Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pinch me, I'm dreaming...

My friend Marie blogged about experiencing the presence of God in her dreams and it got me thinking about how often I experience God's presence in my own dreams.

Usually I feel God in my dreams as a permeating presence which is there regardless of what it is I'm dreaming about, kind of like a Divine overlay. It's a warming, comforting, presence that comes through as a guiding voice or scripture verses that float through my dreams.
Whenever I have these 'God experiences' I can never remember the exact content of the dreams, I just remember feeling that presence throughout and I wake up feeling very peaceful yet invigorated.

The most vivid God dream I had happened about seven years ago. I was a year into my undergraduate degree and still wrestling with the call I was feeling to go to seminary. Many people were telling me that it was what I should do, but given that I was still just finding my way back to Christ after so many years away, I didn't see how I could be a "leader" when I wasn't sure where I was going myself!
That night I had a dream that was filled with images of churches, religious symbols, clergy robes, and people gathered around me listening to me speak. I remember feeling as if I was comforting them after they had experienced some tragedy. It felt good. It felt right.

Right before I awoke, in a moment of lucidness, I remember asking God directly, "What does this mean? Does this mean I'm supposed to be a minister?"

And the response I received was:
"You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength, and all your mind."

This was not the "yes" or "no" answer that I was looking for, so again I asked, "What does this mean?"

And again I received the same response:
"You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength, and all your mind."

Now at the time I had a vague awareness that what I was hearing was a scripture passage but having spent so many years away from the Christian church, and having been raised Catholic and thus never encouraged to read the Bible myself, this was NOT a passage that I had committed to memory. Yet this is exactly what I heard. It was loud, it was clear, and when I checked my Bible after awakening I realized that it was taken word for word from the Gospels. Which is how I knew that the answer I received to my question did not bubble up from my own consciousness. It came from somewhere outside of me.

The dream, with all its religious symbolism was for me confirmation enough that the path I was meant to be on was leading towards the ministry, but the response I received to my question let me know that entering ministry was not about the religious symbols, the church buildings, the clergy robes, or the 'good feeling' I get when I've helped someone.
It's about God.
It's ALL about God.

All of the other stuff - the symbols, the liturgy, the drive we feel to help and love one another - all of this flows OUT of the love that we have for God.

I needed to be reminded of that.
I was getting so caught up in worries about going to seminary and succeeding academically, and anxiety over whether I had what it takes to BE a minister that I had lost sight of the most important requirement: I needed to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Once I did that, everything else would come much easier.

I am now getting much closer to making my dream a reality, and in many ways I already have.
But I believe that God calls us all to be ministers.
Some of us are crazy enough to want to do it for a living, and choose it as a vocation.
But we're ALL called to love God with every fiber of our being.
And once we do, that love will naturally flow out and feed our desire to minister to each other.
As teachers, healers, counselors, preachers, and administrators of the sacraments.
Regardless of which career path we choose, with God's love in our hearts we all have the capacity to fill these roles for others, in many different ways.

We all have the ability to make our dreams - and GOD'S will for us - come true.

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