Paul was nearing the end of his life when, in a letter to the Philippians, he said 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. How did he know? He was unshakably certain that his life would produce fruitful labor; that God would continue to use him. I wonder how he knew?
I could assume that God told him and leave it at that, except for a repeating dream that I have had lately and again tonight.
In 1985, I left my position at Alascom and entered the full time ministry. It’s not a decision I regret at all. God has taken me other places, His places, and allowed me to do that which I love for most of my life. Career matters to men and I am blessed. However….there is that recurring dream. I was laid off, again.
This time Alascom flew me to some out of town location. There the leaders of the various departments debated the future course of the company. They determined that it was time to winnow down the staff to those who were useful. The non-productive employees would be laid off. I received the phone call from my department head terminating my employment. In the dream, I asked if they could please tell me what I was doing wrong? Give me an evaluation. Instead, I was ignored and avoided.
Next I am at an airport and my oldest child, my daughter, has just debarked from a plane. We met and I told her that I was now unemployed. Then I awoke.
Dreams are useful to me and I blog about them periodically. They are movies that my mind creates, dramas with a purpose, raising a point that I have not faced when conscious. The issue here? Am I still useful or only deluding myself? Do I have fruitful labor left in me or am I in decline?
I am a fan of self evaluation. It is my observation that mankind lives blindly, including me. Living daily with the assumption that we know ourselves when we are not the person we imagine ourselves to be. This is apparent when you meet someone very unlikable who does not know that they are selfish, arrogant and annoying. Having seen this blindness in others, I am certain that it is also in me. Who am I, really? How do I impact people? Is God still using me? Or am I becoming dead weight, someone whose services are no longer useful?
Here is yet another area of life where faith in the goodness of God is required. He is the reason that anyone is useful. Paul was displaying his faith by saying that to live on would mean fruitful labor, not because he was confident in his own talents and abilities but that God would continue to use the one who is available to be used. Paul made himself a sacrifice for service and believed that God could be trusted to put him to work. Paul was right but I wonder if he ever had dreams like mine? Maybe not.
My final conclusion is that God NEVER lays anyone off. Even death is merely a transition to even greater usefulness. This is why Paul is so confident.
I know this is true too but somewhere in my soul I am nonetheless worried about it. Or else why would I have those dreams?
Phil 1 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus
ps: I know that this dream is also about my daughter and her role in my life but that is a blog for another day. So don’t message me about it…yet.