|Photo by Vin09 2016|
I dreamed that I am attending medical school in a large city and must attend a clinical rotation in one of the suburbs. There is a bus that goes from the downtown campus to a bus terminal, where I have to catch a second bus to the suburban medical facility.
After I arrive at the bus terminal I think there is plenty of time before departure of the second bus, so I wander around and then sit down to chat with someone. Suddenly I hear an announcement that the second bus is leaving, but I’m nowhere near the gate.
I take off running in such a hurry that I leave my bag and shoes behind. I know I can’t go into the hospital barefoot, so I step into a pair of sandals that I see in a waiting area. I continue running to the gate, stumbling awkwardly because the sandals are too big.
I finally arrive at the gate and ask the woman at the counter if the bus is still there. She’s says it’s already left; there is no other way to get there; and the next bus returning to the downtown campus won’t be until this evening.
I realize that I won’t be able to fulfill my responsibility at the clinical rotation; that I have no choice but to wait and then return home; and that I haven’t eaten all day or even had any water. There is a café near the gate and self-serve food set up, but I have no money because I lost the bag that I left behind where I had stopped to chat. The woman feels sorry for me and gives me a cup with crushed mint in it, and also her loose change, which is a quarter and a nickel. But I can’t buy anything with these, so I just wait.
I awoke with a sense of regret at the missed opportunity to minister to the sick at the clinical rotation and felt that I had failed to keep a divine appointment. This feeling is sadly rather pervasive these days, as the pandemic has blocked many opportunities for in-person service, such as our dance ministry, my teaching a ladies’ Bible class, and being able to singin church.
But truth be told, each of us who has been saved through trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) has missed many such opportunities, perhaps even daily. Not because of the pandemic or other outward circumstances, but rather because of our sin nature (Romans 7:5; 13-25) that leads us to quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and to ignore His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12).
If we do this long enough or often enough, our conscience will become seared (1 Timothy 4:2) and our heart hardened (Isaiah 63:17; Mark 6:52; John 12:40) so that we are unfit for God’s service (1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Timothy 2:20-21) until we repent and start the journey back to His perfect will. Thankfully, as soon as we take the first step, He comes running to greet us with open arms, like the loving Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:20).
How did I allow myself to miss the opportunity presented in the dream? First, by being lulled into a false sense of security. I thought I had more time than I actually did and felt no compunction about frittering it away in aimless wandering (Numbers 32:13; Psalm 119:10; Proverbs 27:8) and idle words (Matthew 12:36). I failed to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16) at my disposal by not preparing for the ministry opportunity and making sure I was where I needed to be at the right time.
In fact, I got so comfortable that I had actually taken off my shoes and lost track of my bag, which contained not only what I needed to sustain me on the journey, but also the tools needed for medical ministry. We must beware of scenic overlooks, of becoming so at ease with the more relaxed pace of home isolation or other involuntary rest periods that we shirk our responsibilities altogether, as did David when his idleness snowballed into lust, adultery, deception and murder (2 Samuel 11).
What if Jesus had not taken seriously the divine appointments His Father had prepared for Him? Had He not taken the long, arduous journey to Samaria to meet with the woman at the well, she would not have been saved, and neither would have most of her village come to know that Jesus is the Messiah through her testimony (John 4).
While we are waiting for God’s perfect timing to let us know when to resume our usual ministries, it must be a time of mental, physical, and spiritual preparation. We must put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18), girding up our loins with the truth so we are ready to run the moment He commands it. We must have our feet shod with the Gospel of the preparation of peace, rather than lounging around barefoot. I was so ill prepared for the departure that I had to step into someone else’s poorly fitting shoes and could not run fast enough to catch the bus, let alone run the race God has set before us (1 Corinthians 9:24-26).
We must not be like the foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) who were unprepared for the Bridegroom’s imminent return, representing Christ’s return for His church at the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:22-23; 51-54). They could not go to the wedding feast because they had let their lamps run out of oil, representing the Holy Spirit Who enters each believer at the moment of salvation (2 Corinthians 1:22). Losing my bag and having no money in the dream parallels this important lesson taught by Jesus. Even my borrowing someone else’s shoes was like the foolish virgins trying to get oil from the wise virgins, but to no avail.
Although I was physically hungry and thirsty in the dream, the woman I encountered did not provide for my physical needs, but instead gave me spiritual reminders to bring me closer to understanding my purpose in this journey. The cup of crushed mint reminds me of Jesus’ assurance that if we give even a cup of water in His Name, He will reward us for it as if we had given it to Him directly (Mark 9:41).
Yet the cup of crushed mint was not something I could eat or drink, but rather a reminder of His body, crushed for our sins (Isaiah 53:5), and the cleansing power of His sacrifice (1 John 1:7,9). Mint is a purifying herb similar to hyssop (Psalm 51:7; Hebrews 9:19), which was given to Jesus as He suffered on the cross (John 19:29).
The spare change the woman gave me was insufficient to purchase any food, yet the quarter and nickel brought to mind the thirty pieces of silver Judas received to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:15; 27:3). In the end he realized this blood money was of no use to him, as he was consumed by guilt, tried to return it, and ultimately hanged himself (Matthew 27:5).
It made me think that each time we miss a divine appointment, we are guilty of a similar betrayal, although perhaps to a lesser degree. Judas worked and lived with Jesus for three years, seeing His miracles and hearing His teachings first hand, yet failed to recognize Him as Lord and Savior.
Christ’s Holy Spirit lives within all those who are saved, and so often He gives us the opportunity to experience the fruit of His grace, mercy, love and provision by working through us. If we let it slip by, it is a momentary rejection of His perfect will for us, for which we will suffer loss of eternal rewards, but not loss of our salvation (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
While awaiting Jesus Christ’s imminent return in these End Times, may we make good use of each precious moment, redeeming the time (Colossians 4:5) by listening to and following His voice and doing His perfect will (John 10:27). May we not lose any opportunity to do His work and share His Word, so that when we see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12), He can say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23)
© 2020 Laurie Collett