Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where there's smoke...

I awoke suddenly from a bad dream. The clock glared an angry red 2:46. My eyes strained in the darkness, trying to find anything in the physical world that might have triggered what I had just experienced in deep REM.

Neurons fired in my brain, as I drowsily looked around wide-eyed, going through the list in my head - "do you smell smoke?  -No ; do you see flames?  -No ; do you feel heat?  -No ; Do you hear sirens, roars, crackles or screams?  -No ; is there a red-orange glow coming from any direction...?  -No"

"Thank God. It was just a dream."

What a dream it was, though. Shocking, frightening, surprising -and real. It felt real, anyway.

I had been standing in the kitchen, not my kitchen, nor any I recognized for that matter, but it felt familiar. I was cooking something. As I cooked my food, I saw something flicker in the corner of my eye. However, I thought nothing of it. A moment later, I saw it again, and directed my gaze toward the sight. It was a flame. A tea towel hanging from the side of the refrigerator had caught fire. The flame was climbing the towel, and within seconds it had spread to the unusual multitude of combustible things atop of the ice box. There was a bath towel hanging over the back of a kitchen chair, so I quickly grabbed it and started slamming it against the fiery objects, hoping to smother the flames. Whatever they were, the objects were extremely light, and as I hit them with the larger towel, they flew across the room, like projectiles thrown from a trebuchet. Soon, flames were beginning to crawl across the entire room. Seconds away from a full-blown inferno, I panicked. Without thinking I began to scream.

"Daddy! Daddy! Help!"

"Help me, Daddy!"

Then I woke up.

It was over. Eyes thrown open, I scanned the room for any sign of fire...

It was a few moments before I was able to get back to sleep...or before I even felt safe enough to try.

What really stuck out to me the next day was my instinct to call out for my father. Up until that point in the dream, there was no sign that my father was in the house with me. I didn't think about calling out to him. I just did it.

I was faced with an impossibly difficult situation. I panicked. I called out for my father.

It was very natural.

Before going to bed that evening, I had been reading a book called Radical by David Platt. In the section I was reading, he was comparing the modern Western church and the church in the first century. One of the most stark differences he noted was the early church's need, their absolute desperation for the Holy Spirit to work in their midst. If the Spirit didn't work, it didn't get done. He said that by and large, you don't see that need in the West. If the Spirit doesn't work, things look pretty much the same, because we tend to do things out of our own strength. We don't take risks. 

"the problem for us is that in our culture we are tempted at every turn to trust in our own power...So the challenge for us is to live in such a way that we are radically dependent on and desperate for the power that only God can provide."
I'd also fought with my wife earlier that evening...and I didn't pray during the fight at all...not once. I had been in a situation in which I desperately needed the Holy Spirit to act, and I didn't turn to Him.

My kitchen was on fire, and I didn't call out for my father... 

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