I don't have them personally but I believe in them. I believe God uses pictures to speak to His children. He is the consummate artist. The one true creative force. He uses images and actions to tell us stories, modern day parables to teach His children hungry for His voice.
Dreams and Visions are all throughout the Bible. Both Old Testament and New and He's promised us that in the last days He is going to pour out His Spirit on all flesh.
The old men are going to dream new dreams and the young are going prophesy like those of old.
All flesh...everyone. The saved and unsaved. The beautiful and the ragged. That'll be a day worth seeing. But I'll leave that for later.
The closest thing I've ever had to a vision was not when I was praying or reading my bible. It wasn't when I was at that perfect moment of the church service when the music swells and the preacher promises new life. It was when I was riding the famous Chicago El train.
One of the things I love most about the El train is that while you are on it you will see a real cross section of humanity. Young. Old. Black. White. Latino. Yuppie moms pushing strollers. Young gangster wannabe types rapping far too loudly than to be just for themselves. Street preachers. Hedonists. Businessmen in suits. Working stiffs just trying to get home after a long exhausting day.
I was riding the Green line going in towards the loop. Going to hang out with an old friend, maybe catch a movie. I wasn't praying or straining to hear God speak. I wasn't feeling particularly holy. Just going about my day.
I was holding tightly to the railing as the train jostled over the tracks and picked up speed. Images flashed unbidden through my mind. I was still present and still looking out over the tops of houses and apartments but inside I was watching a movie. It felt like strong imaginings but nothing I was thinking about or seemed relevant to what was actually going through my mind.
In my mind's eye I saw roots shoot of the bottom of my feet. They burst through the bottom of the train, weaving themselves between the tracks and ties. Snaking themselves down the old iron girders that had held up these tracks for so long. They broke up the concrete of sidewalks and streets and dug themselves deep in the Illinois soil.
And then it was done. I was coming close to my stop and was left wondering why on earth I would be imagining roots coming out of the bottom of my feet.
That was years ago but I'm still now coming to understand what God was trying to show me that day on the train. Since I moved to Chicago I have been wanting to move back to North Carolina, the state I had known my whole life. I was living with my body in Illinois, but my heart and soul in North Carolina. I was wrong to live that way. Unless you put down roots in your community, unless you live present in where you are, where God has you, you cannot make a difference. True change comes from love. And it's hard to love a place you only want to escape.
Sometimes you have to put down roots before you can love a place.
And you have to love a place if you want to make it better.