Sunday, April 19, 2020

Live By the Sword

It is day 31, I think, of our mandatory quarantine. It's 6:00 am on Sunday morning. I've been awake now for a few hours. My heart is now becoming heavy.  The first few weeks of quarantine were actually nice.  Life seemed somewhat stress free.  We made the adjustments of working from home and even doing church online seemed to  make the switch with some ease. But Easter came and something shifted.  I don't know if it was the let down of not getting dressed up in something new, the gathering of church family, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus with family members for lunch, but that seemed to be the peak of this life of quarantine.

Over the next few days, something shifted. That peacefulness and stress-less life changed. My dreams have been much more active and I wonder if it could be from the lack of activity that my subconscious is reacting.  When this time of isolation began, I had a lot of faith and hope that we were going to see the Holy Spirit move in a new way.  We prayed for changed in 2020 and clear vision.  We certainly got the change, but as far as the vision goes, it's become more blurred.

The other morning, I woke up completely confused.  I had a dream that Jeff and I had a leadership conference in Temecula.  Temecula is southern California's wine country.  I'm not sure why there except we are either in need of wine or God was speaking to me about that location. Are we, as a church, being put into new wineskins? 

But in this dream Jeff kept referring to Isaiah 54:17, "no weapon formed against us shall prosper..." He had made a small paper "knife-like sword."  He said, "This is not a sword and this is what most of us carry as a sword."  Then out of butcher paper, he made a life-size fencing type sword.  He told the leadership that we were going to be making these for each one of us.  He had run out of paper and we had to buy it from CVS. It was then I woke up with wonder on my mind.

Was God speaking to us? What are paper swords? I did find it interesting that Jeff kept quoting Isaiah 54:17.  I decided to read that verse and it was interesting, which makes me believe now God was talking to me in my dream. It says, "But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!" (NLT). Now the question is what does this mean.

I began to pray and as it literally began to unfold, this is what it means.  First of all, why butcher paper?  That seems so odd, but as I looked back, when I was a cheerleader, we would make team signs on butcher paper. The signs were to encourage our players to give their best and to "go, fight, win!"  We obviously know this type of paper is to wrap meat in when you get it from a butcher. I believe the paper sword represents the Word of God. We know in Ephesians 6:17 says to "take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."  The word of God is meat in a spiritual sense. In these days of crisis, we are not just fighting a physical disease, but if we aren't eating spiritual meat, we will not be able to sustain. But also as I mentioned, butcher paper is what we used to make signs on.  The paper sword represents encouragement. Habakkuk 2:1-3 says, "I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. 2 Then the Lord said to me, "Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. 3 This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed." (NLT)

Then lastly, why CVS? We know in reality, they don't carry butcher paper, but CVS is a place where we can purchase essential items and pick up medicine. The word of God is essential in our lives and in this time of disease it is also healing.  If we read the word of God daily, we are getting what is essential for us to sustain in this time of crisis, but also it will bring healing as we rest in Him.

I think this is a word for our church family that we are in a critical season.  Thinking about this, I realized as we are quarantined in our homes to keep us safe from being infected, but because we can't gather corporately we are being affected. This is a time for us to track with the daily bible reading and interact on the video chats.  The Holy Spirit is there in our midst, even if it is online.  Growing together in the word is crucial to this body.

I believe the word in this dream summed up is this: God is doing a new thing, He's making streams in the wasteland, of the internet. (Isaiah 43:19). We are being put in new wineskins,
"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17 NLT) As a Church we need to be eating the Word of God together daily and meeting together via video to continue growing, "‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”(Matthew 4:4). The past 6 years have been training us for this season. Jesus said, "Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." I believe for us as a Church this means for us to put the word of God at the forefront of our lives. By putting the sword back in it's place, means it should be the first thing we turn to in our minds so we will be preserved and healed at the same time. No weapons of disease or financial loss formed against us will prosper. We will "live by the sword." And specifically the paper sword.

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