I have often had dreams set in school where I am not prepared for a class. Either it is a group of pupils that I am not familiar with, or teaching a topic that I know nothing about, or I cannot find the classroom. Sometimes I am just late arriving in school and miss the first lesson.
Last night I had another one of those dreams where nothing seemed to be going right – but this time I was supposed to preaching in church! I had a sermon prepared and tucked away in a polly-pocket. I seemed to have a million other polly-pockets, some with song lyrics in them and they were all mixed up and I every so often I found the one with the sermon in it, simply to lose it again.
We were meeting in a hotel and there were lots of people there that have since left the church. The previous church leaders were there – Charlie and Richard Green. Cliff and Michelle, great friends of ours who worship with another church were also present.
We had a short time of very dynamic worship, and then it was time for the sermon. I took out my notes and discovered that all the Bible references that I had printed out were all in the King James version with the most complicated sentence structure that even I could not make head nor tail of.
There were lots of people from the hotel that joined us. I was conscious that they were just ready for harvesting – but my sermon notes kept disappearing , the microphone wouldn’t work and every time I went to speak, there was no volume in my voice! It was frustrating. At one point Charlie or Richard stepped up to tell me that we would just keep on worshipping seeing as I was unable to do my bit! I insisted that as nice as the worship was, it was not going to convict people and bring them to repentance, and they needed to hear my words! But could I say anything – no! I remember singing a very prophetic song and the Holy Spirit was just saying to me “Follow my lead, you don’t need the notes, you don’t need the microphone – just follow me!”
At that point I woke up! I never got to preach the sermon. I was convinced that the sermon was based on something either in Micah or Malachi, so at four o’clock in the morning I was trying to hard to read both books, forcing my eyes to try to focus on the words trying to find out what I had been about to say.
I was prompted to pray. I am not sure quite how lucid my prayers were at four o’clock in the morning but I was praying for the voice of the church. We have something to say that will revolutionise the way that people live their lives and yet too often we are too quiet – there is not volume. Too often we get sidetracked by the music and the performance side of things that people become just an audience and not participators. People never reach a point of decision because they are not challenged to do so. So that was kind of the direction of my prayers.
Then I started by praying about my own inability. It wasn’t just someone else in the dream that was having problems speaking – but me! I like clear cut paths and things to be mapped out and planned. I like to know exactly where I am going and how to get there and what to look for along the way! I prayed that I would be able to drop all of that and just unhesitatingly follow the prompting of the Spirit. That is not to say that I just launch myself out blindly. There is a preparation that comes beforehand – the time spent in the word, in communion with the Spirit and in meditation where I am being equipped. The equipping isn’t so that I can just follow a particular path on a particular map, but that in any situation I come across – off the path so to speak– I will have an answer for.
I am watching the Ryder Cup in snatches between cleaning and stuff. The players know how to play the game. How they play the game is about using the knowledge they have effectively – the wind direction, the slope of the greens, the choice of club and golf stroke. If they only ever played on one golf course, and the holes were never shifted – they would always choose the same club, hit the ball in the same way and would be guaranteed to pot the hole in the same number of strokes. They will have learnt to play with a set pattern. They would get as result!
However, if they never played the same course twice, or the holes were shifted regularly – they would always have to be adapting what they knew to meet the conditions of the course. Their choice of club and choice of stroke would be chosen carefully depending on the wind conditions, the lie of the grass – so many variables to factor in. But who is playing the real golf? The man who has played the one course so many times, he could do it blindfolded? Or the man who is a stranger, who just knows his clubs and his strokes well enough to meet any obstacle?
I guess what I am trying to say that I believe that I have been equipped by the Spirit. I should be confident to “wing it” trusting that I have all the resources that I need for any task. I don’t need a map of where I am going because I have the presence of the one who has scouted out ahead. I just need to be more spontaneous in my approach to the things of the Spirit.