I am not a mystic. I do not ever remember having a dream with some special meaning. Ever. However, I know it happens.
In the mission context, people across the world have dreams that open their minds and hearts to Jesus. It’s commonplace. But it just doesn’t happen a lot in our context. Kim wrote about dreams in Voices of the Faithful. These dreams were instrumental in opening people’s hearts and minds to the gospel.
However, I have never had meaningful dreams. So, it was with some amazement that it happened.
I was not sleeping well the first few months. It’s a common aspect of grief. One morning I was on an early flight, and I was tired. As the plane ascended, I dozed off.
I was jolted awake by a vivid dream. In my dream, Kim was about twenty feet in front of me, and she was running full speed toward me. Her face had an expression of sheer exuberance. She was elated more than I’d ever seen her. She dove into my arms and my dream ended. That’s it. Mere seconds.
“Jesus said… ‘…everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” John 11:25-26
Over time I unpacked my dream slowly. I’m not going to insist on this interpretation or that the dream was from God. Maybe. I hope so. Maybe God was giving me a gift. I don’t pretend to know with absolute certainty. I am reminded, however, that Joel prophesied that old men will dream dreams. And for the record, I’m beginning to fit Joel’s criteria to be able to dream those dreams (Joel 2:28).
Kim normally didn’t run but when she did it was never fast (although a little known fact about Kim is that she played soccer for the University of Georgia). I concluded her exuberance was a result of being with Christ. Heaven was beyond anything she’d ever known, and it showed on her face. Pure ecstasy. Elation. Given the choice, she would not come back to me. She loved me, her children, and especially her grandchildren. Not to mention her extended family and friends. But in the light of her new life in eternity, she would want me to know that she’s perfectly fine. Heaven is for real. She would graciously decline any invitation to return to us and her life here even if offered the opportunity. Heaven is that good. Jesus’ presence is that joyful.
“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.’” 1 Corinthians 2:9
“In mansions of glory and endless delight, I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright…” William R. Featherstone, “My Jesus, I Love Thee”
As a result of my stunning experience of loss, I see heaven differently than I ever have before. I feel like Stephen (in Acts 7:55). He got to gaze into heaven before he went there. Maybe this dream was a gift to allow me to gaze into heaven, see the ecstatic joy on Kim’s face, and long for the beautiful presence of Christ even more.
But for now, I live on. I need to carry on faithfully. I need to honor Kim and God in the manner I live.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me…” Philippians 1:21-22
Living on in the flesh will mean fruitful life, relationships, and work. For me, apparently, it is more necessary. I need to grieve and mourn appropriately so that health and effectiveness return. Then, I’ll be able to embrace the “more necessary,” the investment into the accounts of others. But for now, I am encouraged by a glimpse into eternity.
“He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces…” Isaiah 25:8
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55
It is reassuring to project yourself into the future when death is, indeed, swallowed up and defeated. Tears are wiped away from every face. Struggles are behind us, and the persecutions are put away. The reproach of God’s people is removed. While we live here on earth in the day-by-day stuff of life, it’s encouraging, faith-bolstering, and even comforting to know it will one day be put behind us. Death, mourning, crying, and pain will pass away.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13
“Giver of immortal gladness…” Henry Van Dyke, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
“Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, and then proclaim: ’my God, how great Thou art!’” Stuart K. Hine, “How Great Thou Art”