Though not a nightmare, the dream awakened Jonah and begged to be remembered. He slid out of bed and across the hall to his home office. The clock there told him it was 2:18. He wrote furiously, not wanting any details of the dream to recede before he had them on paper, but other memories also vied for his attention.
Riding home from church Sunday, Adrienne had asked what he thought about the sermon.
“It was okay, I guess. Just another sermon on the great commission. I don’t think I heard anything new. Why?”
“Mm. I don’t know. I just thought we might think about a short term mission trip this summer,” Adrienne responded tentatively.
“Honey, we have our own Jerusalem right here, you know. I thought we had agreed to go to the beach for one week and spend the other two weeks of my vacation adding a room to the house. Do you really want to give that up.”
“I guess you’re right. It was just a feeling I got during the sermon, that’s all. Would you at least pray about it?”
“Aw, man!” Jonah whined and grinned at her. He had no intention of praying about this, but knew better than to say so.
After a short staff meeting Monday morning, Jonah’s partner asked to meet with him privately. Both were Christians, but attended different churches. They had built their engineering firm through sacrifice, and in the last year had finally seen financial rewards.
“By the way, Jonah, something came up yesterday and you’ve been on my mind ever since. A flyer in the church bulletin told about a short-term mission trip to Afghanistan this summer. A team will help rebuild a village damaged in the war. They are specifically praying for an engineer to join, hoping to maximize productivity. I’d absolutely love to go, but our baby is due at the same time. If you’re interested, pray about it, and I can put you in touch with the agency.”
“Oh, man. Afghanistan? The only ‘C’ I made in college was in an introductory statistics class taught by a guy from Afghanistan. It was pre-requisite to engineering classes and I had to take it over. Easy ‘A’ with an American professor. Maybe I shouldn’t judge an entire nation by a single bad experience, but . . . well . . . I’ll think about it.”
And now this dream. Jonah reviewed the sequence. He had been going up a flight of winding stairs in a dark house, which, in the dream, was familiar, but bore no resemblance to any home he knew in reality. People upstairs were eagerly waiting to throw a surprise birthday party for a stranger climbing with him. The top of the stairs opened into a huge, dark loft, filled with the tantalizing smell of delicious food.
“Jonah, you’ll have to turn on the lights. No one up here knows where the switch is,” someone whispered from the shadows. That he would be the only one knowing where to find the light switch actually made sense in the dream.
“How many tables are set up and where are they?” Jonah asked.
“Lots of tables all over the place. But we’ll help you. Don’t worry,” another voice said.
“I’ve already had my birthday,” Jonah complained. “Why should I risk running into a table to find the lights for this guy? You’re the ones who planned the party.”
“Stop stalling and turn on the lights. It will be a great party.”
When Jonah finally turned on the lights, everyone was sad and disappointed. The man, afraid and tired of waiting, fled down the stairs and into the darkness. The door was still swinging in the wind, when Jonah woke up.
Reaching for his Bible, he read the four chapters about his namesake. The great city of Nineveh, running away, the storm, big fish, successful evangelism, Jonah’s anger and God’s compassion. Jonah wept.
“Lord, I don’t want to go to Afghanistan any more than the other Jonah wanted to go to Nineveh. If this dream is your way of telling me that I can provide light for someone new to be born into the kingdom, penetrate my heart and give me a willingness to go.”
It was nearly 4:00 when Jonah crept back into bed and drifted into a peaceful sleep. Somewhere an old rooster announced a new day.
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