Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry



By Jeannette Haley

The daydream began when the opportunity arose for Rayola, Carrie and I to take a small t rip, and stay in a lodge after a long day of driving. Pictures formed in my mind of lounging in a comfortable space with time to read my Bible and finish a couple of partially-read books. Since a close friend was going to share a “cowboy room” with Carrie—a room which was advertised as having a complete kitchen, my dream began to expand to include lots of fun and fellowship as we shared meals. But, praise the Lord, I didn’t allow my imaginary dream to expand too far; that is, into the realm of total delusion which dreams and imaginations can lead to. However, I talked myself into entertaining the little “daydream” of a relaxing time out from our heavy work schedule and seemingly endless projects at home. It would’ve been so easy, if I had happened to see the glowing pictures in the lodge’s brochure, to simply fling myself into a full-fledged delusion, but thankfully experience lent itself to caution.

It didn’t take long after arriving at the so-called “lodge” to realize that the weak aspects of my hopeful dream had quickly dissipated into a handful of dust that blended with the dirt and weeds underfoot. If I was thankful for anything, it was gratitude to myself for not allowing my dream “vacation” to expand into a full-fledged delusion of how super awesome it was going to be. In fact, over the next three days any “awe” that may have existed morphed into “awful.”

My spinning mind felt like it had made three complete laps around the equator when all our stuff lay scattered from one end to the other in the typical, ordinary motel room. My heart sank faster than a chunk of granite bouncing down a mountainside and plunging into a river. “Here I go again! Living in confusion. I hate confusion! It’s like camping, (which we all hate) except it’s indoors.” All I ever do in such a scrambled scenario is go through stuff, looking for “things.” The only one who seemed to be ecstatic over the whole thing was our new dog—who is, we discovered, really a “therapy dog” because he makes us laugh. And, God knows, we sure need to laugh sometimes.

Of course, as if right on cue, that verse we all know in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” passed through my mind. “Okay, okay” I thought to myself, slightly annoyed. “I’m thankful we had a safe trip, I’m thankful there is A/C because it’s hot enough to cook French fries on the hood of the car, and I’m thankful there’s a nice little wood table by the A/C with two sturdy chairs to which we can attach the dog so he doesn’t bolt out the door.” Even a fleeting vision of chasing him through the woods, over a mountain, across the river, and around the lake made me feel faint.

After carefully cramming the prepared food that we brought into the rickety white box that posed as a refrigerator, we went to check out the cowboy room. I have to admit, just the thought of a “cowboy room” seemed hopeful. Some remnants of my shattered dream stirred enough to momentarily resurrect; but as soon as we swatted our way through swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes and then crammed through the tiny, paint-worn door that resembled a narrow slot reminiscent of a secret entrance to a bandit’s hideout, whatever bits and pieces of delusion were left became instantly extinct.

We were greeted by our friend who was clearly both disgusted and agitated—and no wonder! The whole unkempt space reeked of an indescribable odor, and the “kitchen” had no regular stove, but a two-burner affair crammed right next to a sink. The two pots (but no frying pans) they provided for their guests to cook with could be labeled as “instruments of crimes against humanity.” Most of the Teflon coating had been scrapped off, exposing the aluminum metal. Both of these toxic, cancer-causing substances do not exude a feeling of “love for others” to say the least. (At this point, I had to suppress a strong urge to march straight to the office and preach “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”)

I was convinced that the hard wood chairs around the square table were deliberately designed to be instruments of slow torture, and the “couch” was maybe a foot off the floor. If I had tried to sit on that thing, it would’ve indeed required the help of two strong bull riders to get me back up on my feet. A couple of big bunk beds took up most of the space. I figure that perhaps

they call it the “cowboy room” because the toilet seat bucks you off! But who knows? I’ve been wrong before.

Thankfully, we had our healthy food, right? Wrong! Both the small and large refrigerators froze everything solid. (Have you ever seen what frozen and then thawed radishes look like? It’s amazing.) The blessing in all this was we got to eat out a lot more than we had planned. Besides, just think: frozen food in Zip Lock bags can serve as ice packs stuffed into your underwear to help keep you cool. Even so, one pleasurable aspect of my dream was looking forward to sinking my teeth into one of the big, juicy, grass-fed beef steaks that our friend brought for us to grill. Just thinking about it made my mouth water. Once our friend got those promises of ecstasy thawed out, Carrie took them and bravely fought her way through the mosquitoes to the little grill that the “lodge” provides for guests. Then, much to her great disappointment, she saw that it was filthy, full of trash and cigarette butts. Thankfully, at least we got to take our steak portions home with us to barbeque.

