My eyes fluttered open and I jerked up in bed. I gave a sigh of relief. It was only a dream, but it had seemed so real...I shook my head and looked at the clock. I moaned. It was three in the morning and my alarm was about to go off in a few hours. I needed to get as much sleep as I possibly could; tomorrow was going to be another grinding day, but I was almost too afraid to sleep. I laid back down and thought about what I'd dreamed. I had had nightmares before, but somehow, this one seemed different. Like it related to my life in some weird way. I remembered God using dreams in the Bible to tell people things, but what did that have to do with mine? Surely he didn't use dreams anymore-that was a thing of the past. I'd been feeling so estranged from God lately anyways. I restlessly slept until 6:00 finally rolled around. Groggily, I got up and showered. I was getting breakfast and about to head out the door for work when I realized I didn't have work to go to anymore. I went back to my room and sat on the bed staring off into space. I knew I needed to go visit Mom and Dad in the hospital, but I was way too depressed. My job was everything. And my family didn't even know about my personal problems, they had too much to deal with as it was without me complaining to them. Maybe I could just overdose on medication or drive off the road. Huh, I didn't even have a working car to do that with. I had had to take the cab yesterday to get to the hospital. My mind began to swirl. I hated my life and everyone in it. I wanted things to go my way for once! Why couldn't Mom and Dad just stay healthy? Why did the company have to lay me off? Why did the stupid car have to break down when everything else was already breaking down? And why did my sister have to be so selfish?? Why, why, why??? Where was God when I needed Him most?! I banged my fists on the bed, and started screaming and crying. I finally fell asleep from pure exhaustion. I was too worn out and tired to even attempt to kill myself.
I was falling. Everything around me was disappearing. I grabbed a precipice and hung with all of my might. I knew I wasn't going to be able to hold on forever, I needed help. But how? Where? I could see no one nor any kind of object. Just a pit of blackness with screaming coming from it and this horrible, evil laughter. And I could see the reflection of flames against the high walls. I felt completely alone and utterly helpless. There was only One Person I knew that could save me from this, but how would I know that He would answer? How could I know that He was really there? I felt totally abandoned by Him, but I had no choice. I either call His name or fall into this pit. My hands started slipping. I cried out, “God! God, please help me! I can't do this anymore!” A hand slips, and I hang my head ready to let go. Then, like a flash of lightening, two bright lights rush towards me and carry me away. The abyss slowly closes, and in its place, is the most beautiful land I've ever seen. I gaze in dumb wonder. The two beings that carried me out of the abyss are gone. I'm alone again, but it's different this time. Not far from me is a bubbling brook and a large tree with beautiful fruit on it. I walk towards the brook and see my reflection. I gasp in horror. I'm so filthy and grotesque. How did I get this way?? I sit down and lean against the tree as tears stream down my face. It was my own doing that made me so dirty. I was the one who abandoned Him. He never did; He was there every moment, waiting patiently for me. I was the one who fed my flesh and gave in to my fleshly desires. I had become so selfish and ugly. This filthiness had eaten at me until I could barely recognize myself. “Oh God, please, please forgive me! Forgive me for this thing that I've done! I have hurt not only myself, those around me. But what pierces my heart most is that I've hurt You! God, have mercy upon me!” I was weeping uncontrollably, and then He came. I could feel His presence, and I looked up. He held out His arms and I got up and ran as fast as I could go. Bursting into His arms full of love and forgiveness, we both wept. He took my hand and led me near the stream again. And, again, I looked at my reflection. But this time, it wasn't my reflection, it was His! I yelled for joy. He saw me as clean and pure as He was! I was washed with His love and forgiveness, and there was no way I was going to walk away from that again.
I woke up. I must have been asleep forever! The sun's rays had found their way into my room. The early morning birds were singing their melodious songs, and I just lay there soaking it all in. I thought about my dream and the feelings I had had last night. Maybe God did still use dreams nowadays. Similar to my dream, I had been ignoring God. I couldn't remember the last time I'd prayed or read my Bible. If I had, it was for my own selfish reasons. I was glad that life wasn't as dramatic as my dream. But then again, with everything I was going through, it sure felt like a mini-hell. Dreams sure were strange. I looked at the dusty Bible on my nightstand. I grabbed and stared at it. And then I bowed my head and cried. As I prayed that morning to the Lord, an indescribable peace covered my soul. I realized I had lost something. Myself. I wasn't mine, but God's. All these circumstances I'd been going through weren't mine, but God's. The job I had lost wasn't my job, but a job that God had given me for a little while. The car that broke wasn't mine, but God's car to do with what He wanted. My family was God's family, and He had given them to me as precious gifts. But in the process of losing myself, I had gained something so much more. The joy and peace of the living God. I could trust Him with my life and everything and everyone in my life, because of the sacrifice He made for me. The words I read that day from the Word jumped out at me:
According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. ~Philippians 1:20-21
I guess that dream had more relevance on my life than I thought it did. I shook my head and smiled. The phone rang. Probably my sister wondering why I haven't made a visit to the hospital. I took a deep breath. “Lord, this day is Yours. I'm ready to start each new day with You as my guide.” I got up to go find the phone...