Last night I had some nightmares. As I think back what may have caused them is a combination of the news and the podcasts I listened to. It probably doesn’t help when I am purely exhausted at 5:30am when I crawl into bed.
Yesterday, I learned about the little boy with Aspergers that is held in a bunker by a complete stranger. As a mom of a boy with Aspergers I know the turmoil inside of him when he doesn’t even take the right toys to church that we will be at for a few hours. I know his eating habits and when stressed, he does not eat (which is why he likely ate very little at school). I know how much he relies of seeing his family. He will stay overnight one night at Poppa and Nanny’s and is ready to come home. I cannot imagine what he is going through, because most days I don’t even understand “Sam’s World”, instead I just try to understand. As a mom, I cannot imagine my child being kidnapped. My worst nightmare! In fact, I have become so distraught I am finding it even hard to eat today. An experience I never want to live and never want my children to experience!
So my nightmare revolved around Mary at first. Our dog ran out in the snow and Mary went looking for her. But we couldn’t find Mary after she left because she was abducted by people I knew. One was actually a physician at the hospital (and I had done a review for a patient that he was staff on the case just before bed). The other one was a friend (that I had read a post by on Facebook just before bed). And while we were rescuing Mary, that kidnapping was a decoy to also kidnap Samuel. Have you ever woke up crying and in a panic. In a panic, like I had to go check their rooms just to be sure it wasn’t real. I went back to sleep and the dream continued in a stairwell with their abductions. Well, the abduction ended and two kidnappers were shot. I have never been so happy to wake up. But, there were also some valuable lessons about safety that came up that I needed to work on with Sam (and even a few things for Mary). I also realized and remembered that I need to be careful with my last thoughts before going to sleep.
I am so thankful that I woke up and my nightmare was over. We are safe at home without intruders. However, some nightmares are reality. Probably some of my reality “nightmares” have been our miscarriage, infertility, and when Baby Caleb passed away. Some live the nightmare of an abuse, adultery, children in trouble, unexpected deaths, etc… As I have said before, our problems and our nightmares may seem insignificant when we compare them to someone else’s nightmares, but they all matter to God.
I listen to podcasts most nights I work and last night it was a series of 4 lessons – the first one Pastor Furtick talked about David, a man after God’s heart, who lived a nightmare. Much of the nightmare was a result of David’s choices. He basically raped Bethsheba, got her pregnant, then had her husband murdered. He lived the consequence because his son died as a consequence of the sin. (Pastor Furtick points out that the Lord will take away our sins immediately when we ask for forgiveness, but we may still have to live out the consequences of the sin.)
The last two points (of 5) Pastor Furtick made really stuck with me that “There is a time to get down and a time to get up.”, and “Events to do not have to define our identity.”
He talked about David and how when his child became ill, he GOT DOWN (2 Samuel 12:15-17.. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his home and slept lying on the ground.. He would not get up, and continued to pray and fast.). On day 7, the child died, and he GOT UP (2 Samuel 12:20-23 – He got up from the ground, put on lotions, changed clothes and went to the House of the Lord and worshiped and then ate. His servants could not understand why when his actions. He explained that he fasted and wept to plea to God. But now that he is gone, I can’t bring him back.) NOTE: I also believe this section struck a cord with me because fasting has been on my “need to know more about it” list. I also know there are situations that instead of staying down (often being negative, whining, and complaining) that I get UP and do something about them!
Everyone handles nightmares in their lives differently. Some remain stuck in the situation and bitter. Their lives fall apart and they become depressed and live in the past. Others, somehow, find the strength (often only through Christ) to get up and go and worship and live life despite of the past. They restore marriages despite adultery, recover relationships with their children when their children return like the prodigal son, etc.. Some are able to make the nightmare they have lived not be in vain. I think of a dear life-long friend whose beautiful daughter passed away after birth. I am sure she mourns and misses her child, but now she is learning to serve as a Perinatal Grief Doula for other families. I think of the scripture 2 Corinthians 1:3b-4 the God of all comforts who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God.” We should pay our comfort forward.
The second point that I love was the events in our lives do not define our identity. Despite all of his sins, God was still described as a man after God’s heart. Pastor Furtick mentions that our failures are just a success story in process. For the “alchoholic” – God sees as a person who used alcohol to cope, but does not label him the alchoholic for life. When we shed our failures and repent we are made new and all labels are gone from our identity in Christ. He talked about Lamentations 3 of how he has afflictions and walked in darkness, and could not escape, etc (vs 1-21). And then verses 22-23 that “ therefore I have hope because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail. They are NEW EVERY MORNING..” I have that scripture on a magnet on my fridge. I believe that is why I so love a sunrise. It is a reminder (a gift) of a fresh start, where I often look as a sunset as an ending and all the things I didn’t accomplish. What a hope to know Hi compassion is new every day. If we are faithful to put my hope in Him and seek Him (vs 25) , He will show His compassion and unfailing love (vs 32b)
I need to be intentional not to get stuck in my nightmares (and mistakes) and get up and do something about them. Let them just be a step in the success story that God has outlined for my life.
Here is the link for the 4 series podcast if you are interested – http://www.elevationchurch.org/sermons/itakeitback