Rapture Dream

Age 13

I had my rapture dream.

In my dream, my Mom and I were buying soil at a nursery just beyond the neighborhood I lived in at the time. We heard the trumpet sound and my Mom, joyfully, turned to me saying, “Did you hear it? It’s the trumpet! Let’s go!”

I turned, worriedly, to look back at my neighborhood and wondered about my brother and my Dad.

God said to me, “Your brother hasn’t heard it and isn’t coming. Your Dad is going to stay back with him, but it’s time for you to go. And, your Mom is ready. She’s coming. It’s time. You must come with me, now.”

So, I prayed over my brother and my Dad. And, I wondered if I was in trouble for turning back or my worrying. But, I gave it up, and began to float. The higher I got the sweeter the air got and the more fully I was filled with love, joy, and peace.

The sweetness of the air and fullness of the goodness that filled me was so wonderful that when I woke up in my bedroom I wept, bitterly.

The Interpretor

Age 12

About to enter Middle School, I felt I needed to revisit my belief in God. If I was going to tell people I believed in God that was one thing, but I was not certain about that Jesus guy. My Mom had mentioned in passing that if she was going to instruct someone where to begin reading the Bible she’d tell them to being in the Gospel of John. She, now, swears she would never tell anyone to begin there. She would tell them to begin in the book of Mark because it’s the most straight forward telling of events. That’s nice. I was told John.

So, I opened my Bible to the gospel of John and began to read. Before I finished the first sentence I felt the Spirit enter my room. I stopped reading and told the Spirit of God to leave because that was cheating. I needed to know what I thought, unbiased. I did not want the Spirit to sway my vote (American already.)

So, God spoke asking me if I knew that the version of the Bible was going to read was, first, written in a different language. I had played with my Dad’s lexicon so I was aware of that fact. He continued, asking if I thought it would be wise to have the Spirit that was there when it was written help me to know what the author meant to try to say, otherwise I might reject something that is good because of a single word that I understand in one way, but that should be understood in a different way. He promised that the Spirit would only interpret the words and would not push any favoritism toward or away from that guy who claimed to be the Messiah. I felt like that was okay, but I was skeptical that there would really be a lack of bias. So, I was pouty, but I allowed the Spirit to read with me.

I read the book in one sitting, stopping occasionally to listen to the Spirit connect concepts from one paragraph to previous paragraphs in the development of a single argument. I felt like nothing conflicted with my understanding of goodness and the commands of this Jesus seemed wise. I asked if there was another book I should read to understand goodness. I didn’t receive an offer from the Spirit, but instead felt like I was told my understanding was good enough. So, I felt like, since I couldn’t argue against it, I would go ahead and call myself a Christian. And, that is not without consequence in liberal Bend, Oregon. But, whatever, God has plans for Bend and for Portland. He’s bringing play back. He’s promised. I don’t care if it falls into the ocean. But, it’s God that saved the world. I’m just eating manna.

Jungle Mural

Age 8

God taught me about prophetic visions.

My third grade class was making a mural out of construction paper. God showed me a picture of the finished mural. The next day at school I tried to direct the creating of the mural to ensure it would resemble to picture I had received. My teacher forbid me from giving any more ideas to give the other kids a chance to be creative. Well, I stood in concern, watching the construction paper go up in small wads and sheets of color. I didn’t see the development unfolding slowly with reassurance that it was going according plan. But, eventually the mural was finished and I saw before me the image God made shown me, a jungle scene with a large leopard. And, God spoke to me saying, “This is what a true prophecy is like. Did you do anything to help?”

I had not. I tried, in the beginning, but not in anyway that placed the vines in the right place or the big cat.

He continued, saying, “This is how you know a prophecy is true. It happen because it happens. And, the prophecy is to build your love of me.”

Nightmares

Age 5

I had two reoccurring dreams as a child that begin my testimony. I am going to use alternating colors to try and help keep track of which dream I’m referring to as I go back and forth, since the dreams changed and effected the other dream.

A. Skyscraper Running Nightmare –

In this nightmare I would jump from rooftop to rooftop of skyscrapers that fell away, quickly. I fell to my death every time. In this nightmare there was extreme psychological pain that grew in pain until the headache was difficult to see through and weighed me down, preventing me from jumping. I would wake with the headache and it would linger. The fear of dying, the fear of failing, and the anguish of the environment that made my mind feel pulled in opposite directions made me cry out when I would wake up.

