I am lost in thought for quite a while. It surprises me when He reaches into the box and hands me an unwrapped object. It is a teddy bear! I am back to being confused again. The stuffed animal is soft and comforting, something I want to hold. But it is a child’s toy; I cannot fathom what this has to do with me or my dreams.
“Papa, please, help me understand this. It just does not make sense to me.” I look up at Him. Although I cannot see His face, I know His expression is one of mirth, He is enjoying this!
“This is an object of comfort. You are to be a comfort to My people. There is a difference, though. The comfort you are to offer them is the comfort of My grace, a true eternal comfort. They will come to you, seeking comfort, for you are called grace, and you will give them that comfort. You are bewildered because you do not see yourself as comforting, but rather confronting. This is because your picture of comfort is inaccurate. Real comfort comes from truth and you offer My truth. You offer what is real.” He explains.
“Yes, Papa,” I reply, but I know this idea will take some getting used to for me. I and still not sure I totally understand it. I am still stuck with a feeling of incongruence between the pen and the teddy bear. “What am I to do with this?”
“Take all of these things and place them in your chambers. There is a shelf above your bed. Put them there so that you are daily reminded of them. Pray over these dreams. Pray them into being. Their presence there will remind you to do that. But wait, do not do that now. Finish seeing them first. There are five dreams for you to see. Five is the number of my grace.”
I set the pen and the bear on the table with the ceramic dove. I wonder what can still be in the box. I truly do not know what else there might be, but there are two more objects, He says. I reach into the box again and remove a flat square package, wrapped securely in paper. This one is difficult to unwrap, the tape is stubborn, the paper tenacious.
Under my breath I hear myself saying “I submit to you, Papa. I submit to your will.” As I do, the paper gives way and I am holding an elegant wooden frame. It is mahogany with a beaded molding around the outside edge. Inside the frame is a document. It takes a while, but finally I am able to read it.
The document is a certificate of ordination. I ponder this for a few moments, not knowing whether to take this at face value or if it is symbolic. He does not give me a clear answer. But I realize that that issue is not so important, for this is a dream of full time ministry.
I remember twenty years ago this was a dream I held. But, like so many other things it seems, this was lost to me by the demands from outside. And now, He is returning it to me. I do not know what this looks like though, and He does not explain.
Once again, I find myself lost in thought. This time though, I find myself becoming distracted. We begin to talk of other things, but I feel the weight of the former things, the thoughts, feelings, expectations of the past, pressing down on me. It feels hard to breathe; there is a weight on my chest and across my back. Instinctively, I reach for my throat and find that over the robes He has given me I am wearing a heavy, beaded collar, made of small shells, that is making it difficult to breathe. Flexing my shoulders I find there is a heavy woolen, felted mantle across them, pressing down and making it difficult to move.
Where did these things come from? He did not give them to me. Panic threatens for a moment as I feel suffocated by them. I have to get rid of them! I cannot let the old ways, the old expectations steal from me again! With both hands I clutch at the collar, wrenching it from my neck. I hear beads raining down on the floor as I throw the collar into the fire. Likewise, I grab the mantle, flinging it off into the fire as well.
The flames blaze brightly, consuming the foreign garments. I begin to breathe more easily, but the panic and distraction still remain. I cannot focus clearly.
Knowing my distress, He takes my forearms into His powerful hands. “Hold on to Me.” His voice is commanding, firm. Instinctively I clutch at His arms, holding them as He is holding mine. Still I cannot focus.
“Look at Me!” He commands. “Draw your strength from Me. Focus on Me.”
Somehow, I manage to raise my eyes to look at Him, locking on to Him with all I have. As I do, the old things lose their grip and begin to fall away. Slowly, I feel myself returning, the old things no longer threatening to overcome the new.
“I am returning your dreams to you.” He reminds me, bringing me firmly back into His presence. “They are purified now, but what you dreamt of in the past was truly from Me, even if you did not know it.” He pauses to release one of my arms and press His hand to my face. “I love you and want to give these to you. You need these dreams to give you drive, to give you purpose.” He strokes my hair tenderly, then traces the edge of my ear to the earring He has just place there, reminding me once again of distance He has brought me. “Look in the box now.”