And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8: 28-39 (NIV)
I have some pretty bizarre dreams. Sometimes I remember them in great detail, but that’s usually only if I tell someone immediately upon waking, or if I write it down right away. All that to say, most of my dreams stay tucked away in the caverns of my subconscious.
This morning, I woke up remembering I had a really detailed dream, but that was the extent of it. I went about my slow morning as I usually do on my days off, making my coffee with absolutely no intention of changing out of my pajamas until I leave for my first plans at 3pm. (Slow mornings are one of my favorite things on this planet if I haven’t already said that!! Praise Jesus for restful days! Anyway moving right along…)
A little backstory: this particular season of my life has been a weird one. I don’t really know where I’m going or what I’m doing. It feels like opportunities arise only to end abruptly, leaving me feeling a little whiplash. Confused. Filled with emotion. Many of my prayers have been accompanied by tears as I struggle to trust that God has a good thing in store. I’ve been fighting discontentment and discouragement and uncertainty, and it’s been a season of really battling to believe that God is a giver of good gifts when I feel forgotten (which in my head I know is not true, but my feelings sometimes lead me to believe otherwise. Different topic for a different day!).
Once I made my perfect probably-too-strong-for-most-people cup of coffee, I sat down on the couch with my journal and Bible.
Let me just take a moment to encourage anyone in a season of wrestling with God, whatever that may look like for you. GOD IS SO MUCH BIGGER THAN ANY STRUGGLE YOU FACE. He is not afraid of your questions, your emotions. He is not ashamed of you for what you may be feeling. Fact: God DESIRES to love you. I know this because of Jesus–God sent his one and only Son to pay the debt we owed God. He did that knowing that we in our humanity could not, and in so doing made a way for us to be in relationship with the One who created us! And we have a very real Enemy that wants us to hide in shame from the God who loves us that much. So in these moments of question, I promise you, the best place to run to is Jesus. Let His love unravel the tangles of your thoughts. Let His warm embrace remind you that you are held. Let His Word bring comfort and peace and encouragement and loving discipline. I promise you, He is a really, really good Father.
So back to my coffee-and-couch moment. I began journaling prayers of thanksgiving for the lessons He’s been teaching me in the past few weeks and months. Sheesh, it would be a whole series I think if I were to write it all right this second. As I was flipping through scripture to find a verse (don’t even remember which one at the moment), my eyes flicked across Revelation 2:10-11, which reads, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you…Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown…The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.” Now contextually, this passage in particular was written to the church in Smyrna, encouraging them to stay steadfast in the midst of persecution. But the verse, “the devil will put some of you in prison to test you” stuck out to me big time. It made me think of Job, how God gave the devil the go-ahead to test him, too. Sometimes, it’s by the testing of our faith that it is refined and proven true. And God has absolute authority over Satan–he cannot operate outside of God’s command.
Which then brought to mind in vivid detail a very specific scene of my dream. There was this movie theater that had multiple levels, and an elevator to get to it. We parked our car in the multilevel parking garage, on on our way in, heard people murmuring that there was a killer on the loose somewhere in the building. The middle section of the dream is blurry, but the end was crystal clear. I was walking out of the theater with a man who I guessed was my husband (I’m not married, so I didn’t really know, that was just the vibe I got haha). To get back to the parking lot, we had to walk through this really bright room that was all white. The exit was a really wide, open garage door. Strangely, it was just the two of us making our way through the room, the man a few steps ahead of me. Suddenly, the killer quietly appeared to my right. I turned to face him and froze. He was staring at me, but made no advance. I called out to the man I was with, who calmly turned around to face the killer, almost as if he knew he was there all along. He said nothing, but gave the killer a deadly serious glare. In that moment, the killer’s anger began to boil to the surface as he furiously said through gritted teeth, “I have been given orders that I can’t kill you as long as he’s here,” motioning to the man I was with. Then he left as mysteriously as he appeared.
And then I woke up.
I certainly don’t have dreams like this all the time, but something about reading the verse in Revelation triggered this insanely specific memory from it and I felt led to share.
This, to me, is why Jesus is my greatest joy. Romans 8:9-11 says,
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.Romans 8:9-11 (NIV)
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but if you are in Christ, the enemy has no power to separate you from God’s love that is secured in Jesus.
If you are on the fence about Jesus and church and the Bible, I’ll be honest in saying that Christians have not done a great job of representing Jesus, myself included, and for that I apologize. What I know for certain though, is that Jesus is so full of grace and wants you to know Him. No one earns the gift of being saved, of being adopted into His family because we’re all flawed human beings. But God, in His mercy, sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice on our behalf–living the perfect, sinless life that we could never and dying the death that we deserve on the cross–so that anyone who would believe in Him and accept that His sacrifice was enough would be saved. And when we are saved, He promises us His presence with us always –His Holy Spirit.
And it’s by this Spirit we have the power to fight back when the enemy taunts us. In this season for me, the enemy’s been trying to get me to believe his lies that I’m overlooked or forgotten by God. But in this beautiful moment I had in Scripture, the Lord brought to mind this detail of this dream. Now I see the man was Jesus (the Church is the bride of Christ, so it makes sense He was the husband figure), and that He was with me, protecting me the whole time. He was walking ahead of me, leading me toward the exit. He knew the enemy has been testing me, but His presence never left me. And one glance from the eyes of Jesus sends the enemy into a fury, because he knows he’ll never win. Jesus will ALWAYS have the victory.
Romans 8:34 says, “Who is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more that that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Friends, Jesus is fighting for us. He’s interceding for us. And through Him, we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS.
How is it even possible to be more than a conqueror?? Like, a conqueror has already won! I guess that Jesus has won forever and always, and absolutely nothing–NOTHING–can defeat Him.
*As always, feel so free to reach out to me in the contact section of this blog if any of this hits home for you, or you have questions, or need prayer. I certainly don’t claim to have it all figured out, as I’m a just a human learning how to love and be loved by Jesus and live for Him. But I do know He’s so, so good, and I’d love to be a safe space for your questions to land, and we can bring those questions to Him together. 🙂