B. False Heaven Nightmare –

In this nightmare I sat alone. The landscape was a flat, floating, grey slab. It had a single backdrop as wide and as narrow as the floor. I could have walked the width of it in 30 paces and the length in 10 paces. I would sit alone at the edge so my small legs could dangle off the ledge. And, I would stare into the vacant gray expanse, content.

An Event the Changed the Nightmares

My family went to a Presbyterian church. One day, a spirit manifested in the aisle during worship. All I saw was white, but I felt like it was smiling at me. It spoke saying, “Hi, I’m the one they’re worshipping.” I was not excited. That meant this spirit was God. I told him he was suppose to be pretend. I was scared. I told him he probably wasn’t trustworthy and I was going to rethink worship if it was real. I walked out of service to go home (we lived in the manse across the street.) When I placed my hands on the doors of the church he spoke, loudly as though we was still in the sanctuary, but he wasn’t shouting. He said, “I can help you with those dreams you’re having.” I was extremely scared and offended. I walked out of the church accusing him of invading my privacy. And, I commanded him to stop watching. He said he had not invaded my privacy and it was impossible for him to stop watching, but He could let me keep having the dreams. But, he highly recommended I let him help me. I felt something true in me rejoice at the thought of being rescued, but the feeling was quickly replaced by a feeling that I was going to solve my own problems. But, still, he asked if he could have permission to speak to me in the dream: so I would know where he was. I vowed to defeat the dream. He said, “Whenever you’re ready, when you cry out to me and ask for rescue, I will be there. But, you will have to really, actually, want help, and I know what you’re really feeling.”

I ran harder in the dream, determined to win. He spoke, “Hi.” And, I was genuinely surprised. He talked for a while, having had paused the game. I told him to watch and not to help me. And, I had to give him permission to restart the game.

Eventually, I memorized the first part of the game, but I couldn’t past the second part. I asked God to pause the game so I could sit down. I sat and God spoke, “How’s it going?” I replied, winded from running, “I can’t get past the second part. Will you help me? You know how to play this game. You’re God, you know everything.” He said, with a hint of sadness, but no disappointment, “Alas, I can and will help you, but I only want to help you out of the dream. I don’t want to help you win, because then you’d stay in the game. So you’re not allowed to ask me to help you play and win, but when you’re tired enough and want to stop playing the game, then I will help you. What do you think will happen if you think differently and use the landscape; are there walls here?” I replied to Him, “I thought you said you weren’t going to help me?” He said, playfully, “Am I helping?” So, when I had caught my breath, I told him he could start the game again. This time, I made it farther by bouncing off walls that weren’t there.

Suddenly, everything changed. The skyscrapers seemed to break and disappear. And I heard a new voice, an angry voice. He wanted to know how I thought of that trick. He said he had defeated me, and he knew because his program was responsive to my attempts and he knew that I would never get to the second part. God said, “He’s searching for me. Don’t tell him you know me or he’ll torture you. Take credit by saying ‘I’m smart.'” So, that’s what I said and the mean voice offered to change the game for me, make to easier. I asked to rest. He mocked me with his laughter, but rearranged the game to look like a garden. I was seated on the edge of it in the grass, and the game was for me not to move.

Somehow, like breaking from a trance, I wondered if there was something else. I looked around me, but still, there was no one, just an empty, gray slab.

Suddenly, there was someone there, sitting with his back against the backdrop. He was a mountainous fat man. He leaned down and spoke to me. I felt ‘in trouble’ for having done something to cause him to notice me. He asked me what I wanted. I didn’t want anything, but he pressed until I answered. I thought about it. My older brother always got Lego’s for his birthday so I wanted my own Lego’s. I asked for Lego’s. The fat man through his head back and mocked me. Laughing, he said, “You could have asked for gold, jewels, riches, many years to your life.” I was startled by his words because the thought of asking for gold or money hadn’t entered my mind. So, with a disappointed sigh he through some Lego’s at me. It was an incomplete set with no instruction manual. I cried. I had really thought I was going to get my first Lego set. I heard a kind, gentile voice that I recognized from my encounter with the spirit at church. He said, “Try asking him for the rest of the set.” So, I took my handful of loss Lego’s and got his attention. He had been distracted by three attendants in robes telling him jokes. When I informed him that the set was incomplete and asked if I could get the rest of it, even if I had to work for it, he was enraged. He scolded me and scolded me, he accused me of being ‘ungrateful.’ I wept and vowed to do everything I could to never get his attention, again. I also went to the gentile voice. Whispering, I asked if I was bad. He thanked me for speaking to him, and he said he was there just to pay attention to me. I wanted to talk to him more, but I was still sad. He said I could come to him when I felt sad and he would make me feel better because he knows how to make kindness like this mean guy can make disappointment; he can make everyone around him feel like he does. I asked him to tell me more about kindness and asked if he would keep talking until I felt better.

