"For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come." 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
This past weekend, our family went on a little camping getaway. We usually go camping once a year, so taking a second trip- albeit a short one- was a little treat for our family. We were going with some friends of ours in an attempt to really get to know one another better. Andy has spent more time with this family than I have, to be honest, and more than once I wondered over the weeks whether this weekend away was a good idea. I mean, while we considered ourselves friends with this family, we're not super close or anything, and a camping excursion can become so personal! I mean, you're out in the middle of the woods with not much to do, so a lot of conversation takes place...
So this was one of those box breaking weekends for me, because even right up to the day we packed up and drove off, a part of me was hoping that someone would call to cancel the weekend. It was just a touch out of my comfort zone, and I couldn't decide if I was looking forward to it or dreading it. But my husband was excited about it, and my kids were beyond excited about it, so off we went. Of course, it ended up being a wonderful weekend. It really was, and of course I soon discovered that I'd worried about absolutely nothing, but our first night there, as I crawled into bed, I casually kind of asked God why this weekend came about. Why were we being thrust into the midst of this group of people? I wondered if there was a greater purpose, or if it was simply about friendship.
Sometimes God takes advantage of these questions we ask. Sometimes when we ask, He gives us the answers, and not necessarily in a way we were looking for. Because I had a horrifying dream that night. I can't even recall many of the details, I tried to block them out of my mind immediately.
But what I do remember was that I was in a strange land. It was almost like a video game landscape, to be honest. What made it video game like was that over time, patches of the world around us were turning into a fire world. So one day a tree would be a tree, and the next it would be a ball of fire. One day a stream would be water, and the next it would turn into a stream of lava. Slowly, everything was turning from a piece of a green world into a piece of this fire world, and then suddenly it began accelerating. People suddenly realized that they needed to flee this fire world, and some began leaving. There was a clear path- a clear way out, but for some reason, the majority would not take this path, they just kept hoping and praying that this change into fire would stop and reverse back into the green world. By the very end, there was a rather large crowd of people crowded around the mouth of this path out of the fire world, but no one was taking the steps toward it, and then, to every one's horror, the path began to change into the fire world. People were dying all around as the fire world overtook them- there was no place to even put feet, because the ground was turning into fire or lava or hot embers. It really was awful. The last thing I remember was seeing a park bench that was still not changed into a part of the fire world, and I leaped toward it myself. As I was leaping, I realized I wouldn't make it, and then the scene that I was seeing began to spiral and disappear- JUST like the end of a video game sequence when your character dies and you have to start over.
I woke immediately, and the first thing I thought was that my legs really and truly felt like they were on fire. They were so hot, I couldn't get them out of the blankets fast enough. As I tried to get these horrifying images and feelings out of my mind and body, a very distinct thought came to my mind "The people will perish". And then I heard that phrase again- several times in fact. As I tried to settle myself and clear my mind of pictures of dying people, I thought long and hard on "The people will perish".
The thing is, the people we were gathering with this weekend, while they are not a part of our church family, they are families of faith. They see God's touch in their lives and they are constantly amazed by it. And yet, I really felt like that dream was giving me the answer to my questions to God that night- we were put into this group of people for a very specific reason. I'm certainly not going to question any of the hearts of our friends, but someone in this group of people needs the love of God in their lives. It could be all of them- it could be one of them. It could be one of their children. It could be someone we have not even met yet- someone who is to come in the times ahead of us. I have no idea. But God has put my family into this circle of people for a very big reason- because someone will perish if they don't find Jesus.
So I looked up this idea of people perishing, and found a few verses in the Bible, but interestingly enough, the one that I find most appropriate doesn't even use the word perish in any translation I've found. Here it is in Hosea 4:6, in the Amplified version.
people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you [the priestly
nation] have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you that you shall
be no priest to Me; seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I
will also forget your children." Hosea 4:6
Basically, that verse is saying that the people will perish because they don't know any better. They have a lack of knowledge- of understanding of the laws of God, and I think it's because no one ever told it to them. They have forgotten their faith and have become so distracted by the world around them they that even forget to seek out God and his wisdom.
The facts are, that we are to bring the light of the world to the dark places. When we surround ourselves with our Godly bubbles, we aren't able to be that light. We do have a tendency to keep our social lives to our family and our church families. A big part of that is because of our children, they've driven us to surround ourselves with Godly people, and yet, God is calling us out of this bubble we've created- to take His light to where it is needed most. Jesus died for all mankind- not just a select few- ALL. And there are too many people out there who simply don't know any better. They don't know that there is a living and loving God and a living and loving Jesus. They just don't know, and it is our job, our calling, to gently share the knowledge that we have with those who need to know.
"For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6