September 18, 2009
It felt like I had been jolted with a high voltage shock. My emotions had been turned inside out and upside down.
Yet when the angel spoke I did not want the experience to end. But right now, my mind reeled. Breath came rapidly like I’d just run a marathon.
I was in my bed. Yet I felt like I’d just been somewhere else and that I had just been dropped back into my bed from a fairly high place.
The clock was right where it should be, on the night stand: 5:30 a.m.
It seemed that I had just stared at the clock, and it was 4:00 a.m.
My mind struggled to reconcile that bit of information: 4:00 o’clock and 5:30 a.m.
Whatever happened to me took an hour-and-a-half. And that was the unmistakable sense of it. Something happened to me. Something so powerful and so new that I did not have the words to describe it.
I fell back on the bed, emotionally drained by a strange combination of almost every emotion you can feel happening all at once.
What had just happened?
I desperately tried to reconstruct and analyze the events of those 90 minutes and remember the contents of my dream. Was it a dream? For a minute there I couldn’t even distinguish whether what I had just experienced was a dream or was real. Though I was lying in the comfort and safety of my own bed, there was no doubt that just moments before I was somewhere else. I assumed I must have been dreaming. After all, I was in my own bed. But, then again… No – this was different – very different.
This was so completely over-the-top – so absolutely real, in full color and detail. This was no ordinary dream. Frankly, it didn’t feel like a dream at all. It felt extremely real. The truth is that I rarely have dreams. If I do, I usually wake with no memory of anything going on in any kind of dream – good or bad.
The few times I have remembered something, it was usually just a snippet of action; typically me observing some random event from the sidelines with little, if any, coherence or meaning. This dream or vision was entirely different and extremely riveting.
So, without even thinking whether it was even possible, I just closed my eyes and tried to get back into the dream. Whatever it was, it was so real and ended so abruptly that I thought somehow I might be able to pass back through whatever portal I had just fallen out of to get back to the action where I was only moments before. I soon discovered that there was no getting back into the dream. Try as I might, I could not simply will myself back there. Instead, I lay on the bed and repeatedly cried out loud as I reached up toward the ceiling:
“Lord, what was that? WHAT WAS THAT? What did You just do to me?”
I somehow knew, without question, that what just happened was from the Lord. There was no other thought or sense of doubt whatsoever. It felt like the Lord Himself, or some other being from the spiritual realm, had just taken me through an experience. As I lay there and started to calm down, the details started flooding back to me.
After sleeping in the same position all night, I remember popping wide awake and glancing at the clock. 4:00 in the morning. I am not a morning person. I never enjoy waking up early and rarely wake up alert and refreshed. Yet for some reason on that morning, I just popped wide awake at 4 a.m. for no purpose I could determine.
There was another reason that the idea of waking up well-rested was such a distant memory for me.
It had been about four-and-a-half years since my wife, Katie, had first been diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she had a remission period for a while, it had been about a year since the cancer reoccurred in other parts of her body – bones, liver, and lymph nodes.
As with anyone whose wife is fighting cancer, I shared in Katie’s battle fatigue every waking and sleeping moment. No matter where I went or what day it was, I also faced the stress and disappointments of the cancer struggle that was causing her life to ebb away.
This particular morning, however, I had awakened at 4:00 and felt very rested. Ninety minutes later I was an emotional wreck, recalling a very detailed series of events that seemed to be just moments old. At 4:00, when I was awake, I remembered thinking, “Even though I am awake and rested, I don’t really feel like doing anything else at this hour.” I was not struck with the idea of getting up, reading, spending time in the Word, or anything else, so I decided to try to roll over and go back to sleep. Even this was unusual. I have always had a hard time getting back to sleep after being awakened, especially since being in the midst of fighting cancer. Oddly, this time I was able to drift back to sleep very easily.
In fact, in retrospect, it almost seemed like I was put to sleep. Who knows? All I know is that I when I closed my eyes it was 4:00 a.m. and now it was 5:30 a.m. During that time something seriously rocked my world. I was still trying to grasp what I just experienced.
What also was different – rather than the dream being fuzzy or fragmented, this multi-sensual experience came back in precise detail. I not only remembered the plot, but all kinds of details about the setting. As I recalled the dream, I could feel the atmosphere of the rooms, hear the noises and dialog, and see the elaborate details of the rooms I was taken through. As I replayed the dream, there was a sense that, if you were watching it on a video it would only take about ten minutes in all to watch, and yet it also had felt timeless, as if time had been suspended.
At the time of the dream, life felt uneasy, but stable. There was an expectation that Katie’s health could gradually worsen, but also a hope and desire that any decline would be delayed and perhaps she could live with the cancer for a long time. Both my parents survived for over a decade after their cancer reappeared. Katie and I hoped for a similar long run before things got worse.
Little did we know what was coming, or what the Lord was about to say and do in our lives. Of course, God knew, and it was in His perfect timing that the following events unfolded in our lives.
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