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Blogger’s Note: I wrote this some time ago but in light of the theme of my message this Sunday, I think it is as appropriate today as it was when I first wrote it. Make sure you read the P.S. at the end. 

Normally I don’t remember dreams. In fact, since I didn’t grow up with images, I am more of a printed word rather than a visual kind of person. I go to movies and if you ask me the ending or who was in it a couple of days later, my mind goes blank. That’s why I watch “The Sound of Music” every year and enjoy it as if I were seeing it for the first time.

So my non-visual personality makes me consider this dream I had last night, which remarkably I am able to recall blow-by-blow. In this dream a friend of mine, a former missionary, professor of Biblical studies, and director of curriculum at a seminary, is walking out of a building, trying to mount on a donkey that keeps getting away from him. Finally, he gives up on the donkey. Some men come out of the building and start leading him. As he starts waking, I get a view of him from the back and see that his hands are pushed back and he is handcuffed. The men push him into a car and take him away while the donkey is left wandering aimlessly.

Now, I am no Joseph, the young man in the Old Testament who could decode dreams. I am no psychic either. I claim no connection with the ancient astrologers or modern clairvoyants. But this dream has made me think. Why? Well, because the man in my dream happens to be an example of someone who had the potential to achieve great things for God and is now heading down the path of being a colossal failure. He recently left his wife of many years and is indulging himself in his own pursuits.

Men like him should know better. His seminary education should have ingrained in him an automatic aversion to divorce. His many years leading others and leading them well should have served as reminders of the virtues of a life well lived. He should know about the pain he is now inflicting his two teenage children, as he has sat in his office time and again with parents who have fallen out of love and are now pursuing the path of separation. He should remember that later he sat in the same office with the children of those same people while they cried tears no amount of Kleenex could ever absorb.

None of this mattered and my friend has chosen the long and winding road of selfish pursuits, which brings me back to my dream. I am convinced that this dream is a warning to me personally not to think that I am immune from falling and falling fast and furiously.

I see the signs of danger in the images in my brain now. My friend always loved nice things. He always had issues with money. He wanted to have more of it but never seemed to have enough. He complained often about how his calling to the ministry had made him poor and was always aspiring to be what he wasn’t.

In Portuguese we refer to this as those who have a “mania de grandeza,” (roughly a “grandiose mania”). My friend suffered from that. To “see” him trying to ride a donkey as he gets out of a building where he was just sentenced for something is really odd. Now, I know I am embellishing the narrative a little here, but I hope you don’t lose the irony of the image here: this is a guy who always liked to drive nice cars and he is now trying to get away riding on a donkey! Is there a lesson here? Sure: don’t try to mount on a donkey while handcuffed! He never went anywhere.

No, seriously. There might be some other lessons here. I think one is that when you are discontent with the lot afforded you by your Heavenly Father, you may end up trying to modify outcomes and end up on the fast track to your own demise (this is not, by the way, an encouragement to accept one’s fate, nor is it an encouragement for you to live without “ambitions”). Another lesson might be that those who hunger for love outside of marriage can get it fast but can lose it faster still. Perhaps another one is that those who fail to kindle the fire of love at home might find themselves burning with passion in other places. (For guys this means that failure to romance your wife may cause her to seek romance in the wrong places. For gals this means that faking headache to avoid intimacy may give you a real headache down the road!). And perhaps the final lesson is that those who want more things will get them straightaway and lose them as fast as they can say “mine.”

I remember the feeling of sadness that came over me during my dream. That feeling stayed with me hours after I had woken and it still lingers even after a full day of meetings — powerful feelings. I was sad to “see” my friend in handcuffs. I was sad to “see” him led away by authorities. But I was sadder to know that somewhere in the backstage of this dream — where real life really happens — the spoiler, the enemy of our souls, might be laughing and checking one more name off his list. I could almost hear the diabolical laughter in the background. I was forced to wonder — did I “see” my friend’s future in that dream? Or even more troubling — did I “see” what potentially could be my own future?

I know I am sounding strangely like my own son with his fantasy football video game, when he speaks of acquiring so and so for so many millions of dollars or when he says that “he” broke the record of so many touchdowns scored per game. I could be totally wrong about this dream and some may retort that I am only resorting to scare tactics. “It is the result of some repressed mind,” others will say, or “a healthy person shouldn’t even be having these dreams.” Some would send me to a shrink before I have a chance to dream another dream, and others would even treat me the same way Joseph’s brothers treated him, to which I would say: “Send me to Egypt, if the end result will be being the second in command to Pharaoh!”

I understand all the caution about a silly dream. But even if I could ignore the dream, my mind cannot get passed the reality of the pain and devastation that adultery and divorce have caused and that I have witnessed in my short lifespan. So at the risk of giving more ammunition to those who would append me a weak mind, I offer all of you the ancient words of Proverbs 6:25-33:

“25 Do not lust in your heart after her [the “adulterous” woman or man!] beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes,

26 for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.

27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?

28 Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?

29 So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.

30 Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving.

31 Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house.

32 But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself.

33 Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away.”

Thank God there is redemption even for the worst of sinners, among which I number myself, and my prayer is that my friend will come to his senses before he descends so low that a donkey would appear to him as being the fastest transport available. You cannot outrun sin while riding on a donkey. You ought to take the bullet train and get out of the situation as fast as possible!

PS.: After several years being helped by committed pastors, my friend worked through the issues that were plaguing him and eventually reconciled with his wife and they are now rebuilding their lives together. I consider that something that only God can do and I praise Him for that!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade