The ground was rushing up toward me fast. Four more months had dropped away to a mere four more weeks, and I was still being harassed by occasional petty pains.
Consumed with trying to figure out what was happening, I became the poster-child for James’s double-minded man.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon You, because he trusts in You”. Isaiah 26:3. And the converse is also true: the one whose mind is stayed not on the Lord, but on his circumstances, will find himself tossed and torn. It was not a pretty time.
On the morning that marked exactly four weeks from the “four more months” end, the Lord sent up a flare in the midst of the storm: He gave me another dream. Never before had they clustered so close, like contractions at the end of labor.
In my dream, I was alone, hiking in a forest with trees as tall as buildings. Bounding over boulders, I was jumping from rock to rock, moving effortlessly and joyfully along the path. As I leapt down a small valley and up the incline behind it, I saw that at the very top, my way would be blocked by a high rock wall. Arriving at its base, I stood looking up and wondering what to do. While there were a few small ledges that I could use as handholds, they were far too high to reach.
I had been standing puzzling over the problem for several minutes, when suddenly I became aware that someone was behind me. Though I have no idea how long he had been standing there, I turned to find my old friend Andy. He had been a ways behind on the same path, and now shared my sorrow that the journey that felt so far from over for each of us was effectively at an end.
At that moment, I turned to my left, and there beside us was a second rock wall with metal handholds placed at just the right intervals. I couldn’t imagine how we had missed it. Just above the first handhold was a ledge cut in the rock, and beyond that, perhaps 30 feet along the shelf, was a rough door hewn in the wall. It was just a simple opening, large enough for a person to walk through upright.
“Look, Andy! It’s a door! How could we not have seen it?”
We scrambled onto the ledge, and as we walked through the opening in wall, instantly the scene shifted. I knew now that since crossing through the door, Andy and I had been on a road trip, maybe for weeks already. He had borrowed his father’s car, and we had picked up another traveller: my friend, Sharleen, (a talented photographer who specializes in telling the stories of adventurers, artists, activists, etc.)
The three of us were sitting waist-deep in a tidal pool of starfish, in a place that resembled California’s coast. Awash in deep gratitude for the beauty that we were experiencing, each of us sat overwhelmed with the knowledge that our adventure was an extraordinary and sacred gift.
While we might have been there for hours, the snapshot of the tidal pool lingered no more than a moment. The time to begin the journey home had arrived. Piling in Andy’s father’s car, we drove for days and nights, and as we traveled, the most amazing appearances of animals graced our path. We rounded a bend, and a mother brown bear stood on her hind legs in our headlights, surrounded by her three cubs. We crossed a field, and another black bear rose to greet us also. In the middle of one night, we crossed through a provincial town that was fearing a flood, so the townspeople were in the pastures, searching out the baby goats, and holding them above their heads as they waded through the streams by the roadside. (feel free to giggle to at that one)
As we pulled into the parking lot at the Nature Center of the park from which the whole journey had begun- that park in which we had found the door in the wall– it was time to settle up, so I handed Andy money for gas. It like such an oddly anti-climactic, and matter-of-fact end to such an epic journey.
Sharleen left to change out of her hiking gear, and returned wearing her normal street clothes. I followed suit, but stepping from the bathroom stall, I saw, to my surprise, that I had put on a wedding dress.
There I was, holding a bouquet of flowers, and looking at myself in the mirror. I knew that I was not there to wed Andy. The One for whom I had been prepared was known but unseen. And it was this moment for which the whole journey had been crafted.
It was from that scene that I woke.
The images trailed me all through the morning: as I stood at my juicer, as I ate breakfast, and finally as I sat in my time before the Lord. The dream had drawn itself up to a height where it now did battle with the belligerent narrative that had blotted out all others: the question of what was to become of my health.
Ignoring the dream, I turned my attention to that old obsessive thought, turning it over in my hands for thousandth time, “Have I heard wrong? Am I crazy? Why are these little pains not going?”
Finally, in exasperation, I cried aloud, “I’m done trying to figure this out! The only thing that matters is Christ, let the rest fall where it may!”
Immediately my eyes cleared, and doubt lay motionless at my feet. I saw the dream’s truth spread before me like a map.
Dear friends, please forgive me. I had written these posts so close together for a very specific reason, and now I find that I will have to add to the end. Thank you for your patience as you’ve read these. Your presence with me has been a blessing.