prisonersI open my eyes and look around when I need to shake loose of a bad dream. I see from Scripture that God can communicate through dreams, though I don’t think that all dreams are from God. Many, most in fact, come from our soul working out its unresolved issues during sleep. That’s my theory.

So here’s the dream I shook off this morning, and its interpretation… neither of which is inspired. Yes, a real dream… just like this…

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I have to report to the police station/courthouse for a speeding ticket (remember, this is a dream, and I haven’t gotten a speeding ticket, okay). The facility is underground, a huge concrete city like an underground parking deck. Cold, dark, and dreary. (Being underground is a clue to me that my Inner Mess is speaking through a dream).

I park my car… a friend is with me. I’m not sure where I’m supposed to park. The signs are confusing and contradictory. I’m worried my car will get ripped off, so I park where a security camera points at it. But the camera is attached to a large truck, which seems to move around. I knock on the door, and an officer tells me I’m in the right spot, but I need a parking pass, and she’s busy, so I should wait there for 20 minutes to get my pass.

Is there anyone else who feels like I do about waiting, especially when it’s due to bureaucratic  inefficiency? Wait for 20 minutes? Right.

So I left, and my friend vanished–no one to advocate for me now–and I was directed to another room across the underground parking lot, where I had to wait in long lines… it seemed like a daycare center for scofflaws. Kids running around and screaming, and there were lots of people in different lines, and I got in one, and made it to the front.

There was a couple running this line, and they knew who I was from church. I didn’t recognize them, though. And they shook their heads and said, Wow a speeding ticket,as if they couldn’t believe that a pastor would speed. Their glum faces hinted my next stop was the flogging chamber.

bus-queueThe guy told me I was in the wrong line, and had to go to another one, and he was leaving anyway, so he’d take me. His two little kids followed… but not closely enough. Anyway, we passed a large, dark room full of miscreants of some sort. They were chained to hollowed out logs, about 15 people per log… like slaves in an old movie. There were a dozen logs, and the felons? speeders? jay-walkers? had to reach their hands into the logs through a hole, where a main chain ran through their manacles.  A guard was unlocking them for their court apperearances.

My gloomy escort chatted with me, unfazed. I said I sure hoped to get this ticket cared for fast, and get out of this wretched place, and he looked at me with big eyes and a sad smile like I was nuts. He said that there was no way I’d get the ticket discharged today, that I’d come back for sure. Meanwhile, his dawdling children made him turn back to get them, and he abandoned me too.

I had no advocate.

I pressed on through the dim caverns, looking for the Department of Speeding Tickets, which I suspected had become a cabinet-level office.

Along the way, I saw a long line of people waiting for a single pay phone, and I realized my cell phone wouldn’t help me, because we were underground, surrounded by tons of concrete. I began to feel trapped.

Everybody waited. We were stuck in an underground hell waiting for indifferent officers to discharge our petty crimes. Wasting precious life in a subterranean shadowland.

In the darkness, I saw a crowd ahead. They huddled in cold metal chairs, in an area cordoned off by ropes. There were about a dozen police officers, sitting behind windows, like tellers at a bank. They were separated from the riff-raff by a thick, glass window. Each officer had a sign above his/her head… “Parking violations,” “Right turn on red,” “Stop Signs”… on it went. But nobody’s sign said, “Speeding Tickets” so I approached an officer and tried to ask, but he interrupted me. “Take a number and have a seat.” But I wasn’t sure I was in the right spot, and couldn’t bear to wait for hours only to find I belonged in another line.

bureaucrat_small“But sir…” I protested. He interrupted again and said to just take a number and have a seat. He wasn’t mean, just indifferent. Bland and grey like everything else down here. I blurted out, “Is this the right place for a speeding ticket?” He said yes, so I sat miserably in that cold, colorless underground “malfeasance processing center.”

And woke up, thank God.

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Hear now the interpretation… (sounds grandiose, doesn’t it)

I contemplated my dream for about 10 seconds this morning, when an idea popped into my groggy brain: these people will NEVER be finished with you. You (meaning me, Bill) will never finish the process of self-validation. Self-justification and Self-vindication take forever.

This is something I’ve struggled with as long as I can remember. I so often feel the need to explain myself and my choices. To justify my ways to others who aren’t even listening. My Inner Attorneys stand ready to pop out and make the case for why my latest act/thought/decision was legit, and to answer critics, and to validate my worth… all of which happens in my head, solely for my questionable benefit. My Inner Mess has retained armies of lawyers for this dubious purpose, fueled by my own spiritual and emotional energy.

The trouble is, they’re not needed. Christ is my justification. He is my validation. He is my worth. 

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea.
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that he died for me.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. (Romans 5:1, 2, NLT). 

jesuspowerEpilogue: (in which I write my own ending…)

Then, the underground prison blazed with light as the Chief Justice threw open the doors. His voice reverberating through the concrete underground, he said, “I’ve paid your fines. Case dismissed. You’re free to go.” A cheer rose up as we thronged the exits.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, NLT).

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