Well today, I feel led to teach to you today, a message on.. you know we talk about dreams. My father’s talked about dreams a lot. And I, as his daughter, I learned to dream big dreams, to dream God sized dreams and if you are dreaming a God sized dream, I can guarantee that there will come a time when your dream will turn into a nightmare. It will happen. And you’ll be saying somebody wake me up from this nightmare! And some of you are saying sweet dreams? What are those? Life has been so difficult; I can’t even sleep at night. And when I do, it’s not restful. It’s full of fear. It’s full of anxiety. I watch the news, I look at my checking account, I look at my retirement account; how am I supposed to sleep? I followed Dr. Schuller’s advice, I follow God’s instructions and I went out on a limb and I tried to do this great thing for Him, and it’s become a great big nightmare. Have you felt that way, any of you? I believe you have at some point in your life and that’s actually good news. And that’s what I want to share with you today.
It was my dream to have a family, to have a husband and children, and boy did God answer that answer, boy did He fulfill that dream. Much more than I thought He would – four boys within seven years time, and I will tell you that there were times when my dream looked like a nightmare. Those boys would run me ragged, they smeared peanut butter all over the back of my velour couch, they did finger painting with toothpaste on my carpet when I thought they were asleep in bed, in my bathroom, I went upstairs, what is this? And I’m thinking, oh golly day, oh happy day. I thought this was my dream and it was more like a nightmare.
But Jim and I, we had wonderful, wonderful, wonderful times with our boys and most of the time, it was a sweet dream. And one of our dreamy nights, things we loved to do was to take the boys and take them for a ride in Jim’s ’36 Ford. Now my husband loves cars, and for years, he always had what he called a project car. He would go out and he would buy an old beat up car, restore it and then he would sell it and take the money that he got from selling it and buy another one. And I have to tell you, I had a little bit of jealousy about his other woman which was the car that he was always working on. He spent so much time on her, I felt neglected sometimes and so I was thrilled when one day he came home and he said “Sheila, the new car I got this time is completely restored. She’s a ’36 Ford, she’s beautiful. She even has mohair upholstery.” I’m thinking what is mohair upholstery?
Well he came out and he showed me how soft it was and how special it was and it had a rumble seat. A rumble seat. It was so cool, and the boys were little. Nicholas was a baby and Scott was a toddler and then Chris and Jason were like early, like right around four and five years old. This was back before we had seatbelt laws, and so we would like to put them.. the boys loved to go in the rumble seat and we would drive down and get ice cream on a summer evening, just down the street. And Jim, of course, we had to take very, very special care with this car. The boys, even though they had soft little tennis shoes on, he would carefully drape a blanket over that fender to make sure that nothing got nicked going in this car, right? Heaven forbid we’d put a finger print even on this car, on the exterior. I see women out there giggling. You know my life, right?
So any rate, here we were the two boys in the back, I’m holding baby Nick and Scotty is sitting between us with a glow stick that Jim had brought home from work that day. And Scotty was doing this with the glow stick – bending it, right? And we’re tooling down this beautiful sunny evening, summer, the sun and the boys are in the back, and all of a sudden, we hear these two words that no parent loves to hear: uh, oh. I looked down and there, Scott, his glow stick had broken. And this neon colored, ooze, oily was oozing down onto his little blue jeans and beyond, all over the mohair upholstery. It got deathly silent in the car as Jim made this u-turn and went back home and the boys in the back in the rumble seat are going what? This isn’t the way to ice cream parlor. Our dream night had become a nightmare night, let me tell you. And I took those boys and I took them to bed and I placed them all in bed and tucked them in, while Jim feverishly went to work on his seat, the mohair upholstered seat that now was covered in this neon colored oily goo.
After I got the boys to bed, I tiptoed out to the garage and you know I was a little nervous, I wasn’t sure what kind of.. I knew he was going to be in a bad mood and I peered out in the garage and I said “Jim? Hi, how are things going?”
“Sheila, come see. Come see, you’ll never believe it.” So I went over and do you know it was completely gone. Not even like a circle at all. No stain, nothing. You couldn’t see a trace that this had ever had this oily stuff on it. I was like wow, thank You Lord, You just redeemed this night. Well Jim and I went back into the house and for some reason, when we turned off the light to the garage, we turned around and looked back at the car. Do you have any idea what was happening out there in that car? When we turned the light out? This glow in the dark ooze that you couldn’t see with the light on, that whole car was glowing like an alien space ship. It was through the windows. Could not believe our eyes. God redeemed the night, anyway, He redeemed the nightmare and it has been a tremendous memory for us as a family and a wonderful, wonderful illustration of how God does care about even the little things in your life.
