Dream 1: I’m on a trip somewhere, driving in a car. I’m listening to the radio. A preacher comes on the radio and says, “God gives some people one little thing to trip them up, with which to prove themselves. If they are tripped up by that thing, they will have a less glorious life (now or in the hereafter or both – I can’t recall which or if there was even a distinction) than it would have been otherwise. They can still be saved Believers, whose salvation is not in question.”
Dream 2: With crystal clarity, I am reading and hearing, “You can be on a certain path and then get knocked off the path because of disobedience. If this happens, you have to start back over. And that’s what we’re doing now.”
I hear my spiritual twin Mary gasp and say, “That’s what I thought about the Israel trip!” Then I hear another voice speaking, and I read some available text that matches the voice as it speaks (about what I think are Biblical characters who were tested): “They each had ONE chance.” The word ONE is in all caps. The emphatic word, both printed and spoken, perhaps implies that I am getting more than one chance, unlike the original cast of characters.
I don’t know what Mary and “the Israel trip” have to do with it. Maybe she’ll have some ideas about that.
Dream 1: A female coworker comes to me and hands me a picture. The picture is of words. The words read: “You will be the most healed!” Then the words vanish. I leave that place and go to a party held in my honor. I don’t remember anything about the party. Then I’m in another scene, in a dentist’s chair. There’s a hygienist there. She’s not someone I know in real life. She’s has a dark complexion, and she’s wearing blue scrubs. I look across the room at the far wall. The wall is far away, unlike what you expect in a dentist’s office. With no problem at all, I can read small words on the wall. It’s like an eye exam chart, except the lettering is written on the distant wall. And I can read the words perfectly from that distance, without the use of my glasses. That means my eyes are healed, because I can’t normally see details past six inches from my face, without corrective eyewear.
I ask the hygienist to verify, for her benefit and mine, that I am not wearing contact lenses. She checks my eyes and confirms. I am then standing in front of a mirror. I raise both of my arms easily above my head. I am thrilled that I can raise my right arm as comfortably as the left. My right shoulder has been a mess since March of 2016. I consider checking on the spermatocele, but I decide to wait until later.
Dream 2: A vague dream sequence. The most I can remember seeing is a lone figure walking. The perspective is of seeing the person from their front and left. The person is walking near what appears to be a forested area. There is no one else around. The dream imagery seems immediately important once the image is gone, and I am aggravated that I cannot recall it completely. Immediately after the image, I hear a voice say, “If this is you, it will be the last anyone hears of you. It’s too good of a thing to allow (something).” The immediate impression I have is that the person in the dream has treated some great thing with contempt or a lack of adequate respect. That voice is telling me that if I do such a thing, then that would be the last anyone hears of me. Would I die? Would I vanish into thin air? Would people stop “hearing” anything about me prophetically? I am immediately taken aback by the frankness of the message. I ask Jesus to confirm that the voice is Him or not. I don’t get any confirmation.
Sometime in the second week of January, I became aware of what might be a hotspot in my left foot. Then I noticed one in my thigh. Hotspots had come to mean, over the previous few years, probable Holy Spirit activity; Holy Spirit activity in general meant cause for hope; and hope in those January days meant that things possibly weren’t as dire as I’d been thinking since mid-December. I made every effort to ignore the heat sensation, in order to protect myself from possible false hope. False hope is never good. Given my immediate circumstances, false hope would have been just short of fatal.
But the sensation hung around for a couple of weeks, just barely discernible. It was never so pronounced that I could say with any conviction that it was a hotspot – until the evening of Sunday, January 29, on which day I awoke after the “last they’ll hear of you” dream. I had been in church that morning, where the head pastor’s wife delivered a message that was dialed into my situation. She discussed “the wilderness” being a place between your captivity and your promise. How the wilderness is marked by boredom, testing, and temptation. How Moses failed to reach the Promised Land due to disobedience. And how “today is the day” to resume obedience. Perfectly timed message, for sure.
