I dreamed a dream, and in my dream the Lord had called all of His children to Heaven in the rapture. The Heavenly chorus was singing as I had never heard voices on earth. Angels hovered, directing folks to their desired destinations. Family and friends who had long been parted were reunited in great joy. What seemed like a sea of humanity pressed around the throne, rejoicing and worshiping God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It was a family reunion like you’ve never seen; truly a jubilee.
But far away from the great throng, miles from the throne, a humbled and broken saint sat alone under a large oak tree by the river of life. In my dream I was that man.
An angel winging by noticed me there, made a u-turn, and settled by my side. “Hello, Redeemed of the Lord. Are you lost?”
“No, I’m not lost.”
“Well, what ails you, then? You‘re in Heaven now, you know. The rapture has passed. Eternity lies ahead.”
I sighed. “Yes, I realize I’m in Heaven but I’d rather be alone right now.”
“Alone. Why in Heaven would you want to be alone now? This is the time of rejoicing.”
“Okay,” I told the angel softly, “the truth is, I’m ashamed to face Jesus.”
“Ashamed to face Jesus?” The angel recoiled, as surprised as an angel could possibly be. “Jesus is the reason you’re here, oh man. How could you be ashamed to face Him?”
“It’s a hard story to tell.”
“Try me. I’m a good listener,” the angel said.
“When I was on earth I lived most of my life for myself. I loved the world and all that was in the world. I rarely told others about the grace of God or the gospel. When the Lord would ask me to do something for Him, I never trusted Him enough to do as He asked. I did precious little for Him while I lived on earth. So you see, I have earned no crowns, nothing to lay at His feet. I have nothing to say to Him. I was a failure for my Lord on earth and I’m ashamed to face Him now. Do you understand?”
Just then my dream took on a shimmering brightness more intense than the noonday sun. The birds hushed their singing, the Heavenly chorus became silent, the angel backed away, bowed to one knee and covered his face with a wing.
I turned slowly and there stood One who had the appearance of the Son of man. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes shone like a flame of fire. His voice was as the sound of many waters. When I saw him I fell at His feet as though dead. He thanked the angel and dismissed him, then He placed a nail-scarred hand on me and raised me to my feet. I bowed my head.
“Don’t be afraid, Carl,” the Lord said. “It’s me, the First and the Last. I am Christ your Lord. Welcome to Heaven.”
I nodded, unable to speak.
“Would you come walk with me?” Christ asked. “I’d like to talk with you.”
I couldn’t look at him. I groped for words. “Thank you, Lord Jesus, for bringing me to Heaven as you promised so many years ago, but I’ll just stay out of the way here. I won’t bother anyone. You go ahead. The others are waiting to see you, I’m sure.”
“I’ll get to all that later,” the Lord said, “but now I would like to talk with you. Come.” We walked together, my Lord and me, like we had done so many times on earth. Only this time He was physically at my side, talking with me. Or at least He was as real as He could be in a dream.
“Carl,” the Lord began. “You carry many burdens on your heart. You have been afraid to face me because of your failings on earth, and you are right to be sad about that. But you need never be afraid to be with me. Many of those failings that grieve you, did you not confess them at the time you stumbled, or at least later, after I brought you to your senses?”
“Yes, Lord, even though at times it took me a while to agree with you and confess the sin.”
“You told the angel that you were ashamed to face me and talk with me because you will have no crowns to lay at my feet. Is that correct?”
“Yes, Lord. I failed you most of my life, much worse than Peter ever did.”
“Yes, and now that you’ve mentioned Peter, let’s talk about him. While on earth you would often compare yourself to him in his failings, correct?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Then I shall ask you a question I asked him once. Carl, do you love me?”
I lowered my head. “Yes, Lord, I love you.”
“Carl, do you truly love me? Do you love me as you bragged, back when you were a very young Christian, saying that you would even die for me?”
I paused long. Only one answer would suffice at this point. “No, Lord, I’ve never loved you as I bragged when I was a young Christian. I said those things back then because I wanted the other Christians at church to like me and accept me. I’m sorry.”
My Lord nodded and smiled.
“And now the last question I asked Peter that day by the sea. Carl, do you really even like me as a friend? Do you like me more than all the crowns you might have received for a life of faithful service? Let me put it this way, do you love me for all that I have done for you?
I was speechless. The answers were obvious. “Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.”
“Carl, your dream is coming to a close so let me say this; I died for you so you could become a son in the family of My Father. I saved you so that you could be with me for eternity. I did it all because I love you. And my love for you is not any less because you failed in serving me. In the past you failed because you tried to serve me in your own wisdom and strength. In the future, always remember that without me you can do nothing. From now on bring everything to me, good or bad, right or wrong, easy or difficult. Trust me and we’ll do it all together.”
As I awoke a portion of Scripture came to me:
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10.)
May our Lord bless and guide you until next time,
Carl and Sue