Dealing with Disorientation
Sower and the Devil .
Egger-Lienz, Albin, 1868-1926
July 19 “Dealing with Disorientation” Genesis 28:10-19a * Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24 * Romans 8:12-25 * Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
On WA State Route 506 between the town of Vader and the onramp to I-5 there is a dip in the road that is very disorienting. You are going through a sharp “S” when you suddenly drop and then go up and into the curve. Even though you hopefully have slowed as the traffic signs tell you to do, for a second, I almost always lose my bearings even though I know what to expect. For a second your stomach is on your throat and your mind races to catch up. It’s only momentary but the butterflies stay with you for a few moments as you come out of the curve and onto a straighter section of road. This may be intensified if you are in a food coma brought on by stopping at the Little Crane in Vader, an old-time diner with amazing food that you should visit if you can.
It seems like we are on a long road with many such dips and turns, and that little place you love to stop for a bite is closed. I envy those of you who are retired and don’t have to worry so much about financial instability, although you certainly share the worries and trials of your kids and grandkids, or are yourself scared or lonely from distancing. At this point, some of us may be letting our guard down and are not as careful about protecting ourselves from Covid-19. Who would have thought that face masks would become fashion statements? Six months ago, a person wearing a facemask was avoided as being sick or maybe mentally suspect, and now we avoid those who do not wear a mask and avoid getting close even to those who do.
Our Gospel passage this week is another reminder that Jesus is not the warm and fluffy Lord that our culture sometimes portrays Him to be. He brings salvation, but He also brings judgement. In this difficult time, we may not want to hear the hard sayings that He sometimes gives. We need words of comfort and hope, but He gives us words that are disorientating and harsh:
He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, ‘Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'” Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!” Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
What strikes me first is that Jesus says that this is how the kingdom of God can be compared: to a field where weeds are possible. When I hear “Kingdom of God”, I guess I expect it to be a realm that is perfect, but it is this world we are currently living in. The Kingdom of God is in our midst, but dark forces are still allowed to distort it and lead folks astray for a time. But this also means that amid the darkness, Jesus still shines through. He is at work among us even now, when things seem dark.
Second, we may not recognize what is good or bad until later, at harvest time, when the truth will be known by the fruit that is produced. We may even find that some that we thought were against us bear the better fruit. Of course, there is not only good or bad fruit, there is a third route, the path of apathy and inactivity. We know what we should be doing but are too lazy or afraid or caught up in other things (or “lukewarm” in Revelation). We know what happens to those, they are spit out! At the moment, the good and bad exist together, but one day soon they will be separated. Those who will shine on that day are the righteous, who have obeyed God and answered the call to be faithful followers of Jesus, fulfilling the tasks He gives them.
Whether or not we are at the end of the age that Jesus talks about remains to be determined, but certainly we are at the end of one age and the start of another that is still being defined. So many things have changed, and we feel disorientated. We can fall back on those things that give us comfort in our private lives, but the public sphere of life most likely will never return to what it was. How we relate to others has changed, the business world has changed, schools will have to change. We would like things to go back to “normal” but what we think of as “normal” no longer exists. In a time of tremendous change, we return to the One who does not change, the One who will not only get us through our current crisis but guide us into eternity, if we listen to His voice and change our ways to align with His.
In our passage from Romans, Paul refers to this division between good and bad in terms of the “the flesh” and “the spirit.” Our bodies are not evil in themselves, but fleshly, earthly desires can be. We are to put away the deeds of the flesh that lead to sin and seek righteousness. We don’t have a spirit of slavery; in other words we are not bound by sin, for we have been bought with Christ’s blood into a spirit of adoption, accepted by our loving Father, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” This adoption brings freedom from sin and death. The view Paul gives of the world is dark like in our Gospel passage, as the earth itself groans for the final revelation of God’s children and God’s full glory. But it is also full of promise, as Paul writes:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:22-25)
This is the world we live in now, where great beauty and great evil often exist side by side. We join together with God’s children around the world to bring the Kingdom of God to all people, sharing the Gospel, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, serving those in need as we are able. This is a very disorientating time, but we find clarity in focusing on Jesus and following his words, some of which are hard to hear, understand, and obey.
