After hearing many of my hilarious, often ridiculous and farfetched dreams, my girlfriend suggested I start writing down these nighttime adventures of my subconscious. A little insight into my pandemic crazed mind for further review and connection? I decided to bite. Little did she know that she would also star in the first one recorded...
Frantically gathering all the necessary supplies for a run with this particular girlfriend, for a half marathon that we had not completely trained, I forgot a very important item - socks. I looked down at my naked ankles and exclaimed, "The blisters won't be too bad, I will be ok." Said girlfriend then mentored, "Please go get your socks, I will wait for you." I ran back to the place we were staying, grabbed dirty socks and my phone to be able to locate her upon returning to the start. Minutes counted down as I raced against the clock. Four minutes to start and I was no where close. Due to the crowd, my phone wasn't connecting and the race started without me - on an escalator - that I could not pass. Hope fading that I would be able to meet up with my girlfriend, she appeared, smiling, having stayed still as the stampede of serious race goers flew past her. Exhaling, we started the 13.1 mile journey together.
I really don't think I need a dream interpreter for that one.
The blisters were a pain I was willing to endure as not to put out my girlfriend and cause my own poor planning to negatively impact her. Oh, how this theme speaks to my pandemic exhausted mama heart. The last thing I want to do during this time in my life is to do anything that would cause my kids more pain or heartache than necessary - even at the expense of whatever type of blister might be necessary for me to endure. Blisters in my mind, my heart, my spirit, my body, my pride, my friendships, my job...you name it, I have worn them. And hiding them has felt more safe than exposing them for further assault by those who would have no difficulty throwing salt at the bleeding open wounds caused by the constant chaffing of the worn down and busted fluid filed abrasions.
I wonder if this is how Gideon was feeling as he sat beneath the oak tree, deep in the wine press instead of on the threshing floor where the job of separating the chaff (the useless outer shell of wheat) from the wheat was most ideal for propagating crops. Afraid for his livelihood, having been infiltrated by the Midianites, on all sides for so long, he hid so as not to make his crop vulnerable to those who would sure destroy it.
He didn't want to expose himself and his work to his enemies, those who were actually distant cousins. These family members had been destroying his crops, killing his dreams, endangering his legacy over and over again for years. A little biblical history for you - Abraham was the man who God made the very first covenant with. God promised to make him the father of a great numerous people who would love God - and God would protect them (the Israelites). Abraham had a human problem of lack of patience and got his concubine pregnant since it took longer than he liked for his wife, Sarah, to conceive. Eventually, Sarah did conceive and they had Isaac, who was the promised son, the one who the prophecy of God was fulfilled through. Ishmael was his concubine, Hagar's, son, and I knew about the division between those two family lines.
However, I was recently struck to learn that Abraham had a wife after Sarah died! Learn something new every time I study the Word. Abraham's second wife was Keturah, who had Midian, who would lead the Midianites to be a primary corruptor of Israel. Time and time again, God told the people of Israel to destroy all of the Midianites...and the Israelites could not bring themselves to do it. The kept sparing the women and children. Not so hard to understand, huh?
How could it every be a good thing to destroy a whole line of people? I still don't fully understand the ways of the Old Testament but my take away is that of our calling to full obedience to God. Not partial. If the Israelites would have obeyed God completely, they would not have dealt with the same struggles year after year after year after year - the same Midianites destroying, plundering, devastating their crops, their homes, their families...and what about Abraham's partial obedience? Maybe a topic for my next blog...
So just how does this relate to my blister dream? Life has felt really hard over the past 10 months for many of us. A large theme in some Christian circles is to push past the hurt and pain, consider it a lesson of some sort in order to make human sense of it, count it all joy because we know the end story. Though 100% true, it simply doesn't work that way. Our pain has to be addressed - and sometimes, even before it happens. We have to take the time necessary to go back inside, even if it delays us, to get the socks. We cannot run this marathon of life without socks, lest we be wrought with pain from consequences that we can prevent. And to that end, it matters who runs our race with us.
This same girlfriend has been a key sounding board throughout this pandemic for me. We have talked, prayed, encouraged truth and pointed each other towards the Bible. We have wrestled together with the hard topics that have plagued our lives in the past 10 months and because of this type of friendship, I have been challenged to grow in my faith in so many ways. She is also one of few people in my life who has no qualms about calling out the evil in this world for what it is - Satan's work. If there is one thing that I have learned in this life, it is that there is a pull toward evil and it is a very slippery slope - especially since people do not like to acknowledge it, much less talk about it.
You know what the "socks" of our race here on earth are? The words written in the Holy Word of God. Do not leave home without them...and certainly don't try to even participate in this marathon of a life we are living. Complete obedience in God can only be found through following His commands. The only way we can know what those commands are is by reading His Holy Word. It is one thing to not follow His commands, but an entirely different one to not even know what they are.
Gideon was small. His tribe was small. He questioned God when God told Him that He was the mighty warrior who would save the Israelites. He asked for God to perform miracles to prove his sovereignty. God did! God called Gideon when he was in the midst of his ordinary work of providing for his family. God used little ole' Gideon and his small army of only 300 men (reduced by God from 32,000) to show that Gideon defeated the Midianites not with his own strength, but with God's.
The story of Gideon gives me such great hope for getting through this challenging time in our lives. So often it feels too much. The division, the paranoia, the outright turning against God. Oh my heart breaks and I feel so small. How can I raise kids right now? I want so badly to protect them! I push back my fears and often try to run this life race not fully geared up, without my socks, even...but that is not how we go into battle. We go with faith, with hope and armored (and socked) up! God's word, wise counsel of friends, ability to call the devil out for who he is and the strength not of ourselves but of our Heavenly Father, who very well may have chosen us for such a time as this.
Friends, it's a good time to make sure your socks are on, your Bible is front and center and your strength is found in a power so much greater than your own - God's. It's also time to look around at your own inner circles and make sure the ones in your sphere will speak truth when needed - maybe even causing you an about face. We can get through this crazy hard time with unity as the result. But, it has to start now, though we feel weak. If God can use Gideon and his small army of 300 men, he can certainly use us. Socks on, Bible's open, let's do this. Amen.