Friday, April 18, 2014

One time I dreamed...

One time I dreamed I was at the crucifixion.

How's that for an opening sentence? But it's true. It was the most realistic, pivotal, and unforgettable dream that I have ever had in my 55 years of life on this planet.

It wasn't during the Easter season or even Spring when I had this dream. Actually it was in October, I think. I hadn't been studying any particular part of Scripture that was lingering with me when I went to bed. I think that's one reason it weighed so heavily on my mind- it took me totally by surprise. That and the fact that I was at the crucifixion.

I was lying on the ground. It was a grassy hill and I was on my stomach. I was wearing black and I had my head covered; I was looking ahead at three crosses. The sky was light pink and green and yellow- like a twilight sky, but it wasn't twilight and the colors were not bright. Very pale. The crosses looked black against the sky. The air was cool and still.

As I looked at the crosses I knew there were men on each of them. And I knew the one in the center was Jesus. He was in agony. I must have known Him because my heart was so heavy with despair. I knew He was dying and there was nothing I could do.

In the dream I knew I had been there for some time. Hours. I had crawled along the hill to be as close as I dared to go. I was filled with more desperation as I heard him cry "'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" I couldn't understand something. Things felt odd and confusing. Why would God be forsaking Him? I didn't know then that Jesus could not be One with the Father because He had taken on my sin. There could be no sin in the presence of God. I knew that I deserved this kind of death, not The Sinless One. There was stirring at the cross, the guards doing something. Clanging of metal armor and coins.

Then I heard Him say "It is finished." I understood the meaning behind the phrase; that His work on Earth was completed. He had done what He was intended to do.

I lay as still as I could lay. My hands were gripping the ground with every bit of strength I had. I could smell the earth beneath me, I could feel the blades of grass between my fingers. A layer of gray covered the sky behind the crosses. The hillside shook. I was shaking as well.

Then I woke up.
My heart was racing. I looked around my room. I knew I would never be the same. Even today, as I write this, I can still smell the moist grass and I can still feel the ground beneath me. And I can still look upon that cross with amazement. But I feel no despair as I did in my dream. I feel no confusion. For I know that my sin was paid for on that hill and that my promise of everlasting life was fulfilled when Jesus left the tomb. My hope lies in an empty grave.
I know that, at the time of my dream, I was enduring some pretty heavy issues. I remember that life was difficult at work. I was facing conflicts and doubts and deception. That dream left me quaking but confident in the simplicity of my faith. No matter what troubles surround me. No matter the stress. No matter the hurt. No matter the insult. No matter...what. It all pales in the shadow of the cross and there is no room for doubt in that empty grave.
I didn't really speak of my dream for a while. I told my husband, but no one else for some time. As you can imagine, it was quite disturbing. The events throughout the day seemed so trivial. Oh, the printer out of ink and we have the wrong cartridge? Guess what? I dreamed of Golgotha- I'm kind of preoccupied right now. To have been allowed some kind of emotional glimpse into the most important part of my faith, to be unconsciously there...but wait.
Wasn't I there? Weren't we all, really? Our sins were. They were right there on His heart and mind when He was being brutalized, suffering, and dying.
So as I contemplate the events of this Good Friday I do so with a different perspective now.
You see, I was there.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When was the last time someone showed you compassion? I mean the real, honest, selfless kind of compassion. Want a really good definition of compassion? Try: suffering alongside. Doesn't that just say it all? Drawing near, near enough to be alongside, then suffering right there with someone. Not just saying how sorry you are. Suffering- feeling the pain. Close-up, alongside. Maybe someone suffered alongside you with a phone call.  A gentle conversation that was mostly filled with silent listening. Or they asked you if you were ok and they really meant it. They had time to listen because they already knew you weren't ok. And they were there to "pray you through." Maybe they sent a touching card or stopped by to offer you...themselves. And time together with the Savior.

