God had spoken to me before, but it had generally been personal. Prophets were other people, not me (if they existed). The prophetic gifts (if they still existed) were for others, or if for me, would come many years later when I was no longer a young Christian. I kind of longed for them, but was usually just fine with that (if it ever happened) being off in the future.
Then I had... The Dream. (ominous music)
If you've ever had a God dream, you know it. It's not just the vividness. It's not just the impact it makes. It's not just that it's unshakable. It's not just that you know you have to do something with it. You just know. Or at least I do. Even that first one.
In the dream (which was extremely real as mine usually are) I was walking through the house one of our pastors and his wife shared with several women in the church. I was talking with one of these women-- let's call her Arwen (Not Her Real Name). She was wandering through the house and I was following her as we talked. She was stark naked. At the time this seemed perfectly normal (and trust me, in real life this would have been so abnormal as to make me think I was dreaming).
Arwen started into her room as the conversation ended. But just after she went in, she leaned back out of the doorway and said, "Miles, I need a man." Then she went back in, closed the door, and I woke up.
My first reaction was that this was some form of attack or flashback to my drug daze, and to promptly forget it, as actively as possible. That proved utterly impossible. Not because I was thinking about how Arwen looked, not because I thought I was the man, but because of all that stuff I said earlier about God dreams. Arwen could have been a woolly mammoth, and the dream would have impacted me the same way. (For the record, she was very pretty and only 3-4 years older than me. That wasn't an issue. That's another way to recognize a God dream, by how it affects you.)
The problem, however, was that I had an overwhelming conviction that I needed to tell Arwen about the dream. And that's where her nudity in the dream became a problem. We attended a holiness church, and we were serious about it. I knew we didn't burn people at the stake or stone people, but I was pretty sure we would revive the emotional equivalent. So I tried really, really hard to forget the dream, or at least deny the voice telling me to tell Arwen.
After a few weeks of not being able to do anything at church but hold onto the pew in front of me in white knuckled agony, I realized I had no choice. The following week as service was starting, I asked Arwen out into the hall. Making sure nobody else was around, I told her my dream. She listened attentively, without any apparent judgment. (My cheeks felt like they were bursting into flames!) When I finished she stood there quietly for a minute while I cringed.
"Thank you, Miles. I've been really struggling with wanting a boyfriend, and whether I should date someone, and I've been praying about it, and this is my answer. And don't be embarrassed about the clothes; that was because I've bared my soul to God. It's part of the confirmation." And with an angelic smile, she went into the service.
Within a few weeks she started dating Aragorn (Not His Real Name). Within a year they were married. I don't claim credit for that, but I do know that God chose to involve me in the process, and that it helped me at least as much as it helped them.
One thing I theoretically should have done differently was have someone else-- preferably a mature female with discernment-- there (not knowing how Arwen would react, or if she would need to talk with someone else). But there is no way on Earth I could have done that with anyone else present, unless maybe-- just maybe-- if Jesus had decided to take on the form of humanity again right there on the spot.
I didn't know Arwen real well, but I knew her enough to trust that if I were wrong, she'd let me know, and she would also keep it between us. That made it a safe environment, and if anyone ever needed a safe environment to test the prophetic waters, I did!
And you know what? While not everything God has given me to say since then (whether in a dream or not) has been easy, it's all been easy in comparison!