I think I was visited by an angel in my dream last night. There were no wings or halos or strumming harps, but the man in my dream brought with him a sense of peace and truth best explained, for me, as angelic. We were standing on a tall and wide concrete staircase, he higher than me. His face, island brown, rounded and showing the first signs of middle-age, was framed by a bright blue sky as I looked up.
“You can just confess to God that you’ve been a bad Christian,” he said, “and that you’re going to need help to get it right.” Perhaps these words would have been upsetting to me if not for the easy smile and casual tone in which they were spoken. “It’s no big deal, everyone needs help, you just gotta ask for it.” I’m not sure that he actually said those last words, at least not out loud, but they resound in my spirit as though he did.
I woke up with a strange combination of conviction and wonderment and immediately began praying just as I had dreamt I should.
It’s true, I haven’t been doing a very good job at this Christian thing lately. I haven’t really done anything wrong, not those things that make devout people shudder and swoon anyway, I just haven’t really done anything. Between action and apathy, I’d say apathy is the greater danger. I’ve been disinterested at best and disgusted at worst; not by God, mind you, but by His people and His church and an ever growing gap between the relevancy of them and their message and the dying world of today. I’ve allowed myself to become so hopeless in the face of the challenge that I simply stopped trying. And where compromise begins, it quickly takes over.
Soon enough the ‘why bother’ switches to ‘who has time’ and ‘maybe later’ and ‘I’d rather watch tv’ and even ‘I’m so tired I couldn’t possibly think’, until suddenly actual devotional time is a distant memory, the Bible gathering dust and prayer a hasty go-to in times of struggle. Before you’re aware, you’re talking to people about a God you’re no longer in relationship with. He’s a guy you once knew and you have fond memories you like to share.
At least, that’s what happens to me.
The workings of God, and His grace, never cease to amaze me. For those of you who haven’t heard this defintion, the easiest way grace is defined is as “getting what we don’t deserve” (while mercy is “not getting what we do deserve”). I certainly didn’t earn a dreamland pep talk with an island stranger that, with a tone of affection, pointed out the wrong in order to show me the right. If I am rebelling in my spirit against what I know to be truth, even on a small scale, then what I deserve is the price of that rebellion. I deserve consequence not conversation.
I’m grateful God doesn’t think like me. He’s willing to help. He thinks I’m important enough to talk to, in the middle of the night when my self-erected walls are laid to rest, and offer a little direction. I’ll be honest, He thinks way more of me than I do.
It’s no big deal, everyone needs help, you just gotta ask for it.