Wasn't it amazing? Wasn't it just The Best Thing? Maybe they spoke some helpful words that comforted or they offered to go into the Word and seek the Father's help. Sometimes just coming alongside us, sitting with us in the middle of our mess, and understanding. We don't have to have had the Bad Thing,  whatever it was, happen to us in order to feel someone's pain. In fact, we don't even have to agree with the person in order to exhibit compassion. If you love someone, their pain is your pain. You ache right there with them.

Because wounds are wounds, no matter if they are self-inflicted, accidental, or intentional. Do doctors only treat patients who have been hurt accidentally? And haven't all parents had a sense of compassion and tenderness for a child in the middle of meting out discipline? It doesn't mean we change things or that we disagree with the situation, it simply means we care. 

As Christians, we are to be compassionate people. John 13:34-35 tells us to love each other. Simple as that. There are really no strings attached to this one, nor is there room to question.  

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Note that there is no reference to whether you agree, whether your friends agree, or whether you will benefit. "YOU MUST." It's a commandment. Love. Simply love. For I do not believe you can love and not have compassion.

So now let's look at the reverse side of this compassion thing.

When was the last time you were compassionate to someone?

Wasn't THAT just the Very Best Thing?
To know that you have been a part of the real Big Picture in life- well there just isn't anything that gets any better than that. You have been obedient to the Lord. You have shown the closest thing to His love that we can get on this planet. You have loved selflessly, you've come alongside and mourned, wept, questioned, talked, been still, offered advice, prayed, and then you stood up, dusted your compassionate knees off, and continued on the path set before you. You have not done this in vain, dear sister. If you have offered a word from the Word, it will not return void and you will be rewarded. (Isaiah 55:11, 1 Corinthians 3:7-9) Not that we do any of this for a reward-- no, not at all. But to know that we are pleasing our Father is enough to bring us right back on our dusty old knees and praise Him for His love shown toward us!
And then there's the Third Side of this compassion triangle. The side we don't like very much. There's the side that is not pretty or rewarding or pleasing.
When was the last time you had an opportunity to show compassion and you ignored it?
Wasn't that just...the very worst thing.
You know you've done it. We all have. Or maybe I'm the ONLY GUILTY ONE and this blog is totally meant to beat me up and, if so, that's ok too. For I am guilty of not showing the love and compassion and suffering that I want to show to so many who are hurting and needy and sad and trapped and abused. How dare I not show them that I get it? That I know.
It must be pride. It must be. Even though I don't want to admit it. Maybe I don't want other people seeing me identify with the... "less fortunate." Maybe they will "Think Things About Me." Or maybe they will not think other things.

When Jesus was presented with the woman caught in adultery, how did He react? This is one of my favorite passages, for it shows the meekness yet the immeasurable power of my Savior.

John 8

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

An Adulteress Forgiven

At dawn He went to the temple complex again, and all the people were coming to Him. He sat down and began to teach them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him.
Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, Lord,”[a] she answered.
“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

They tried to entrap Jesus. They thought, they really thought, they could "outsmart" the King of Kings. He was teaching. He was doing what He loved to do and they chose that time to actually imagine that He would have His guard down. I can only imagine how that conversation went. It would be like Moe, Larry, and Curly standing behind a temple curtain plotting to come upon Him when JESUS least expected it.


It's fascinating to me that He didn't choose this time to get angry. He was angered at the swindlers misusing and abusing the Temple, but here all He needed to do was to write something in the sand. Something so powerful that the crowd disassembled, starting with the older (and presumably wiser) men.

Have you ever witnessed God work this way in your life? Events orchestrated so that those who try to do you harm are actually blocked from doing so? The evil just retreats because it is no match for the power of God in the life of His children. I have stood amazed. So must that woman have been...amazed.

Wonder what He wrote...

I will show compassion. And I will tremble at the thought of what Jesus would write in the sand about me.  


I'm in one of those seasons where I just want to retreat. Having the genetic makeup of generations of warriors, those seasons do not com...