Anyway, sometime during the church service, I felt an abrupt and brief burst of heat running from my foot up to my thigh. I was preoccupied at the time with crying and wanting to be dead (WEAK). I wasn’t interested in God trying to give me hope. But there was no denying that burst of heat. By the end of the afternoon and into the evening, I was carrying in my left leg the single largest hot spot I’d ever had. It ran from my foot up to my thigh and covered a large portion of my inner leg. I emailed Mary in Ecuador to let her know. She sent me an unrelated email at almost that exact instant. Her email contained a prayer request, the nature of which was pretty huge in scope. I spoke out loud some commands in the name of Jesus, addressing the problem that Mary had referenced. I went to bed with my leg blazing hot. I didn’t do anything that has characteristically shut the hotspots down, and I fell asleep quickly.
I awoke the next morning with a leg that wasn’t burning any longer. Mary and I exchanged emails over the next couple of hours. She let me know that her previous night’s circumstances were resolved in a way that was consistent with a positive response to my prayers. We didn’t know for sure that my prayers impacted her situation; and we didn’t know that they did not. I thought back to the many times hotspots had come and gone over the previous few years, how they almost always vanished after I did the self-gratification thing. I don’t know that I ever let a hotspot mature for weeks and then prayed into a situation with some power that the hotspots were possibly signaling. That previous night was the first time. Better late than never, I guess.
All things considered the events of late January were a definite change in direction. The appearance of the mystery man’s name reminded me of the very beginning of a definite process that had started in 2013. I’d wondered if I wasn’t at the beginning of the same process…again. The next night’s dreams (if they were from God; if ANY of this is from God) confirmed that, yes, I was starting over. I reflected on all the dreams with a faint sense of hope and some powerful dread. If completely blowing my destiny was the worst thing I could imagine, starting over with another attempt was only slightly less bad sounding. Starting over from what point? I had traversed the whole of the wilderness already (I think), never mind that I’d failed to faithfully travel the final few inches or however long was left. Would I have to go through the whole thing again? “GOD, I WAS SO CLOSE!” I couldn’t imagine going through it all a second time.
I’d already been thinking earlier in January about Moses and how he didn’t get to enter the Promised Land. No doubt, that was a bad thing. “But,” I reasoned, “Moses at least died and got a private burial ceremony from God. I haven’t died, and there’s no reason to think I’m going to die any time soon. So I have to live the rest of my life fully aware of my failure.” Moses got the better deal, I thought.
Don’t quote me on that.
Somewhere in the next week or so, in early February, I distinctly remember telling God, honestly, “I can’t. I cannot do it. There’s no way I can start over. It’s not in me. The first trip through the wilderness almost killed me. I can’t.” Never hurts to be honest with God. But I continued on, just as honestly, “Without Your help. I can’t do it without Your help. That might mean You have to drag me some of the way. Because I’ve got nothing at all.”
Assuming for the sake of argument that all those dreams were from God; and assuming that I have correctly discerned what He was telling me; then I think this is a decent summary: “You were on a path to a distinct destination. That path was a test not to determine My love for you, but to give you a great opportunity. You got knocked off the path, and now we’re starting over from some point in the journey. I’m giving you another chance, whereas some others have had only the one chance. Make of that what you will. Don’t take for granted this process or the destination when you get there. I so value you, this process, and the people around you that I will not let you make a mockery of it.”
Somewhere in this last week in January I believe I actually referred to God as “Sir” once when I was praying. It was an involuntary thing, unconscious, and it surprised me when I said it. I felt like I boy talking to his father. And somewhere in there is probably a major point to all of this.
The healing dream was interesting. For the record I’ve been asking God for years to heal my eyes so that I would no longer need to wear corrective lenses. I tell Him, “I know it’s impossible. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was eight years old. But you’re my father, so I’m asking for the impossible. My kids ask me for the impossible all the time. Why should I be any different with You? Worse thing you can do is say ‘No’.” I don’t know if the dream was from God or from my own soulish desires. But I plan on living long enough to find out.
