Warned in a Dream


The winter of 1979–80 was more severe than usual in our area, and the heavy snowfall in the mountains collapsed the roof on a friend’s cabin. The entire roof system, all the way down to the concrete footings, needed rebuilding. I was hired to do the job.

The cabin is located in a very secluded spot in a nearby canyon, nestled among majestic pine trees along the bank of a stream. It is so beautiful and peaceful there that it almost seems as if it doesn’t belong on this telestial earth.

Because of the lovely setting and the peace I felt every time I went there, I decided to do the work myself rather than subcontract it out, as I often did. My brother Rusty helped me, and we started tearing down the damaged structure in the latter part of April, as soon as the snow melted enough for us to get to the cabin.

As the weather gradually got warmer, I started taking my little son Kenny with me every day. He was two and a half years old at the time and really enjoyed going to work with his dad. He would entertain himself all day, exploring everything in sight. He was fascinated by all the new-found beauties of nature—especially the squirrels, chipmunks, and birds—and he spent hours playing near the stream, throwing rocks and sticks into the fast-moving water. Often he would curl up and take a nap under the protection of a shady pine tree.

This went on day after day. He took many minor falls and got a few scratches and scrapes during his adventures, but I seldom went to his rescue because I could see the growth he was experiencing. As he became more familiar with these new surroundings, he developed confidence in himself and his abilities. Nevertheless, I was very careful to keep a close watch on him because he was so young and small, and especially because of the nearby stream which had grown deeper and swifter with the melting snow. He showed surprising common sense, never getting close enough to the water to fall in; but I noticed that each day he felt more confident about edging closer to the bank of the stream.

One night, after taking Kenny with me for four or five weeks, I had a terrible dream. I woke up in a cold sweat after dreaming that he had fallen into the rushing water and drowned. It was so real and scared me so badly that I sat up in bed and found myself shaking.

I couldn’t go back to sleep. I spent the rest of the night trying to calm myself and thoughtfully considering the frightful images that kept turning over and over in my mind. I had the distinct feeling that this dream was a warning not to be ignored. At the same time, I wondered how I could tell little Kenny that he wouldn’t be able to go with me to work on the cabin again. I was concerned about hurting his feelings because I knew how he loved to go to the mountains to work with his dad.

The next morning I told my wife, Georgia, of the experience and of my feelings, and she agreed that I had better not take him with me to the cabin anymore. But she, too, was concerned about how he was going to handle the disappointment.

Kenny got up early that morning, and as usual, started to dress himself. He came into our bedroom and sat on my lap, and as I was helping him put on his shoes and socks I was still trying to figure out how to tell him he couldn’t go with me anymore.

All of a sudden he said, “Dad, I can’t go to work with you today.”

“Why?” I asked, surprised.

“Because I will drown in the river,” he said.

Tears of joy came to our eyes as we realized that Kenny had received the same warning that I had that night. A strong feeling of peace came over us, knowing that our Heavenly Father had given us this inspiration to protect our son and save him for his mission in this life.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh