I was meeting with a new friend today who asked me how I came to Manchester and I realised that I had promised way back to blog about the two dreams that helped provide a very clear call back here, but hadn’t ever done so – maybe because I just needed to be moved and well settled before doing so.
Looking back it’s clear now the Lord had actually been shaking us from a place and people we loved very much being in and belonging with. Today I had to uproot a tree stump and it took hours and much straining to get it out, I think God had to get the crowbar out to move us from Horsley.
I wasn’t looking for another job but sensed there might be something else, where I wouldn’t be restricted by parish boundaries – what David Pytches has called ‘The condom of the Church of England.’
I was at Premier Radio for a show and “just happened” to see the Senior Pastor role at ‘Ivy Cottage’ (as it then was) advertised in Youthwork magazine, it “just happened” to be on the coffee table and was in there as a freebie for them with Renewal magazine.
To cut a long story short I was invited to come and meet the Elders and they were – and are – warm, supportive, prayerful and loving. I drove up from West Horsley leaving a very upset wife who KNEW we shouldn’t be going anywhere and told me she suspected I had S.A.D. and needed to buy a sunlamp.
I prayed with the elders and then set off to the hotel I was staying in overnight. I got lost – Manchester had changed a lot since I was living here- and ended up at a petrol station in a rough looking part of the city, in a queue with several blokes who looked like they might roll me. I went back into Policeman mode and authoritative body language meant they backed off without me having to say anything. I drove away and said, ‘Thanks Lord for clear guidance – I never want to come back to live in this HORRIBLE city. I am so grateful for beautiful Surrey!’
I went to bed at the hotel feeling at least this was out of my system.
Then I had a dream:
A little girl, standing on a stool. Her mother stood next to her saying, ‘Oh you are SO beautiful! Look at that lovely face! One day everyone will see how gorgeous you are – you will be a model, a movie star, an international celebrity – because you are so beautiful!’ As she went on gushing, I stood watching thinking, “She really needs to get over it – that is NOT an attractive little girl, she has no chance of being a model.”Then I woke up.
And I knew the Lord was showing me how HE saw the city, and its people – and what I was doing was dismissing the potential he saw in the people he loved. I half repented – “Okay Lord, I won’t say anything bad about Manchester again, but Zoe’s right and I’m not coming here.”I slept better after that. Really well. Had another dream.
I was working hard in an office tower block. I knew I had to go up on the roof because something important was going to happen there. When I got on the roof lots of people in suits were looking up at the sky. A silver jet fighter plane appeared, doing ‘loop the loops’ – people cooed. I thought, “So what?” It stopped dead in the sky, then went backwards, people clapped. I thought, “Show off.” Then went back to work downstairs again.
Some time later I went back on the roof. Mr. Silver Arrow was still entertaining the crowd, I wasn’t interested. Then the plane came down toward us at Mach 3, and stopped on its nose aerial in front of me. Next it slowly span round and round, perfectly balanced on the aerial.
None of this was rocking my world. Then the plane landed properly and its gull wing doors opened. A large white man in a dazzling white jumpsuit with buzzcut blond hair stood in front of me, “I want to talk to you.” We went inside and he sat opposite me at a table.
“You’re not impressed are you?”
“No, I don’t want to appear rude, but I’m not really into aeroplanes.” (This was weird as I do love flying, but it’s a dream, remember!)
“So, what does impress you?” Perfect blue eyes piercing me.
“Well I am impressed when people do great things for God.”
“Gandhi. Changed his nation. A man of peace.”
“Oh yes, I knew Gandhi – anyone else?”
“Martin Luther King Jr.”
“Well he wasn’t perfect, but he freed a lot of people.” (a line from a song!)
“Yes, I knew Martin. Who else?”
“Billy Graham.”"Why him?”
“Longevity, Integrity. Impact.”
“Oh yes, I know Billy.”
I sat back in my chair. ”Hang on, you say you knew Gandhi and MLK and you know Billy Graham? Where do you know them from?”
The angel (for I believe t’was he…) said, “I appear at strategic times in people’s lives to tell them to get ready for their next step – of the great adventure.”
I woke up – in Manchester, and now I’m here – LIVING THE DREAM!
What about you? I referred briefly to these dreams in my recent BBC Radio 4 recording for ‘Beyond Belief’ – which I think is due to air December 13th on ‘The Supernatural.’
As we approach the Christmas season the nativity narratives are packed full of angels and dreams and the Lord getting his will done through them. Have you experienced this kind of guidance?
Or if you did, would you just shrug it off? I’m glad I didn’t, and I’m more glad that Joseph (for example) didn’t either. Mary needed someone man enough to follow his dreams.