Eventually, I got tired of sitting in the grass. God talked a lot while I sat. I found it difficult to pay attention because he wasn’t taking breaths between words. I asked him why he was talking like that, and he answered me saying it was because I was dying and his voice is nourishment. And, as long as he speaks, and I listen, I can stay alive. I wanted to reply, but it felt like the air was growing thin. It started to hurt, sitting there, not allowed to stand. He asked, “Are you not allowed to stand? What would happen if you stood and walked a bit, just to stretch your legs.” So, I stood. The mean voice came back around, whining that I was breaking the rules and told me not to tell anyone the rules were breakable. “So, you’re not a god,” I said, suddenly feeling strong. “You don’t actually have power.” God whispered to me that he did have power while the mean voice was raging about how much power he had to build games that defeat everyone. “Ok,” I said, “But you don’t actually have power over me. (we had learned about Adam and Eve in church and the words ‘free will’) So, you’re not my god. You didn’t make me. I only respect power and yours is limited. So, I’m going to leave because I have heard the voice of my creator and I’m going to go with him.” God informed me that I could not get rescued, yet, because I was not asking for rescue but thinking I had won the game via God. And, I would have to play whatever game the mean voice had for me until I truly wanted rescue. This was very disappointing, especially since I felt strong. That meant I was going to be able to withstand the game longer. God said, “Since I don’t want to take any of your strength away, let’s tell him to make it harder, that way you’ll get tired fast.”

Arriving at the grey slab, again, angered me. I cried out to the Spirit of Truth (a phrase I heard at church) saying, “I thought you were going to get me out of here!” I noticed I had a slice of dry toast in my hand. “Get me out of here, I never want to show up here, again!” The gentile God reminded me of the game I was playing in the other dream. He informed that he was from outside the game. He asked me to assess the ‘where’ of the grey slab in the grey space. I thought, but I didn’t understand and he brought the idea of heaven to mind. And, he brought my mind around to learning about falsehood. And, he ask if I thought this place was true. And, thinking about being spoken to by a voice from outside that grey space, I thought, it couldn’t be the only option. He said he wanted to bring me to His house, like this space was a house. But, he wanted me to know that when he said ‘house’ he is speaking about a very big and wonderful place. I said I thought I would like to go there because when thinking about heaven, if it was better than this grey place, I imagined sunshine. I wanted to feel the heat and breathe the fresh air of summer. He asked if I had my toast he had told the fat man to give me. And, I did. He said he wanted to give me a taste of His place, so I could want it. Eventually, I would have to choose what I wanted. So, he told me, “This is butter.” And, I looked at the toast, and there was butter on it. I took a bite and it was delightful.

I was back in the skyscraper game, but this time it was completely impossible. Yet, I failed completely at being afraid. Until, the pain threatened me: it was in the air, like a foreboding. And, I started to cry out in secret to God, “I can’t, truly I can’t. What do I do? I’m not weary. I’m not afraid. How do I cry out to you? Please, don’t let it get bad, again. Please, don’t let me get weary, again. Tell me how to cry out to you.” (I know that what I was feeling was weariness. College taught me that word. I don’t remember how I spoke as a child.)

The next time I showed up at the grey slab there was jam on my toast. I ate of it. In rejoicing and hope, I shouted to God. Laughing with joy, I shouted with my whole heart, “Jam! I want jam!” I felt devoted to true Heaven. Filled with excitement, I knew what I would choose.

It looked like a bright and colorful sky opened up over the grey slab I stood upon. And, it was like that entire sky smiled at me. He told me that I needed to help the other part of my mind that was stuck running in the nightmare with skyscrapers. He told me I had the tool. And in my hand I saw a hammer. He asked me if I knew what a tool was and I said, “Yes, my Dad uses them.” He said I needed to get this tool to the other part of my mind in another dream. He informed me that both parts could learn while my mind is awake. So, I had to get the tool to my other dream while I was awake. I was scared. He said he would tell me the secret but I had listen really hard so I would remember when I woke up. So, I crouched down in the ready position and held tightly to the hammer. God put his hands around the hammer, too, to strengthen the thought. And, he said, “Tell the runner this word: ‘Trust Him.’

