Like Sweetness in Honey

How shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace who bring glad tidings of good things. ~ Romans 10:15 (nkjv)

Friday, I found God in a dream.  

Elizabeth Marchman Flower #22
I find Him there sometimes in the wee morning hours before dawn, but this time was different. The sunlight streamed through the window, warm and sweet, as I lay napping.  It is a rarity that I ever nap.  Sleep often eludes me even as the rest of the world is tucked in tight not letting the bed bugs bite.  But this afternoon, as I struggled to write, my eyes heavily blinking, finally drooping, it was then that I finally gave in to sleep.  I tucked myself into bed, snuggled under the covers.

God gave me a nap.  And it was good.

Then the phone rang.  I sat up straight in the bed and gasped for air.  I am certain my heart was close to exploding. I felt confused and disoriented as I sat there.  I tried to recall what I had been dreaming, but all I could see in my head was white script on black: Chapter 33. Then images flooded my mind: what some would call Bible thumpers and Jesus freaks holding placards with bold words – the end is nigh, save yourselves; people permeated with fear rushing about the city streets screaming.  It was complete and utter chaos.  And it was not the quiet kind I am ever-seeking.  In the midst were people standing still, quietly, diligently, praying and watching the pandemonium unfold.

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For the next two hours, I struggled to find the significance of Chapter 33.  In the middle of dinner I finally made the connection. Sometimes during my quiet time with God, instead of working on my designated Bible study, I will open my Bible and read for a while.  That morning I had opened The Message and it fell open to the first page of Ezekiel. On the left page there was a description about Ezekiel and on the right was chapter one.  Before I started reading, there were only two things that I knew about Ezekiel:  First, he was a prophet and second, God called him son of man, made him eat a scroll and Ezekiel wrote to us that it tasted like honey in sweetness (3:3).  So, I began reading what Peterson had to say about him:

Catastrophe strikes and a person’s world falls apart.  People respond variously, but two of the more common responses are denial and despair. Denial refuses to acknowledge the catastrophe. It shuts its eyes tight and looks the other way; it manages to act as if everything is going to be just fine; it takes refuge in distractions and lies and fantasies.  Despair is paralyzed by the catastrophe and accepts it as the end of the world.  It is unwilling to do anything, concluding that life for all intents and purposes is over. Despair listlessly closes its eyes to a world in which all the color has drained out, a world gone dead.  Among Biblical writers, Ezekiel is our master at dealing with catastrophe. When catastrophe struck…denial was the primary response. Ezekiel found himself living among a people of God who stubbornly refused to see what was right before their eyes (the denial crowd).  There were some who were unwilling to see anything other than what was right before their eyes (the despair crowd).

But Ezekiel saw.  He saw what the people with whom he lived either couldn’t or wouldn’t see.  He saw in wild and unforgettable images, elaborated in exuberant detail – God at work in a catastrophic era.  The denial people refused to see that the catastrophic was in fact catastrophic.  How could it be?  God wouldn’t allow anything that bad happen to them.  Ezekiel showed them.  He showed them that, yes, there was catastrophe, but God was at work in the catastrophe, sovereignly using the catastrophe.  He showed them so they would be able to embrace God in the worst of times. The despair people, overwhelmed by the devastation, refused to see that life was worth living.  How could it be? They lost everything or would soon…Ezekiel showed them.  He showed them that God was and would be at work in the wreckage and rubble, sovereignly using the disaster to create a new people of God…

Elizabeth Marchman Flower #24There, I stopped reading.  I am constantly in awe of the things God will put directly in front of me.  And this was one of those moments.  I have told you that I am writing a book.  My book is about finding God in the midst of tragedy and affliction.  It is about not finding Him on the other side of the trial, but finding Him walking beside us with every step we take.   It is about knowing that God will never allow our destruction, but will rebuild us into newer and better people,  stronger and wiser people, people prepared to carry out His will.

And I know about denial.  I know about despair and desperation and affliction.  Six years ago, tragedy struck our family.  A truck rear-ended me at 70 mph as I was stopped in traffic.  I was 8 months pregnant with my first daughter and my 2 ½ year old son was in the car with me.  I spent months in the hospital recovering.  My husband, my oldest son who is now nineteen, and I walk a road that many before us have walked.  We aren’t bad people and the question has been posed to me often, “Why would God allow this to happen to you?”  Then the inquirer waits for an answer as if I have some secret access to God’s mind.  But maybe the access is not secret.  Maybe I am just willing to see God in places few are willing to look. Bit by bit, He reveals to me the things He wishes me to know creating a wiser me.  He walks beside me creating a stronger and more faithful me.  He performs miracles that leave me breathless and in awe of His sovereignty.  He teaches me to see Him in all of His glory as He breaks through desperation and despair and denial and affliction.  So you can see why I felt an immediate connection to Ezekiel in this moment. The words that Peterson wrote describing Ezekiel resonated with me and it was as if God was speaking to me. “Hey. Don’t give up.  I am working here.  Hang in there.”

Elizabeth Marchman Flowers #25

Now I know that you are hanging on and saying, “yeah, but what about the dream???”

