Ok, I had one of my weird dreams last night. You know one of those dreams that’s like “where did that come from?” The basic gist of the dream was that I was being hired to produce a movie, which is unusual because I’ve never had a desire to be a movie producer. I don’t think its ever even crossed my mind. Dreams are supposed to come from our subconscious, but what we dream can also be affected by what we eat before we got to bed. For me personally, the weirdness and intensity of a dream can also depend on whether I have a full bladder or not.
Do you ever realize you’re dreaming while you’re dreaming? Again, maybe it’s another element to add to the Robby “weirdness” factor. Not all the time, but most of the time, I can say to myself during a dream, “dude it’s just a dream, wake up!” and I do. Yes, I do say, “dude” to myself while dreaming. Another weird thing about my dreams is that I can dream that I’m awake, but I’m really not. I take a shower and get dressed only to wake up and realize that I’m still in the bed, and have to do it all over again.
“Robby, refocus. You’re getting off track.”
Okay, back to being a “movie producer”. The movie was supposed to be a war epic. Why a war movie? I know I’m a history buff, but why? In the dream I had a meeting with all the “movie people” to explain and organize everything. There was only one BIG problem. I hadn’t “read the script”. That is kind of an important detail if you’re producing a movie, right?
Have you ever had those dreams where you weren’t prepared for something? You didn’t do your homework? Didn’t study for the test? You were supposed to do something for work, but weren’t prepared? You showed up for a game but forgot your uniform? I have those from time to time and a few of them are recurring dreams, like reruns. It’s always a relief when you wake up and realize that it was only a dream.
So here I am about to lead this meeting with about 10-20 people and start production of this war movie, but I haven’t read the script. I have no idea what the movie is about. I start getting stressed out because I’m not prepared to lead the meeting when suddenly it dawns on me to just “wing it”. Shoot from the hip. “I can do this”. I told myself. I was trying to sound convincing, but in my head I new I was full of it. I can’t say what I was full of. This is a Christian devotional.
Almost 20 years ago I went on a mission trip to Trinidad where we would be leading a week long Vacation Bible School at a church there. We went to the church on Sunday to meet everyone and prepare for the Vacation Bible School that would start the next day. I wasn’t expecting to do anything during the service other than lead a couple of worship songs on my guitar. Well, unbeknownst to me, the pastor had also penciled me in to do the sermon. I think he was basically using the “visiting youth pastor” as an opportunity to take that Sunday off. I can’t blame him I might have done the same thing, but I probably would have told him he was preaching beforehand. Anyway, I had no warning, ZERO, and only about 5 minutes to figure out what I was preaching on. I’ll have to admit I was reliving one of those dreams that I talked about earlier. I didn’t panic, but I was nervously and fervently praying, “Lord, give me something. Throw me a bone here and make it snappy.” I didn’t say it exactly like that because it would be disrespectful to God, but my freak out barometer was rising just a little bit. The good thing was that this was not my first rodeo, and I had a mental reservoir of Biblical knowledge and training to choose from. All that studying was about to pay off. I had read “God’s script” extensively. You know, the Bible. By this time I had been in ministry for about twenty years and knew enough to “wing” my way through a 30-minute sermon. Sure enough, the Lord, brought a scripture to my mind and I was off and running. Whew! Glory to God!
Even though I wasn’t exactly prepared to deliver a sermon that morning, I had been preparing for moments like this for a long time, so technically I wasn’t “winging it”. I just had to access the mental hard drive under “Bible study notes”. I started studying the Bible when I was about 12, so I had plenty of Bible studies to choose from.
God always wants us to be prepared when there are opportunities to tell others about Him because we never know when they will happen.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15 NIV
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 2:1-2 NIV
Both verses are a reminder to be prepared. Peter encourages us to “always be prepared to give an answer”. Paul encourages us to “be prepared in season and out of season”. Basically, we need to be ready at all times to explain why we have decided to follow or place our hope in Jesus Christ. We aren’t supposed to be “winging it” or guessing. Our reasons for following Christ need to be clear, concise, and sincere. When Paul says, “careful instruction”, he may be referring to accuracy. If we’re “careful”, we are giving our attention to the details. We’re being accurate. Paul refers to the importance of being Biblically accurate in 2 Timothy 2:15.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 NASB
Other translations say, “interprets the truth correctly” (Common English), “rightly divide the word of truth” (King James), “correctly handles the word of truth” (New International), and so on. All of them share the central theme of accuracy. So, when we give an answer for the hope that is in us, we’re not “winging it”. We know our stuff by head and by heart. We’ve read the script. We remember our lines.
The expression “winging it” actually comes from the theater, where it alludes to an actor studying his part “in the wings” (the areas to either side of the stage) because he has been suddenly called on to replace another. First recorded in 1885, it eventually was extended to other kinds of improvisation based on unpreparedness. I got that from Mr. Webster.
As an added bonus, I think it’s vitally important to point out that both Peter and Paul both hone in on our attitude at the end of each verse. When we answer or give a reason for the hope that is in us, when we tell others about this incredible joy that comes from knowing Christ, we need to do it with great patience, careful instruction, gentleness and respect. In other words, be nice. Peter and Paul must have had the same problem as we do today, obnoxious Christians.
Love y’all! Have a great weekend!
Weekly Devotional by Robby Morris, Director of Family Ministry & Facility Coordinator @ Andrews UMC.