There was one more event that I truly looked forward to, and that was meeting one of Rayola’s old friends and her husband. This sweet Christian, dog-loving lady is one of my
Facebook friends, but I had never met her in person. The time was set, and once again my sagging hopes rose. But, wouldn’t you just know it, they had to return home because one of their fur babies got sick! Disappointed again, I reminded myself of the daily hardships missionaries and Christians all around the world struggle with, so to get past myself. But, then, I reasoned that this was supposed to be some pleasant “time out” and not an endurance test.

After four nights of sleeping on a torturous mattress that would make the Adams Family writhe with glee, fighting with the toilet that insisted on running day and night, struggling to re-attach the faucet handle in the bathtub that fell off with a bang so loud it made my heart leap, along with trying to figure out why one of the maids said we could only have one, not two, fresh bath towels “until we checked out,” and numerous trips outside with my cell phone trying to get service from their spotty Wi-Fi, I began to dream again. This time I was dreaming of home sweet home.

Now, this is where the decision was made. Not just any decision, mind you, but a very firm decision. Sometimes we make a decision, sort of, but then later change our minds. This wasn’t that kind of a decision. It was the type of decision that’s akin to finality, as in firmly anchored, and that decision can be summed up in two words—never again!

This whole cycle of dream, delusion and decision reminds me of Eve. She had made a weak decision based on what she’d been told about the tree of knowledge of good and evil that she was not to even touch it. But it wasn’t a “final” decision because when Satan put doubt in her mind as to the truth of God’s words, she hesitated. This gave opportunity for her imagination to formulate a dream—a very small dream, but one with huge ramifications. It was a dream of not only what the fruit would taste like, but what it could do for her. It was subtle at first, but as beguilement seduced her into total delusion, she made the fatal decision to disobey the LORD. After all, Adam was “with her” and he neither rebuked the seducer nor pulled Eve back to reality. His silence now thunders through the corridors of time and echoes in the curse all creation groans under.

The children of Israel had a dream too, after they were delivered from Egypt. They dreamed of returning to Egypt, even if it meant slavery, in order to satisfy their culinary cravings. “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick” Numbers 11:5. The manna from heaven was loathsome to them, so they complained that their souls were “dried away”. (See verse 6.) Such a state is fertile ground for dreams based on selective memories of what was once satisfying to the flesh. Then in verse 20 we read the “bottom line” reason for the people’s dream, delusion and decision, “…ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?” No wonder Jesus asked, “Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:37.

Esau is another example of a person who sold his soul to satisfy the flesh. He not only sold his birthright to his brother for a bowl of lentil soup, but he married pagan women who worshipped pagan gods (idols). His dream was not to be “great” in the kingdom of God, but to be

great upon the earth, and according to biblical and historical records, that is exactly what took place.

Even though all three examples above involve food, the real issue is “dreaming” or lusting after anything that is satisfying, or pleasing to the flesh. Our imaginary “daydreams” consist of flesh-satisfying scenarios that involve people, places and things that offer a blissful, on-going solution to one’s deepest longings and desires. Such dreams stir up strong emotions that can become more real to us than reality itself. Once the threshold is crossed from reality to fantasy, delusion itself becomes such a powerful reality of its own that, sooner or later, the strong delusion, if not recognized for what it is, leads to a disastrous decision.

Once a decision based on delusion, instead of truth, is firmly in place, the stage is set for a great fall. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.) It took one such decision by “one man” to bring sin into the world, “and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (see Romans 5:12.) It took one decision by the children of Israel to lust after the food of Egypt to incur the wrath of God, and it took only one decision on the part of Esau to satisfy his flesh and live outside of the will and blessings of God which unleashed upon the world the evil Edomite rulers who, as I understand it, are still a powerful force among the nations.

The question is, how does a believer avoid falling into the alluring trap of basing decisions on life-like fantasies? The answer is by honestly asking ourselves where our heart is, who it belongs to, and where it will take us if we follow it. In other words, where are our affections? “IF ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear then shall ye also appear with him in glory” Colossians 3:1-4. “Set” means a final decision, like “set in cement.” No turning back!

As for our little trip, was anything accomplished involving others for eternity? I do believe so, for Rayola had different opportunities to share with and encourage old friends and acquaintances. As for me, I had time for some self-examination, talks with the Lord, and left tracts behind. Who knows? Perhaps someone will find and read one, discover that the only way to gain eternal life is through the Lord Jesus Christ; that you cannot love the world and God at the same time, and that no earthly “daydream” will ever be greater than the promises of God.

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The Goal of Gentle Shepherd Ministries is to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to make disciples in compliance with the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19).

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