Over the past few months, I have been feeling led to be a bit more evangelistic.  I was raised Southern Baptist so this is not something I am unfamiliar with, however, I know it is not my primary spiritual gift.  What I learned this weekend as I read, studied and analyzed this information is that evangelizing doesn’t necessarily mean knocking on someone’s door and sharing the Bible with them.  It can, but it also means that we use our own gifts to share the gospel with others.  That can mean art or songs, it can mean teaching or hospitality.  The ways we evangelize are only limited by God’s imagination and really, is there any limit there? In my case, it means writing and sharing how God speaks to me and where I find Him. It has been in the past few months that I have, as I told you before, begun opening my Bible and just reading it.  I think it is no coincidence that my Bible fell open to Ezekiel that morning.  I think it is no coincidence that I had a dream where God was giving me a message.  I am a extremely literal person.  God speaks to me in a very literal way.  I am a visual person and seeing words and pictures will clarify meaning when other methods do not work.  I am passionate about what I believe in and what I believe in the most is bringing God’s truth forward.  I have vivid dreams and I believe that sometimes, He will use those dreams to speak to me. I am not claiming to be a prophet.  I am not claiming to be any more special that anyone else God placed on His earth.  I am very simply sharing with you that, occasionally, God chooses to speak to me in this manner. I do not believe that He is urging me to stand on a street corner creating chaos and perpetuating fear, shouting, “the end is nigh.”  I do believe that this dream has certain meaning.

Elizabeth Marchman Flower #26
I live in chaos.  My mind races constantly and the racing feeds my insomnia.  I am rarely, if ever, still. It is not uncommon in the Bible that God caused people to fall into a deep sleep.  I was sleeping very soundly Friday afternoon.  I think that God just needed me to be still and quiet and without distraction for just a little while.  If it took a nap, then so be it.  In my dream is complete chaos.  Earlier I described it as pandemonium.  Now look at the word pandemonium and break it down…in the middle is this word: DEMON. What does the ruler of demons do? He creates FEAR.  People were running and screaming with fear and within all of the chaos are people standing still and praying to God.  Is scripture coming to mind?  Maybe…Be still and know that I am God.  God is sovereign and controls all situations, even catastrophe and chaos. He can control pandemonium as well if we are still and diligently praying to Him, listening for a response and for guidance.  If we are obedient, then lives are saved.  Not because we issue a threat – Repent or else, but because we show that God is good and worthy of our reverence by giving us a most precious gift in Jesus.

Chapter 33 talks about a watchman’s duty…this is quoted from The Message:

God’s message came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people. Tell them, ‘If I bring war on this land and the people take one of their citizens and make him their watchman, and if the watchman sees war coming and blows the trumpet, warning the people, then if anyone hears the sound of the trumpet and ignores it and war comes and takes him off, it’s his own fault. He heard the alarm, he ignored it – it’s his own fault. If he had listened, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees war coming and doesn’t blow the trumpet, warning the people, and war comes and takes anyone off, I’ll hold the watchman responsible for the bloodshed of any unwarned sinner.’ ~ Ezekiel 33:1-6

As I read these words, I felt the crushing weight of responsibility we bear as Christians.  It also reminded me of a favorite scripture in Isaiah:

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How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; For they shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.  The Lord has made bare His Holy Arm in the eyes of all nations; And all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. ~ Isaiah 52:7-10

God may have made Ezekiel a watchman, but clearly, here in Isaiah, God is telling us that we are all responsible for being watchmen.  The word is plural.

So here is my question: What are we doing to bring the glad tidings of good things to all the peoples of the world? 

If we are watchmen, are we consistently listening for God’s guidance and acting in obedience when He calls?  Are we ever still and quiet enough to hear Him speak?  Are we praying for opportunity to spread the word of God to those who are seeking it?  Are we studying and preparing ourselves for the moment that God presents us with an opportunity?  Are we equipping others to save their own lives?

Elizabeth Marchman Flower #28
I wonder.

I have questions.

I pray.

Faithfully, God listens and then proclaims truth.  His truth was incredibly and undeniably sobering to me because I know that I cannot answer yes to all of those questions consistently.

You are probably wondering why I posted pictures of honey bees in this blog.  Honey bees are diligent workers.  Every day, they wake up and search out clover or flowers for nectar so that they can make honey.  Saturday afternoon, they were working away in a little patch of clover in my front yard.  I believe that we need to be more like little honey bees.  We need to diligently search out those who do not know Jesus and give them the words of God to feed upon.  Ezekiel tells us they taste like honey in sweetness.  And is there anything sweeter than God’s truth?
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2 Responses to “Like Sweetness in Honey”

  1. annchastain says:

    We have a new pastor and this has been a good part of his message to the church for several sermons. You are so right. God does put things in front of us until we can't deny that we are being given a message.

  2. Anonymous says:

    so Beth, I am prompted to come here…in an uncharacteristic moment of fear of a path ahead, even though I trust God's goodness. And I find this post…this Romans Scripture is one of my life verses. And a few months ago, God told me I was a honey bee and then had a stranger prophetically confirm that a day later…she said, "God says you are a honey bee" and continued to tell me what He had told me. And evangelism…like watchmen…we are ALL called to it. We are to merely be witnesses-just tell what we have seen of God in our lives–although we often try to be lawyers making a persuasive case. All this calms my spirit in the midst of my momentary pandemonium. You hear God. He spoke to me through you. Thank you.

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