An imperfect storm

I had a dream that Jesus was giving a talk in a high school. It wasn’t a lecture for the students or staff – the group was just using a meeting room in the school because they didn’t have a permanent place to meet.

I went wandering away from the lecture for a bit and found a student who said he was afraid of a particular area in the building. He said it was haunted.

We went to look, and we found a lot of other students and staff members transfixed, staring at this big swirling black cloud that was in a stairwell. It sure looked angry. I thought about calling Jesus to come calm it or to cast it out. Then time shifted a bit and I realized that Jesus wasn’t there.

But then I realized that I was, and because I’ve accepted Jesus into my heart, he is there, in me. This is true for all believers. I also remembered that Jesus said to his disciples in Mark 16:17-18 that nothing can harm us, not poison, not snakes. I remember also in Mark 9:28-29 Jesus teaching his disciples to cast demons out.

Somehow, the idea of angry spirits and the weather got merged. We have a lot of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in the South, especially this time of year. We have a lot of casualties and property damage from them.

And I remember the story in Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus calmed a huge storm at sea, saying “Silence! Be still!” to it. I also remember the story of Elijah and the storm, from 1 Kings 19:11 where we learned that the Lord was not in the storm. Elijah held his ground and was not afraid.

What is a storm but energy? It isn’t a fluke of nature. It isn’t just something that happens. I think there is a reason I’m seeing the idea of a storm and of demons. Bad storms certainly are very destructive and harmful. We need rain, certainly. We don’t need 30-50 MPH winds. We don’t need tornadoes.

Why not think of a storm as a demon – and cast it out? Tell it to be still?

Answer – on intercessory prayer.

People often ask me to pray for them. Sometimes I hear an answer back of what they are supposed to do – some blockage to address, some wrong to be righted. They rarely want to hear this.

Perhaps they think their obligation is over just by asking for prayers. While it is important to ask for help, it is also important to be able to receive it. Receiving it in this case means listening to the answer to the prayer.

I think a lot of this resistance comes from the modern church structure. We are taught to be passive in our faith. We are receivers, not doers. Things happen to us. We don’t make things happen.

We are taught this when we are expected to be silent or to recite from a script during our worship service. This is the model we are given in the modern church service for how we are to interact with God, and how God interacts with us. Sit down. Shut up.

But this pattern is not God’s pattern. This pattern ensures docility and compliance. The Bible is filled with the exact opposite pattern. Our role models are active and willing participants in doing God’s will.

We are the hands and feet of God. When someone says “How could God let this happen?” the question really should be “How could we, the people of God, let this happen?”

So it makes sense that people don’t know how to react when I tell them the answer that I’ve heard. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me even. Rarely is it something simple or obvious. This is in part how I know the answer isn’t from me. I couldn’t have made it up because I don’t even understand it.

Sometimes the answer is to do something. Sometimes it is to stop doing something. And I don’t always get an answer. That is part of it too. Sometimes we just have to live in the middle, in the not knowing, and have faith that God has it all under control.

When I pray for myself or someone else I’m often asking for a change in a situation. Sometimes I’m asking for a boon or a favor. But just like if I was asking for a boon from an earthly king, I have to understand that it might not be just, and it might not be right.

With an earthly king, the request may not be in his power. With our heavenly king, it is always in God’s power. The issue is that we can’t see things the way that God sees them. God knows the history of everything even before it happens. This is what God means by the title “the Alpha and the Omega.” Time means nothing to God.

So sometimes what we are asking for isn’t really what we want, or need. We think it is, but we don’t have the whole picture.

When we pray, sometimes God needs us to do our part to make the result happen. We should welcome this work as an opportunity to serve God. So when you hear an answer, whether you hear it yourself or it comes by way of an intercessor, see it as a blessing.

Limits – on exclusion in religious groups.

I cannot be part of any organization that does not allow full membership to people. Especially if it is because of something they have no control over.

I cannot become a Catholic for this reason. Women cannot ever be priests.

I cannot join the order of the Eastern Star for this reason. While it is a sister organization to the Masons, it is not equal. It is an auxiliary group.

I’m very wary of the new trend in spiritual circles that are “embracing the Divine Feminine” and are centered around women members.

I get it. Women’s voices and stories have been excluded from the conversation for years. They are trying to rectify things by putting the focus on female power.

But to do this is simply to play the same game that has been played for centuries. To celebrate the “Divine Feminine” at the exclusion of men is to ask women to be the oppressors and the excluders. It isn’t opening up the conversation. It is simply changing who the storyteller is.

To have female only spiritual or religious groups isn’t empowering to women at all. It is in fact the very opposite. It isn’t feminine at all to exclude people. It certainly isn’t divine.

We have to work together. This is why we were made differently, so we can share our strengths.