We were walking through a beautiful field full of wildflowers toward mountains in the distance. Terry and I were holding hands, and all around us were other families like ours. The kids were running and playing as we walked. The girls were picking flowers. Suddenly the ground opened up and swallowed David! He just disappeared. My heart stopped and as I frantically looked around, I saw the same thing happening randomly to other children. However, the people just kept walking as if nothing had happened. I jolted awake with my heart pounding. My fear was so real that I had to get out of bed, go in to my son’s room and touch him before I was able to calm down. This dream has haunted me for years.
I have often wondered if something that really did happen several years earlier prompted that dream. We had only been in Mexico for a few weeks and shopping at a street market was a new experience for me. Every Monday the vendors sat up right around the corner from our house. I enjoyed my pick of the beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables. I would usually take only one of my children along rather than have to herd all four of them while I was trying to shop.
This day my four-year-old son David was with me. I nonchalantly walked along, holding my wallet in one hand with my shopping bag, and I held on to David with the other. Suddenly a person ran by me, jerked my wallet out of my hand and ran through the crowd. My immediate reaction as to drop my bag and take off after him. It was not the money I was worried about, it was my visa and ID! I panicked at the idea of losing the documents.
With no thought of how I looked chasing the thief down, I ran after him and yelled, “Stop! Stop!” He had to break through the crowd; I had a clear path as people moved aside for him and then watched me hightailing it after him. As he reached the corner I was gaining on him, and he threw my wallet on the ground. I picked up the wallet and whirled around.
NOW I was really panicked. What was I thinking! I had left my four-year-old son standing in the middle of a crowd on a street in Mexico. As I ran back, more scared than I have ever been in my life, people were cheering me on. They realized what was going on and they were glad the thief did not get my wallet. But I couldn’t have cared less at that point.
I was out of breath by the time I came back to where I had left David. He was crying his eyes out as an older woman was patting his shoulder, trying to comfort him. I grabbed him and hugged him, crying as much as he was. Finally, I sorted myself out, calmed David down and thanked the lady for her kindness. She started speaking in Spanish, and I could not understand a word she said. So she took her coin purse and pointed to my wallet. Then she tucked her little purse down in the front of her blouse close to her heart and patted her chest. I got the idea.
That was not the only education I received that day. I took that experience as a warning. I had run after one thing, and left the MOST PRECIOUS thing behind. That is how it happens. We get busy; we fill our days with mostly good things that we think are important. However, sometimes we do not even realize that we have shifted the focus away from what is closest to our hearts. We may not be leaving our children in danger, but sometimes we need a reminder to make sure they have our attention.
Later, when I had that bad dream, we were in a very busy season of life. I had gone back to school to finish my degree, and Terry was travelling almost constantly for the mission. Nothing was wrong about these things but I had been concerned that our kids were getting lost in the shuffle. I took that dream as a warning. The Lord’s ministry is important. And it is okay to ask the family to sacrifice sometimes, but it is not okay to run so much that we leave them behind. Ministry and caring for our families are not in competition. The prophet Malachi warned that the purpose of the family is to raise godly children (Malachi 2:15). With the Lord’s help, we can find the balance.