In difficult times, we will hear a lot of things that are distracting, some that are weird, some that are just plain evil. It is a time when unscrupulous people will take advantage of those who are afraid and confused. Others mean well, but we might question their sanity. An email was sent to our local churches this morning, and might seem disorientating:
Dear Churches of Camas,
It is my intention to reach out to your city and share a series of dreams I’ve had concerning your city Camas. Please know that by sharing this with you, I gain nothing but exposing myself to ridicule, should this dream not come to pass. And still, I pray it does not come to pass.
Several months ago, April 17th 2020 I had this dream.
I was sitting next to a friend in the movie theatre. And next to me was a woman and her husband. We had Bibles sitting in our laps and the woman next to me started speaking in tongues and having some sort of vision that was terrifying her.
She started flipping through the pages of her Bible and then she wanted me to flip through mine to see if I saw the same thing written in my Bible. I look at my pages and I see, “the last days,” and I agree with the woman, “Yes, in the last days many people will die.”
Because she is screaming with such fear and terror, “many people will die!” Then, I look down in my Bible and I see the word, “Camas” written at the top of one of the pages, and I do a double take and the word is gone.
And I think, “What was that?” Then, all of a sudden, I’m on my knees, on the floor of the movie theatre, and facing my friend when all this stuff starts playing in my head, like mass people dying. Screaming, darkness, and I can feel the great number of deaths.
And I hear my friend, she’s calling out to me, “(name withheld)!” And I come out of the vision, look at her, and I’m surprised to see I’m on my knees facing her, with both my hands raised in the air, the position a person has when they surrender.
And she asks, “What happened to you?” And I ask, “Where did the woman go?” Because the woman and her husband are gone. But my friend doesn’t know. And I told my friend, “What the woman was screaming about, I started to see it.”
So I had that dream and it terrified me for the city of Camas. I don’t live in Camas, I live in Vancouver.
I’ve tried to reach out and share with a few people who I know in Camas, but I feel as though I’m not making a great enough effort. Part of me doesn’t want to share because if nothing happens, I am exposed to ridicule. But my fear of God is causing me to share.
I come out to Lacamas Lake often to walk along the trails and as I see people, I have tremendous guilt feeling that I am not warning people to repent and turn from sin, turn to God, seek the Lord Jesus Christ. Ask him to forgive any pride for the city of Camas. Because that’s why it feels like I had this dream.
I have prayed on behalf of this city. For God to show mercy, and to not allow this dream to come to pass. But, I must ask churches to intercede as well and make a joint effort to plead with God to have mercy upon the city of Camas. And I must ask the congregation to repent, humble yourself before the Lord, and to seek Him. As I see no other reason why I would need to warn the city.
Several days ago, on July 9th 2020, I had another dream where I saw the word CAMAS, in all capital letters. It caused me to feel as though it was a reminder because I did not make a great enough effort to reach people to warn them about the first dream. Yesterday, I typed up this message and prepared my heart to send it. And today on the corner of 164th and Mill Plain, I saw a Camas bus and once again it reminded me that I needed to send out this message. With all the love in my heart, I pray you receive this message and intercede praying on behalf of the city Camas and urge your congregations to humble themselves, seek the Lord in His word the Holy Bible, and pray this dream does not come to pass.
A sister in Christ Jesus
Hearing this message, are you scared, disorientated, or dismissive? Is it real, or has someone let their imagination run wild? It is not the first time I have received such a message, so I take it with a grain of salt but allow it to be a reminder of the seriousness of the task we have been called to as God’s people. As John Wesley once said, we are to “flee the wrath that is to come” by preparing ourselves for Judgement Day, and to work towards the salvation of all people with the greatest urgency. Whether or not we think this letter is worth listening to, certainly we should join in fervent prayer for our city, our nation, and our world. Pray for our leaders, whether you agree with them or not. Pray for those who have lost their health care or never had it. Pray for those on the front lines. Pray for your loved ones. We don’t know where we will end up on the other side of this pandemic, we may feel totally disorientated and confused, so we must commit ourselves to what we know to be true and unchanging: Jesus is coming soon; we must dedicate ourselves fully to Him. We must seek His forgiveness as if He were returning tomorrow. But that is not enough. We must proclaim God’s grace to a troubled world and share His love and forgiveness to all people with the time that we have left. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in a confusing time, we cling to Him with all our being. Bringing the lost to Him not only is our task, but one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.