Nightmare

I had a profound dream last night.  I rarely have dreams that have a semblance of making sense, but this one certainly did.  I woke up, in fact, in shock—and a ‘relieved terror’–of why you will soon see.

In my dream, I had found out a friend of mine had died, a friend I have seen sporadically over the years but haven’t kept in touch with.  I knew him years ago, and for a while the fact that he was not a Christian bothered me deeply.  I became so miserable one night after restlessness that I decided to do something I had never done before—I shared my faith with him.  I invited him to church.

I was mortified to do so, and tried to avoid him as much as possible after.

In my dream, I found out that he had died—suddenly, but not unexpectantly.  He’d had a rare disease and known for a while he was going to die.  Years and years before, when I had been praying for him, I had felt sure God would save him.  But now, as I stood before his coffin, I could only look with dread and wonder why I had thought witnessing to him one time, fifteen years prior, had been enough.  Why, when I’d had providential encounters, I had been so embarrassed by my witness effort, and so satisfied with my one attempt to break through with the Gospel, that I had quickly avoided him nearly every time, and never taken the time to speak of Christ with him.

Someone wanted me to open the coffin.  I did not want to.  He had been dead a few days, and I was terrified to see him rotting.  I have always feared death.  I was frightened of the stench that would come if I opened the coffin.  I was filled with dread, but, as dreams sometimes go, I opened the hinge to the front of the coffin.

There was no smell, and I kept my face away from his body, and especially his decomposing face.  I looked instead at what was lying with him in the coffin—a phone and a journal.

I took out the phone and found out that one of my friends had texted him right before he’d died.  I was surprised because the two had never known each other, and I tried to figure out how they’d made the connection.  But this was a Christian friend, and my heart was filled with hope.  Maybe, maybe the Gospel had been shared.

But when I looked at the text, it was benign—something like “What’s up?” or “Hey, how’s it going?”  I had a depth of horror far deeper than the initial opening of the coffin.  I was terrified of what I feared was coming: the knowledge that he had died and not known God.

His journal did not give me the answer I sought.  My mind began to flashback to the past described in the journal I supposed, and what I saw was a bitter man, a man who had denied God to the end.  I found internet access and found him on youtube.  I watched him talk about something meaningless to his salvation, his mind concerned with something petty, completely devoid of Christ right before death.

The regret and guilt began to rush like a current through me.  I was in anguish.  I wanted to go back, wanted more time, wanted another chance.

And then there was the worst.  I watched a video of him filled with matter-of-fact bitterness towards God and His alleged existence, shaking his fist at God even as he knew he was dying.

I kept searching in my mind for some other answer—some way out of this.  I kept searching for a way to go back, to try to tell him what he now knew . . and what was too late to change from.

I realized he was in Hell, and there was nothing I could do to change it.  Despair washed down me like poison.  There was no going back.

My only hope for the future for those I loved was how I could witness to they who were still alive.  In the coffin in front of me was a friend I had thought I’d dearly loved.  Thought I wept for him, I knew I had not dearly loved him, for if I had, I would have talked to him.  I saw it so clearly in my mind.  The avoidance, the letting embarrassment control me–this was not love.  This was social convenience.  I had preferred to keep myself comfortable than warn him he faced eternal separation from God.  And now I would never have another chance to talk to him.  I kept seeing his dead face, his unseeing eyes staring through me.

I woke up with a start.  I began wracking my brain to try to think of my friend’s last name . .

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14, NLT)

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Published in: on January 20, 2013 at 8:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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