Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Furminator

My nightmares have been watching too many movies. The nightmare last night was right out of Hitchcock. It is a troubling one, because it is recurring. And now it has become more and more explicit and worst of all, I remember it. Last night was a variation on the theme, but they all follow the same basic pattern.

 Before I tell you last night's dream, I must preface with my dream from two nights ago. The recurring theme is I descend into a spooky basement. Two nights ago in my dream, my mother in law had cleaned the basement and I could not get over how unspooky it had become. It was no longer the terrifying dark pit filled with unknown horrors. It was neat and scrubbed. She had even put up fake windows with curtains on the concrete walls to give it a homey look. There were soft warm rugs on the concrete floors, and all the spider webs had been dusted away. This is the only time I recall the basement dream being pleasant. All other times it follows the pattern of last night's dream.
But before I tell you last night's dream, I must set the stage with the story of the furminator, which was heavy on my mind before going to bed. Our neighbor had loaned us her furminator to try out on our dogs. The furminator is a dog brush that costs $60, but is supposed to remove every stray dog hair from your dog in one brushing session. This could reduce the need to vacuum in our home by months, so I have been eager to try the furminator, but not eager to pay $60 for it.  I had heard you are not supposed to brush wiry terrier type fur with the furminator, but I wasn't sure if a reputable source told me that or not. So I tried it gently on Lucky. His fur began coming off in huge gobs with absolutely no effort. He loved it and stood happily while I collected a pile of fur ten feet high. When I was done, his undercoat of golden retriever like fur was more evident, and there was clearly less of the wiry wild hair. I wondered if I had ruined him. I was very surprised at how soft and silky and thick the undercoat was that we had never really seen before. You just never know what is under the surface.

Now fast forward to last night's dream. The dogs and I descended into the spooky basement. It was clean, but not nearly as decorated and clean as my mother-in-law had left it two nightmares ago. As always, in my basement dreams, I felt an unsettling sense of foreboding. I looked around and all was silent. There was no apparent cause for alarm. I started back up the stairs, and the dogs suddenly stopped and stared back down into the basement, hackles raised. I turned quickly and saw in the center of the room, a strange globular substance starting to rise out of the drain. As soon as I looked, it instantly disappeared, such that I wasn't even sure I had seen it. I started up the stairs again, and the dogs continued to stare and softly growl. Again, I swung around and this time the ooze was growing and it was clearly malignant. In terror, I tried desperately to say, "Jesus is Lord," which is a strategy I have used many times in overcoming nightmares. I don't know if this is a universal phenomenon, but when I try to say something out loud in the midst of a dream like that, I have to struggle and groan, and force each syllable. I am sure it is terrifying to my husband, who quickly awoke me, though not until I had garbled those victorious words, Jesus is Lord.

I know what the dream means. Evil lurks, and evil desires to overcome. It is usually hidden, biding its time. But it is a real and everpresent danger. It is like Lucky's undercoat- hidden, but always there. We just don't always notice it. What makes this particular nightmare even more unusual is how it came on the tail of the clean basement dream. It is an exact parallel of the story in Matthew 12, where a person cleans house. A demon leaves the person, and seeks other places to inhabit. It decides to return to the original host, and finds the house clean, orderly, and unoccupied. So the demon invites seven of his buddies to now go and take residence, and the poor person is worse off than ever!

To tell you the truth, I am not crazy about this passage. It is spooky, like my basement. It is not enough to just clean the unoccupied house, despite all the external trappings of purity and righteousness. Jesus must occupy the house. One must daily put her trust and reliance on God, or the demons return. Only God can ultimately defeat evil. When I awoke, I found myself praying, "What more can I do, Lord? I believe and I struggle daily to live my life in accordance with that belief. I don't know how to trust more."

And I think perhaps that is key. I, on my own, can't trust more. I can only submit, and watch God work, watch the bubble of evil disappear, and let Him show me His glory, in spite of my meager faith. He is capable of meeting any of us exactly where we are, with how ever little we have to offer. In His hands, little is enough.
He is the ultimate Furminator, sweeping away every thing that hides what we really are underneath, and exposing all weakness, all sources of defilement. We may stand shivering, exposed, and vulnerable before Him, but that is when we recognize most how desperately we need Him. Oh how I pray that I would trust the brush of His presence more!

And by the way, this week I intend to buy a furminator.

Matthew 12:43-45

   43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

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