"Jesus uttered a loud cry and said, "Abba, into your hands I commit my spirit." Saying this, Jesus breathed for the last time."
Luke 23:46 (Inclusive New Testament)
In an unforgettable dream, I was with a large group of people in an isolated, island-like place. It may have been a remote island or another planet in space. It was a kind of "vacation land" that you could only get to by special transport. Once you were there, you could not leave until the special transport came back for you.
There was a murmur of fear among the people gathered in a large meeting room on this island when we became aware that a plague-like disease was present and highly contagious. It was always fatal, and the ones who contracted it simply melted away. My immediate response was one of panic. How could I get away to safety? I soon realized, of course, that getting away to safety was impossible. The transport was not due to return for several days.
Then I realized that I should use my faith and my skill at counseling to help others find peace of mind in this inescapable situation. I began to urge the people not to be afraid and not to struggle against the melting process. Rather, I encouraged them to yield to the melting process with confidence in our loving God.
As I watched, one person I had counseled yielded to the melting. As she faded into nothing, I saw Jesus emerging from her diminishing form. He rose up, floated toward the large window at the other side of the room, turned to smile at us, and floated out. One after another of the people affected by this plague did the same thing. As they yielded to the melting process, they were trans formed into Jesus, who floated toward the window, turned, smiled at us, and floated out.
Then one man, Henry, yielded to the process. But Jesus did not come out of his melting form; instead, it was Henry himselfl He looked surprised to find himself there, since he had watched all those who went before him become Jesus. He walked over to the side of the room where I stood, sat down on a bench, and looked at me questioningly.
Suddenly I sensed that I had developed the symptoms of the plague. I began to melt. I tried to yield to the process but as I melted I found my own self coming forth from the diminishing me. I, too, was surprised, like Henry. When I walked over to where Henry sat in a kind of a daze, the thought occurred to me: "You have not yet totally yielded. You are still clinging to your own desires. You have to grow before you can allow Jesus to come forth from you. But that time will come and, when it comes, you will yield- and Jesus will be visible."
Imagine reaching that point in your spiritual life when you allow God to move though you. Think about how your own humanness can be limiting and frustrating. Let the Spirit within be your guiding star and the light of your life. Ask God to help you grow in the art of yielding to the infinite love within you.
Think about the dream of the diminishing plague. Realize that it was not a bad thing that Henry and I became ourselves again; it was just surprising. There was the certainty that, in God's time, we would be able to yield what was left of selfish desires and be transformed. In your prayer today, rejoice in the fact that God is like a patient and loving parent. Realize that God calls you to be God-like but knows the difficulties you have in giving up your controls. Talk to God about your desire to love more fully and your difficulty in always living up to the call to self-giving.
Think about the dream of the diminishing plague. Think about why Henry and I were not transformed. (I thought about that a lot. "Henry" seems to be a name with meaning for me, and I believe my subconscious used the name to let me see that there is a lot of work to be done in the integrating of the masculine and feminine within me, as well as a need for the total me to yield to God's transforming action. People who study dreams from a psychological perspective tell us that all the characters in our dreams are part of us and symbols of what our subconscious is trying to tell us. Both women and men have a masculine and a feminine element within which needs refining and integration.) Talk to God about how integrated you feel your masculine and feminine elements are. If the idea disturbs you, just talk to God about your desire to grow into a totally integrated person.
Pray for integration today using the words of this hymn to the Holy
Spirit. If you know it, sing it:
Spirit of the Living God, Fall afresh on me.
Melt me; mold me; fill me; use me! Spirit of the Living God,
Fall afresh on me.
As your prayer today, use the words of this hymn. If you know it, sing it:
Father, I adore you. Lay my life before you. How I love you!
Jesus, I adore you. Lay my life before you. How I love you!
Spirit, I adore you. Lay my life before you. How I love you!
Read John 4:34. Think about your desire to be faithful to God's call in your life. Is that desire more dear to you than food? Talk to Jesus about your desire to be a dedicated person.
Read Matthew 16:24-25. Consider the conundrum Jesus proposes in this Scripture. Reflect on the puzzling statement of verse 24. Is it really a contradiction or is there a truth hidden under the surface of a seeming contradiction? Think about a time when you may have chosen to do the self-sacrificing thing, only to find yourself richer, more at peace, or even directly blessed by an unexpected gift from God. Think about a time when someone close to you made a decision that demanded tremendous self-dedication and how that person's stature in your eyes was greater because of it. Talk to Jesus about these experiences of courage and faith.