My kids and I were spending the day at home. They had just returned from the big wedding and were shell-shocked from travel and the surreal family experience. I was likewise wiped out emotionally. I’d never considered the possibility that my ex would actually marry the guy. After all, I’d seen her and him in that dream back in early 2014, in which she left him and came to me. This was the dream I’d had before I even knew that he was in her life for a second go-round. I just knew that God was going to intervene eventually and get in the way of their plans. And I now believe that was His intent all along, with the assumption that I would cooperate by being obedient. When I rebelled one final time or enough to tip the scales against me or however it shook out, back in December, the whole deal was off. Embarrassing moment: I actually told my ex in an email in the 2015 about the dream and how I’d seen the end of the relationship between her and her now-husband. I told her in the email to just go ahead and end the whole thing with him then, since it was eventually going to end anyway.
Anyway, on January 20 I was coming to terms with the fact that some giant portion of my reason for being hopeful over the prior several years had gone up in smoke – thanks to me. Since my ex had gotten married to #3, I saw little reason to think that any of the other prophesied events would come to pass. I spent some of the morning explaining to my kids that all the great stuff we’d been tentatively planning for a long time was probably not going to happen, due to my not obeying God in some fairly simple matters. I didn’t explain what it was that I’d done, despite my ten-year old’s understandably exasperated questioning. My twelve-year old was silent and withdrawn, due to combined fatigue and disappointment. She’d had much to gain personally from having a father who could work miracles, given her many medical demands. I have always been a steadfast and safe place for her, as far back as when she was an infant and then toddler, when she was my precious shadow. On January 20, 2017, I suspect many illusions were crashing to the ground, as she lay there on the couch, morose and silent.
It was Inauguration Day 2017 – a day for which I’d been divinely prepped over the previous year and a half. Rather than being a day of great celebration and revelation or whatever, the big event in Washington, DC was yet another gross reminder of what might have been – whatever it actually was that might have been and now likely wouldn’t be. All I knew was that God had effectively told me over the span of and year and some change that Donald J. Trump was going to become the 45th President of the United States. Now the day of completion was upon us, and all I wanted to do was vomit and/or die. Instead of making any effort to watch the pomp, circumstance, and festivities with my kids, I barely even looked at any internet news and commentary. I bothered to look at my phone at some random point at mid-day. And the clock said:
Naturally. The puzzle was completed. I’d first seen 12:37 in a highlighted way in June of 2015. Here it was again, signaling the presumed end of the road for 12:37’s significance in my life. In an alternate universe in which I’d been compliant with God’s simple offer, I was probably slapping hi-fives with the kids and my ex who probably would have again been my wife by then. The girls and I could have been explaining to her all about 12:37 and how that whole thing went down. Who knows – maybe diabetes would have been but a distant memory by then. Instead we three miserable humans in my apartment were on this side of that fantastic reality. I didn’t ever want to see 12:37 again, much less on Inauguration Day. I said to God, “Please don’t rub my nose in it. I get it. I blew it. Do we have to be reminded everywhere?”
I dreamed early in the morning that a woman at my former church was having sinus problems. I told her that she should consider fasting as a means of combating her condition. WAKE.
I was awake just briefly before falling asleep again. As I slid into sleep I heard a voice say, “You will never (something) again.” I could see a vague image of some kind, coincident with the spoken message. I didn’t hear the whole spoken sentence. I would never do something again or see something again, if the voice was to be believed. I hate when I don’t hear the whole thing. Was it from God? If so, I feel like an important message didn’t quite span the dimensions.
Asleep again, I dreamed I was driving at night. My glasses were dirty, so I took them off for cleaning. Inexplicably, I used a tissue or paper towel to wipe my glasses. I put the glasses back on, and they were irreparably scratched. I was incredulous. “I can’t believe I did that!” My glasses were ruined. I’m usually so careful to only use party-approved glasses wipes for cleaning my lenses. Right then, a car turned made a right-hand turn from my left, right into my lane. We collided head-on. I jumped out of the car to address the situation. A black guy got out of the other car. There was another black guy still in the car, and he was totally mangled. I thought about praying for both of them. They both somehow ran off back to the left, where they’d come from. It was now early morning sunlight. There was a man in something like a Royal Canadian Mounted Patrol hat, with a red jacket on. I assumed he was some kind of law enforcement official. He was unimposing and had a mild demeanor, for someone who looked to also be something of an authority figure. I pointed out the running men to him. He ignored me. WAKE.
This particular dream was very similar in content to a couple of others that I’d had after blatant disobedience regarding self-gratification. I can’t remember if I blogged about either one of them. I don’t really have the interest in rehashing all of it in detail. The running theme over the three dreams, going back about three years, was one of an authority figure impassively taking something from me or ignoring me, after I’d been disobedient in waking life. I figure that if the dreams are from God, there’s some representation of the Holy Spirit expressing dissatisfaction with my conduct.
Given the theme of the month in my life – that of unimaginable lost potential – I was concerned that God was telling me there would be no great ministry of racial reconciliation. That particular ministry possibility is something I haven’t blogged about (other than perhaps to say that I haven’t blogged about it), despite the substantial number of hints I believed God had given me over the years to that effect.
