‘Twas Grace

I have found that my house is full of dreamers.

I don’t mean that my house is full of people with imagination and drive, although I know that whenever I hear, “Daddy…” come out of my little girl, that I had best be buckled in. Either she is going to tell me the disposition of her sock drawer or how many pink wings her personal unicorn will have once she is a successful doctor.

It’s a coin toss.

Seriously, though, ever since I wrote about the effects dreams are having on me, I have begun paying closer attention to the dreams of my children. My daughter, because she lives at all times in the amazing world of her imagination, does not recall many of her dreams. It’s like asking someone what they were thinking about while eating a ham sandwich yesterday at 1pm.

Maybe it was “why does sliced ham not taste like Thanksgiving ham?” Maybe it’s, “what would I name a unicorn?”

My sons have been having a very similar dream between themselves. And it partially scared me for a while. It has also begun to instruct me about them. It teaches me about me.

Clarence… I’d name a unicorn “Clarence.”

Children, in my estimation do not struggle with some strange need for the world to conform to standards of reality. Suggestions about reality are easier for them, thus the ease with which childrens’ movies are made versus the believability and quality of the production. When I was young, I believed Keanu Reeves was an award worthy actor. His contributions via Bill and Ted and even more complicated fare such as A Walk in the Clouds were, for me, evidence that he was one of the great ones.

I return to these movies later to discover how cringy and campy they are. I’ll still watch them, sure… especially Bill and Ted, but the terrible burden of reality has closed off a place of imagination from me that once flourished.

The problem with reality, of course, is that, in some respects, it’s a complete and total lie.

My coffee tastes amazing right now. But that’s because I’m drinking it in the morning before the sun has come up in my back door window. The coffee I’m drinking isn’t just the combination of hot water and ground up roasted coffee beans in optimal mixture and time. The coffee I’m drinking is the excitement of a day yet unseen, and the opportunity to engage it yet again as a redeemed creation.

The coffee I’m drinking is potential. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also very tasty. But hot coffee doesn’t taste the same at 9:00 AM. That stuff tastes like I’m going to put it down and lose it somewhere for an hour.

I think God teaches us about actual reality in our dreams. Not always. Sometimes anxiety takes over our minds and we drown out the entire world and all of the voices for fearful scapes fueled by garbage intake and maintained by fear.

But even then, the faithful whisper of God cannot be shut out from our hearts.

There are times, though, when God is the only contributor. These are the times that I cherish, because it’s like a long walk with my parents. With the wisdom of their years available, there isn’t much I cannot say, and much I would like to know. In the walk of a dream with God, I find that He very gently takes “reality” and sets it aside so that He can tell me what actually is.

My sons have recently begun to have dreams that our house is destroyed. They have woken up tearfully from dreams that their baby brother is lost.

It is prophecy, in a way.

No, I don’t foresee the sudden demise of my house and my youngest child. What I see is both of my boys walking with God in the quiet of the early hours of the morning. We belong in this place now. We live in Texas. Before, even up to a month ago, my children would have mourned leaving this area, but only because all of their stuff has to go back into boxes and family is further away. It would mean more turbulence. But now…

This place is their home now. And the final process of grieving the old home has begun. The pin that marks “home” has finally begun to move in their hearts.

As to the other dream…

When I deployed to Iraq, I struggled for quite some time with intense dreams. For years, I had control of my dreams. There existed no undefeatable monster within the menagerie of my imagination. But going into a place of actual danger, I had to come to grips with one single reality. I could die.

And during the entire year of my deployment, I cannot tell you a single dream I dreamed. When I slept, I was at peace. Unless the accursed indirect fire alarms were going off. Then we were awake and grumpy.

When I came home, I still slept peacefully… something I did until I was married.

Then the first night at home with my new bride I had an awful dream that someone was there to take her away from me. I woke up in a panic, with the long tendrils of the suggestion of fear still wrapped around my heart.

