trust God's direction.
Trust God's nature to guide you.
Trust the guideposts.
Don't count on the high places to give you the details of the rocks and thorns you may trip over in the forest.
Expect challenges and experience the growth and building of new muscles.
Be prepared for predators and be grateful for the sustenance along the way (even if it is not as tasty as McDonalds)

So that was all very choppy and not very fluid.. but it was the gist of what I got the other night. I think there are some elements to be further explored, and some that hit me right where I am at. I am curious how others feel about it.. if they have any suggestions, or corrections, amendments or deletions. Would you tweak the wording? phrasing? What experiences come to mind when you read it? How do you feel about the idea of God bringing us visions and images of his nature, his words, and his guidance for us? What does the term Guidepost mean to you, and have you ever considered the idea of God as a guidepost? or God placing them in your life?

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