And then there’s the hotspot. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t want to believe it was a hotspot until it was casually hosing my leg with a flamethrower all during that Sunday. On the night of January 29, I was surprised and relieved that hotspots were still an option. I’d spent most of the previous six week convinced that God had politely told me in mid-December that we were through, and “Have a nice life.” Maybe that wasn’t the case, after all.
No later than noon on January 30, the shine had worn off that previous night’s apparent victory, because of what the hotspots represent. I think of the hotspots as training wheels. Our ridiculously patient Heavenly Father uses them to show me how to live my life as a living sacrifice for others. They are highly-personalized classroom instruction. Or are they training wheels? Am I mixing metaphors? Do I care? No. No, I do not care. How great is it that the Creator of the Universe thinks enough of me to give me this one-on-one instruction? But…I’ve already done the course work. I was FINISHED. I was DONE. I was stretching out my hand to receive the diploma. But then at the last second, I was distracted by a shiny object and fell off the stage in the orchestra pit.
WAH WAH WAAAAH.
And now I’m back to classroom instruction.
With training wheels.
I wondered silently and then asked God repeatedly out loud for days if – given what happened with a hotspot that was allowed to mature and prompt some apparent dramatic power in prayer – would the Overall Process be shorter if I was a Paragon of Righteousness and Obedience? “Will the path from point A to point B take less time if I don’t satisfy myself?” I believe after looking back over the past eight or so years that God has provided numerous opportunities for me to have gotten out of This and into That. Perhaps He would likewise give me numerous opportunities in Wilderness v2.0. Maybe I will only need one or two or MAYBE three chances instead of twenty; before choosing so wisely and getting the heck from point A into point B. “Would that be possible, Lord? Can I compress this process?” I think He’d already told me that I could, in many ways. One way was especially notable.
I had a dream sometime in 2013 or 2014 that was practically a neon sign telling me that I was in control of my own destiny, to a degree. In the dream in I was walking down a long, narrow, stone corridor that dead-ended into prison cell. There were burning torches in stanchions all down the corridor. The scene was extremely well-lit. I was walking toward the iron-gated cell, and there was a small white dog walking beside me. I didn’t know him like he was a pet or anything. He was a companion. We reached the cell and walked in. I or another force closed the gate behind the dog and me. I wasn’t the least bit worried about being locked in, because I knew that I had the key to the cell in my pocket. WAKE.
There’s a chance that the dream wasn’t God telling me that I was free to leave prison at any time. And that I knew how to do it. A small chance, I think. But in 2013 I didn’t want to contemplate that getting out of prison would be as easy as giving up the one thing I absolutely didn’t want to give up. This stubbornness was in the face of an eventual awareness that the ancient prison scene was reminiscent of what Joseph would have lived in, during his Egyptian captivity. I haven’t thought about that dream much until the past couple of months. I don’t want to think about it now. To contemplate the implications of this dream is to recognize I might have spent the last three or four years in a day-to-day existence with my children. Instead, I essentially declined that option and chose temporary self-gratification. I don’t want to let that sink in, so I’ll quickly add that this is the kind of thing that makes me so glad that this life is not the end of the road. There will eventually be a glorious eternity where I do not have to care about some of the decisions I’ve made on this side of the divide.
What might life have been like if I’d not short-circuited the hotspot about my friend’s blood clot in November of 2013? Or the guy in the wheelchair in Long Island? We could have moved on to much more entertaining blog posts years ago. Or perhaps I would have chucked the whole blog thing even, because I would have been so busy hugging my kids full time. Instead, I’m writing about January 2017 and maybe getting a chance to start over to reach a goal that we might see before my kids are grown and gone.
And by way of beating a dead horse straight into the ground: via the magic of emails, journal entries, and my memory, I’ve pieced together some illuminating information about the quenching of the critical hotspots. I need to put up one more post specifically about that whole thing. And then, hopefully, I’ll never have to mention that topic again. Will try to get that post up sometime this spring.