Hearts Among the Sights

December 19, 2015

by Maria Fontaine

I had a dream. A couple of other people and I were walking in an area where I’d never been before. It seemed like we were exploring in some large, parklike area. The terrain was rocky, barren, and semi-desert. We found a large cave that had been turned into some sort of attraction. Inside were exhibits of various kinds. There were very few people around, though.

The next thing I remember was standing in a large cavern-sized room and watching some preteen boys and girls practicing gymnastics, led by a boy who appeared to be a preteen himself. This boy seemed to be very much in command of the situation. A few older teen boys were standing on the sidelines, talking among themselves, and keeping an eye on those practicing.

I had the impression that they were older brothers of some of those in the class. The boy leading the class was quite charismatic, composed, and sure of himself in spite of being about the same age as the others, to the point of being a bit of a show-off. Still, he did seem concerned about making sure everybody was not only working together but that they were happy doing so. My impression was that he was wise beyond his years.

I watched them practice for a short while until, having finished the practice session, the kids began to drift away in small groups, chatting with one another. The young leader of the team casually strolled over to me, introducing himself as Del. Since I had been very impressed with him, I wanted to tell him so. But looking at this outwardly very confident and self-assured person, I was tempted to tone down my enthusiasm a little, thinking he might feel it was a little “overboard.”

However, I felt the Lord’s Spirit reminding me that things are not always what they seem to be. As I paused to ask Jesus for further counsel, He indicated that I should just say what I felt and not hold back in anything. Even if I might get a few things wrong, that was the way I was seeing him, and it would be encouraging for him.

So I proceeded to tell him how impressed I had been watching him, the potential I saw in him, and that I felt he could go very far in whatever he wanted to do. I continued by pointing out that he had valuable skills and qualities. He was good at sports, a leader of his peers, with confidence and “presence.” I told him that it was obvious, from the way he had approached me, that he was courteous and could interact well not only with younger people, but older ones as well.

After listening very thoughtfully and appreciatively to me, he began to pour out his heart to me how he and his older brother, who was there as well, were not liked at all by their stepmother, who had two young children who she adored. He sadly expressed that she seemed to really resent him and his brother and didn’t seem to want them around. She did everything she could to make things difficult for them.

I don’t remember the details of what she did to make them feel this way, except one. I thought it was rather odd that I remembered this one example and not any of the others, because it didn’t seem to be something that would’ve been so terribly bad in most circumstances. Del said, “She made us learn her language and wouldn’t learn ours.” I could sense that the whole situation with his stepmother was a very heavy burden on his heart.

Del hesitatingly asked if he could sit beside me. As he did, I felt like I should put my arm around his shoulder, which I did, and he immediately leaned against me like a small child would his mother. In one way it seemed surprising for Del to be so receptive to my encouragement and hug. It was as though he was still a small child emotionally who’d never had this need fulfilled for the comfort and sense of security that a mother’s arms can bring. Somehow I was meeting that need at that moment, or perhaps the Lord was meeting it through me. How could I say no to this poor boy who had experienced so much rejection in his life?

The dream then switched to a bit later, and I was standing and talking with Del and his brother Mick, telling them that even if they didn’t have anyone in this world who they felt close to or could go to other than each other, there was a Friend who I could introduce them to who would always be with them. I told them about how Jesus had come to earth and been born and lived and died and rose again and now is in heaven, and that they could always have Him with them.

I explained that Jesus had died for the whole world and for each of us individually. He had made a way through His death for us to be forgiven of our sins if we would believe and receive Him in our hearts. He had gone to heaven to prepare a place for us where all the wrongs of this life would be fixed and our hurts and pain would not only be forever gone but more than made up for with more joy and contentment than we could imagine.

I said, “I know that in this moment that doesn’t fix everything. It’s still hard to feel pushed aside by those who should be loving you and caring for you. But knowing that these times are going to pass can motivate you to make the most of the tough circumstances, because there are better things coming. Knowing that you have an amazing friend who is there to help you, even though you can’t see Him, can help the very difficult things you go through to be more bearable.”

I tried to give them as much encouragement as I could in the short time I had. I told them to find out as much about Jesus through His Word as they could, and to pray together and talk to Jesus together and individually. I also suggested that if they could ask Jesus to help them find some other people who were friends with Jesus who they could spend some time with, it would be a strength to them. I told them that I knew that was why God had planned this encounter, so I could offer them this very beautiful gift of Jesus’ love and salvation, because He loves them so much. I prayed with them. And that’s when I woke up.

As I thought and prayed about this dream, I saw how the rocky terrain and the coldness and darkness of the caves and the desert were significant, like the many difficult and inhospitable circumstances that so many people in this world face on a daily basis. We see a part of their suffering sometimes, but no matter how supposedly “together” people are on the outside and how confident and assured they seem, there is so often much that we never see and may never know in this life: the silent pain of feeling unloved or uncared for, or the confusion and anger and frustration of being incapable of feeling satisfied with who they are. I was reminded about how important it is that we don’t base our judgment on those outward masks of confidence.

I think the Lord had me interacting with preteens and adolescents in this dream because He wants to put some special emphasis on this age group. Reaching out to those who are passing through those preteen and adolescent years and helping them to establish a foundation in faith and an active connection to Jesus can have lifelong repercussions. Taking the time to understand their hearts and offering them answers can influence their choices and decisions and play a major part in who they choose to become.

This situation illustrated the danger of resentment and how it can block the flow of love. Also, the unwillingness of the mother to learn the language of the boys seemed to symbolize her refusal to “walk in their shoes,” to empathize with them and open her life to them. In order to reach people, we need to be willing to learn their “language” and to relate to them from that starting point.

This life is filled with interesting things to observe and learn about. But the transformation of a heart filled with sorrow and despair into one filled with hope and joy is an experience that nothing of this physical realm can begin to compare with. So as we pass through this life discovering new places and information, let’s be sure to ask Jesus to lead us to those who are searching for Him, the hungry hearts among the sights.