Forgotten Punch Line

I dreamed that I was speaking to a large group of people. I was not pacing the platform, I was sitting on a ledge and suddenly left my message to tell a canned story. I got to the end and forgot the punch line. Forgot the punch line!  I was wide awake instantly. Getting off message to tell a story that has no point. Horrified!

A few weeks ago, I had vision. In response to an motivational sermon, I heard an instruction as an image came instantly into my soul with emotion. I was directed to scope out  a specific spot and build there. I drove to that designated spot and found nothing but swamp, and a flood plain. I was disgusted with myself and ticked at God.

“You sent me to a swamp?” I was devastated. It seemed as if God was toying with me. There is no way anyone would allow me to build there. It is a flood plain and restricted because the area regularly floods. I drove home super upset and defeated. My words to the visioning spot of my soul were, “Just leave me alone. I don’t need this.” I put a muzzle on the beast and put it in a cage.

“Go back out there.” I resisted the persistent voice. I hurt. A couple of days later while muttering words you don’t use in worship time, I parked close to the swamp. It was unique to my experience–God gently said, “I would never send you to do such a thing. I would never trivialize you in that way.”

I don’t remember when I heard Jesus’ words whether while sitting near that flood plain or on my way back to my office or as I sat at my desk.

“Everyone who hears…and puts into practice is like a wise person who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish person who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash (Matthew.7:14-27).

The instruction is to build ministry to those whose lives are on the sand with no foundation, and vulnerable to their turmoil. I saw faceless people of several ages who end up on the sand through their own choices, being tossed there and abandoned or because they concluded it was where they belonged.

I didn’t have to think very hard when one of my preachers asked what breaks my heart. It is that group of people living in the swamp and stranded on the sand. The abandoned, assaulted, rejected and unequipped to make the right decisions and gain the skills to live in those places built on the rock.

I think about people who are gifted and can be world changers, community leaders and agents of accomplishment with healing, encouragement, mentoring and skill building, but lack one or two components in the mix. What if their story is missed?

When I thought about what breaks my heart, I spiritually felt–not saw–I felt a distance, an unfilled space. I could hold my hands a few inches apart. They are just that far from the fast track to take them to God’s plan.  I saw a structure built on concrete pilasters with a dock and treated wood stairs. I saw a carved sign on a piece of drift wood attached to the building with an engraved word. The building was secondary to those knocked down on the sand. It was a place where healing, teaching and experiencing God will happen that will extract them from sand and establish them on a trajectory to God’s idea. The person will emerge with the word—thriving .

I had forgotten the punch line.  The link to an article in the Washington Post reinforced what I’m writing in “Tail Lights”


©D. Dean Benton


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