When a Dream Matters

August 23, 2014

I have never been very good at baring my soul and asking for prayer. I don’t know that it’s pride as much as it’s fear, along an incredibly powerful ability to minimize my needs in light of what others are suffering. Sometimes it’s my education that gets in the way too. But mostly, I think it’s fear. Fear of opening myself up to being someone who desperately needs the faithful prayers of others. And a (not so) little touch of introversion thrown in as well.

I do pray for myself. I pray for the people in my life. I pray for my family. But asking for prayer… tough for me. And I know that I’m not the only one, because I’ve met many people like me. We sit back and sometimes roll our eyes at the consistent prayers of others asking for a community to lift them up in these matters, but deep inside we ache for the ability to bare our souls so powerfully. But when we bare our souls we then must welcome the outpouring of love and grace often given to us and that can be just as hard to receive. Or we fear, wrongly, that people will laugh at our pain or slap their trite answers on top of which hurts more than our silence.

And so we suffer in silence, throwing our desperate prayers around an empty room, throbbing in our hearts to just have someone- just one person- read our minds. And it rarely happens that way. 

Then sometimes, something happens. Suddenly we face something that feels so big, so insurmountable. Suddenly, we encounter something so monstrous and scary. Suddenly, we are at the edge of ourselves and afraid of what might come next. And it’s then that we face a choice- to open ourselves up and risk sharing or to shut down so greatly that our souls writhe in pain.

This is one of those moments. And with a big gulp and trembling fingers on the keyboard, I am going to bare my soul to you. What I will share may make those of you who do not really know me stop reading. It may make those of you who don’t know me well to perhaps think I am crazy (and believe me, on any given day I might agree with you!). It may make some colleagues who have been educated out of such things roll their eyes. But I hope, I hope that many of you will not react in that way, and those who know me will know that I speak this experience with great reflection.

***

Last summer, I had a dream.

A nightmare really. It was the night of August 27th, 2013. In my dream, we were headed up to my in-laws house who live in Northern Colorado. When we arrived, their house was slightly different in that the ceiling was not enclosed anymore, but instead, had open rafters. There were several fluffy cats in the rafters of the house, and every so often, they would hiss down at us, never moving from their perch.

We went about our visit. My sister-in-law was there too. And then at one point, we encountered a small black snack- about a foot and a half long and pretty thin. We thought nothing of it, grabbed it up and tossed it out the door. Then a bit later, we found another black snack, slithering across the living room. Then another… and another… and another. Soon we realized that there were many, many black snakes throughout the house and the cats in the rafters had been hissing down at them, not us.

We decided we needed to leave- all of us. So my husband went to go get the car and subsequently, never returned to the dream. While my parents-in-law and sister-in-law and son and I were getting our coats on in the kitchen, a snake slithered in, and in a flash, wrapped itself around my son’s little neck, strangling him. For a skinny little snake, it was quite strong. We could not pull it off, even with the 4 of us trying! My son was getting pale, losing his breath. He was being killed in front of us, and we were unable to stop this snake.

Suddenly, my father-in-law fumbled around in the pocket of his tan pants, and he pulled out a pocketknife, the tiniest pocket knife I have ever seen. It was about an inch tall. And he said, “This is all I have.” I took the knife, my sister-in-law and mother-in-law pulled the snake on either side just to give my son some air, and I began to saw with this little knife at the base of the snake’s head. It was an excruciatingly long time. The tiny knife sawing into this snake which continued to tighten around my son’s neck, straining against the hands that were pulling with all their might to let my son breathe.

Finally, the knife did it’s job. The snake’s head was cut from it’s body and my son was freed. And I woke up.

***

Yes… weird. I couldn’t go back to sleep that night, and the fact that I remember that dream to its very details nearly a year later is spooky to me- I rarely remember dreams. With much prayer and conversation with trusted friends, we began to realize this dream may have come in the same vein as those that came to Joseph and Jacob in the Old Testament, and Joseph, Jesus’ father, and Paul in the New Testament. Through trusted friends, we discerned that this dream was not simply a weird dream. It was a warning. I didn’t know what the snakes meant, what the dream was about, what the part my in-laws would need to play, but through much reflection, we knew it mattered.

And then my son got sick. And it all became very real to me.

Last night, with news of the closing of my beloved gym- the place I had seen as a gift to me to give me one hour a day to not have to think about the burdens of healing my son- I was tipped over the edge. My exhaustion of these last 10 months. My weariness of searching and not always finding. My endless litany of prayers every moment I am awake. My extreme loneliness in this journey toward getting my son back- all of those things came crashing off the shelf where I keep them in pretty little jars. My gym closing was just the little bit of weight needed to upset the entire shelf in my soul. After dinner with a couple dear friends, I drove home, screaming out my sobs. I texted my friend, Beth, begging her to speak words of peace and comfort and hope to me. Which she did.

And then she said this, “Your dream…. remember? God gave you that dream to know that there will be deliverance.” But oh, I am too weak to believe it! I am too tired and bone weary, my soul worn down to thin and tattered strips, to believe it. It is too hard today, right now.

Deliverance. We need that. We need this to be finished decisively by Divine Hands. We know that all things work for the good of those who love God. We know that Jesus restores and redeems and makes right. We know that he rescues us when we call. But oh, his rescue seems to take so long right now.

And I woke today after a restless sleep knowing that I cannot continue this alone. That those who have been walking with us need to know of the deeper things that whisper to my soul. That those who have wanted to pray but never felt our invitation would see an open invitation to join us here. Please, if you can, pray for us.

I ask that as plainly as I can. Perhaps not as eloquently as usual. Because sometimes there are no gracious ways to speak such requests. We need faithful prayers. We need you.

I don’t know exactly what the dream will become. My deepest fear is that it was just that- a dream, nothing more. And that my intellect will once again dismiss it so I can sit back at a distance and roll my eyes at the possibility of miracles. My greatest hope is that it was a message- of fear and warning, yes. But even more, of what Beth said. Of deliverance. Of a promise yet to be seen fulfilled. And oh! I hope it is fulfilled soon. A little boy hangs in the balance!

It is hard to hold onto hope when you can’t see much. And that is why I am asking you, dear reader and friend, to hold onto hope for us, to help us hold on.

Today my husband told me, “We are on the cusp of something.” My heart hurts too badly in these moments right now to believe that. But it warms me to know he does. Please join me, friend. Please join us in forming a community that gathers the wagons around our little boy and commits his healing to the only One who can truly restore him. I know it’s selfish, it feels that way. I know there are much bigger prayers to pray and needs to be filled. But I also know it’s the only way we can get through.

Pray for us, friends. And I know that one day I will be privileged to return the favor to you.

2 Responses to “When a Dream Matters”

  1. myrtlejean said

    I don’t think it’s selfish to ask for prayer. I believe that God is in the miracle business. And I’ll pray for your son and for your family.

  2. wrenlk said

    Thank you! Your grace to us means so much!

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