Most of my dreams are “mad libs,” the organized part of my mind working to construct a narrative out of snippets: poodle, drone, bent fork, chimney, fireworks… “Jacques the poodle used a bent fork to fire up his personal drone, then soared out over the suburban chimneys, singing, “Baby, you’re a firework!”
But every now and then, I receive what can only be called a message.
I was at a transition point and had been praying for guidance. Like all humans, I want clear, complete answers. And I want them now!
Then, early one morning, as I slipped back beneath the surface of consciousness, I found myself on a sailboat at sea. I’d been travelling for days and had prayed repeatedly for direction. Finally, the clouds rolled back, a light beamed down, and a voice rumbled, “Hang a left.” There was something teasing in the tone, but I didn’t mind. It was direction! I’d finally received direction!
I turned the tiller and thrilled at my sense of purpose as the boat groaned to portside and waves danced onto the deck.
I had a mission!
Before long, I spotted an island and thought, “God is sending me there!” As the island grew nearer, I saw people, beautiful islanders in graceful catamarans rowing out to meet me! “Hallo!” I shouted. “God is sending me to you! Hallo!” And then, just as I was close enough to make out their faces, the clouds parted again:
“Hang a right.” That was all the voice said. Just “hang a right.” No explanation.
I bitterly turned the boat to starboard and sailed away from my calling, away from my purpose.
After hours of sulking, I yelled, “Why? Why did you change your mind, Lord?” This time, in lieu of a voice, I was yanked up into the sky. I looked down and saw a map marking my journey. Only now could I see what had actually occurred:
I’d been sailing toward a distant country when I’d come to the edge of a perilous reef, one that would have shredded my little boat—and me. And so the Voice had told me to turn left. As soon as I began to tack I found myself in line with an island that had nothing to do with my journey. And then, reaching the western edge of the reef, I’d been told to turn right and continue my journey.
At that moment, I woke up. “What was that?” I asked. And a still, small voice replied, “You were never told to go to the island. You saw it and decided it was your mission. Yes, I have a purpose for you, but in your hunger for complete direction here and now, you make assumptions and threaten to swamp that purpose. You must learn to wait. Learn to listen. Learn to live by every word that proceeds from My mouth, and not your assumptions about those words.” (Matthew 4:4)
Note to self: Mad libs are OK in dreams.
But not in life.