Later that morning the kids and I went to get them some new shoes. As I backed my car out of the parking place, I noticed the clock said 11:10. The trip meter read 123.6. We drove the brief distance to the shopping center and parked. Before we got out of the car I noticed the clock said 11:12, and the trip meter read 123.8 Weird. Our trip to the store had happened during 11:11 and 123.7. As we approached the door to the store, a woman was walking out the same door. She was the woman about whom I’d had one of my two waking words of knowledge. I think I mentioned the experience somewhere back in this blog. Nope, I didn’t. Here’s corrected text from an email that I sent I friend of mine back in summer of 2013:
I stopped by the store to get groceries this morning. At the checkout line, the checker was a lady who had wrung me up maybe once before in the past few months. While she was ringing me up and I was putting my stuff in the cart, I got an impression that her name was Mary or Mariel, something like that. Which was weird because I don’t usually give a second thought to what the checker’s name is. That is, in the hundreds of times I’ve been there, I almost always ‘notice’ the person’s name, but only when I look at their tag. And I hadn’t directly looked at the person’s name tag yet. Anyway, I glanced over at her name tag, and her name was ‘Mary’. Which was interesting. Was I remembering her name after not seeing her in many weeks? Was it the Holy Spirit?
She made the usual offer of saving 5% with the store card. I noticed that half of her mouth wasn’t working, like she had Bell’s palsy or a stroke. I said no thanks and asked if her name was Mariel. Which felt stupid, since her tag clearly said ‘Mary’. She said, “It’s Mary,” and pointed at her name tag. I asked if her mouth was hurt. She said she had Bell’s. I told her I have a friend who had that one time. I looked at the line of customers behind me and saw two people waiting. And fear of man started buzzing. I said, “Do you mind if I pray for you?” She laughed and said, “I’ll take all the help I can get.” She was obviously on the other side of the checkout counter, working with money and bags, and there was the fear of man thing going. I stood there thinking while she continued to checking my stuff. I gave her my money and wondered how much of a spectacle I wanted to make. I decided to pray without laying on hands. I prayed quietly, but loud enough that she could hear. Thanked God for Mary, asked Him to give her peace and protection while she was at work today. Commanded in the name of Jesus that her face muscles be made whole, the way they were designed to be. Amen. She thanked me and seemed genuinely grateful. Gave me my change. The End.
After the fact, I figure she seemed blessed by the prayers of a stranger, even if I didn’t lay hands on her. And I wonder if there’s any healing value to healing prayer if you don’t lay on hands because you don’t want to make a scene at the grocery checkout. Ultimately, it comes down to what prophet Charles Slagle told me about stuff like this: That’s why they call it school. I think I didn’t do a flawless approach; but it wasn’t that long ago that I would have never stopped to wonder about the name inserted in my head or certainly wouldn’t have asked a grocery checkout person if I could pray for them. And I realized after I got home that ‘Mariel’ is just ‘Mary’ with ‘El (God)’ stuck on the end.
Mary is an older black woman who works at my usual grocery/home shopping haunt. After I prayed for her that day back in 2013, she and I developed a friendship that transcended the usual customer/checker rapport. I’d make special trips to the store to see her, even if I didn’t necessarily need anything. During a particular run of visits, I asked around for her, only to be told by store personnel that she wasn’t there. When we finally saw each other again, she told me, “They told me someone was looking for me the other day. I told them ‘That’s my praying man.'” I had told her about the WFPLI trips, back in 2014. After a particularly long stretch without us seeing each other, she told me she had been afraid I’d moved to Long Island and hadn’t said goodbye to her. I told her that if God sent me anywhere else to live, I’d never leave without letting her know.
She is a friend who happens to take my money for groceries. And there she was, coming out of the shoe store, the only other place I’d ever seen her other than at the cash register. And on that day, of all days. Crazy. I called her attention and we greeted each other. She put her arm around me and gave me a big hug. She told me she’d been looking for some new shoes for work, because her feet had been getting really cold while she was at her register. We chatted just briefly, and she went on her way. All I could think of was that her face still sags a bit from the palsy that had just struck her when I first met her. “A miracle that won’t happen, Lord. Is this a walk of shame or what?” We three went into the store and eventually got a new pair of shoes for each kid and a new pack of socks for me.
I gave one of my kids the Charlton Heston Ben Hur for Christmas. We watched the first part just after the New Year. We saved the second half of the movie for later in January. On the evening of January 21, we fired up part two. I’d never seen the movie before and wasn’t expecting anything out of part deux other than a chariot race. SPOILER for anyone who hasn’t yet but might watch a sixty-year old movie in the future: Jesus factors heavily into the second half of the Charlton Heston Ben Hur. Jesus and miracles and man, oh man, did I not see it coming. By the end of the movie, as the life-giving blood of Christ healed the lepers, I was demolished. “These are the things you will not do,” I told myself. “These are the people you will not help,” I told myself.
After December 18 or whenever I’d had the King Kong vision, every successive day had felt more unstable than the day before. I wasn’t aware of how much I’d been anchored into a relationship (real or imagined) with God until it appeared that He’d picked up camp and moved on to a more cooperative child. The span of days from December 18 to January 21 was like one endless taunt from hell, in which I felt spiritually rudderless and beaten. The chaotic sense of loss and hopelessness culminated in, of all things, the surprise appearance of Jesus Christ in Ben Hur. You know things are going south and quickly when the loving portrayal of His Only Begotten, in a shonuf Hollywood epic, is a trap door to more despair than there was before.