In the middle of the street is an open manhole, surrounded by a circle of firemen in fluorescent yellow and orange coats, each lying prostrate with his head facing and eyes peering into the manhole. A little girl stands outside the circle, clutching a small, gray mutt in her arms and yelling excitedly, over and over, “Daddy saved Scruffy!”
Her mother, huddled over her, is sobbing uncontrollably. The awful realization hits me that the mutt ran into the open manhole; and the father risked his life to deliver him, but now could not himself escape. Even worse, apparently he was tangled in some electrical wires, and if the firemen could not extricate him or if they crossed wires in the attempt, he would be electrocuted instantly or set on fire in an explosion.
Some of the wires they had partially freed were now stretched out of the manhole and into the street. To my horror, I realized that I had disturbed these by wandering too close to the scene and that I had endangered the man’s life even further.
I awoke in a cold sweat and began to think about the symbolism of the dream regarding the Gospel, and our reaction to it. God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for our sins, so that anyone who trusts in His death, burial and resurrection will have eternal life (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). He died for all (1 Corinthians 15:3), and He offers His freely given gift of salvation to all (Romans 10:13; Revelation 22:17).
But some people are like the dog in the dream – oblivious to their own transgressions, and to what He has done to save them and what it means to them. They don’t know they will spend eternity in hell unless they trust Christ (Mark 9:45; John 3:18), so they have no reason to appreciate His sacrifice. And yet, ignorance is no excuse (Romans 1:20).
Some are like the little girl, happy to have her pet safe and sound but unaware that her father’s life was still in danger. Some Christians get excited about receiving God’s blessings but have little love for others who are not yet delivered from the pit of hell (John 13:3-8).
Like the wife weeping for her husband, who could die at any moment, some who are born again (John 3:3-35; 15:17) do earnestly grieve for their loved ones in danger of eternal damnation (2 Corinthians 7:10). Sadly, they are so consumed by this fear (Philippians 4:6) that they are ineffective in leading them to the Lord by witness, prayer, love, and showing a strong testimony of faith (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Colossians 4:12 James 5:16,20; 1 Peter 4:8).
Looking at my own role in the dream, I was in a strange city at night, symbolizing our earthly journey as we pass through this dark, foreign country until He takes us safely home (Hebrews 11:13). I knew there was only one way I could go to reach safety. He is the only Way to salvation (John 14:6), which can be entered only through the narrow gate (in the dream, squeezing under the barricade; Matthew 7:13).
But once there, I failed to help anyone who was in danger. In fact, I made the situation worse by tangling the wires that the firefighters had worked so hard to make straight (Isaiah 42:16). It saddens me to think how many times I inadvertently was a stumbling block, getting in the way of someone being saved, whether through careless words or behavior that is not Christ-like (Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 8:9).
I wonder how many times evangelical missionaries lay the groundwork for salvation in their preaching to the lost, only to have an uncaring believer disrupt it by an offhand remark or an unloving attitude.
The firefighters in the dream represent those Christians who are on fire for the Lord (Luke 24:32), doing all they can through His power (Philippians 4:13) to rescue souls from the flames of hell. The firemen worked together (Acts 2:44-47), as a formation team positioned around the chasm of hell, to deliver the endangered soul.
Yet so often Christians allow Satan to divide and conquer them (Proverbs 6:16-19), dissipating their collective power, rather than being like a building fitly framed together (Ephesians 2:19-22) so that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18).
Each of the firemen was face to the ground, symbolizing fervent prayer (James 5:16), which is essential if the church is to win souls to Christ. Each was fully suited up in his protective uniform, just as Christians should put on the whole armor of God daily (Ephesians 6:11-13) before they attempt soul-winning or even getting out of bed! And each of them was highly focused on the task at hand, letting God work through them rather than being distracted by the commotion and chaos all around them (Hebrews 12:1).
Ultimately, it is Christ Who alone has accomplished all that is needed for our salvation through His shed blood, perfect and sinless sacrifice, and completed work on the cross (John 19:30; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 10:10-14). He rose from the dead to conquer sin, death, and the devil and to give those who trust Him eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:24-27, 53-57). Only the Holy Spirit can convict unsaved souls of their sin and need for a Savior and work in their hearts for them to be born again (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
But, praise God, He has given His children the awesome privilege and responsibility of leading souls to Him through verbal witness, lifestyle testimony of loving behavior, prayer for others to be saved, and working together as the church to reach the unsaved and encourage one another in soul-winning in our local communities and across the globe.
May we daily thank Him for His freely given gift of salvation, guard our own words and lifestyle so as not to hinder anyone from being saved, keep our eyes fixed on Him, and work together as His body to increase His kingdom!
© 2015 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives