We cringe whenever someone says, “Let me tell you about the dream I had last night.” Yikes! Other than invasive dental procedures, is there anything worse? That said, let me tell you about a dream I had last night.
First, the backstory.
There are two traditional rules about attending church. Number 1: Be on time, and Number 2: Wear your “Sunday best.”
Here is my problem. I am never on time, and I wear clothes that will never be described as anyone’s “Sunday best” – a Hawaiian shirt and Birkenstocks – usually, but not always, without socks. BUT, I do make it a point to arrive on time… at least once a year.
So here’s my dream –
I die and go to heaven. I am standing at the Pearly Gates distraught over the lackadaisical attitude I had on Earth toward church attendance. I had hoped to clean up my act before I died, but a mishap involving an electric hedge trimmer and a shaky ladder sent me to my reward early.
Suddenly, Bob, an usher from my church appeared. “Bob, what are you doing here?” I asked. “You’re still alive.”
“True, but I was told you were upset, so God asked me stop by and take you on a little journey.”
Suddenly, fog rolled in around and engulfed us. Moments later it dissipated, and we were standing in the back of my church sanctuary as my minister, who, for the purposes of this story I will refer to as “Pastor Steve,” because his name happens to be Steve Hill, is giving a sermon. A friend walks by us, and I say, “Hi,” but he doesn’t respond.
“He can’t hear you,” Bob says. You’re invisible. Just then, one of the back doors opens, and I watch myself saunter into the sanctuary a full 15 minutes late.
“Ouch,” I say under my breath.
“Hold on, Jack,” says Bob. “See that couple over there? The woman in the blue dress and the man in the tweed jacket?”
“Yeah,” I say, “but….
“Just keep watching,” says Bob.
I watch myself move along the rear of the sanctuary looking for an open chair, and I see the woman nudge the man. They both look over and she smiles at him.
“Jack, you just made their day. You didn’t know it, but they had arrived late and were feeling very self-conscious about it, until you walked in. Your thoughtless and irresponsible late arrival has made them feel better about themselves. Sure they were late, but not nearly as late as you.”
“So?” I asked.
“Jack, everyone has a purpose on Earth. And one of yours was to make late new comers to church feel less self-conscious.
The fog rose and again soon dissipated. It was the same Sunday morning. We were up on stage next to Pastor Steve, and we could see me walking past the late couple who were now listening to the sermon with peaceful smiles.
I was continuing down the aisle.
“Keep your eye on that family,” said Bob, “the one with the father wearing a faded denim work shirt and worn jeans.”
The father was sitting on the aisle and clearly turned his attention to me as I walked by.
“Jack,” Bob said, “you couldn’t have known it, but that gentleman almost didn’t come to church this morning because all he had to wear was one of his old work shirts and leather boots. He arrived feeling extremely self-conscious about his clothes. That is, until he saw you. Just look at you, Jack. You look like you’re heading off to a second-rate flea market – faded Hawaiian shirt and worn out Birkenstocks.”
“Uh…” I started to defend myself.
“Jack, you’re perfect. Just what the doctor ordered!” said Bob. “A moment ago this man felt like the worst dressed person in church. But one glance at you and his spirit is lifted. He is rejuvenated. And it’s all due to your total disregard of appearance.”
“But I had no idea,” I began to say as the fog rose and swirled around us.
When the fog disappeared, I was back at the Pearly Gates. Bob was gone and I was in a line waiting to check in. I looked down, and then I realized, I was getting ready to check into heaven in my Sunday Best – a faded Hawaiian shirt and worn out Birkenstocks.
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