Well you can’t talk about dreams; you can’t talk about nightmares without talking about Joseph. You know Joseph with his coat of many colors, because Joseph is known as the dreamer. He had dreams. Haven’t you all heard about Joseph is a dreamer? And so when I go back and I study the story of Joseph, I will tell you I see more nightmares in that story than I do dreams. I mean lets look at the story. He starts out, he’s 17 years old, his dad gives him this coat, a dream coat, well it should be a wonderful thing but it sparks this sibling rivalry to the point where his brothers say we’re going to do away with Joseph. And they throw him into a pit, a pit. And then when a traveling caravan comes along, they sell him into slavery. And off he goes to Egypt; his father is told by the brothers that he’s devoured by a wild animal.
Well one of the reasons they were jealous of Joseph was because Joseph had these dreams and his brothers even said, oh he’s the dreamer. Because he dreamt, he told his brothers.. how would you feel if your brother said, or younger sibling said to you, ‘well I dreamt last night that all of you were bowing down to me, that we had sheaves of grain and everybody was bowing down to me.’ Well no they didn’t like that. And then he had another dream that the moon and the sun and 11 stars also bowed down to him. So now mom and dad are also bowing down to him, as well as his brothers. The brothers did not like that, and so they threw him in a pit, sold him into slavery. So here he is, 17 years old, he’s carted away off into a foreign land, and he becomes a slave in the house of Pottifer.
Now Pottifer was a very high prestigious person in the royal court. And Joseph is a slave here in Pottifer’s house and he lives there and he works there. But the bible says he was handsome in form and appearance. Pottifer had a wife and she took one look at Joseph, this little hotty, and she starts to pursue him. But Joseph was a righteous boy. He says no, no, no. Stay away, lady. Stay away. And one day she traps him. She traps him where there’s nobody else around and she takes his garment and he tries to flee and when he does, the garment gets left in her hand, and of course she says oh, Pottifer, look what Joseph did. I want him thrown in prison. You know she felt rejected; hell hath no fury like a scorned woman. You’ve heard that phrase and this was Pottifer’s wife.
So far I want to ask you, have you heard that this a dreamy life yet that Joseph’s living? He’s been thrown in a pit, he’s been thrown into slavery, and now he’s been thrown into another pit, in jail, in Egypt, far away. Wow. Doesn’t sound like a dream life to me, but its there that he interprets the dreams of some very important people who also were thrown into jail with him, who came from the Pharaoh’s household. He interprets their dreams and then later when Pharaoh has his dreams, they say we know Pharaoh who can help you, Joseph. And Pharaoh had these dreams. He dreamt that he was along the Nile and there were seven fat cows came out of that water, and then seven skinny, emaciated cows came out of that water. And the seven skinny cows ate up the fat cows. The second dream was there was a stalk of corn and there were seven real plump, beautiful rich ears of corn. And then were seven very lean ears of corn and they ate up the fat ears of corn. Nobody could interpret these dreams, nobody and so Pharaoh sends for Joseph and Joseph says well, God is the interpreter of dreams and this is what I think, this is what God wants you to know. They’re a warning. There will be seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine, and then Joseph proceeds to give him a very detailed advice on what he should do, that they should take for those really days of plenty, take one fifth of everything and store it away and save it for the famine. And so Pharaoh says wow, this guy’s got a good head on his shoulders and he becomes second only to Pharaoh.
So yes, after the seven years of plenty, there were seven years of famine and early on in the famine, the entire rest of the world in that region, everybody was starving, nobody had anything, and so even Joseph’s family, they come where? To Joseph to get their food. Now they didn’t recognize him at first. And so Joseph had a little bit of fun with them. But can you imagine what it was like for him when there he was; he’d been thrown in a pit, thrown in a pit, thrown into slavery. His life has been a nightmare; his life has been a nightmare. What happened to this dream of a life? It’s been nothing but one nightmare after another and now, God has redeemed the dream and Joseph’s family come and just like his dream when he was a child, they’re bowing before him asking for food because they’re starving. Do you know when Joseph revealed himself to his family, what he said to them? Oh my goodness, they were filled with such remorse. Joseph, can you forgive us? And Joseph said don’t worry yourself over that. God planned it. God knew that by you putting me in that pit, that I would be able to save my family.
