SEEDS OF PROMISE
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In Jeremiah 29:11, the Bible tells us that God has plans for us, plans for our good that include hope and a future. During times of extreme trial or duress, the strong in faith are reminded of this fact, through that inner peace that subdues the circumstances at hand. However, for those whose faith is not as strong, God might well need to use a more dramatic means to prepare that person in advance for coming circumstances and stir their awareness to Him, in order to provide that needed assurance by more unusual ways.
The cold November wind was especially strong that stormy night in ’82, as it pushed the quickly accumulating dust of new-fallen snow across the cold streets like white waves on a concrete sea. I had been patrolling for about two straight hours without a single call, mentally re-hashing the dilemma of my ailing marriage and state of personal stagnation, and I was ready for a break. Following one additional slow pass around the town square, I parked my police car in the lot, and then hurried inside for a much-needed cup of coffee.
“Hey Sarge,….” Greeted my working partner Bill Mackland.“…..thought maybe you dozed off and ran into a drift out there.” He smiled, handing me a steaming cup of coffee. “Boy!....it sure is a slow one out there tonight.”
“Yeah,….” I responded in jest. “…..but don’t you be worrying about me out there! I was cruising about in this kind of stuff when you were still in grade school.”
Just as we seated ourselves in the squad room, the telephone rang and dispatcher Joyce Flynn picked up the call. “Oh SERGEANT?…..” She called out from the radio room, a melodious taunt in her voice. “…..don’t get to comfortable…..”
“RATS!.....” I grumbled, in anticipation of an obvious call-out assignment. “….wouldn’t cha know it…..not a call all night till now.”
Joyce peaked around the doorway into the squad room. “Got a call to investigate a house standing open at 602 Echo Drive….” She stated, her voice assuming a more somber tone. “…..neighbor says he thinks the family left earlier today on some trip.”
“Echo Drive….?” I pondered. “….Isn’t that one of those brand new streets off of Sunnydale,…..you know….the new addition?”
“Yeah,…..that’s right.” Bill answered. “…..the uphill turn north of Monroe,…..they just named those streets.”
“Yeah,…..there were two hits (house burglaries) up in that general area just last week…..” I took a quick sip of hot coffee, put my cup down and snatched up my coat. “Let’s roll!”
“I’ll meet you there.” Bill replied.
As I drove my cruiser toward the hilly, new addition area, the snow was beginning to build up and drift in places. It reminded me of the mounting cold and deepening dilemma within my own life, an accumulation of which, as with the snow, I seemed powerless to control. My eighteen year marriage had shown increasing strain with the first day of our move to this smaller community three years ago, and I personally seemed to have lost any real interest or ambition for my life. There I was, thirty seven years old, successful in my work, seemingly established in my marriage with three kids still at home, yet I felt devoid of purpose….like there should have been something more. I wrestled with the thought that maybe I should try to get close to God again, but it had been so long since I had last felt any spiritual fire, that I had come to believe that God was equally disinterested in my life.
Turning off of Sunnydale onto Echo Drive, I suddenly felt a sense of urgency come over me, unusual for such a routine call. My pulse began to quicken, not so much from any hint of danger as much as for a certain strange and inexplicable sense of anticipation.
Upon arrival to the residence, I noted that it’s interior was completely dark and the front door was standing wide open. There were neither footprints nor tire tracks anywhere in the fresh snow of the grounds or driveway, and no other vehicles were parked in close proximity to the home.
When Bill Mackland pulled up and parked his cruiser at the rear of my own, I picked up the microphone and quickly relayed our status to the dispatcher….“Station?....fourteen and eighteen will be out at location on WT.”
“Ten four,….fourteen.” Came the reply.
As we approached the front door of the house the situation looked more like the wind had merely blown the door open than a house burglary, however; because of the recent rash of illegal entry incidents in the general area, we exercised all reasonable caution.
Stepping through the open doorway into the home’s darkened entryway, I turned on the light switch only to discover the power was off. We both turned on our flashlights and drew our weapons for defense, as I yelled out: “HELLO IN THE HOUSE,…. POLICE OFFICERS!!! Is anyone home?” We received no reply, and after pounding on the door and repeating our announcement again to negative results, we cautiously proceeded inside.
In all of my twelve previous years of police service, I had never experienced anything to compare with the events that followed. Suddenly, it was as if I had instantly gained a new physical sense. Although my eyes could see no more than the small areas illuminated by our flashlight beams, my mind was projecting for me a complete view of each room within this house….an exact panorama of the home’s interior in intricate detail.
