The Prophetic Dream

I’ve always had very visual dreams, and I usually remember them. As a little boy, some could even be classified as night terrors as I would wake up screaming, and my dad would rush in and hold me during such frightening episodes. Other dreams were just oddly nonsensical, and some were good, but a select few were prophetic.  

During my MFA program in visual art, an older, black woman named Tamara asked me one day after class, “Terry, do you have dreams?” 

I answered a little interested in her question, “Yes, I do.” 

She said without hesitation in her long, calm voice, “You know some are prophetic, don’t you?” She seemed to have a supernatural confidence about her words.

“Then why don’t they all come true?” I asked with polite scholarly criticism. 

She answered, “Some dreams take a lifetime to come true … some after that.” 

When I went back to my dorm area—they were called the mods at APU—I thought about the dream I had as a beginning undergraduate student. If any dream had ever been prophetic, that particular dream felt like a real vision from God. 

In between misguided college relationships while searching for the one, I had a dream. I was invited to my friend’s wedding, and it was out of town. Dressed up in wedding attire, I got into my car and pulled onto the highway to begin the distant journey to a location I had never heard of before. About an hour or so later, I followed the card stock printed directions from the wedding invitation and pulled off the highway to a regular road surrounded by more agricultural land. I followed the directions turn after turn until I found myself further away from anything that would resemble a wedding venue. I double checked the directions and continued to follow them apprehensively. Thousands of trees hid any sign of my location as they surrounded both sides of that two-lane road.  

Then I slowed as the asphalt faded into a dirt road.  

I stopped my car.  

Something had to be wrong.  

I pulled out my directions and recounted every turn. This was before GPS or smartphones, so I only had the card stock printed directions as my guide.  

I looked all around me, and due to the trees, I couldn’t see anything.  

There was no way my friend would have his wedding in the middle of nowhere, I thought. The logical thing to do would be to turn around and try to find where I messed up, where I missed or misread some sign or turn.

But something deep inside told me to just trust the instructions and have faith in something other than myself.

I started up my car to move forward on the dirt road. It wasn’t bad at first, but then my car began to feel each little divot and hole as I was jerked left and right.  

At this point I thought, well, I’ve already gone this far. I might as well keep trusting the directions. 

And I did, even though it was completely illogical. It made no sense. There was no way my friend would have chosen to get married way out here where people would have to take a dirt road that made you feel like you were on the King Kong ride at Universal Studios.

But then … I saw a turn come up. It was the next and last turn printed in the directions.

I took it.

The thousands of trees opened up, and before me was a small lake, a large pasture of green grass, rows of white folding chairs—the wedding venue.

I parked and walked up to be greeted by friends with excited smiles ready to celebrate a special occasion. Behind the flower-covered alter was the setting sun casting a radiant orange to pink gradient glow through the sky and reflecting off the water. It was the kind of sun that didn’t hurt to look at briefly, the kind that welcomed the cool evening and the awaiting stars.

I felt a special presence outside at that venue. It was God. And I already considered the analogy of following his directions even when life gets confusing and difficult, even when things don’t make sense.

My lonely natural self thought how nice it would be to have a girlfriend in such as setting, someone to just sit next to me and share such a glorious scene.  

But I decided to be thankful for what I had. I was there in the presence of God, in a holy place for a holy reason.  

Then I sense someone coming up behind me. I heard a voice behind my right shoulder say hello. It was one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard.  

I then felt an inaudible voice from within say, “This is her, Terry. Here’s your future wife.”

I turned to my right as I widened my eyes to see her with the most eager excitement.

It was my bedroom.

I was awake now.

And all I had was the sound of her voice still in my head developing into a lucid memory.

Even if I tried, I knew I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was unlike any dream I’ve ever had, and I knew no one would understand if I tried to explain it to them. I walked around my room for a bit, and then reached for my Bible for some sort of answer.  

I normally never condoned such Bible reading practices, but I opened it up to a random page desperate for a heavenly answer. I immediately read the first verse I saw. Proverbs 3:8: “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” 

Fifteen years went by of private mental battles about the authenticity of that dream until on a regular Sunday morning I heard the same voice again when she walked into Bible study.

And this time, it wasn’t a dream.

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The Vegabond

Vegabond

Adventure. It was a yearning that Shawn and I shared, and we would often take last minutes drives out of town. This time in life, Shawn was married with two little girls, and I was still single at age 34. I always thought I would get married at 27, but I was wrong.

Sometimes in life we are wrong.

I was in the middle of my masters in fine arts (MFA) in visual arts degree at Azusa Pacific University, and art was on my mind. There was an art show opening in Chinatown, which was one of the Los Angeles art districts at the time. Some of my APU professors were going to be there, along with two gallery owners who became friendly acquaintances.

Seeking last minute adventure, I texted Shawn, and we cruised down the 5 to Los Angeles on a Saturday evening catching up on all of life’s little details.

It was September 5th, and the fall season was introducing itself with the slight change of weather and the coming county fair with the anticipation of Halloween following shortly.

We decided to take a detour and check out a Halloween super store in Los Angeles. Shawn and I roamed down the towering aisles packed with all genres of costumes, yard decorations, masks, toys, etc. It was a world of make-believe awaiting the cooling season. We examined it all. I remember the swords. We took up the plastic weapons and wielded them in the middle of the aisle.

It was a short flashback to childhood.

And then we moved on to the couple’s costumes.

Examining all the different themes—some funny, some stupid—I told Shawn, “Someday I would like a girlfriend who would want to dress up with me for Halloween. Someone who I would want to dress up with too.”

Once again, I was 34, and I was beginning to wonder if I was being too picky about who I should marry. Some people would tell me, “You’ll just know when you meet her.” Others would tell me, “You can’t be too picky; nobody’s perfect.” I knew no one was perfect, but I still had expectations. I still had a list. And I felt that God told me to hold onto that list.

But I was 34.

Single.

I told Shawn, “Maybe I need to ignore a few items on my list and just get married already.”

I could tell Shawn was in a difficult place to answer; he wasn’t for sure what to tell me.

Back on the highway through the downtown city lights, we arrived at the art show. We viewed colorful art, ate authentic Chinese food, but mainly talked to a bunch of different people. I made some helpful contacts in the LA art community, and we called it a night.

At one point of the night, Shawn took a break from the gregarious groups of art enthusiasts and wandered around the area to capture some creative photos. Shawn had a deep passion for photography. Later, he showed me one of his photos and tagged me on Instagram. He titled it, “The Vagabond.”

Honestly, I had to look up that word: “A person who wanders from place to place without a home.”

I appreciated the photo.

It was me taking a break from the crowds.

By myself.

Blurry.

The late drive back to our hometown was long and full of tiring thoughts: I need to just commit to a decent girl. I’m being too picky. I’m not going to meet a girl who fits every expectation on my list.

I wrestled with my newly found conclusion on my way to church the next morning.

I walked up the stairs to my Bible study life group.

I went in and greeted everyone with a smile, trying my best to be encouraging.

I opened up the Bible, and we started reading.

Verse by verse we studied and discussed the Word of God.

Then she walked in—the complete list.

I knew I was no longer a vagabond.

 

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