As I write this, my household is very quiet…as it should be. It’s 3 o’clock in the morning. The wife is asleep. The dog is asleep. I guess everyone I know is probably asleep. I even had to wake up the computer. It was in sleep mode! And I should be too. And the fact that I sit here typing this blog goes against one of my deepest convictions: I believe if its dark God wants you in bed!But alas… I am not!
Perhaps you understand what it was that interrupted my peaceful rest. I had one of those strange, unpredictable, unexplainable phenomenon: I was awakened by a dream. How I wish I could understand the things. Why do we travel so vividly in our minds while our bodies’ just lay there, trying to rest and recover from the previous day’s activities?
At first, I blamed the whole thing on the Maple Grove Men’s Fish Fry. To be honest, I had pigged out! I had especially lingered over a particular cherry pie on the dessert table, so I assumed I was getting my “just desserts.” (Sorry) Anyway, I try to never eat a big meal before going to bed because when I do I almost always have trouble resting through the night.
But as I lay there replaying my thoughts I heard a deeper voice. Perhaps you will hear it too.
In my dream, I relived an old memory from when I was a young boy. I think I was 11 years old. The school bus had dropped me off that afternoon and I remembered walking down the sidewalk to our home. But, as I got to the back door I discovered I had forgotten my door key. And, it made me mad. I mean, really angry. And in my immature frustration, I slammed my hand against the storm doorand… glass shattered!
Now, at that point, (as they say) my whole life passed before my eyes. I didn’t know what to do. My father was a stern disciplinarian who didn’t grant much grace. All I could think of to do was walk on down to the local funeral home and wait for him. I was dead meat!
So, I started walking, but I didn’t go to the funeral home. I went to the only place I thought I would be safe from certain death. I went to church!(Of course, I didn’t know the Bible verse at that time, but it was like in the Old Testament, when someone had unintentionally done something bad, they could run to a designated town called “cities of refuge,” enter the place of worship and grab hold of the altar, and no one would be able to harm them until their case could be heard by the priests.)
It was a long walk and when I got there, I didn’t see any cars in the lot. But the door was unlocked and I made my way down the hallway to the church offices. I didn’t think anyone was around but the door to Pastor Wayne’s office was open. I peeked around the corner and there he was. Like he was waiting for me.
Somehow, in a church of 1000 people, he knew my name and invited me into his book-filled office. (Even then I loved books!) I sat down across from his desk and I tearfully confessed my transgression. I didn’t intend to cry, but I couldn’t help myself. Somehow in the presence of this man, I felt I could speak freely and I would be ok.
He listened, assured me I would not die and actually prayed with me. It was the first time I recalled anyone ever praying with me. He then suggested I should head home since my parents would be there by now and didn’t know where I was. (The cell phone hadn’t been invented yet)
I left the church that day a different person. Oh, I was still a kid and I still didn’t want to face my Dad. I knew there would be consequences of some sort, but, somehow, in my young mind, I knew I had done the right thing by going to see that man in his big office with all the books. What I didn’t know was that the entire trajectory of my life had taken a turn that would lead to me one day being a pastor with my own office full of books.
Anyway, when I got home, the broken storm door had been removed and the broken glass was gone. I quietly slipped into the kitchen where my Mom was fixing some supper and my Dad was sitting at the table reading the paper. Nothing was said about the door until after we ate. It was a long meal! I apologized about the door and for my temper and my Dad calmly talked to me about what had happened and why and what I needed to do if it happened in the future. (A secret key was now located under a rock outside)I also went to bed a bit confused thinking aliens had landed and possessed my Dad’s body and he had become someone else.
And it would be some time before my Mom explained to me that the whole time I was walking home from the Southland Christian Church that afternoon, Pastor Wayne had been on the phone to my Dad related my visit and interceding on my behalf. Which is why I’m alive today!
Seriously though, I had experienced my first taste of grace: not getting the punishment I deserved, but rather getting mercy and blessing I didn’t deserve. And it seems my life since then has been one example after another of that amazing Biblical truth uttered by the Apostle Paul… “It is God’s goodness and kindness that leads us toward repentance?
And our Father in heaven woke me with this dream so I could share that good news with you.
I am now going back to bed.
- Rick Amerine is the Senior Pastor at Maple Grove.