By Tim Bauer
On September 3, 2007, my wife, Shelley, experienced the third part of a dream that had begun almost one year before. It revealed the eternal danger of turning off the path the Holy Spirit leads us on after turning to Christ.
The First Dream
In the first dream, she was walking on a path with a few other people. Part of the path was paved, making it easier to walk on. Other parts were rocky, making the journey more difficult. Along the way there were benches that you could sit on. Next to every bench was an exit. She noticed that no one was taking advantage of the benches.
As she was walking this path, she became very fatigued and needed to stop. Isn't this true for all of us who choose to follow Christ? Shelley knew that it was symbolical of the Christian's walk of salvation. It can become a very tiresome journey at times that requires us to sit still and rest. The Lord knows this, even providing resting places for His children along the way.
It’s not a sin to be still. Some Christians have a difficult time not feeling guilty during this time period in their life. We often feel like we should be doing something other than sitting. Times of refreshing rest are necessary to gather strength and encouragement from the Lord for the next portion of our race. We will not stay here forever (even though you would like to!). If we did, we would never reach our destiny in the Lord. Eventually the Holy Spirit will prod us to get up and continue.
Shelley sat down on one of the benches, telling the Lord that she was tired. Some of the people that came along were exiting off the path, not sitting down to rest. She knew within her that once they exited, they could never get back on. It wasn’t revealed to her where the paths led to, but in her heart she knew that it wasn’t a good place. It made her more determined not to leave the path that lay before her. Unfortunately, some choose not to take advantage of these providential “rest areas.” Instead, they make the fatal choice to exit because of the difficulties encountered while on the journey.
The Second Dream
A couple of weeks later, she had the second part of the same dream. It actually picked up where the first dream had ended. She was sitting on a bench looking behind her. This time she could see where the exit path led to. It went down into a valley where there was a broad, paved road. Many people were going back and forth on this flat road, apparently laughing and having a good time. Shelley even recognized some of the people on this road that were from our town and claimed to be Christians. It was a party like atmosphere where everyone seemed to be eating and drinking with no concern for what lie ahead. There even appeared to be what looked like concession stands where one could buy food and drinks. All of the people were oblivious to the path’s destination. It was leading them to destruction! In exchange for the easier terrain of the broad road, they had left the difficulties of the path that Shelley was traveling on.
I was reminded of Matthew 7:13-14 which says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Exiting the path of the sometimes difficult, confining ways of the Holy Spirit, for what appears to be the unrestricted freedom of the desires of the flesh, is too tempting for many. If we do not count the cost before committing to Jesus Christ, understanding that the righteous requirements for salvation include suffering to one degree or another, there’s a chance we will not finish when difficulties occur. We can leave exits in our hearts. These become dangerous escape routes that can be used in case of emergency, when we feel like quitting. To the upright in heart who are committed to the Lord, Proverbs 2:11-15 promises, “Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things; from those who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; who delight in doing evil [see 2 Thessalonians 2:12], and rejoice in the perversity of evil; whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways.”
While Shelley was observing the scene below, an older gentleman came up the narrow path and sat directly across from her on another bench. He told her his name was John and said that his wife had died a couple of years before. They never had any children, leaving him with no immediate family for comfort and support. He was a wealthy, retired business owner, and was struggling with feelings of loneliness. Shelley was struggling with financial concerns. They both appeared to have what the other needed.
It's interesting to see how much detail there was in the dream. The terrain on the path was much different than the terrain in the first dream. It was now a narrow, straight path on a steep hill. The land was desolate this time. There were no other people in sight. As a Christian you will discover the further you walk with the Lord, the less traveled the path is. Unfortunately, the path of least resistance, the broad road that leads to destruction, is the path many will choose to travel upon, in particular at the end of this age when many in the church fall away from Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Many disciples will fall away from the path of salvation at the end of this age when the Lord turns up the pressure on earth in order to purify His people for His return. Instead of denying themselves, they will betray their Savior, like Judas. As with the foolish virgins that were unprepared, they will not be allowed to enter into the wedding feast of Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:1-13).
Shelley said that it was interesting to her that John faced the valley, but never looked down towards it. Before he came, she had been looking behind her where she sat, noticing the scene below. As they talked, she asked him how he kept going. Explaining his apparent lack of concern for those on the broad road down in the valley, he said he kept his eyes on the path.
As they got up to leave together, Shelley reached out to get her big backpack that she was carrying with her. In it were water, food, a sleeping bag, and a big pillow. He told her to leave it behind. She said to him, “What will we do if we get thirsty, or hungry, or even tired along the way?” It was a barren path with nothing in sight. The older gentleman replied, “The Lord will provide for you what you need.” The weight of the pack, he said, would just end up tiring her out on the journey. She would have to leave behind all visible means of support, trusting the Lord for all her future needs.
This is what has been happening to Shelley and I as we travel along the path the Lord has laid out before us. He has been slowly weaning us from this earth with all of its visible support. We are learning the difficult lesson of leaving all behind and totally trusting Him for every provision. In reality, it is the only real secure place there is. We are very thankful, even though it has been so difficult. The glory that is yet to be revealed within us, and everyone else who totally commits to the Lord, will be worth it all. We will be forever grateful to Him for His grace and love that He so freely gives to those who are called by His name.
The Third Dream
Almost one year later she had the third part to this dream. Once again, it picked up where the last one stopped. She had wrestled with God all night, pleading with Him for money to pay our bills. At that time we desperately needed a breakthrough in our finances. She woke up crying many times throughout the night.
