Strangely Dim

I was sitting up in bed at about 3:25 AM last Monday in Texas, victimized by the hefty plate of Tex-Mex I’d enjoyed seven hours earlier which, like Scrooge’s ghosts, now demanded that I answer for my sins.

It wasn’t that bad. More than anything else, I was amused at what a combination of salt and salsa can do to a body, and considering how awesome the weekend of ministry in the Dallas/Garland area had been, I could hardly complain.

Still, it was an hour for vampires, not 64-year old Californians whose flight would take off shortly. So if I couldn’t sleep, I was at least determined
to rest.

I flipped on the light, punched Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto into Spotify, and let my thoughts drift.

They went everywhere they shouldn’t. Financial what-if’s. Uncompleted projects. Client problems. Not restful, needed rest, considered options. Even HBO was starting to sound good.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, came the rhema.

Logos is, of course, Greek for the written word of God which is infallible. There’s no surer way to hear from Him than to read His word, and only the most foolish will rely on “I think the Lord’s telling me” as a form of
primary guidance.

But let’s give rhema – the revealed word communicated by revelation – it’s due. Jesus said man lives by it (Matthew 4:4), the Book of Acts is chock full of evidence God sometimes leads and enlightens His servants by direct communication, and it is the word by which, according to Paul, faith comes. (Romans 10:17)

It can communicate an unknown truth. But often, it saturates the believer with a deeper understanding of truth she or he already knows.

That’s what I’m talking about, a rhema flood dousing me in the wee hours with lyrics I used to sing in another time, another life:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Strangely dim, what a phrase.

Dim, not because the things of earth plaguing my thoughts were unimportant in and of themselves but because, in the light of His glory and grace, they faded in perspective.

Strangely dim, because all that had seemed to be priority moments earlier now looked puny. My Shepherd was talking; His lamb heard His voice:

Turn your eyes, Joe. Now.

Click, mic drop, boom. I was experiencing in spirit a truth I’d known but not known, courtesy of a corrective embrace and words now tumbling from the throne into my hungry and suddenly very awestruck heart.

If I could interpret, it would go something like this:

You and I have been together 48 years now. I arranged it, I bought you, and I’ve kept you. But you don’t look at Me enough. Your eyes are everywhere else. When you look at everything there is to worry about, you act like an overworked, underpaid laborer. Try looking at Me for a change. Look hard. See My faithfulness to you, My patience, My promises. Think about what you’re feeling now while I touch you, and think on how this is a miniscule foretaste of what you and I will have forever when you can finally know Me as I know you, finally see Me fully, finally experience life as I meant it to be and as it will be forever, world without end, Amen.

I can’t do it justice, not in words. But in those moments doctrine and experience came together in perfect union.

What I thought I knew about Him and eternity became something I knew anew, something I not just believed, but experienced, something I was indescribably excited about and grateful for to the point of tears and dancing all at once. It was rhema, and it was glorious.

I didn’t sleep, and I didn’t care. Peace in this life can be awfully illusive, so when it comes in spades it’s got to be savored, which I did until about 5.

Then I proposed, as Peter did when he had an amazing Jesus episode, that we build a booth for Him and me to permanently camp in Room 226 at the Marriott. The last bit of rhema I got that morning was something like
Sorry, Kid.

We get those shots in the arm when He knows we need them, reminding us that He is, indeed, our Shepherd, guiding and goading with a perfect working knowledge of His flock.

It’s a one-sided perfect knowledge, for sure, because He knows us fully and we know Him only in part.

But on Monday September 30, 2019 at pre-dawn, I got a memo from that Shepherd reminding me that my imperfect knowledge would soon and very soon be perfected, and that the deepest communion I have with Him now is hopelessly shallow next to what we’ll come to forever know as “business
as usual.”

He will come, it will all come together, and all creation will finally exchange groaning for doxologies at the ultimate reconciliation.

Free at last, free forever, I’ll finally be able to say it.

If by chance I should also in that moment cast a backwards thought towards the existence I’ve joyfully left, it will only be to wonder, very briefly, why I put myself through so much hell over things of earth that matter so little
in heaven.


Laura Mullenix | Oct 2, 2019

I love this. Thank you for sharing. It brings me back around to where I always want to be. We have been on vacation and I was hoping for some great time for insight. Yes, God has told me (AGAIN...and what I teach women) that it doesn't come from a vacation, reading a book, relaxing, etc. It comes from God...anywhere, anytime we are in His word and spending time with Him in deep prayer. I'm 63. I know this. I should have known better. God bless you!

Joe Dallas | Oct 2, 2019

Thanks for your thoughts, Laura. I'm with you - it seems so much of what we should know we are, in fact, still learning!

Colin | Oct 3, 2019

In 1991, I was in hospital for tests to see if I was a viable candidate for neurosurgery; I had been born having a Grand Mal epileptic seizure and then from the age of 6 they returned as Petit Mal seizures. Now, aged 32, surgery COULD have been a possibility. During a brain scan, in which I had had many of over the years, to see if I was a suitable candidate, I had a seizure - I believe, brought on by HIM, which enabled the neurologists to pinpoint the exact location of the activity. Also, on one of the evenings, I was reading HIS Word and the reading was from Judges 6. Now if anyone says the O.T. is dead - it aint. I came upon verse 23 which reads "But the LORD said to him, "Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die." ". I felt as though HE was speaking DIRECTLY to me, assuring me that my surgery was going to be fine. I wasn't going to die, I wasn't going to come out of it worse off than I went in and I had just been given the PEACE - that passes ALL understanding. On the morning of the surgery, I was so NOT worried, that I was joking with the orderlies who were bringing the food to my fellow patients; they were amazed that I was so calm about the whole ordeal. I awoke 10 hours later, memory intact, weaned off of the over 6,000mg of daily medication and have been seizure free since. To GOD, be the glory.

Ginger | Oct 3, 2019

What a beautiful experience. God truly knows what we need and doesn’t disappoint. Thanks for sharing.

Jerry Armelli | Oct 4, 2019

Ahhhhh (sigh, smile, peace). Living God - sending us messages constantly. Thank you, Joe, my forever friend (Renee too). Time and space keep us from the joy of friendship, but the day is coming when we will be in Eternity.

lbrancheau | Oct 4, 2019

This is beautiful Joe.

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