I got up and 2 AM after being woken by the neighbor dogs crying together. I realized that all my dreams had been about being chained to a guard and being led around to various circumstances involving courts or meeting places. I feel that in my heart I am a prisoner chained to fear that I cannot escape from at this point. My heart is still resisting words of God and my faith is still weak.
My mind can choose what to dwell on when I am awake to some extent but my heart is in charge when I am asleep. So what I dream about is a much stronger indicator of what my heart is really thinking about and believing. Then when I am awake the choices that my mind makes can either reinforce or counteract the directions that my heart is taking my life.
In one way it is very frustrating to find my heart so often controlling the direction of my imagination and trying to run scenarios that quickly amplify my fears. In addition, demons are always waiting nearby to jump in and accelerate this fear cycle if I allow it to go on and I have felt extremely vulnerable for several days to this danger.
On the other hand, it is in a way somewhat encouraging to be able to have more direct access to the opinions of my own heart after so many years of great difficulty getting it to admit the real truth about what it is feeling. The past couple weeks my heart has been forced far more into the open than it has been since I can ever remember except for brief glimpses of it occasionally. I am not at all happy with many of the opinions that my heart is currently expressing, but I am also quite reluctant to suppress my heart's opinions for that has been one of the reasons it has stayed hidden from me for so many years.
Suppression is not the way to deal with heart problems. As I learn more about how God deals with me I am learning slowly how to treat myself in a similar way. God uses utmost gentleness and kindness in dealing with hearts and I need to learn the lessons of patience and kindness from His examples, even in relation to my own heart.
"Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My chosen one in whom I delight! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the coastlands and islands will put their hope." (Isaiah 42:1-4 NKJV/NIV)
It is amazing to me over the past few days how extremely relevant the words of God are to me, so much more than ever before in my life. Worship music too, has come alive for me in very intense ways. I have repeatedly listened to certain Christian musicians who's music has riveted my heart's attention and moved far deeper into my psyche and my emotions than I have ever experienced before. The words seem to be custom written for me and song after song addresses the deep pain inside and my desperate need for hope, healing and life.
My eyes seem much more open to the kindness of God the past few days since a crisis point climaxed early this week. I find myself in a continual state of repentance – which only makes sense given that it is only the kindness of God that can lead to such a state of mind. As I researched to find the text above and then pondered over it in various versions, it suddenly occurred to me that what I was reading was another description of the incredible kindness of God. This passage is a vivid word picture of pure kindness, an unwillingness to inflict any more pain on a limping, bruised reed that is hanging down ready to die; a refusal to pinch a smoking wick to stop offensive smoke from filling the air.
This picture is deeply moving to my heart even as I write this. My God sees clearly, even far better than I can, how bruised and weak my heart feels right now. My emotional wounded feelings sometimes tend to highlight my selfishness as nearly all I think about lately is how to get away from my pain or fears. It is hard for me to focus on how I can bless others during this time and yet God does not condemn me for my blatant lack of concern for others though at times He nudges me to think that direction.
He is also unwilling to criticize me for the smoke that continues to foul the air around me as my heart emits feelings of bitterness, fear and other poisonous gases that could endanger others around me. It would be easy for Him to point out my immaturity right now, to move to isolate me from others so I don't infect them with my self-obsession and feeling sorry for myself. I even cringe as I find myself wanting to selfishly absorb more and more attention or affection from those who are trying to encourage me and I have difficulty distinguishing when I cross the point of legitimate help and when I am exploiting the kindness of others.
I sense that God is wanting to speak to my heart right now through this passage. I need healing and hope right now. I cannot sleep because of the recurrence of my fears and the scenarios trying to take over my mind again. I need to fill up my imagination with the truths and realities and pictures found in God's unchanging Word. I must orient my brain to perceive reality through the eyes of heaven instead of the fears that still haunt me and try to capture my soul.
This is what God the LORD says – He who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness; I will take hold of Your hand. I will keep You and will make You to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth...." (Isaiah 42:5-10 NIV)
While this is clearly a prophecy about Jesus, it is also an expression of God's heart and desires toward each one of us. God wants to treat all of us like Jesus. We are children of God just as Jesus was the Son of God and God wants to pour out His affections on every one of us just as He did on Jesus while He was here on earth. So it is not inappropriate for me to apply these words from God to my own heart. I am called by God just as Jesus was. God will take hold of my hand and will keep me. God wants to not only open my eyes and set me free from my prisons but I believe He wants to mentor me so that He can use me to bring the same kind of deliverance to others trapped in similar prisons.
I especially need the part where He pushes me from focusing on the former things that have indeed taken place to entering into a new perception of reality, of things that God declares before they can be seen in the open. This passage tells me that part of this experience of entering into the new things of life is the experience of music. Music is one of the most powerful weapons God has provided in our resistance against the enemy of our hearts. In addition, this music and praise will be reflective of every culture and every part of the world, so it should not be expected to always sound like what is familiar to me all the time. Even the music of the birds and other elements of His creation is designed by God to draw out my heart to receive and thrive on His love for me.