Dreams and Deliverance

All rights reserved by Ryan Montgomery [source: flickr]

“underwater 1” | All rights reserved by Ryan Montgomery [source: flickr]

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had one superpower in my dreams. I don’t fly. Flying terrifies me. Even if I’m riding on a particularly strong and sure dragon, I lack the confidence to remain peaceably in the air. And more often than not, the dragon gets very angry with me because I’m clinging so tightly to its scales as to cause pain. To a dragon. But water? I can do water. When I swim in my sleep, I’m afraid for about three seconds until I realize I can breathe under water. And it’s amazing. Exhilarating. Magical. 

***

A little over a week ago, I read a dear friend’s birth story about her sweet son, her second baby, and how – ahem – swimmingly it all went. She couldn’t have asked for a better team of doctors who functioned as doula, massaging her back as she labored naturally and drug-free; as wrangler, chasing her 2-year-old daughter around while her husband met her needs; and ultimately, after hours of excruciatingly, mind-blowingly horrendous pain, delivering her son into the world…again, without any medical intervention. And after her son was born, she enjoyed that fabled flood of oxytocin, the female body’s natural way of rewarding a mother for her labor with an exquisite high. 

I, after reading, was overjoyed for her…and exquisitely jealous. 

***

Last Sunday during church, as I wallowed in my sorrow (as I often do), one of the worship team members said something to the effect of, “Have you ever experienced a gift from God so rich you know it’s Him…?” And I thought to myself, “No. I know the robbery of God. I know what He has taken from me.” Worship Dude interrupted my thought saying, “…I don’t know about you, but there have been a few times in my life when God actively saved me…” 

And right there, like a bucket of cold water dumped over my pity-drunk head, I was sobered in the memory of having been saved. Brought back from the edge of death. Returned to my husband, and to my newborn son, perhaps not just as I was, but healthy and able nevertheless. 

***

As usual, I discussed this with Therapist. We talked about a kind of vision I had on Sunday…

About my realization that while I may never experience what it is to labor in exquisite pain and deliver a child into the world, and then enjoy the natural high thereafter…

Perhaps grief is its own labor. Maybe I’ve been given a magnificent gift of loss. 

Hear me out: 
Contractions, in labor, are inescapable. They are atrocious. And when a mother fights them, they’re only made worse. But when she surrenders to the pain and allows it to wash over her, trusting both that it won’t last forever and that every burst of pain brings her closer to meeting her beloved child, she’s able to endure it. And when she’s endured it all, can take no more, feels as though she will die…her child is born. And she’s rewarded with The High. 

Grief feels a lot like that. It comes in inescapable waves, and the more I fight, the worse it feels. But if I let it wash over me, it comes, it hurts, and it goes. 

And sometimes – and I never know which times – I’m rewarded not with peace, or comfort, or hope, or less-pain…but with the Presence of Jesus. I’m flooded with it, and for those few moments, I’m consumed by it. There is nothing else in those moments. And I’m able, even ready, to endure another contraction of grief, if only for the promise of the Presence. 

***

We talked about my dreams…my ability to breathe under water. And about how maybe, God knew that saving my life but not sparing my uterus was the best way of delivering me.

From what? I don’t know. Expectations? Dreams I’ve had for myself? The standard? 

And into what? An even deeper mystery. To Him, for sure. What else…remains to be seen. 

But just as the baby breathes “water” in utero, so I’m able to breathe water in my dreams. 

I don’t know what it means. It may not mean anything. It’s an ongoing discussion, and I tend to be hyper analytical in these moments, trying to savor them completely and experience ever flavor in its coming and going. 

But I’m choosing to believe this is how God is delivering me, and that He’s teaching me to dream the supernatural.

***

In the midst of all this, I’ve been reading through Genesis, Psalms, Matthew, and Acts with a beloved Secret Facebook Group. I told them one of my goals for our year-through-the-Bible thing is to write a song for every book. (I may not be able to hit the 66-Songs-in-a-Year mark, and that’s okay. Trust me. If I do, sixty of them will surely suck.)

In the midst of all this, I’ve been hanging on to a thread of an idea…a need to write a song about How God Saved My Life. And it just won’t do to sing, “Thank you Jesus, you saved my life / I’m serious / Hallelujah!” But I’ve trusted that, as with every other song-that’s-coming-but-hasn’t-formed, if I wait for it and let it gestate, it’ll eventually come to life.

And Thursday, in the midst of all this, I wrote my first song of the series….my first song after months of feeling dry, empty, and worried that it might never come again. As these ideas swam through my mind and mingled with the cries of the Psalmist and the promises of Jesus, with the brokenness of our Genesis and the fire of the Falling Spirit in Acts, a song formed…an Anthem, if you will.

I share it with you now to remind you ours is the God of broken people, messed up lives and hits-and-misses, of the hurting and the bedraggled and the weary and the fallen. And He is the God who lifts, who holds, who hears.

The God who hears when we call Him, no matter where it is we’re calling Him from. 

***

you prospered me in the land of sorrow
you brought me up out from the grave
my throat bone dry, lord, here me whisper 
your name….

before i even called you answered
in rolling thunder, my god came
you are a safehouse for the battered
who call your name…

sing we now of a savior coming
sing we now of a son
sing we now of the new day rising up…

as labor bears the babe to daylight
my cries deliver me to you
lest we believe the suffering futile
you feel it too…

sing we now of a savior coming
sing we now of a son
sing we now of the new day rising up…
sing we now of the darkness conquered
sing we now of the dawn
sing we now of the father and his love, love, love

the luckless think they’re god-forsaken
the hapless fool kicked to the ground
but i believe you’re coming for them
heard calling out…