It wasn’t for a few days that I realized, God was telling me something. I had a few more dreams of the same nature, always my new bride taken from me.

The message? For two and a half decades my sole point of protection was my own self. Now? Now my circle was drawn bigger and I had to understand responsibility.

And in that responsibility I could either ignore the reality that people within the sphere of my influence were subject to the whims of a fallen world or I could know that risk deeply within my heart. The problem with knowing such a hard reality is that it will drive you to madness.

If you love someone so deeply as, say, a wife, to whom your life is pledged in mutual submission in the sunshine and the storm, you want only the best for them, but, if you are paying attention to the reality of which God quietly speaks, you know there is a potential for tragedy.

My sons have a baby brother. I say, probably about a dozen times a week, “He is your brother, not a toy.” That reality is beginning to sink in. The reality that is also sinking in, is how much they love him. It is hard for them to allow that reality to sink in. When we walked the painful road of miscarriage, they walked it too. When we have walked the painful road of cancer, they have walked it too.

Loss is real.

So is love.

They now fear losing their little brother because his reality as their brother is nearly unbearable with the thought that it’s conceivable they could lose him. Fear has awakened with love in their hearts.

Let me say something that at first blush tastes bad coming out.

God has taught my sons that loss is possible. He has gently explained to them what is at stake. This thought echoes the old verse of “Amazing Grace.”

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear

You can look at those words as “the fear of God,” but why not fear in general? Why is it so bad that in dreams, God spoke to me very gently to let me know what was at stake as a married man? Why is it bad to credit God in every addition of a child to my family that I dream fearfully of their loss? Why not God teaching my boys that they can lose something so precious?

It is reality.

But more importantly, and even more real, the world revealed in that follow up line in that same verse,

And Grace my fears relieved

If loss is a reality with which I must come to grips, the even more prescient reality is that I cannot hope to prevent loss on my own. As the champion of my family, there are yet limits to my strength. The greatest feat of strength I can bring then to my ever expanding circle of responsibility is to surrender control over my circle to God.

The fear He teaches is not for fear’s sake. It is not paranoia. I’ve written about paranoia, and its direct opposition to something far more important, metanoia… repentance.

In repentance we see that reality holds danger for what we love the most and in our repentance and surrender to God, we give Lordship to Him to steward our most treasured relationships and people within them. We learn the hard reality to an easy phrase, “let go and let God.”

And in that reality, we rest once again.

Two things just happened.

1. I just brought a cup of coffee to my bride who has not been taken from me. Not only has she not been taken, she is immensely stronger than when we first married, due in no part to my own contribution. But she is stronger because God is her God and He is Lord over her life. And I have trusted Him with her safety.

She is sipping on early morning coffee and breathing in the potential of the day. It’s good coffee.

2. My oldest just woke from a dream in which a giant ate our house. God is calling out to him to learn what is at stake. But He is also offering to my first born a chance to learn true trust and faith.

Do you have fear? In the best possible way, I hope you know fear. I hope you have high stakes in your life. I hope you have relationships you cherish. I hope you have dreams for your future and plans to get there. I hope you look way beyond your horizon and see huge circles drawn around you with many people within those borders. I hope that you hope.

I hope you know the reality of what is at stake and do not take these blessings for granted.

I utterly hope that you know that reality and the deeper more permanent reality beyond our fears. I hope you know that you can place your entire life, its weight, its significance, its days, its cups of coffee, and its dreams of your home into His hands. I hope you truly trust Him.

If God calls to you to walk through the cool of the garden with Him so that He might explain to you the reality that awaits you within the relationship He beckons you to enjoy, I hope you step foot onto that path. It is the same path of revelation and wonder that Adam and Eve walked. It is a journey of forever beauty. It is a treasured time with the one who created beauty. It is by His grace we learn fear and what is at stake. It is by His grace that our fears do not live long within the burning light of His love and power.

Loss is real.

Love is realer.

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