He brings those dreams back


Fifty-eight years ago a seed was fertilised. Legally superfluous if my mother wished. I don’t remember the weeks and months that followed. I don’t remember much about those months and years.

I do remember my mum got mad at the piles of ironing and that my dad was always working at work or church. There were six of us kids. We didn’t notice. We were loved. My days were filled with fun and free of care.

I do remember being seven. My dad gave me a bible. And bible notes. Showed me how to kneel. How to pray. How to read the bible. It’s what he did. When we reached seven.

I remember being fourteen. I got confirmed. And I remember my sister telling me that she would give my name if she was asked the question “What is a good Christian?”

That’s when I realised it was all an act.

That is when I stopped. And turned my back.

Three years ago I remember being fifty-four. And on my knees. Sweating. Fighting. Muscles aching. Brain aching. On my knees until He said sleep.

I didn’t feel saved. Right then I was just glad to sleep. Peacefully.

But I do remember the day after. Because He asked … “What now?”

And I clearly remember thinking … “Crap!”

And that is when we began together … shedding my skin of fear.

:-/ πŸ™‚ :-/ πŸ™‚

I have a dislike for the “applauded and lauded” personal testimony. It’s a personal gripe. Because to me applaud, laud and lord sound much the same. Kind of hollow.

He gets no applause. Even though he has “discipled me” for a lifetime. He gets no lauding for being alongside me all that time. Waiting. Watching. Year after year.

Along the way I played the occasional betting slip. Save me now and I will be good. Along the way I dreamed of Him but never church. He tried to get my attention. I preferred not to look.

No one cheering Him then. No one cheering me then. Only those I loved. And those who loved me. There was always love. And then there wasn’t. Not like it used to be. And still He waited and watched.

And He didn’t “bless me” that one time on my knees. He waited. Until the ripples were a huge tsunami – until I yelled HELP I AM DROWNING!!!! And was amazed to find love was still there. Just like they always had been.

That one bruising night on my knees? That was Him waiting quietly. All these fifty-four wonderful years and a dash of hell.

So my personal testimony – my witness – isn’t that. It is this.

What I am now is what I was then. Just naked of fear.
What I love now I also loved then. Just stripped of arrogance.
What I will be tomorrow I was also then. Just not so smug.
What I see now is because of then. Why I love now is …
Between Him and me and a few loving others.

Because He gave me everything these fifty-eight years, few cells and one sperm ago. He allowed me to be me. All those “lost world” years. You may judge that a waste. You may applaud that one night of bruised knees. Make it my saving … my dying to the world. Hallelujah.

I know different. He and I have been travelling together a lifetime. My lifetime. As much time as He has is mine. And now … as much time as I have is His.

So – for me – when you applaud a “Hallelujah” moment in me or anyone else … You make Him something He never was. And you make me something I never can be.

Because He simply allows me to be me. That’s what He does. He Loves.

So why can’t we let Him be. Just as He loves us. Each and every one. Being what we already are. Were always meant to be. Will always be. Just naked of fear.

There is no applause in me. It’s way too shallow.

But a party? Oh go on then … If you insist!

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

NB I dreamt of him from time to time. All this years ago. And now He brings those dreams back. Dreams of touching those who dream of Him, but never church.

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43 thoughts on “He brings those dreams back

  1. Hi Phil! As is so often the case, I almost agree with you! I’m sure you are right that, as soon as we try to put God in our little box, he might as well be in a box, with the lid firmly screwed down. And then, a bit like Schroedinger’s cat, he might not be there anyway.
    On the other, I have difficulty with any relationship and just “let it happen”. Any relationship needs nurturing and surely has to involve good two way communication for it to grow. That might be words, but could be actions – so I think we have to be careful about just “letting things be” . I think our inaction is ok as long as it’s responsible and not just laziness. I won’t applaud you, but… Bless you!

    • Keith – thank you. No applause needed (sic!) – a warm hug when we meet works for me!

      Your second paragraph: I may have been writing carelessly (these “blog conversations” tend to be a thought which develops and moves from one to the next). I hope not, because I would willingly high-five you and your words! “Be still and know that I am God” for me is just part of this relationship. Being in love and doing nowt for the rest of my mortal life doesn’t fit any teaching I have seen (nor you – as you say so clearly). And I didn’t even need the bible for that – I learned that at home from a very early age!

      So if we almost agree or disagree or anywhere in the middle? I still wanna big hug!! Because we are family. And that’s what family does πŸ™‚

  2. Paul, I can’t match your words for style, no one I know can; but Jesus has never lost a sheep and never will. As I’ve said before the hound dogs of Heaven never lose the scent of their prey. We are His prey, the people that He loved, and He will never stop. Great testimony!!!

  3. Going to be very honest: you are more real now in this post than you have ever been since I have been reading. This is raw and it’s open. Thanks for reminding us where what why….vw

    • VW – thank you. One of those things I have not wanted to write about. Yet was drawn to (and pushed back- and was drawn – and pushed back …). As usual I never have the foggiest idea why or what or how.

      Your comment pinged right through “the post” to that starting point. Thank you.

    • “It leaves me thinking about how I treat those who are new in the faith” … I had an insistent question buzzing: “Why?”

      I am curious as my “handle” suggests πŸ™‚

      When does new become “not new” – become “ready” – become “mature” – become “good enough” – and for whom and by whom?

      • I’m not sure ‘good enough’ is the right phrase, perhaps ready.
        I’ve seen way too many people being put into positions for which they weren’t ready and it sets people up for failure.
        I’m in South Africa. Here there is a big push for transformation, but when you put someone in a position because of their skin colour rather than if they are ready it is a problem. Not just for the person, but for others under them as well.

