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Posts Tagged ‘counterfeit’

A Wake Up Call

I got this word about twelve years ago, which is before my wife started this blog for me. Like so many other things I wrote in that time, it was destined to live in my notebook, except that my beloved made it her mission to share my writings. Apparently, she posted it on Facebook, as it just popped up in Memories. Good thing she did, because I couldn’t find another copy of it anywhere. As I re-read it, I remember how vividly I received it. I believe it resonates just as strongly today.
*
I awoke to the voice of the Lord saying, “Son, wake up; I’ve got some people for you to see.” I arose quickly and dressed. Skipping my morning routine, I made my way downstairs to the lobby of my apartment building and out onto the sidewalk. The sun seemed to be very bright and as I looked across the street to the park, I heard the Lord say, “Over there.”
*
The park was surprisingly busy for early on a Saturday morning and I walked slowly, as I anticipated further direction from the Lord. Just ahead I saw a girl or maybe she was a woman. She had one of those faces that could belong to someone in their late teens or in their early forties; though I would have guessed that she was in her twenties. She had kind of a “goth” look to her; jet black hair, lots of mascara, multiple piercings on her ears, nose & lip… She was barefoot, with gray sweatpants, a black tank top and she appeared to be doing some sort of yoga or meditation. As I started to pass the bench she was on, the Lord said, “Ask her” and somehow I understood that He meant for me to ask her what she was doing. Though I was uncomfortable about approaching her, I sat down and struck up a conversation. She said that she was “centering” herself, which she explained was her way of coming to a place of inner peace. She was surprisingly open about the fact that she’d had a late night of debauchery and that this was her way of spiritual cleansing. Even more surprising than her candor, was the fact that she did seem genuinely peaceful. She went on to explain that she was a recovering drug addict and that her “spirit guides” had taken her to past lives to show her that she was a strong person and that she didn’t need to be at the mercy of this addiction anymore. She proudly told me that she’d been drug free for the last eight months and that she was hoping to enroll in college classes in the fall. As the conversation began to wane, I guessed that the Lord must be opening a door for me and so I asked her if she knew anything about Jesus. She laughed and rolled her eyes, telling me that she’d been raised in church and that she’d even been a leader in her church youth group. I was stunned and without thinking I asked her what had happened; to which she looked me in the eye and knowingly said, “Absolutely nothing!” At that moment I realized that our conversation was over. As I walked on, I wondered if there was something that I was supposed to have told that girl, but something inside of me knew that the Lord had been speaking to me through her.
*
After a few more minutes of wandering, I saw a man that used to go to my church and again I felt the Lord’s prompting to go speak to him. As we spoke I found out that he’d just finished an eighteen month tour of duty in Iraq, where he’d been working alongside and training members of the Iraqi army. As I commented on how difficult it must have been to be an American living amongst the Iraqi people and even more so, a Christian living amongst Muslims, his expression grew troubled. He said, “You’d think so wouldn’t you; but honestly I felt more acceptance and brotherhood amongst those people than I ever have with the people that I’ve called brother and sister here.” He went on to tell me that his experience in Iraq has made it difficult for him to attend church since returning, because those relationships seem so phony and superficial. I tried to say some wise sounding words to encourage him to stay in church, but they sounded hollow and empty to my own ears; and undoubtedly meant nothing to him. As we parted ways, I once again had the uneasy sense that this conversation had been more for my benefit than for his; and I began to pray that the Lord would help me to understand what He was trying to show me.
*
Feeling suddenly tired, I decided to sit down on a bench for awhile; and after a few minutes my attention was drawn to a group of women who were gathered at a nearby picnic table. Not wanting to stare, I could only see them out of the corner of my eye, but they seemed to be having a great time together, as they talked and laughed loudly. After stealing glances for a few minutes I began to sense that there was something unusual about the way they interacted with each other. As they gathered their things and began to walk toward me, I was able to get a better look and from their appearance and body language I guessed that they were probably a group of lesbians. As they got closer, I recognized that one of the women was my cousin Peggy, who I hadn’t seen in a few years. She had become somewhat of an outcast in the family since deciding to live the homosexual lifestyle, though she and I had always gotten along well as kids. I was genuinely happy to see her, but I was also apprehensive about approaching her amongst this group of women. Within my moment of hesitation, she recognized me and immediately shouted out my name. She broke away from her group, moving quickly to me and throwing her arms around me. She spent the next several minutes catching me up on the events of the last few years and introducing me to her friends. I was struck by how genuinely happy she seemed and at the wonderful closeness she seemed to share with her companions. The few times I’d seen her as an adult (mostly at family gatherings), she’d seemed miserable and depressed; and when I mentioned how well she seemed to be doing, she replied, “I’ve finally found a place where it’s alright to be who I am.” Somehow those words were piercing to me, though I managed to suppress that emotion while we exchanged cell phone numbers and a warm farewell. But as this boisterous group walked away, an overwhelming sense of grief washed over me. I searched for what it was about our family that had failed to make Peggy feel loved and accepted; and wondered at how she’d so easily found that in the streets.
*
As I began to head back to my apartment, I felt queasy at the understanding that God had somehow orchestrated these three encounters. What was He trying to tell me through the lives of these people; all of whom had heard about Him and yet were finding their peace, hope, fellowship, love and community somewhere else? My eyes were fixed on the sidewalk and my mind was wrestling to understand, when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. When I stopped to get a closer look, it appeared to be a twenty dollar bill and instinctively I looked around to see if there was any obvious owner. Since there wasn’t, I stepped over to the curb and eagerly picked it up. Even before I got a chance to unfold the bill to look at it, I could tell that it didn’t feel right in my hand and as I held it up, I could see that it was one of those gospel tracts disguised as money in the hopes of tricking people into picking it up. My queasiness began to rise into nausea, as I heard the Lord say,
*
“Unless my people begin to deal in the currency of heaven, the things they do in My Name will only make the counterfeit seem more real.”

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Exposing the counterfeit is of little value unless we go on to manifest the genuine.

 

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