December 5, 2012

Uninvited guests

A devastating and uninvited dream woke me this morning. From this dream, I had the impression that God was pushing me to deal with an issue that I keep pushing aside. 

As I read today’s devotional, I wondered if that was what was happening when the prophet Daniel was a slave in Babylon. He had become known for interpreting dreams and played an important role in the lives of the three heads of state who ruled while he was alive. 

The second of the three, King Belshazzar, “made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand.” (Daniel 5:1) During the course of the evening, an uninvited guest appeared in the form of a human hand that wrote on the wall. The king was terrified. Daniel was brought in to determine the meaning of this. It turned out to be bad news for this king. He refused to humble his heart and died that same night.  

Daniel was skilled at interpreting dreams and visions because God gave this ability to him. Over the years, most of my dreams have not required interpretation. They were silly mixed up reflections of being too busy (or as my dad used to say, eating too much pizza). Some cause me to wake up laughing. A few, like last night, cause me to wake up in great emotional distress. 

Those dreams are seldom about my own actions but about my reactions to what someone else is doing. While I can talk to that other person (either in the dream or in real time) I cannot make or manipulate a change in their lives. I can only deal with my own life. 

However for the most part, I don’t have much success changing myself either. I can want to change. I can decide to, determine to, make vows and promises, and try harder, but changes of that sort do not last. God (and life) convince me that only the Holy Spirit can work permanent changes. 

Yet that does not mean I can sit back and wait to be zapped. My responsibilities include…

… confessing sin. This is admitting I need change. (1 John 1:9)

… obeying where and when I can. (Philippians 2:12)

… prayer for grace and strength as I realize my weakness and inability. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

… being honest to others about my failures, needs, and fears. (James 5:16)

… saying no to temptation and sin. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Failure to do any of these things brings a crash. Sometimes I crash and hurt other people. If I push aside all that I can and should do, the very least it can do is give me bad dreams or cause someone else to have nightmares.

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