Horrible. Agonizing. Heart-rending. Overwhelming sorrow to an unimaginable degree. My soul was overcome with grief and a great desire to reach out and rescue a crying child in great peril--a bare-footed little girl on a dusty road about to be caught up in something so awful, so oppressively evil I couldn't begin to fathom what it was. I had to help and I couldn't.
My heart felt like it would explode. That little hand reached out and I couldn't get to her. Nearby a woman stumbled toward her, arms extended and then I heard a sustained and agonizing moan so loud that the dream faded. The sound was coming from me.
Even with his sleep apnea breathing mask still in place, I could see the alarm in my husband's face. The groaning was loud enough to he heard over the white noise of his machine.loud enough to bring the cat from her sleeping mat to stand on my chest and gaze pointedly into my face.loud enough to wake me from sleep with a little help from my husband.
"What is wrong?" he asked, more than a little concerned.
My heart was still pumping and although the dream was gone, the anguish was still very real. "Oh, I must have had a bad dream," I said groggily. "Let's go back to sleep."
I was grateful to be rescued from such an emotional ordeal and vowed to be more careful about what I ate before bed. I tried to turn over, but the cat was not moving. I closed my eyes and felt her piercing, penetrating stare. I opened one eye and tried to reassure her, but she remained unconvinced. Exhausted, I surrendered to the weight of her vigil and the escape of renewed sleep.
The next morning the imprint of my experience greeted me as soon as I awoke. How strange, I thought. Usually I never remember dreams. I wondered why this one made such an impression. Could there be more to this than indigestion? God, I prayed, if there's something I need to know from this, please show me.
The next day I kept remembering the trauma, like aftershocks of..I raced to the computer and went online. I had to know the exact time of the 7.9 earthquake that had recently occurred in China. One account revealed that a bell tower clock in a town near the epicenter had frozen the moment at 2:27 p.m. on Monday, May 12, 2008. A quick check of my cell phone placed our time zone exactly 12 hours behind the quake zone-during the time when I had been awakened!
Maybe that's why the little girl was falling down and the woman was staggering to reach her. Maybe that's why the scene seemed fuzzy and out of focus. I never looked at the clock that night. I wish I had, but in my heart the confirmation was real.
Each day we ask God to use us as He sees fit. So why are we amazed when He does? Often, in times of tragedy we are tempted to ask, Where is God? In I Kings 8:12, King Solomon tells us: "The Lord has said that He would dwell in a dark cloud." Dark clouds are usually the time we need Him most-the time we come to know Him best. Romans 8:26 echoes further assurance: "Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words." Such things are a mystery, but they serve to remind us God cares even more than we do and is at work within us even when we are unaware.
"And now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." -Ephesians 3:20 (NRSV)