      • Nate, thank you. The reason for asking is I have seen many posts with a common theme: an unwritten culture from “the church” with responses along the lines of: “you have only just been “saved” … (and for some real people) “not yet a decade”. The result is division and damage to the “saved soul” (like what I am) – and a continuation of the same culture as these “probationers” accept they are not yet good enough to add very much at all.

        Your context of ministry and colour interest me. Care to share?
        (there are no rules on length of comment – you want to add a chapter or two – please do) πŸ™‚

  4. Paul, your words of testimony are a gift. This was brilliantly written. Made me fall in love with Him even more. Thank you. Dear Friend. And I thank God for you, as well. πŸ™‚ Your gift blesses many.

  5. Paul, this has really blessed me today.

    My oldest teenager hates church. He goes because I force him to. He says he believes in God just not the hypocrisy of church and I really can’t give him a great rebuttal to that. Furthermore, Cam was miraculously healed from a very serious illness in the last few years so his apparent ambiguity drives me nuts!

    I have been haunted with fears that he won’t have the relationship with God that I want him to have. I’ve prayed on this and this “fear” was beginning to infect me. You’ve made me realize that I can continue to pray not fearfully but faithfully. He doesn’t have to find God’s voice the same way I did. Or as early as I did. I can trust knowing that God is still with Him and the two of them will have their first “conversation” without any prodding or orchestrating by me.

    I needed to read this today. Your testimony has brought me comfort and through it I know God will address my concerns. “Why can’t we just let Him be?”

    Thanks for addressing the control freak in me! Peace, love and many thanks to you! πŸ™‚

    • Lilka, I just β€œlet this be” when I first read your comment. Too honest, too real simply to type back a reply. Thank you thank you.

      (Several hours later, I have been thinking of my own dad. Have written and deleted loads of words. Because only one small thought does you justice. Your beautiful words and your own Father and your young man)

      Love will always. If we allow.

      (Everything I read says you do)

  6. “And that is when we began together … shedding my skin of fear.” Wow. Simply, tearfully, utterly wow.

    I wish I could explain to you how much your words, your love, your stories, your Father/son relationship have impacted my life. Roget’s doesn’t have a thesaurus large enough to encapsulate the depths God can reach through people like you. Words like “profound” and “insightful” swim in the shallow pool with bright yellow floaties. Perhaps VW stated it most perfectly when she concluded that you write with a certain rawness. It’s vulnerable, transparent, and so unbelievably far-reaching. And for some reason this post above all others has resonated with me most deeply.

    I’ve heard quite a few testimonies. Many have an element of that “applaud and laud” hollowness you addressed. Especially the ones church videographers compile in the style of Spielberg, brandishing people’s newness like shiny crowns for people to admire. Personally I believe there’s nothing more real, more completely broken and open to God than that on-the-knees, end-of-the-rope exhaustion of life. Where we reach the rock bottom of ourselves and our effort and realize we are nothing without Him. We can do nothing without Him. We have nothing without Him. Because a life without Him is no life at all. It’s empty. Hollow. A mere shell covered in a gaudy costume of hypocrisy. Not until we kneel before Him “Sweating. Fighting. Muscles aching. Brain aching” will we experience the full-body, full-spirit, full-mind, full-heart transformation that salvation brings.

    When Jacob wrestled with God, he never let go. Even when his hip popped out of socket. Even when the tears of pain streamed down his face. Even when it would have been easier to give up and let go. He held on and God changed him. He never walked the same way again.

    On your knees before God, you wrestled. And you’ve been walking differently ever since. Thank God you didn’t let go. You embraced the pain because you wanted change.

    Thank you so much for sharing this testimony, Paul. I am blessed to know you. Truly blessed.

    • Heather, you keep finding so many beautiful words. Thank you.

      And they have triggered a memory. I spent the last three months of our dad’s life with him. He was a prolific emailer with “family letters” to all of us as well as a huge circle of extended family and friends. Once a fortnight without fail. It generated a huge response. And I took on the role of his typist and secretary. Being his fingers on the keyboard, his eyes for the replies. It was a gift. A conduit through which so much love flowed.

      That is how this blog feels so often. I read back some of these posts and struggle to find words and phrases written and published. Struggle to find them in my normal speaking. Normal “living”. Normal anything really.

      When I first felt guided in these words I was embarrassed. God speaking through me, these words … Really? That is a tad presumptious. Get a grip, Paul.

      And now? It occurred to me that he is stretching my comfort zones, growing my trust in Him, invading my way of living with Him … using no more than these typed words. This particular post I had resisted with many a cringe. For quite some time. Too much me. Too exposed. Too vulnerable. Too toe-curling. Yet He whispered gently. And then again. And we did some horse-trading. I was reluctant to do a yahoo style piece. Yet that was all I had ever seen from others. He nodded. I felt it should be whole life not just one moment. He nodded again. And bit by bit we got to writing. And then something like that “conduit” happened. And that phrase you picked out … I read that with the same wow as you. Every time. Like I never wrote it, yet I know I did.

      The one I love is “As much time as He has is mine. And now … as much time as I have is His.” It has stuck in my head ever since. Not because I am wonderful. But because I find I actually mean it more and more. And it is not scary to say or think. Increasingly and in all parts of my life. And that is freaky. All because of typing these posts. All because I trust Him more and more – and because I trust Him with more and more.

      And you? Still the only one who releases stuff like this. The only one who pings stuff to this depth. Who allows me to ping deeper and deeper. You teach me. You wow me. You show me how to be braver. Others do the same but in different ways. Your words connect with something harmonic. Beyond words. And that is why I can never understand why I type so many in reply to yours!!

      πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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