My brother has a learning disability, is obese, and spent time in the hospital with congestive heart failure. He’s held the same fulltime job for nearly 30 years and lives on his own in an apartment. He often surprises me with his inability to understand some fundamental things and his acute sensitivity to other things….like when he called to tell me about a dream he’d had.
“I was in the hospital,” he said. “You and Dad were there with me. The doctor said there was nothing he could do for me and that I was going to die.”
As far as dreams go, that sums up my fears, and maybe my brother’s fears too. And yet, he continues to overeat and to eat crap. But I kept my mouth shut and listened.
“Next I’m getting into an elevator. When the elevator stops, the door opens and there are Orcs from Lord of the Rings waiting to get me. They’re going to kill me. Someone hands me a sword, a shield and a helmet. Then the dream ends.”
I asked, “When the dream ended did you feel afraid or powerful?”
“Afraid.” He added, “I think God is speaking to me.”
“What do you think God is saying?” I assumed my brother would reply with his default response when we’re drilling down to something meaty: I don’t know.
“I don’t know,” he replied.
“If you had to guess what God is saying, what would it be?”
My brother said, “Be careful.”
“Hmm. That sounds like something God would say. It is good advice.”
Here’s the moment where I had a choice to make. Give him Lecture Number 459 in the “You Gotta Lose Weight” series, or shut up and let God continue His work without my “help”.
I said, “I like that you were given protection in the dream. Thank you for telling me your dream. It is an important one.”
And then he’s on to the next topic …something about different levels of heaven which I’m not familiar with.
He signed off as always: “Love ya!”
The next day he called to ask for a ride to his doctor appointment. Then I said, “There’s a section in the Bible that talks about the same weapons in your dream.”
Slowly I said, “Ephesians 6:10-17.”
The next day he called about something or the other.
“Did you read Ephesians 6:10-17?” I asked.
“It’s interesting that the same weapons and armor you were given in your dream are mentioned in this scripture.”
“What’s the dying part about?” he asked, referring to the dream doctor who’d told him he’s going to die.
“Well, sometimes in dreams dying doesn’t mean literally dying. It can mean the death of an old habit or the death of an old way of thinking.” (The voice in my head is screaming: Old habits like eating piles of fries with globs of catsup, giant meat and cheese subs and greasy chicken. Old ways of thinking like believing that walking to work is enough exercise, etc. and so on and yadda yadda.) I stayed quiet…let this idea sink in.
I think I heard a curious, hopeful tone in his voice. Now I wait with hope as the Holy Spirit continues helping both of us.
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.