This week's thought comes from a bestseller back in the 1970's. In fact, my copy is not in the best of shape. It's called "I Dared to Call Him Father," by Madame Bilquis Sheikh, a Pakistani muslim lady whose conversion to Christianity was largely the result of God speaking to her through her dreams. It's no isolated phenomen, if recent reports are accurate, for God appears to be revealing himself directly to numerous muslim people through their dreams in recent years, in countries or areas closed to Christian missionaries. In light of the book of Acts this should hopefully come as no surprise!
The book is a quick read and well worth the short time it would take to do so. It's an autobiographical account of her spiritual journey which begins with her frightening encounter with the supernatural, moves to her sense of an inner emptiness which the God of the Koran could not quench, to an inexplicable sense of attraction and peace and joy every time she read the Bible, to her encounter with Christ and the God she eventually dared to call "Father." Enjoy!
I start with her two dreams. In the first dream she finds herself having supper, in her home, with a man she somehow knew to be Jesus. "In peace and joy we ate dinner together," she says. She then found her dream interupted by another one, where she is transported to a mountain top and meets John the Baptist. Because Jesus is now gone, she cries out, "Where is He? I must find Him! Perhaps you, John the Baptist, will lead me to Him?" She woke calling out loudly, "John the Baptist! John the Baptist!" (And all that despite the fact that to this point in her life she had never even heard of John the Baptist)!
In her second dream she meets a perfume salesman who gives her a golden jar filled with "perfume that glimmered like liquid crystal." When she went to touch it, the man stopped her and said, "No. This will spread throughout the world."
Weeks later she would receive a copy of the Gospel of John, and discovered that John the Baptist came to pave the way for Jesus. "If John the Baptist was a sign from God, a sign pointing toward Jesus, was this same man pointing me toward Jesus, too?" Not long afterward she received a note from a Christian friend, encouraging her to read II Corinthinas 2:14 in the J. B. Phillips Modern English Version. It helped her understand her second dream. The verse says: "Thanks be to God who leads us, wherever we are, on Christ's triumphant way, and makes our knowledge of Him spread throughout the world like lovely perfume." It drove her to a fervent search for the God who was reaching out to her.
"For several days I found myself alone with two books -- the Koran and the Bible. I continued to read them both, studying the Koran because of the loyalty of a lifetime, and delving into the Bible because of a strange inner hunger. Yet, sometimes, I'd draw back from picking up the Bible. God couldn't be in both books, I knew, because their messages were so different. But when my hand hesitated at picking up the book Mrs. Mitchell gave me [the New Testament in English by J. B. Phillips] I felt a strange letdown. For the past week I had been living in a world of beauty, not a visible garden created by me from seeds and water, but an inner garden created from a new spiritual awareness... Slowly, clearly, over the next few days I began to know that there was a way to return to my world of beauty. And reading this Christian book seemed, for reasons I could not grasp, the key to my re-entering that world."
Some time later she would read the book of Revelation. "And then abruptly I came to a sentence that made the room spin. It was Revelation 3:20: 'See, I stand knocking at the door. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will go into his house and dine with him, and he with me." I gasped, letting the book fall in my lap. This was my dream, the dream where Jesus was having dinner with me! At the time of the dream I had had no knowledge of a book called Revelation. I closed my eyes and once again I could see Jesus sitting across the table from me. I could feel His warm smile, His acceptance... Now I knew that my dream had come from God. The way was clear. I could accept Him or reject Him. I could open the door, ask Him to come in permanently, or I could close the door. I would have to make my full decision now, one way or the other. I made up my mind and knelt in front of the fire. "Oh God, don't wait a moment. Please come into my life. Every bit of me is open to You." I did not have to struggle, or worry about what would happen. I had said yes. Christ was in my life now, and I knew it. How unbearably beautiful...
It was still dark when I was awakened in a state of vibrant expectancy that morning of December 24, 1966. The hands of the clock pointed to 3:00 a.m. The room was bitterly cold, but I was burning with excitement. I crawled out of bed and sank to my knees on the cold rug. As I looked up, I seemed to be looking into a great light. Hot tears flowed down my face as I raised my hands to Him and cried out, "Oh, Father, baptize me with Your Holy Spirit!" I took my Bible and opened it to where the Lord said: "John used to baptize with water, but before many days are passed you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:5)
"Lord," I cried, "if these words of Yours are true, then give this baptism to me now." I crumpled face down on the chilled floor where I lay crying. "Lord," I sobbed, "I'll never want to get up from this place until you give me this baptism." Suddenly, I was filled with wonder and awe. For in that silent pre-dawn room, I saw His face. Something surged through me, wave after wave of purifying ocean breakers, flooding me to the tips of my fingers and toes, washing my soul. Then the powerful surges subsided, the heavenly ocean quieted. I was completely cleansed. Joy exploded within me and I cried out praising Him, thanking Him... "Oh, Lord," I said, as I lay back in my bed, "could the heaven you speak of be any better than this? To know You is joy, to worship You is happiness, to be near You is peace. THIS is heaven!"