Once lights are out and I’m under the covers, head nestled comfortably on the pillow, it begins. Eight hours sometimes made up of the weirdest, wackiest situations. Sometimes there are people I know in them, but they are never found in the context I know them when awake. Or there’s a mishmash of unrelated people all crammed in together. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night in hopes of changing to a better dream channel, only to pick up right where you left off? Most often, though, as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, the dreamed details blur, then disappear like the dew on my lawn. This, to be honest, is sheer bliss! I’d rather not be carrying all that craziness around in my head for the rest of the day!
That’s not to say my mind doesn’t flit about like a frenzied moth caught on the inside of a glass door. I am often heard recommending that we pay attention to what we’re paying attention to, but let’s just say that’s my continuing aim more than my arrived at goal. I was going to compile a list for you of all the things that pass through my brain in the first couple hours of the morning but it quickly became apparent that it would be so ridiculously long, not to mention tedious, that I gave up that idea as a gift to you.
I’m pretty sure Jesus’ disciples had dreams and vagabonding thoughts running through their heads, too. And it was this that caused their confusions with Jesus who was always on task, always on point, always talking about and doing the same thing. His parables were simple stories intended to reveal an aspect of the Kingdom, but the disciples got lost in them searching for a connection with their current thoughts. When Jesus talked about loving enemies, his words made absolutely no sense. When he waxed eloquent on the blessing it was to be poor, or persecuted, ditto. That’s why they kept coming to him asking him to explain the hidden code of his stories (surely he didn’t mean what those words sounded like he meant!).
Not just the disciples, but everyone in Israel was longing for relief from the merciless measures of this foreign government, these pagans who found Judaism to be laughably quaint and religiously impractical. All conversations out of earshot of a Roman would have turned to some aspect of complaint, of injustice, of fear, of wondering where God was in their trials. This preoccupation with their plight caused anger to keep simmering, accompanied by a wearisome longing for the Messiah to come and display the full, fiery vengeance of their God, the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
All the unspeakable horrors of the past week caught up the disciples’ world in an emotional tornado. Jesus really died! And now he was somehow alive again! It was impossible to tell if this was a dream they were collectively stuck in or if they were all going mad. Nothing prepared the guys for this series of delusional events. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus couldn’t recognize him. Mary didn’t get that it was the Master. Peter and John were speechless at seeing the empty tomb. Thomas thought they were all making this up. And, incredibly, Rome still hadn’t budged, hadn’t even felt threatened!
Thoughts were scattered everywhere! The future refused to settle into anything that made sense. Unaskable questions were peppering everyone’s mind. So crushed but so cautiously elated! So exhausted! So confused! So afraid! But, amidst the chaos, the words of the Prophet Isaiah spoke: “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near.” Isa. 50:7,8.
As Jesus’ 21st Century disciples, we, too, can follow Isaiah’s example with identical confidence because the Lord still helps us and is still near! Let’s talk more tomorrow at 10 AM, 4 PM. PD