I had a dream a couple of months ago that had a deep impact on my everyday thinking. Before I tell you what it was I want to admit that I don’t think it was some revelatory dream that I received or something, in fact parts of it run contrary to my understanding of God’s word. For those reasons don’t read too much into the fact that I had a dream… Now with all that being said I would like to share some thoughts that have arisen in my mind because of the dream.
I had a dream that I witnessed the second coming of Christ. (don’t think I’m crazy or a heretic yet, read on…) Maybe I was spending to much time reading through the book of Revelation (lol), but the way the dream effected me was quite real. It put the idea of eternity squarely on my mind. It was amazing how quickly I forgot all my problems, work, stress, and plans that I had. I quickly abandoned the task I was doing in the dream when this all started. Even when I awoke I still was left with thoughts of eternity on my mind. It was like my mind shifted into a new gear.
As I stood there in my dream believing that in the next few minutes I was going to come face to face with the Jesus Christ there were really only three things on my mind: 1. an amazement that “this world” in which I had spent 24 years was now coming to an end, 2. concern that Christ would “know me” (Matt 7:21-23), 3. and I was very aware of my sinfulness. Everything else in my mind blew away like dust in the wind.
Yet again God allowed me to stare eternity in the face just this last week. Some of you may know that I am at the Army’s Chaplain School in SC. Last week we took a trip to the South Carolina Medical School’s morgue. We went so that we would get exposed to death (forcing us to come to to terms with many issues) and for some simple medical training using the bodies. This is valuable training for Chaplains in a time of war.
I expected to see some things that would make me uncomfortable. I did not expect it would affect me as much as it did. I saw a lot of things that night, and so many thoughts rattled around in my head. I could not help but wonder where the souls of the bodies in front of me where spending eternity. What would they say if they could talk now? How glorious is it to live forever with God? How horrible is the second death (Rev 21:8)?
As I lay down to sleep that night I was uneasy. I still saw those images vividly in my minds eye. Those same thoughts from the morgue still wore on my mind and the question of my own salvation loomed large. “Am I really saved? How do I know that I am really saved?” It’s funny how questions you have settled in your mind over and over again can still come calling, asking once more for an answer. An uneasy night was only made bearable by reading from God’s word, praying and quoting scripture in my head. As I quoted versed that dealt with salvation and faith in Christ I simply tried to examine my life and my faith in light of those verses.
There are times in our lives when we are confronted with eternity quite plainly. Often these are in the face of great tragedy or death. Though these times may be uncomfortable I give thanks that God allows them in order that He may order our thoughts anew. Every so often the Lord shakes me and opens my eyes again to what is really important. Like His discipline these experiences are uncomfortable but yield great fruit in season. Even the questioning of ones faith is an exercise that can make us stronger.
I encourage everyone to ask themselves honestly and frequently “where will I spend eternity and how do I know?” I think one reason people do not do this is because they are afraid of the answer they’ll uncover if they probe to deeply. This is pride and we must overcome it. I can speak form experience; pride looks awfully foolish when one stares at eternity for any length of time.
Examine your thoughts. What are they filled with? What are your days filled with. How would they change if you knew a minute from now would bring eternal change to your life? Probe whatever it is in your mind that gives you assurance of your salvation. Measure it against God’s word. If you have never had an experience that has positioned eternity squarely in your sights then it is my prayer that God would give you one.