I had a dream last night that is really bothering me. In this dream, several people were angry with me. There were varied reasons for their anger, but a couple of them made sure to say to me, "You're no better than me."
I couldn't agree more.
Dreams often speak truth to me. Sometimes they are just my brain processing and compiling events and are just a physiological response. But, sometimes they are more than that. Sometimes they are the Lord's way of whispering to our heart in movie format. So, I don't usually just dismiss my dreams.
I'm sure I'll be chewing on this one for a day or two at least.
There are things I already know have contributed to this dream. First of all, I have received some praise lately, and that always makes me nervous. It is very easy to allow those kind words to go to my head. In the past, I've been imprisoned by praise. When someone thought I was wonderful, I felt like I had to always be perfect and never let them down. I allowed my pride to become like chains around me. I was held captive by the fear of failure.
I believe that things that are secret have power. Things that are done in darkness always threaten you with exposure into the light. So, I don't like secrets and I do my best to do nothing in darkness. I don't want those things to have power over me.
So, in light of that and in response to my dream, I'd like to make a confession.
I'm no better than you, maybe I'm worse. I know the things in my heart that fight for the attention and affection that should belong to the Lord alone. Romans 3:23 tells me that "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" and 3:10 says "There is no one righteous, not even one". So, from my birth, I've been a fallen creature, full of imperfection, and prone to wander.
I know that I hurt people, even people that I love dearly. I don't usually mean to, but there have been times in my life when I have meant to hurt someone. I'm ashamed to say that. I'm sorry for the moments when I've been too consumed with myself or my situation to see the need of the person in front of me. I grieve over the moments I've lost to share the story of redemption because I was too caught up in my own sin, shame, or worthlessness.
I've gossipped. I've delighted in the failure of another, thinking they got what they deserved. I've lied. At some point in my life, I've probably broken most of God's commandments. And, even if I haven't, His standard is so high that He says to lust is the same as committing adultery, to hate is the same as murder. So, I am the worst of sinners, in desperate need of grace.
And, thank God for His grace. Without it, I would be lost. Without the hope that comes from knowing I am His child and His love never fails, I would be destroyed. I wouldn't even be able to lift my head.
I just read this passage from the Psalms and it filled my heart with joy:
Psalm 32:1-5 (The Message)
A David Psalm
1 Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start, your slate's wiped clean.
2 Count yourself lucky— GOD holds nothing against you and you're holding nothing back from him.
3 When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans.
4 The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.
5 Then I let it all out; I said, "I'll make a clean breast of my failures to GOD."
Suddenly the pressure was gone— my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.
So, to the people in my dream, let me assure you that I know I'm no better than you. It's no secret. I'm no good at all. It's only by the grace and power of Jesus that I can do anything. And, that's ok by me.