I felt the hair rise on the back of my neck, yet I felt strangely at ease, as if I was one with the house. I said nothing to Bill Mackland. It wasn’t exactly something I could explain with factual logic or tangible evidence; it was an inner,…personal kind of thing. I was concerned that whatever I might say regarding my “feeling” would tip the scales somewhere up there with ghosts, UFO stories and Elvis sightings.
We split up, with Bill checking the back door and lower floor of the house and me proceeding on up stairs into rooms whose interiors I could view in my mind prior to entry. I searched and investigated what was now not so much a question of crime or illegal presence, as the need to satisfy my own curiosity and indulge further in this unprecedented phenomenon.
Ascending the stairs, and with every step I took, I could sense an inaudible communication speaking directly to my soul, saying: “Home…home….home….home.” I holstered my weapon, for the assurance that all was well in this house was more real to me than the very beating of my own heart. Curiously, I was drawn to the four photographs in separate frames on the walls. Four pretty young girls in individual pictures, and again the communication persisted,….. “….you know….you know….you know….”
I observed the furnishings and décor of the rooms, the antiques, the crafts, even the colors themselves were alien to my own tastes, yet I was powerfully attracted to them and derived great comfort from their viewing and touch. Again the inner voice called, “….remember….remember…...remember…..”
Within moments I was nearly overtaken by a tsunami of images flashing through my mind like a runaway train. They were fragments, bits and pieces of an enormous puzzle exploding in my consciousness and overpowering me to the point that I became dizzy. In my mind the images for the most part, remained elusive, dim and just outside of my ability to distinguish features, but the one fact I could determine, which caused me such great concern, was that I recognized my own face predominantly in this mental, slide show. I then seated myself in a small chair at the end of the hallway to clear my mind and recover my balance, but again from within my soul came the words,….. “….home….home….home….home….”
“All clear down here!” Bill called out from the first floor, startling me from my trance-like state.
“Yeah,….It’s okay up here too!” I replied. “Looks like these folks just didn’t get that front door properly latched.”
“Ready to head out then?” Bill inquired, as I started down the stairs.
I felt a lump form in my throat and a peculiar sense of distress as I heard my own words,….”Okay, let’s lock it up and go.” A very real part of me did not want to leave that house, and as I locked the front door and pulled it shut behind me, I could yet hear the communication within, beating time with my own heart saying,“….home….home… ….home….”
Two years later, I was deserted by my wife of 21 years, leaving me nearly suicidal with heartbreak and alone with the responsibility to complete the raising of our three teenage children. Yet through the torment and betrayal of that desertion I had a strange calm somehow linked to the Echo Drive experience, a calm that beckoned for me to seek God and lean on His strength.
Later that same year, God, in His mercy, led me to meet a wonderful, Christian woman who had herself been the victim of betrayal and divorce. Although we had never before met, we were strangely and intensely drawn to each other from our very first meeting and united in marriage a mere eight months later.
Now, after twenty-one years together, we are still growing in our love for each other and our walk with the Lord. We continue to make our home in that same house where I moved in with her and her four young daughters two decades ago. It is the very place where God’s promise for me stirred my stale heart,…. 602 Echo Drive,… “home... home….home….home…”.
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WOW! I am so happy for you and your wife, and I have understood something that happened to me not long ago.
I enjoyed reading this article. I couldn't read it fast enough to find out where you were going, and was captivated the whole way. Great job. God bless your writing endeavours. Cindy D
Captivating story. It kept my attention until the end! Your words were very desrciptive, I could "see" the story unfolding.
Dennis, This was undoubtedly one of the best stories I have ever had the pleasure to read. You totally captivated me...I was right there beside you during your search of the house, and could hear the words "home, home" ringing in my ears. This is a powerful and moving testament of God's love for us. Wonderful writing! Blessings~Mary
All I can say is thanks!
I felt as though I were walking right there beside you when you stepped into that house. What a wonderful example of GOd's faithfulness and love for us.
Praise God, This story is such an awesome move of Him, its just like Jesus to show up like this. Thank you for posting it for all to read. I also hear the Spirit of God saying to you now; "Theres no place like HOME"!
This is one of the most inspiring stories I have ever read. I needed this. Thank you for sharing Dennis!
Dennis, this was so beautiful. I had the hairs standing on the back of my neck a couple of times there, but even though the road you had to travel to arrive "home" wasn't a happy one, God had already prepared the way. This was very special. With love, Deb