When your dream turns into a nightmare, trust that God is using this time to save you, to save your family because if its God’s dream, even though it becomes a nightmare for a time, God will redeem the dream. He always redeems His dream. He did it with His son Jesus. The dream, the dream they had when Jesus was walking and talking and doing miracles. Oh, everybody was so excited and then all of a sudden, who is crucified? Oh, He’s put into the tomb. Talk about a dream turning into a nightmare. But the stone was rolled away and Jesus was risen. Why? So that you could be saved, so your family can be saved. God always, always, always redeems His dream and He will allow you sometimes to be thrown into a pit. Jesus was thrown into the pit of the tomb and sometimes we too, we feel like our life has been thrown into a pit, but don’t give up. Just call on the name Jesus. When your dream turns into a nightmare, call on the name Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Save me Jesus. Save me from this pit. Redeem Your dream in me today. Jesus.
One of my dear neighbors, Karen Ray, we lived next door to them, we raised our boys together. Her boys were a few years ahead of us, and Karen and I were walking partners. And we loved to walk and talk and plan. In fact, it turned out as we were walking with our husbands, we found out that her husband Chester was born two days ahead of my husband Jim, and we were planning our husband’s 40th birthday parties while we were walking. And one night when Karen and I went out for a walk, she was in tears. And I said “what’s wrong Karen?” And she said “oh it’s Chester. He makes fun of my faith, Sheila. He says ‘I don’t know how you can believe in God, Karen. I don’t see anything about God in life.’” His heart was hard. And he mocked Karen and every now and then it would really bother her.
And so I said “you know Karen, we’ll pray for Chester.” Yes, we prayed, we prayed for Chester. One day, it was late afternoon, it was way before we were supposed to go walking, the phone rang and it was Karen. And she said “Sheila, I’m not going to be able to walk tonight. In fact, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to walk with you again. We got really bad news today. Chester has multiple myeloma. And they said he has two to three years to live. That’s it.” Wow. I immediately sat down and I pulled out a little notebook and I found as many bible verses as I could find and I just hand wrote one verse after another after another after another to give to Karen. And so our walk together turned into a different kind of a walk. I walked with her in terms of just praying with her in our backyard, at our kitchen tables, and frequently, Karen and I would meet at the mailbox and we got our mail. And always I would say “Karen, how’s Chester doing?” He went through a complete bone marrow transplant at City of Hope. “How’s Chester doing?”
“Oh it’s been hard, he’s been in a lot of pain, Sheila, but God is so good. God is so good.” Wow. I looked at her trying to keep the family business going, trying to raise two teenage boys, trying to care for her husband who was a strapping, retired fireman and would I, if I were in her shoes, would I also be able to say but God is so good. And she said it with joy and radiance. She said it every single time.
Well, one day Chester went to a men’s retreat at his church and he discovered Jesus. And his life was changed. And one day he was sitting out in his wheelchair and I happened to see him and he said “Sheila come over and see,” and he took off his baseball cap, he said “run your hands through this hair.” There was a little bit of baby soft down on his head. Chester’s heart had become as soft as a baby’s hair. His heart was just as soft. God now lived in Chester.
And so it wasn’t long, much long after that when Chester was in bed and Karen was at his side along with another one of our Christian neighbors, and they were singing a song. It really bothered Chester that he couldn’t walk anymore, that he was confined to a wheelchair, but they were singing at his side (SINGING) “when I get to heaven gonna walk with Jesus. When I get to heaven gonna see His face. When I get to heaven gonna walk with Jesus, saved by His wonderful grace.” Chester was gone. He was walking again in heaven. Cancer did not take Chester’s life, cancer brought Chester back to life. True life. Eternal life.
If you’re in a pit, if your dream has turned into a nightmare, it’s good news because Jesus is there. He will redeem your dream. Most of all; He will redeem your life.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Oh Lord, forgive us when we complain. But Lord, we are feeling like we’re in a pit. But we know that You are here with us and You will use this to save our life, to save the life of our family. We trust You with that, oh Lord. We trust You completely. You are the Lord of our life. Amen.