I've never had a vision. By that I mean, I've never awaken to see an angel at the foot of my bed proclaiming my God-ordained future and I've never had a flaming bush tell me to take my shoes off and I've never dreamed about stacks of wheat bowing down to me. I've always thought "visions" were something of the Bible days or something that really, really spiritual people experienced or that really, really not-so-spiritual people made up because of spiritual peer pressure. Visions didn't happen to me, nor did I expect them to. But the dream that I had last night can only adequately be described as a vivid sub-conscience scene constructed by God to teach me something... or yes, a vision of sorts.
In the dream I was traveling. Wherever it was I was going, I was getting there by plane and in order to get to the airport, I had to hop on a bus. In true-to-reality fashion, I was running late and hurriedly purchased my ticket and boarded the bus.
When I arrived at the airport, the airline attendant asked me if I had any bags to check.
"Yes, one," I replied. At which point I realized that I had left my suitcase at the bus depot. With panic-stricken chagrin, I grabbed the next available bus that would returned me to the station.
After what seemed like an eternity, one seeped in anxiety as I recounted all of the possessions that might now be lost to me, I arrived back at the depot. Racing from the bus, my gaze darted from one end of the platform to another in search of my suitcase. I was startled by the unexpected scene before me.
There were children everywhere. They were dirty and dressed in rags and sat huddled together in the dirt and on piles of garbage. They had sunken cheeks and their small bodies were out of proportion with their bloated bellies. I wondered why I hadn't noticed them before.
Then I saw it. My suitcase was sitting in the far left corner of the station platform. Washed with relief, I whispered a quick, "Thank you, Jesus!" and rushed past the children to retrieve my belongings. As I got closer however, I noticed something was askew. All of the zippers of my suitcase where unzipped.
I knew even before I picked up the suitcase that it was empty. I had been robbed.
Frustrated, I marched into the bus depot to see if the station manager had seen who had pinched the contents of my suitcase. Entering the station, I noticed something odd once again. There were no other passengers. There were no station employees. There were no adults anywhere. Just children. Dirty, skinny children of all ages and they were wearing my clothes. My clothes! The little thieves had riffled through my belongings and where now wearing them.
I approached a group of young girls who were giggling as they tried on the contents of my jewelery bag. I gasped in dismay as one little girl pulled out one of my favorite necklaces and looped it around her neck. Grinning, she turned and looked directly at me. Her eyes were glimmering and full of innocence. "Do I look beautiful?" she asked me sincerely.
And somehow I knew. I knew that this precious little girl with the long, dark hair had never been told she was beautiful. Not once. Not ever. Now, she wanted to know what I thought of her as she proudly modeled my necklace. What was I to do? Tell her that she looked lovely, but that she would have to return the necklace because it was mine?
Once again, I glanced around the station at all of the children wearing my clothes. All of the children who were reading my books and playing with my electronics and munching on my travel snacks. The indignation was suddenly drained from me and I was struck by a realization. They were not the thieves.
It was I who had horded the abundance I had been given. The abundance that was meant to be shared with these children. I had kept it for myself and had, as a result, stolen from these poor, hungry children. While I still had an entire closet full of clothes at home, I had been angry that they had taken the contents of one small suitcase in order to clothe their naked bodies. How could I have been so selfish?
I awoke from the dream slowly. I felt myself fading in and out of the presence of these children who seemed so real to me. I wanted so badly to stay and care for them and when I became fully aware that this had been a only dream, I felt a sense of loss. The sort of loss you feel when you allow an opportunity to slip through your fingers. But mixed with that feeling of loss, was a strange sense of peace at the realization that I had dreamed this scene for a reason and that while the children in my dream where forever lost to me, there were still nearly 147 million orphans in the world that I could still help. Having been fully awaken to them, I would not let this opportunity slip through my fingers again. And now, as I recount this dream for you, I feel joy that God chose to bless me with this look inside myself.
|(A photo from my trip to Uganda, Africa in 2006 while at an orphanage outside of Kampala © Jennifer Hanson 2006)|