PART IV OF A DREAM COMING TRUE. . .
As the night of Feb. 5 drew nigh, I could feel the tension mounting. The fate of Lois’ house was in the hands of the congregation of First Baptist Church. Would I be able to have an Elisha house to provide a place of rest and refreshing for God’s people?
The enemy hovered near to whisper pessimistic things to me. “Those people don’t know the whole story. They don’t realize how Lois wanted you to have the house. They’ll vote against it.” Or “It’s Super Bowl Sunday. Your friends who go to First Baptist and who would vote to give you the house won’t be at church. They’ll be watching football.”
Despite the dark thoughts that occasionally came, I endeavored to stand firm in the faith that God had promised us this house when we prayed over it on July 3, 2011. We never ONCE asked Him to give us the house. We simply asked Him to give us clarity as to what His will was, and He confirmed it was to be ours. We never once asked Lois for the house when she was alive, we never once asked First Baptist for the house when she died, we never once asked God for the house AT ANY TIME. Yet every single time, the house kept coming back to us like a boomerang.
Suddenly, I remembered a dream that I had dreamed a year ago that had seemed very spiritually significant at the time. I couldn’t quite remember the details exactly, so I scrolled through my Facebook private messages to find where I had sent the dream to my close spiritual friends when I first dreamed it.
When I found it, I gasped aloud. I had dreamed the dream EXACTLY one year before the deciding vote on Super Bowl Sunday 2012. I dreamed it on Sunday night, Feb. 6, 2011, which in the coming year was Sunday night, Feb. 5, 2012–THE VOTE. (Remember: Lois had not even offered us her house at the time of the dream! I had no clue that was coming.)
The setting of the dream was a Sunday night service at First Baptist Church (just like the vote time!). At the beginning of the dream, I slipped in late to a pew near the back on the left side of the church (if viewed from the back door–right side if viewed from the front). I went up about three to four pews from the back where there was a lot of space on the side nearest the wall. I slipped into the pew and slid all the way down to where my second cousin Joy Dodson and her husband J.R. were sitting on the end of the pew closest to the center aisle.
People were lining up to walk to the front of the church, making me think I had really missed a lot of the service. They were going out one row at a time from the front, the way you do at a funeral or wedding, but they were going to the front, not to the back of the church. It was almost time for our pew to go.
I whispered to ask Joy what was going on. She whispered that someone had died, a girl with no parents who had been adopted by an older lady in the church who had died earlier. Everyone was going forward to see the body.
I stepped into line behind Joy, feeling very self-conscious, wondering what people nearer the front would think as they saw me walk by, because I rarely ever go back to visit my childhood church. Many of my relatives go there, and I love the folks at that church.
As I got to the front, to the right of the podium on the platform (right if you’re looking from the back of the church), there was the body. When I looked down into the box (not a coffin really–more like a bassinet or something), there was a baby dressed in the same thing I was wearing–red and black plaid. I was in a jumper with a black turtleneck beneath it, but I don’t remember if the baby was in a red and black plaid jumper or just a red and black plaid sleeper or something a baby would wear.
What freaked me out is that the baby was moving and wiggling with open eyes, although it looked as if it had been asleep. I was thinking, “Hey, this baby is not dead!” Although I was freaked out, I didn’t say anything because the church was totally silent. I filed through the line and turned to go back to my seat.
That’s all I recall of the dream. I do remember it striking me heavily that the baby and I were dressed alike. I thought that perhaps the baby was me. My mom reminded me that when I was three months old, I was placed in a bassinet in that exact spot on the platform at First Baptist Church and allowed to stay during the worship service. It was a special service where they honored the oldest and the youngest person in the church–me being the youngest.
Now, a year later, the dream made perfect sense. I was indeed the baby, or perhaps the baby represented my ministry. Lois was the wealthy woman who had died who had “adopted” me and made me (the ministry) her heir. But in the years since my divorce, many people had thought that my ministry was dead–just like the baby.
