I had a dream the other week where I had set up an Etsy shop to sell clothing that I was going to sew. Somehow, without any credibility or proof that I could sew I sold two dresses to a willing customer. She payed me in advance and in the dream I was happy about this quick money. With the money in my bank account, I soon got distracted by other things and forgot all about sewing the order. At times, something would remind me about the work waiting to be completed but I would brush it aside and get distracted again with other things.
A bit later, maybe a few months, the customer who had purchased the garments contacted me and asked about the dresses. The email was very patient but I immediately panicked and a number of responses I could make in reply raced through my mind.
The first response was to completely ignore the email but I knew that this would risk anger from the customer, not to mention that it was completely wrong of me since I’d already pocketed the money.
The second response was to somehow scramble together a finished product that would meet the buyer’s expectations but I knew that with my poor skill level and minimal knowledge it wouldn’t pass.
The third response was then to find an experienced seamstress who could make the dresses I had been paid to make but I didn’t like this idea either because I would have to pay the other seamstress(therefore losing the money I’d been given) and it seemed fraudulent and dishonest.
The fourth response to come to my mind was to humble myself and admit to the customer that I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to sew. I only knew the very basics and had not practiced enough or been passionate enough about learning what it took to sew a well made dress, nor did I know much about running a business. Would the buyer please forgive me and give me more time to get better at my craft so that I could finish the dresses they had asked for?
The final response was to return the money but I did not dwell on this option for very long.
Then, I woke up.
I believe that the ‘me' in the dream represents the church/believers and this invisible customer is the Lord. The business is like our relationship with Him and the money he gave is like His grace, salvation, and the Holy Spirit he gives to us through Jesus(like the deposit mentioned in Eph 1:14). The garments I was to make is the response to that “payment’ or deposit and are the good works we are to do which God prepared in advance for us (Eph 2:10) and is essentially God’s purpose and will for us, his body.
I believe God is gently (like the email in the dream was gentle) asking us to pay attention and return to “business”, if you will. A gentle 'call to task'.
If we look deeply and examine our hearts, in some ways, we have been content to enjoy the reward of heaven to come but we’ve neglected the other parts that are ours in Jesus, right now. We have gotten distracted by earthly pursuits and interests and have forgotten about God’s interests. From time to time, we’ll be reminded of about our work but then it quickly gets brushed aside in favour of other more enjoyable things. i’ll say this again, because it is important- the Lord is patient. But I believe he is/will be checking in.
We have a response to make.
1.Ignore God. Ignore his Spirit communicating with us and helping us. Ignore the works he’s given us. This comes down to indifference and complacency. Thinking we are secure and safe and/or that God "won’t do anything good nor will he do anything bad". This response also reminds me of the parable of the minas in Luke 19:11-26... “So he called ten of his servants and and gave them ten minas(about 3 months wages), ‘put this money to work’, he said, ‘until I come back’. Later he returns and sends for the servants who he had given the money to. The first servant had added ten more minas to his original amount, “Well done, my good servant”, his master replied, ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities”. Another servant did nothing with his money and hid it in fear and there was severe consequences. Are we trustworthy with what God has given us?
2.Will we wait until the last possible minute to get to work or are we equipping for the task now? As God’s Kingdom plan keeps moving forward will we be scrambling for knowledge of what’s going on? There’s a place for “going with the flow”... for example, the Spirit will give us what to say when we need it but God’s word is also repeatedly telling us to prepare. Are we choosing right now to leave things to the last minute? A hastily sewn garment won’t last. This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 where the quality of our work will be tested through fire “in that Day”. Those who build well with strong, long-lasting and precious materials will receive a reward but those who construct with wood and straw, though saved, suffer loss.
3. Will we choose to ride on the coattails of someone else’s work and faith? This road has serious consequences because we risk the fate of the 5 foolish virgins who were not ready. They begged the five wise virgins to share their prepared and saved oil for their lamps but the wise sent them away to buy their own oil. When the five foolish came back they were turned away at the doors by the Lord who said, 'I do not know you'. We each have our own faith and relationship with Jesus, we cannot claim to know the Lord if we only live through the knowledge of him through someone else, we must know Him and store up for our own. Does he know you? We must be watching and we must have our own knowledge and faith, not depending on others.
4.The fourth response is the wisest response. One of submission and humbleness. The Lord already knows we have no ability to sew but He is gracious and has chosen us to be in relationship with him, to work along side him in his perfect plan even though we have no previous skills or knowledge, even though we have absolutely zero credentials to do it. But, he gives us “every spiritual blessing”, he gives us his Spirit, we have been “enriched in every way” and we “do not lack any spiritual gift”. We have everything in Christ to do what we need to do. If we are asking for more time, let’s use it wisely. Determine not to be distracted by the dying things of this world. The things that won’t matter. Take the time now to be diligent in learning the sewing manual and to practice using proper sewing patterns( ahem, the Bible and it’s examples).
5.Lastly, the option of giving a refund. This wasn’t a viable option in the dream because to do so is to walk away from ‘business’ with God. It would essentially be like giving him back this grace he had given, like giving back Jesus' sacrifice and the deposit of the Holy Spirit. It is a serious thing (Hebrews 6:4-6)
Just to be clear, this is not about earning our salvation in any way “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. Ephesians 2:8-10
Let's return to our business with God. It's Reality. It's time.