"...your old men will dream dreams." (Acts 2:17).
In a dream I saw a beautiful church sitting atop a hill overlooking a dying town in the dry valley below. The scene was surrealistic in its contrasts. The church was an old classic white-framed structure with a cross-capped spire towering upwards into the blue sky with fluffy white clouds. The hill was perfectly rounded, looking as though someone had placed a gigantic green ball exactly halfway into the soil of the rolling countryside.
The town down in the valley could have served as a location shoot for a two-bit western. It came complete with tumbleweeds, weathered wooden walk boards along a dusty main street, and a scraggy mutt barking at everything within eyesight.
I watched with fixed interest as a hand appeared in the sky directly above the church. Held in the hand was a great pitcher of water, tilted in the pouring position. I could see the outpouring already reaching the lip of the picture, about to fall upon the church like Niagara Falls. Standing there halfway between the Church and Tombstone, I realized what was about to occur. Once the water hit the top of the rounded hill it would flow in all directions -- including where I stood. I knew I was about to be doused in the downpour.
But then a most bewildering thing happened. As the water fell toward the church from the sky, the church people ran out of the building and constructed a huge retaining wall around the parameter of their property. It was like watching a movie played at high speed. In a matter of seconds they were done.
The wall was built, forming a dam all the way around their church. And just at the moment they finished, the falling water gushed upon them and swooshed in a mighty surge against the retaining wall. Instead of flowing everywhere as was expected, now the great outpouring sat contained within the church property on top the hill. Instead of a mighty river, it was a mere reservoir.
I could see the church people inside swimming about and playing with one another in the water. They were having a wonderful time. I could also see the town below, more dusty and forsaken than when I first observed it. A few solitary souls, lean and forlorn, walked aimlessly about its deserted streets. Something was terribly wrong with this picture.
Then I saw the Lord. He was walking along the ground around the outside edge of the wall that the church had built, damming up the outpouring. He examined the wall, and then looked at the desolate town below. He seemed genuinely perplexed.
Then I saw a guard walking about the top of the wall. His job was to make sure that the people inside were secure and happy, and that nobody from the outside came in to befoul the water with their uncleanness. As he walked about he came and stood over the Lord. He then looked down upon the Lord. I couldn't help but think how profoundly inappropriate this was -- standing over the Lord, and looking down upon Him?
The Lord spoke. With one hand touching the circular dam the church had constructed, and His other hand pointing to the town below, He asked the guard above Him, “Why do you damn those I have not damned?”
I woke up from this dream knowing I needed to ponder its meaning for myself, and also pass it along to others who would be keen on discerning what the Lord could be saying through this vivid parable.
So there you have it.