In the morning, God told me to go a get my Dad’s hammer. It was in the shed. So, I went and got my Dad’s hammer. It was in my hand. And, I was standing under the car port. He asked me if I remembered the dream I had. I said, “No, but your voice is very loud.” He said, “Do you know what a tool is?” And, then I remembered and I needed to find the runner in my mind and tell her to trust Him. But, all I did was shout it over and over. He said, “Remember the running nightmare and your dreaming self will be listening, then say the words while thinking of me and of true Heaven.” So, I did. I thought of the sunshine and the sky that smiled and his joyful laugh that loved me and I said, “Trust Him!”

And, then I told God all about it as I walked across the street to the church. I was so proud.

The runner had heard the word as a command. God said, “I can work with that.” And then, he said, “Now, I want you to remember what it felt like to grow weary, before. Remember as though it’s happening now. I will take your past weariness and drape it over you, so that he sees what you were like, but when you cry out to me, now, you won’t be hurting. Ready? It’s a game of pretend, but for serious.” I crouched down and was ready. I watched a memory of myself grow weary. God said, “Sit down.” I didn’t. “Remember we’re playing pretend,” he said “you have to play along. Are you ready to leave here so that you never come back?” I answered,”Yes?” And, he said, “Do you want me to make you feel weary, actually, so that you don’t have to pretend?” I answered,”No.” He continued,”Ok, so do what I say when I tell you, do not delay.” And, I replied,”Ok.” And then, he commanded me to sit. And, I sat. He commanded me,”Tell him how tired you are. Remember how tired you were?” I spoke to the mean voice, “I am dizzy, I can’t breathe. It hurts. I don’t want to do this anymore.” God commanded me, “Now, in your heart, ask me to rescue you.” I felt pride in my heart feel offended. But, I really wanted out this time. And, really didn’t ever want to come back. He said, “Say the words ‘rescue me’ three times and I will get you out. Actually, I have you already.” And, I was informed of the other dreamer who chose Heaven and I was encouraged. So, I said the words, ‘rescue me’ three times.

I woke up in my bed.

Desperate to leave that grey slab, I started trying to jump to Heaven. I tried all kinds of ways of jumping. I always fell back down. Out of breath, I laid down and fell asleep. I opened my eyes, to see that I was floating. I could see the fat man beneath me. And, holding me was a giant hand, glowing with golden light. I was afraid: I thought I might fall through the hand or the fat man would reach up and grab me so that I wouldn’t be able to really get to Heaven. God’s hand stopped raising. He said he didn’t need to go any farther, because he had me, but he didn’t want me to be afraid. So, we would stay like until I wasn’t afraid. Eventually, I started dancing. I looked over his palm and there were stars. I was afraid of the fat man getting me, again. So, God said he wanted to show me a picture. He told me to lay down like I was asleep and close my eyes, but hold on to his palm so I knew where I was (in his hand and not in the grey space.) I did.

He showed me a picture of me lying down on the floor of the grey space: I said, ‘I’m done.’ then God said to me, ‘Ok, put this on’ and around my neck hung a wooden ‘For sale’ sign and I talked with God. He said, ‘He (the fat mat) only wants to sell things he thinks are defeated. So, say these words to him, so he’ll want to sell you.’ I said what he told me to, ‘I am worthless, you are better off getting whatever gold you can for me.’ And the fat man agreed to the sale. While examining his coin, he noticed to whom I was walking toward. And, he was angry. He tried to back out of the sale. God, lifted me into the clouds in the sky above the grey slab and told me to wait. I hid. The fat man brought a record and argued to keep me. God, spoke to him so that I couldn’t hear and the fat man turned away, shouting to his attendants to be entertained.

I opened my eyes in his glowing hand, and he said he showed me this to help me know that I was going to be kept in Heaven. And, so that I would never be afraid when I got there. But, I was startled by the image of the fat man trying to keep me, and I was more afraid than before. God said, “Remember how hard it was for you to jump, trying to get to me?” I did. He continued, “And you’re not even made of the same stuff, you can jump. Now, think about the picture and look at his feet. How heavy do you think his feet are?” And, I saw that he didn’t lift them when walking but instead they slid. “He could never get you down from Heaven because he can’t jump high enough” And, every little bit fear of left me. And, he raised me up in a instant to the clouds outside the gate of Heaven. He had me jump out of his palm onto the invisible floor. And, I walked through the clouds. The light grew brighter and I grew more joyful and strong. I could have run, but I didn’t need to. I didn’t need to run because He was content with my pace. When I could just see the gates, he said it was time to leave, but it was a promise that I would come back. And he said, “The next time I bring you here, you will enter the gates. And, you will never leave.”

