I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.
A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.
- Daniel 10:7-10
While everyone focused their attention on a tropical depression in Cuba ten days ago, we had a little storm in our neighborhood, a much larger one north of us, but ours did more damage. It knocked out power in our town and the surrounding towns. The next day, we had to drive nearly ten miles before we saw a traffic light that was working. The smaller town to our west had power restored in ten hours. Our power was not restored for over thirteen hours. Our food stayed fresh and safe for the most part. Mostly because we did not open any refrigerator or freezer doors until power was restored. And to think, the storm is still going. It went out to sea and mixed with some tropical elements. They now call it Henri.
But for those 13+ hours, we had no power. My wife managed with a little difficulty, but she is always cold anyway. She enjoyed the house getting muggy and hot for one night.
I did not do so well. I have talked about having difficulty managing hot temperatures and suffering with heat related disorders. Just before the power was restored, I had to get out of the oven, otherwise known as the house, and into an air-conditioned car. I felt I was about to spontaneously combust, but before that point, I had a grand adventure. One that brought back painful memories and a nightmare.
I use a CPAP machine, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, due to sleep apnea. Without electrical power, I was on my own for my breathing. Over the past forty years, I have used a fan as white noise to help me sleep. That was out too. But then, with no air conditioning, an on-going electrical storm providing humidity and more heat, it was a normal daytime temperature in the house in the middle of the night. And I could not compromise the freezer by getting some ice to cool me off. I used cool water compresses until the water would no longer evaporate.
While my wife slept, I roamed the empty, dark house trying to find a spot that was not stifling hot. Even the basement was sweltering. About four am, I settled onto the recliner in the living room and finally fell asleep.
I had a dream, a nightmare actually. I was alone in a strange place, and there was a piece of wax paper on the floor, lit in moonlight. The corners were curled up as if the paper had been pressed against something round. I looked at the paper and there was a face imprinted on it. Because of the curved image, the face seemed to move its gaze to look at me directly from every angle of the paper, like the ghosts in that mansion in a Florida theme park. As my eyes began to focus, I recognized the image. It was my mother’s face with its usual disapproving scowl.
I was immediately awake, and I did not return to deep sleep after that. My health watch said that I got thirty minutes of deep sleep and less than two hours of intermittent light sleep over the nine hours of trying to sleep.
But when I was awakened from the nightmare, the living conditions of my youth flooded back to me. In a way, it seemed to be a circumstance induced nightmare – hot summer day type heat in the middle of the night, near 100% humidity, and no air flow. I was drenched in water and sweat, but nothing evaporated.
From about the age of sixteen until I graduated college at twenty-one, I lived in the farmhouse where I had grown up. My mother had one large air conditioner in the dining room, but she felt that air conditioning caused all major illnesses in the world. Okay, maybe not cancer, but the cold, flu, and sinus conditions were at the top of her list. She was not alone in those days, with the thought that those things were caused by the constant hot-cold-hot-cold (air-conditioning to outside in the summer and simply going in and out in the winter). As a result she did everything the opposite of what should have been done in some cases. In the summer, the house was open so that every pollen could fill the house, and she hated fans running, but my only blessing was that when Dad was at home, he wanted a fan running.
I was allergic to every kind of pollen in varying degrees. In those years, I got horrible sinus headaches, but I never missed a day of school due to them. I had to excuse myself to throw up occasionally, but I was in class. My mother could have helped by closing up the house and keeping the pollen outside, but to her, a healthy home was no air conditioning, every window wide open, and no fans – stale stagnant air so hot you could air-fry an egg on your forehead – or it seemed that hot.
We had a long hallway down the middle of the house and my father would turn on a squirrel cage blower before we went to bed. (The blower was formerly part of the turkey processing plant’s walk-in freezers, but just blowing hot air around without the refrigeration unit attached.) After my parents, usually just my mother, had gone to sleep, I would leave my bed at the far end of the hallway, where there was no flow of air with the bedroom offset, and I would go into the hallway, a good fifty feet or more from the fan, but the fan was strong, and I could get a hint of a little air flow. Maybe some nights I just imagined air flow. After two or three hours of no sleep, I would finally feel some cooling, at least I was not feeling ill from the heat. I then went back to bed, knowing that my mother would get extremely angry if she awoke and caught me sleeping in the hallway on the floor. If my mother stirred in the night, and she always did about the time I went back to bed, she turned off the fan.
No wonder that three years later after I graduated college, I was called off a work detail in the Army to sip lemonade under the shade of a tree until normal color appeared in my face, the first time I was diagnosed with heat exhaustion. And once you have it once, it is easier to get it the next time.
In the South, you just got hot in those days; only the strong survived. I guess I was blessed to have survived. I was not the strongest.
Those memories flooded my mind. God blessed us with the electrical power being restored a few hours after the sun came up that morning, while I took my wife to a clinic to have an out-patient surgical procedure done – and they had power (no phones or internet, but electrical power). But He blessed me that night with memories. I had every motivation in those teen-aged years to avoid the lake of fire. Maybe that was why I wanted Jesus when I was sixteen and into the following year when I finally surrendered unconditionally. We all have our reasons. The Holy Spirit makes sure that we are aware of our sin.
I worked with furnaces in the steel industry – of all things – for over twenty years. I had many reminders of how I could not handle high temperatures. Working in the steel industry with molten steel here and there, I often was reminded of the lake of fire, but I knew I had Jesus in my heart.
How does the Holy Spirit talk to you? For me, it was one night of virtually no sleep, a nightmare when I finally got to sleep, and pain all night long, but praise God, that is a reminder of something long ago and God promises me no pain once I am with Him in Paradise.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.