I’m writing this as I sit at a friend’s desk in Riga, Lativa. My husband Steve and I are here exploring Suburban Christian Church’s new relationship with our Sister Church, Matthews Church. The time here has been amazing. I knew before coming here that God had even more in store than I realized as we prayed into and planned our journey. One of those ‘even mores’ has been very personal to my life.
Before Becky died in December of 2010 I took great joy in exercising teaching gifts. I co-led a women’s Bible study that met every Wednesday night and could spend hours preparing for those times of teaching and interaction. After Becky’s death, grief became a severe pruning shear in my life that caused me to retreat from all ministry except writing. I’ve spent much quiet time processing grief and all of the faith questions that grief raised in me and I wrote about this processing in this blog. But I stepped away from teaching, I stepped away from leading Women’s Ministry, I stepped away from relational ministry for a season. Over time most of the ministry I once did has come back and God has highlighted some new things for me. I’m meeting regularly one-on-one with various women. I’ve had opportunity to walk beside others experiencing grief in ways I never would’ve done prior to my own grief. I’ve found a deeper prayer life that often overflows into personal prayer for and over women. But the one gifting that I have not been free to re-enter is teaching. There have even been times when I’ve been invited to teach and for whatever reason that opportunity closed or my own schedule prevented me actually using that gifting. I honestly thought that for some inscrutable reason God was done using that gift in me. And I had come to the place of accepting that and enjoying the exercise of the other gifts that He raised in me.
When presented with the opportunity to come to Latvia, Steve and I agreed with both eagerness and reticence. We weren’t entirely certain what the trip would look like or what we would be asked to do in Latvia. As we prayed into this and waited to hear, I told the Lord I would do whatever He called me to do.
Surprise! I was asked to teach and to teach both women and men! I have to admit I wrestled with this, because I had come to the place of thinking that gift would not be used. I actually hoped and expected to come to Latvia and walk the streets praying while Steve had meetings and taught. But I held true to what I told the Lord – “I will do what You call me to do” and I prepared to teach. There was immense joy in the preparation. Hours set aside in the quiet of my home thinking, studying, seeking God’s heart for the women of Latvia and the men of the Baltic Pastoral Institute (BPI). What was on His heart for these people He loves so much?
And then coming here and getting to teach! My intercessors at home were lifting me up and how I felt their prayers, God’s answers, and the evidence in the eagerness of those I was blessed to teach. So, so GOOD!
And then a sweet and beautiful confirmation during the night. After teaching three days at the BPI I enjoyed a dream of Becky on Wednesday night. This may not seem that unusual, except that I have never dreamed of Becky, not even once, since she died. I’ve wished for that — to see her again even if only in my dreams, but it never happened. Like my teaching gifts, I had put that wish away and just assumed that for some unknown reason, I would not see her in my dreams.
In the dream I was in my daughter Kristin’s home, the last place I saw Becky, and I was putting something away in an overhead storage place in a closet. As I put it away something else fell out of the back of the closet and I knew I needed to retrieve it. That was when Becky came – so alive, so beautiful, so …. well, so BECKY! She looked exactly as I last saw her even wearing the dress that Steve and I had given her for Christmas. She was eager to help me and overflowing with life and joy. I woke up shortly after she arrived filled with joy and happiness myself. In that odd way of dreams I knew even in the dream that she was not alive in my realm, but that caused me no renewal of grief — I was simply overjoyed to have been with her even for a moment!
Initially I sensed no spiritual significance to my dream — which is actually a bit obtuse of me because I am not a dreamer, or at least I am not one who recalls dreams during my waking hours. But as I processed and savored it over the next days, God gently reminded me that I hadn’t taught since I last saw Becky and that there was a finding of that gift again happening during this trip. I’m still not entirely sure what I was ‘putting away’ in that dream. I know it isn’t grief because grief has changed, but is still active in me. In some ways it has returned to a more profound level with this trip because Steve and I have found several opportunities to share about our experience and our faith in the midst of our Latvian teachings. So what has been put away? I will keep seeking the Lord on that. Perhaps it doesn’t matter and I need to just take joy in the restoration and trust God with the putting away. I’m fine with that — I don’t need to know the end from the beginning or all of the details of the journey because I know the One who does know!
I encouraged a new friend with this dream just last night. Sometimes our dreams or joys are put on a shelf for a season as God deepens our understanding of who He is or pours His comfort into our brokenness. If and when He chooses to resurrect those dreams and gifts they come to life with a power and truth that is immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. Trust Him. Wait. Surrender. Stand and see the power of the Lord!
Last night I was blessed to teach the ladies of Matthews Church and the topic I chose was prayer. God has shown me so much more in prayer than I even considered three years ago. As I taught I wore the dress that Steve and I gave Becky on that last Christmas together before she died. The dress I packed to bring to Latvia. The dress she wore in the dream. 🙂