From my personal journal: “At 4:30 a.m. on Monday, September 16, 2002, I had a dream. The dream had no plot line or action. It was an extended vision of faces, people. They were looking at me with brooding eyes as if they were waiting for something, that somehow, they shared some dark, unspoken vague secret. They looked tired, and yet they waited with searching eyes. It was like they wanted to be released but they didn’t know how. Yet it appeared that their waiting was not with urgency, just a dull emotional longing.
“My impression was clear that they were connected to my church, yet I could not distinguish names. It was as if they were part of our body and yet not part.
“As I gathered myself from sleep, I immediately was in conversation with the Lord, asking Him what it meant. It was no ordinary dream, I was sure. The impression lingered, and I found myself thinking and praying this: “Lord, this dream is not complete. You are going to clarify this vision later. I ask You to finish the vision. What are You trying to show me? What does this mean?’”
“On Wednesday, September 18, at 4:45 a.m., again I believe the Lord spoke in answer to my request for wisdom. This time I was semi-awake, but fully in awareness of a conversation with the Lord. The vision was back – this line of faces. I sat up and could turn my head and review them one at a time. There were twenty or thirty, but the line extended beyond my gaze – I couldn’t tell how far.
“As I waited in the darkness, the Lord, I believe, caused my mind to form these words, ‘the spirit of heaviness.’ That’s all. The Word of God had been planted deeply in my heart over the years, so I struggled to remember – “I will give you _______? of _______? for the spirit of heaviness.”
“Fully awake now, I asked the Lord if this were the completion of His thought from the dream/vision two nights earlier. He flooded my heart with crystal-clear affirmation, and it immediately occurred to me to go to Scripture and let God speak through the Biblical context. The search led me to Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV):
1. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2. To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3. to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
“As I research this text in context with a view to the Hebrew language, I am convinced that God has revealed His intention for our church. While the primary application is set in the consolation of Israel, this passage shows the timeless character of God as a redeemer of people and nations – and may I say, of churches. This is a messianic prophecy that relates to Jesus and His ministry. That is what Jesus declared of Himself in Luke 4:17-1. This reveals His heart for hurting, broken, repentant people. His intention is to pour out grace, healing and joy. I believe it is right to claim Christ’s redemptive heart for our church.”
Today, as I reviewed this 17-year-old journal entry above, I remember claiming by faith the intentions of the true Shepherd of this flock. Since He has disclosed this encouraging intention, I am bold in claiming this “oil of joy” and this “garment of praise” for our church. Over the years I have watched Him doing this restorative work in us. He has been doing a new thing, which is a redemptive thing among us. I welcome each fellow believer in our church to open their eyes of faith and embrace His restorative grace.
Be encouraged by the Encourager. Welcome the robe of radiant praise to replace the dark garb of heaviness. I sense the spirit of heaviness is more than an emotional weariness. There is in fact an actual demonic entity we can name the “Spirit of Heaviness.” Join me in binding that spirit in the name of Jesus.