Treasuring Divine Happenstance

Treasuring Divine Happenstance

Last week I shared about why I bought this painting. God had woven together three things: a pregnancy dream, a talk by Ray Hughes about saying “Yes” to God, and the symbolism in the painting. The message?

Continue writing.

Patrisha's painting at the Ray Hughes conference

Patrisha’s painting at the Ray Hughes conference

But a fourth piece to this puzzle remains. I didn’t explain the wave. Did you notice the wave coming over the land and not the sea? In mountainous areas like Montana, massive waters like a sea or an ocean don’t exist.

To complete the story of this encounter with God, I have to give you another piece of divine happenstance. Soon after finishing my first book, I had another vivid dream:

I am crossing a landscape scarred by a hurricane long ago. Wreckage is strewn about in all directions as far as the eye can see. Jagged planks of lumber, shattered window frames, pieces of boats, empty cans, broken wooden chairs, driftwood, shells and other rubble fill every square foot of land. Any stench is long gone, and the debris looks clean—whitened by the sun.

I carefully step over the wreckage, making my way toward a beautiful azure sea that is a mile out. I can see the thin strip of deep blue water on the horizon. The sky is crisp and clear with no hint of haze. A few lovely white clouds dapple the atmosphere.

This picture is as close as I could find, but doesn’t quite capture the miles of sun-bleached remains.

This picture is as close as I could find, but doesn’t quite capture the miles of sun-bleached wreckage.

Way out in front of me, I notice one other person. It’s Kathy Tyers, my first writing mentor. She seems to be making the same trek. She gestures dramatically, waving a complete sweep of her arm again and again, as if to say, “Come on, Susan! Keep going! Don’t give up! Follow me!” But she’s so far ahead, I can’t hear her voice.

It could take awhile to get there. I continue, step by step.

All of a sudden, I hear a faraway low rumble. Perhaps a plane is taking off. It starts to increase in volume. Something powerful begins to roar—a noise so loud it sounds like several planes, then 100 planes, and now 1,000 airplanes taking off all at once. The ground vibrates in violent unison, as I look backwards…Giant Wave curl

Behind me, a giant tsunami wave is sweeping across the land toward the sea. I know it will pick me up and thrust me forward with unimaginable power.

The surprising thing is I am not afraid in the dream—no terror of drowning. Rather, I feel the genuine rush of thrill, which is saying something for one who is not a thrill seeker.

There’s something magnificent about this wave that will overtake absolutely everything in its wake. I will be absorbed by something far greater than myself. I woke up feeling electrified, my heart thumping in my chest.

“Awe” is a word only said properly, if you inhale at the same time.

As far as interpreting the symbolic language of dreams, my friend Rob Mazza says to keep it simple. The biggest mistake in dream interpretation is to take dreams too literally and overanalyze with psychobabble.

Clearly God wanted me to keep writing—Kathy’s signal to continue on. I feel behind, and the going is tedious. That’s true in the dream and in my life. Writing can be a lonely experience. Hours and hours and hours of showing up at your computer, or sitting down with a white pad and a blue pen. It’s a step-by-step, bird-by-bird process, as Anne Lamott once said.

The ocean has nearly always represented the great, infinite beauty and life-giving power of God. Blue is the color of heaven and revelation, and God is the source.

The sun-bleached wreckage is the landscape of our fallen earth. With hurricane force, sin has wrecked a lot of things, and its aftermath has been around for a long time. But like Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones, God can restore life and breath by a move of His Spirit. And that is the wave in the dream—moving water, washing the land clean, grabbing us in its thrust, and taking us to the deep blue sea.

I’m very small in the vast scene of my dream. Still, the wave will project me forward, surpassing anything I could do in my own strength. And that synchronicity with God, uniting His resolve with the purpose He’s given me, is a thrilling ride.

So now you might understand why Patrisha’s painting had such an impact on me.

The point is—treasure the incidental things that pop up in your world of divine happenstance. Write them down in a journal, and give God a chance to weave the gist of His overtures to you into a complete picture of what He is saying.

Will you be too busy? Too distracted by the soul noise of the world?


  1. “Awe” is a word only said properly, if you inhale at the same time.
    of course i had to try it! and it’s true!
    did you discover that or did someone turn you on to the proper way???
    wonderful blog to help us discern what we all long to discern more and more.
    suzee B

    • Suzee,
      Someone said that about “awe.” I think it was James Ryle! Interesting to see how words form, yes?