But IT WAS NOT. The gifts and callings of God are without repentance–cannot be taken back! So the baby that everyone thought was dead was wiggling and wide-eyed. And I was sitting beside a lady named JOY. As I moved toward the front of the church toward the baby (my ministry), I followed closely on the heels of JOY. I was in the presence of JOY! (Even more interesting that Joy’s surname is Dodson–as in Lois Dodson Smith.)
An interesting aside: remember the Sunday morning that our church went over to pray at Lois’ house on July 3, 2011 and we felt that He gave us the sign that it was ours? Well, that very night, I had gone to the Winston-Salem DASH game with my family. Guess who I saw at the concession stand? My cousin, Joy Dodson! I had not seen her in a few years! When I asked her where she sat at First Baptist Church, guess where she said? EXACTLY where I had dreamed I saw her. And I had no way of knowing that.
I remember thinking on that July night at the DASH game that seeing Joy on the very same day that God had confirmed the house was ours and finding out that she sat exactly where she sat in my dream was yet another confirmation from the Lord that the house situation would work in our favor.
All of this was running through my mind on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012. How could all of these incredible happenings be false?
I had asked that a stipulation be put on the transfer: that if we ever decided to give up the house, it would go back to First Baptist. Lois would’ve wanted that, because she loved her home church. In turn, the church put a stipulation: that we must become a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.
Although it took quite a while to finish the paperwork for the IRS and several MONTHS for the IRS to confer 501(c)3 status on us, at last that day arrived. In mid-October 2012, we received the long-awaited for letter from Washington, DC, congratulating us on our 501(c)3 status!
Shortly after that, we were invited to a morning worship service at First Baptist Church where my mother and I were called up front for a special ceremony of transfer of deed/title. It was a joyous time with my relatives and friends who attend that church. Pastor Jim reiterated to the congregation that he had heard Lois say numerous times exactly what she wanted to do with her house. I will never forget that man’s integrity. A less honorable man would’ve ignored a dead woman’s wishes and thought of the gain his church could have from such property. God bless Pastor Jim and First Baptist Church!
I sometimes think of how much easier it would’ve been on everybody involved had Lois’ wishes simply been followed before she died. We spent well over a year with nowhere to meet except a private home. We often felt as though we were spinning our wheels because we didn’t have a place to conduct our workshops, classes, Bible studies, counseling sessions. Meanwhile, First Baptist Church had to pay for insurance, lawn care, legal fees.
But a friend of mine reminded me that in my dream, I had to wait in line to get to the front to see the “baby.” There was a matter of timing. So I don’t worry about the lost time. God can even multiply time! And He will surely repay First Baptist for every penny they spent; they will not be the losers at all. I’m sure we all learned valuable things while we waited.
So as I sat in First Baptist Church on that sunny Sunday morning, I was moved immensely. I saw the stained glass window in memory of my grandparents who were prominent members of that church. I saw the baptistry behind the choir loft where the mural was placed in memory of my grandmother–Irene “Reny” Richardson Smith–who taught Sunday School there. I thought of my grandpa–Papa Jack Smith–who had such a heart for missions. He was sent out from First Baptist long ago to revive Danbury Baptist Church and to lead services at Sunset Park and Hanging Rock, often taking me along to sing solos.
I knew that Papa Jack and Granny Smith would approve of the mission work their daughter and granddaughter wanted to carry out at Lois’ house. I knew that Lois was watching from Heaven, rejoicing that her wishes had been honored.
And I remembered a petite little girl, sitting in an upstairs Sunday School room long ago, listening raptly as her teacher told the class about the Shunammite woman who built a chamber for the prophet Elisha–a little girl who began to dream right then of doing the same thing one day, a little girl whose God did not forget her heart’s desire, a little girl who grew into this woman that I am today who never turned loose of her dream.
The house is very old. It has deteriorated in these years of vacancy. When we turned on the water this week, we heard Niagara Falls under the house and quickly shut it off. Mold and mildew dot the walls after years of little or no heat/AC. Some ceilings threaten to fall in. We have a very small congregation and little money at this time.
But when I walk into Lois’ house, I know that God’s hand is on it. And I know that if He has worked all of these other miracles, He is well able to help us fix the house step by step–in His time.
He is faithful that has promised.