Very early the next morning, while still lying in bed, she had the dream. It began with her and the older gentleman walking up a narrow path. This was exactly where the second dream had stopped. Within a short distance they had reached a flat, grassy plain which looked to Shelley like a park. Being fatigued by the journey, it appeared as a place where you could get a refreshing drink and finally rest. She couldn’t see the broad road behind her anymore. They had reached a height where it was no longer visible.
Soon, another couple entered the plain. They looked to be middle aged. Shelley said that she wasn’t sure why they were there. She knew that she was there because of the financial need and that John was there because he needed companionship. Everyone had a need and this was the end of the path where all needs were met.
She then asked John what they needed to do next as there wasn’t any more climbing to do. He said that they needed to wait. Shelley then asked him, “Wait for whom?” He said, “Wait for God.” “How do you know He’ll come?” she questioned. He answered, “God will never leave you or forsake you.”
Soon after their brief conversation, John was taken straight up, into the clouds. Shelley stood there looking up, watching as he disappeared. She then saw a big arm come out of heaven with a fist full of money. God said to her, “It is finished, now go in peace.” (I need to add here we are not believers of the “Prosperity Gospel” heresy. The Lord has given me a revelation from Isaiah regarding the demonic spirit behind this false movement.)
After the dream, she struggled with several thoughts. Could this be wishful thinking? Could she have wanted this so bad that she made this up in her mind? It caused her to hesitate before telling me about the dream. She wasn’t sure if what happened was because she desperately wanted God to take care of our finances. After hearing what she dreamed the Holy Spirit assured me that He was the one that had spoken to her. Ezekiel 3:22 says, “The hand of the LORD was upon me there, and he said to me, ‘Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.’” Maybe I wasn’t there in bodily form, but He did speak to me and told me that it was finished. He is more than able to supply abundantly beyond that which we could ever ask or think of. Praise God!
The Point of the Dream
The point of sharing this dream is to reinforce the fact that there is a place in your journey on the path of salvation where, because of the hardship encountered while following Jesus Christ, a person can willingly exit, turning off to their own destruction. Proverbs 10:17 says, “He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who forsakes reproof goes astray.” The Hebrew for astray is “ta` ah”. It means “to err, to wander, to go astray.” It’s also used in speaking of a person who staggers about like a drunkard.
Proverbs 21:16 declares that “A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead.” If necessary, we must “sober up” quickly before it’s too late and exit the path of the Lord for an easier route, thereby finding ourselves in the company of the living dead. It’s a place of no return that Esau found himself in, even as the firstborn with full rights of his father’s inheritance, with no place for repentance due to an unchecked fleshly desire (Hebrews 12:16-17). In Christ, the firstborn among many brethren, we too have been given the right to our Father’s inheritance. What many seem to miss is that this is a New Testament principle.
In his writings, Peter gives us a warning concerning those who distort the Scriptures to their own destruction. In 2 Peter 3:17 he says to the church, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness [“firm condition”].” There are four key words in this passage that I need to break down in order to fully understand the scope of Peter’s warning.
The first word is actually interpreted into the two English words “carried away.” The Greek word is sunapago. It means “to lead away with or together.” Metaphorically, it means “to be carried away with, to experience with others the force of what carries away.” This is the danger of fellowshipping with those who are walking in error. You will either stand up against the seducing spirit in their midst or possibly be swept away with them out an exit (see my Bible studies Swept Away or Snatched Away and Mishandling The Inheritance). The same word is also used in Galatians 2:11-21. Paul records the time when he publicly stood up against Peter. Verses 12-13 states that “prior to the coming of certain men from James, he [Peter] used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.” By not standing firm in obedience to truth, Peter led many others, including Barnabas, into great hypocrisy. Being more concerned about the approval of man, they were all carried away by a seducing spirit.
The next word is “error.” The Greek for it is plane. It speaks of “a wandering, a straying about, one led astray from the right way, who roams hither and thither.” Metaphorically, it means “a mental straying; an error, a wrong opinion relative to morals or religion. An error which shows itself in action, a wrong mode of acting.”
The third Greek word is athesmos which we interpret as “unprincipled men.” It is described as “one who breaks through the restraint of law and gratifies his lusts.” This is the lawless crowd that Shelley saw in her dream down on the broad road. It is revealed through their “party spirit.”
The final English word to define is “fall.” The Greek for it is ekpipto. It means “to fall out of, to fall down from, to fall from a thing, to lose it.” It also means “to perish, to fall from a place from which one cannot keep, to fall from a position.” This is another truth destroying the number one doctrine of demons referred to as “eternal security.”
From this one verse it becomes obvious that we must be extremely careful of who or what doctrine we are following. In the company of deceived Christians, we could easily be carried away by the error of their lawlessness into a place of no turning back where their will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (see my Bible study Outer Darkness).
As Peter previously warned in chapter 2, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way [“a traveled way, a journey”] of the truth will be maligned... forsaking the right way [the right path-way] they have gone astray... speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error.” When you walk in agreement with false teachers, you will inevitably fall from your firm condition in Christ, exiting the path of truth that leads to eternal life.
If we will persevere by standing firm in the truth until the end, the Lord will eventually lead us to a place of eternal rest in Himself. It is in this place of breakthrough where we can say with Paul, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
The greatest of all needs is for the deliverance from our fallen, fleshly natures through the salvation that comes from the God of all mercy. We have His promise that we will soon gain His glory IF we will remain on the path His Spirit is leading us on. To not heed His final warning in this last moment before His return would be fatal. As the final scene of this age unfolds before us the Lord is exhorting His people to remain in Him through continued submission to the Holy Spirit’s leading lest we find ourselves among those who shrink back to destruction (Hebrews 10:35-39). This is the LAST CALL to prepare our hearts for His return. Praise the name of the Lord!