Most of my dreams are “mad libs,” the organized part of my mind attempting to construct a narrative out of disparate snippets. But every now and then I receive what could actually be considered a message.
My life was at a transition point. I’d been praying for guidance and, like all humans, wanted clear, complete directions–and I wanted them now!
Then early one morning, as I hovered below consciousness, I found myself on a sailboat at sea. I’d been travelling for days and had prayed repeatedly for guidance. Finally, the clouds rolled back, a light beamed down, and a Monty Python-ish voice rumbled, “Hang a left.”
Directions! I’d finally received directions! I turned the tiller. The boat groaned to portside. 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 beautiful islanders in graceful catamarans rowing out to meet me! “Hello!” I shouted. “God is sending me to you!” And then, just as I was about to land, the clouds parted, and the voice said, “Hang a right.”
That was it, no explanation, just “hang a right.” I bitterly heeled to starboard and sailed away. Away from my calling, away from my purpose! After hours of sulking, I yelled, “Why? Why did you change your mind, God?”
I was suddenly yanked up into the sky, from whence I was able to look down, for the first time, upon the entire course of my journey (which was marked by a conveniently cinematic dotted line). And from there–from God’s point of view–I was able see what had actually occurred:
I’d been sailing toward a distant country when I came to the edge of a perilous reef, one that would have shredded my little boat, and me! So the Voice had instructed me to turn left. But as soon as I began tacking to port I found myself in line with an island, one which, in fact, had nothing to do with my journey. Then, when I reached the western edge of the reef, I was told to turn right and continue my journey.
At that moment, I awoke. “What was that?” I asked. And a still, small voice replied, “You weren’t told go to the island, Mitch. You saw it and assumed you were. Every time that, in your desire for complete directions, you make assumptions, you risk swamping your true calling. You must learn to wait. Learn to listen. Learn to live by every word that proceeds from My mouth, not just some of the words, and never by your assumptions about them. (Matthew 4:4) Radical effectiveness requires radical obedience!”
Mad libs are OK in dreams, but not in real life.