I just woke up from a dream. You might be tempted to think this is a literary device, but I assure you that this is a true story, the dream was real.
I dream a lot, perhaps we all do, but what makes the difference, is whether we remember the dream. Most of my dreams either involve things related to my real life, such as people I know, places I have been, or things which have happened. My next most common kind of dreams is usually some unfolding of events. They are more movie-like, having scenes, and involve the senses, primarily sight and sounds. Those dreams are usually in color, but they are not in stereo, nor is the sound even high fidelity. This second category of dreams has a plot, a story, but it is often very weird. They are often emotional, sometimes profoundly sad, or very scary, but I do not consider them to be nightmares, though I sometimes have nightmares also.
The dream I am about to attempt to describe, is not like ones I have mentioned above, in fact, I am not sure I have ever had a dream like this one. There were no people in this dream; at least there were none in the regular sense of that word. No visual content, no sounds. It almost seemed conversational, except I do not recall it having any dialogue. The dream was more of an awareness of ideas, though I cannot say with any certainty, whose ideas they were. I can say though that the ideas where not ones I had ever had before, and that the ideas came to my awareness not all at once, they sort of unraveled, developed over a short space of time.
I mentioned that it seemed conversational, yet without a dialogue, there was no back and forth it was just "forth". I want to say that it was almost as if, I was allowed to 'listen in", on the thoughts of another. I have spent a lot of words, attempting to bring you into the experience of this dream, and I am not sure why I am. What i want to share is the content, more than the experience, but before I do (momentarily) let me tell you what I am NOT saying.
I am not saying that this dream was from God. I do not know where it is from, it could be from my imagination, my subconscious, or wherever it is that thoughts and dreams come from. Do I wish it was from God? Sure, a little, but I would be very hesitant to ever make or even think such a thing. I am not one who considers himself to be sensitive to hearing or understanding ideas from God. Maybe that is a shortcoming of mine that I do not readily allow for the idea that I am hearing from God. It seems presumptuous for me personally.
On the one hand, I do not want to give God credit - not because He doesn't deserve credit where credit is due, it is just because I worry about diminishing God's greatness, by claiming what might be the thoughts of a mere man actually came from an almighty God. Let me put this another way, by putting you in an imaginary situation, with which you may be able to identify.
Suppose you were to sit down in a church and the preacher took up his place in the pulpit and said: “Today I would like to share with you, a message that was given to me, by God Himself.” You listen attentively, but and you hear nothing profound, nothing that spoke to you personally, and nothing that you have not heard before nor thought before. If fact, you leave the church, thinking that you could have found dozens of ways to have better spent you time. Might you be tempted to think: “Wow that sermon did not seem that inspired by God, I have read more profound things on a fortune cookie!”?
If you can identify with that scenario, then you have an inkling of why I hesitate to give credit to God.
Now finally, onto the substance of my dream.
My dream was a sort of consideration of music. In this case it happened to be classical music, but for the purposes of what I took away from the dream, it could have been most any music, or other forms of music, even many things other than music.
I was thinking of how wonderful, how rich, how beautiful to the senses this music was. Then my thoughts became about what it took for that music to come to exist. Someone, had to compose the music, layer upon layer, to get it all to work together as the masterpiece it is. While the composition of the work, is a marvelous feat of its' own, it is not yet much more than a concept in the mind of the composer. To translate the concept into reality, there are those skilled in playing cellos, violins, coronets, drums, flutes, oboes, and the like. There are hundreds of instruments. Each instrument is the result of the craftsmanship of the instrument maker. Each instrument maker, in turn, relied on the considerable knowledge and skills of those who made and forged the alloys of metal in the horns, the selection and handling of the woods, the fabrication of strings and reeds, you get the idea. Then, there are the musicians. They study and practice for years, most of their lifetimes in order to bring the sounds symbolized on their sheet music and transform those into the vibrations that are carried through the air to our ears. Even the acoustical environment that is the music hall, is the result or architecture, and building, the physics of acoustics. It is as much a part of the music itself, as all the rest is, and also took a tremendous amount of skill and effort to finish. The conductor - his or her job is to get all the musicians working together, without the conductor, each musician will only contribute to a cacophony, not an aural masterpiece.
Again, you get the idea. Getting this music all put together and functional, is a huge undertaking. The content of all of these things, took much less time to dream (I suppose) than it did to write out. Now, with all of that said, it is time to go to that part of the dream that meant something to me, and perhaps might mean something to someone who reads this. All of those details (though I admit I have not really thought about) were not the point or the centerpiece of the thoughts.
What I came to understand (you may decide for yourself if this is even true) is that the outcome of creating that masterpiece of music, is not the most important part. Yes, it is the result off all that effort, which we enjoy as music; we tend to enjoy the outcome, normally without considering the process. The process though is the important part. The song, or what have you, is a result, but in the final analysis, it is just a thing. The process is about people, their efforts, and their motivations. The quality of the output reflects how skilled the various people were, but it does not reveal how hard or why they tried.
My thoughts then went to how it is for God. He desires a result, but when He looks at the believer, He looks upon their motivation, their heart, what sort of love for others and for Him, did these efforts reveal.
That is as far as my dream took me. I believe it was shortly after that that I woke up Then, I pondered this a little more, for application. Of the things that occurred to me, were things like evangelism.
It is not how many souls I was able to “win to the Lord”, the outcome, it was about my motivation, my effort to produce a quality result out of my love for God and my love for my neighbor.
Is that something I do, so that I can be proud of my acquired knowledge, or do I do it for God to help those who God wants to reach, for those for whom Christ died?
Do I give out of some sense of duty or obligation, or do I do it to support causes that are important to God?
Service, hospitality, and on and on, same questions.
We all probably have similar resources. I do not mean the same quality, or the same quantity. We have the same KINDS of resources.
We have Time, Talent, and Treasure, and they all belong rightly to God, and should be used in service to Him, and for His glory.
Looking back to the analogy of that musical masterpiece, if that was a picture of the effort and the output of our works, it is God’s purpose for us, that we try, that we are making the effort. The outcome is in His hands. He has His role to play, and has given us the privilege of partnering with Him to make the world a better place, and to get His message to the lost.
This reminds me of a short conversation I had with someone the other night, part of which made reference to Ephesians, chapter two, particularly this part:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
The knowledge of the fact, that God saved us by grace, not because of our works, is a common and loved (by Christians) aspect of what God has done for us. That is His part, and His part is all there is, regarding our salvation, it is not of ourselves. However, there is an “our part” as well. We were created to do the good works, which He has prepared beforehand for us to do.
Part of that conversation which I just mentioned was about the word “workmanship” in verse 10. The Greek word for that is poema, from which we get our English word “poem”. We are His poem, His masterpiece. There is no masterpiece, without a Master. We are the outcome, the result, of His planning and work (think back to the music). We though, are not just the result, we are also the instruments which help to complete His other masterpieces (those who do not yet know, that they have been saved by grace).
Then, in Romans 10, we have this:
8 But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”
Let’s have those beautiful feet, and be instruments in the Masters hands, let’s be His poema.