Awake in my room, the spirit was floating in a bright light in the corner, near the ceiling. Again, I felt strange that these spirits were in my dreams and in my waking. But, the spirit was smiling, I felt. She spoke, “Hi, I hear you chose me.” I responded, “Yeah,” and changed the subject, “Am I dreaming?” The spirit said I was awake. Then, His familiar voice spoke, “You need to welcome my spirit so that you can live in Heaven before I bring you there, later. Will you say, ‘I welcome you’ three times?” I did. I saw the spirit descend and it entered my mouth, while squealing with joy. And, as she entered me she said, “We’re going to have so much fun!” As soon as her light wasn’t in the corner of the room anymore I heard the mean voice say in hate, “I’m not through with you!” And, I was afraid for a split second, but immediately fell asleep. And, I slept deeply.


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And then this happens…

On the day of my Grandpa’s funeral I was 1,200 miles away in a garage painting his likeness from the one photo I had, which I later misplaced. It was a grainy photo taken some ten years previous outside my childhood home. I never got to know him, well. But, my Grandpa had an infectious smile. I have hated every stage of this painting. Each version fails to improve. The first one, looking back, it wasn’t so bad. But at the time I finished it, I only saw the color of dry bones. I thought, great, he’s dead and so I’m painting him dead. The next one has many layers of strange colors beneath that I didn’t photograph. This next photo, when I finished it, all I saw was decay. And, the next, all I saw was muscle. The now all I see is a clown. But, my Grandpa was a bit of clown without the face paint, so perhaps it’s true to him. All the lines are wrong. I don’t think my family would recognize him. But, it’s been two years and it’s time to be done. So, I raise a glass to Grandpa today. From you I get my adventurous spirit and it’s going to take me soaring. And, in heaven I’ll meet you for a milkshake. We can wrap paper around the condensation on our glasses, together.

Green and White
Purple and Light Blue
Red
“Grandpa B” by Bethany Jaine Bredeson, Acrylic on Panel, ’20

“Consider the Lilies”

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NASB)

I had always read this scripture hearing a painful command to never adorn myself. I heard, “you’re beautiful as a lily without your adornments. So, don’t be jealous of them.” But then, I read that the Israelites received adornments from the Egyptians and I wondered why God gave them adornments? What does this scripture, really, mean?

First, I believe Jesus is pointing to something the people can agree is beautiful: lilies. As though to say, “Let’s start with something we can agree on; lilies are beautiful.”  He elevates the lilies’ beauty over the wealthiest king in the history of the Israeli nation: Solomon. And, when he says, “will He not much more clothe you?” he was saying that the Father is going to give his children beautiful garments, greater than the beauty of the lilies, which is already greater than Solomon’s garments. He didn’t attack the need to feel beautiful. He didn’t argue that we should feel beautiful when we feel bare and without gifts. He didn’t shame the uncertainty we can feel about our heavenly Father’s desire to see us feel beautiful. Instead, he said, “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” In saying this, he includes clothing as a need. So, he pointed out something that, to us, is objectively beautiful. And then said, “know that out of his love for you, your Father will clothe you in greater beauty than King Solomon, greater beauty than the lilies.” 

The point of this scripture is really to ask, “Don’t you know your value? 

I’ll summarize the scripture for you like this, “You are more valuable to God than the birds, than the grass. Notice that He gives them life when they don’t earn it by ‘toil or spinning.’ He takes care of them. Won’t he take care of you? He knows your needs. Don’t anxiously seek after your needs, which would be to give your life away to worry. Remember the Father, letting worry go from your mind, letting rest and trust in His power and in His will to take care of you replace your anxiety. Trust him. Look, he is succeeding at maintaining nature. And, for you, his most precious, He will not simply clothe you by the minimal provision. He is going to clothe you in greater beauty than Solomon, and more than that, in greater beauty than the lilies. Know who you are. Let go of your anxieties. Your Father is able and will take care of you. Don’t add to the worry of today by considering tomorrow’s needs as well. Your Father has got the birds. Your Father clothes the grass, making beautiful something so fleeting. He loves you more.”