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One night I had a dream. It was a vivid dream, the kind you had a sense was more than drivel from the previous day’s stresses. It had the feel of precise purpose and divine choreography. And yet, much like the Babylonian king in the Bible’s book of Daniel, as soon as I woke up I couldn’t remember it. It was somewhat frustrating because I had a sense it was an important dream.

Three weeks later I was working with several men on a carpentry project that had a very inflexible deadline. We had a week to remodel our sanctuary and platform and have it up and running by the next Sunday. As the pastor, I was wearing my project manager hat. The timely completion of the project depended on me.

On Tuesday night I was using a skill saw. In a moment of carelessness, the tool kicked back; and at the third knuckle of my little finger on my left hand, I sliced through the digit. When I did, an inch-long tip of my little finger dropped to the floor. The piece of finger lay on the carpet in a pile of sawdust. Creeeeeeepy.

I went into a semi-state of shock. One of the men nearby had the presence of mind and nerve to pick up the tip, clean it off and put it on ice. One of the other men pressed the emergency button on our church’s alarm system and in minutes an ambulance roared up to the church and then transported me to the nearest hospital. Immediately our church’s carpentry project came to a screeching halt.

Within minutes of arriving at the hospital, several people from our church, along with doctors and nurses, were fawning over me in the emergency room. Of course, I was a bundle of nerves. Besides the trauma of the injury itself, I had several points of stress weighing on my mind. Not the least of which was…would I, with surgery, have the doctors sew the tip back on? Or, would I have them sew it up and have a short little finger on my left hand for the rest of my life?

The former would involve several days stay in the hospital, keeping my hand raised above my head for two weeks, multiple doctor visits and six months of physical therapy. And there was always the possibility that the finger-tip wouldn’t take. With this option existed the burden of wondering how the project would get done if I wasn’t there to lead it.

The latter option my wife was dead against.

All of it was weighing on me in ways I wasn’t even aware of. I didn’t realize how stressed I was until I was alone. At a certain point, all of the doctors and nurses shooed everyone out of my cubicle, leaving me by myself on a gurney surrounded only by white curtains. It was then that my dream from three weeks before rushed back into my consciousness.

The dream involved a vivid accident I had undergone in which I had severed a limb, followed by a detailed description of what I would have to do to adjust mentally, emotionally and medically to the trauma associated with such an event. As this dream rushed back into my forethoughts, so did an overwhelming sense of peace. I lay there alone crying, not from pain or fear, but from the joy of knowing that God was with me and had me securely within His arms. It didn’t matter that I had just cut off an appendage. What mattered was that God had me wrapped by His embrace and snuggled to His breast. It was apparent that He had kept the dream’s remembrance from me until I needed its comfort.

Where are you today; in marriage disarray, in poverty, in poor health, lonely, depressed, discouraged, rejected? God knows where you are now and knew it long before you were there. Nothing of our lives takes Him by surprise. Nothing sneaks up on Him. And at all times, we are safely in His arms.

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