Saturday, November 16, 2019

Chutes, But No Ladders

Photo by Gaussenchennai 2019
I dreamed that I was staying in a large city where many themed resort hotels were close together. I thought it would be an interesting outing to travel from one to the next and to explore the sights in each hotel’s lobby and common areas.

There was a tram departing from outside the hotel where I was staying, so I hopped aboard and got off at the next stop, which appeared to be a flight-themed hotel. I entered what seemed to be an airline cabin, with typical passenger seats. As the “plane” took off, I realized that there was no lift-off, only a side-to-side lurching as the cabin sped along a serpentine track.

Once we had stopped, I got out and was surprised to find myself on the platform of what appeared to be an amusement park ride, with open-sided kiddie cars strung together. There was no way back to the plane and no other way off the platform, so I scrunched into one of the cars and grabbed onto the rail just in time as it launched into motion.

After a very short horizontal distance, the ride plunged downward at breakneck speed, so fast that the pit of my stomach jammed into my throat. Finally it stopped, slamming me forward, and I doubled over for a moment before I could stagger to my feet and out of the car.

Breathless and shaking, I realized I had been gone from the hotel way too long and needed to return as soon as possible. But there seemed to be no options other than to get back in another kiddie car, which also appeared to be on a steep track even further downward and away from the hotel. There were no escalators, elevators, or even stairways to return to the higher level where I had left my hotel.

I was relieved to see a uniformed man whom I assumed to be the transit police.

“Is this the subway?” I asked, pointing to the kiddie car, then realized how ridiculous that sounded.

He rolled his eyes, then feigned concern that only came across as patronizing condescension.

“Ma’am, where is it that you want to go?”

“Back to my hotel.”

“Which one?”

I realized in horror that I had no clue about the name of the hotel where I had been staying. He rattled off a list of names, none of which sounded familiar, until he finally suggested “Blue Hotel.”

“That’s it!” I exclaimed. “How do I get there?”

But he only shrugged his shoulders and bustled away, leaving me to awaken in a panic.

As I considered the meaning of the dream, I remembered a trip to Las Vegas during which my husband and I enjoyed taking the monorail from one hotel to the next and walking around each hotel, admiring the unique d├ęcor, architecture, attractions and shopping of each one. We had joked that it was like walking around the world, traveling from New York, to Paris, to Venice (Bellagio), and ancient Rome (Caesar’s Palace), all in a single day.

But we knew that we were still in Las Vegas and hadn’t really gone anywhere, for each hotel was a cleverly staged illusion to lure the visitor (and potential gambler) to spend more time there. For the same reason, there are no clocks or even windows within these hotels, so that the gambler loses contact with time and even with reality as he keeps trying to beat the house.

As born-again Christians (John 3:3-8) who have been saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we must be careful not to be distracted by earthly, temporal things and thereby lose sight of our eternal destiny (Colossians 3:1-2).

My husband and I don’t gamble, and there was nothing wrong in enjoying the beautiful, lavish and picturesque interiors of the hotels we visited, but if we had lingered too long, it might have become a distraction from our real purpose for going to Las Vegas, which was to share our dance ministry at a hotel where we had been invited to perform.

Leaving the hotel in the dream proved to be disastrous, as each segment of the bone-rattling journey brought me further away from where I needed to be, to the point that I felt I could not return. Each conveyance was merely an imitation of true forms of transportation. These reminded me of the train in that famous episode of “Twilight Zone” that always circled back to where it began, preventing the protagonists from escaping, for it was merely a toy in a dollhouse village owned by a giant child.

In the board game, “Chutes and Ladders,” players advance up the ladders based on the roll of the dice, but then without warning may slide far down a chute. In the dream I was actually trying to return to my starting point, but each ride carried me not only further away, but also further down. The ride was deceptively level at the beginning, then suddenly vanished down a dangerous precipice, reminding me that we are most likely to slip and fall when we are prideful of our good standing (Proverbs 16:18; 1 Corinthians 10:12).

Ultimately I was so far away that I no longer even remembered the name of the place where I was staying. The world and its power structure are of no help in returning us to God’s plan for us (Matthew 6:24), as was evident in the dream by the lack of any way to travel upward, and the indifference of the transit policeman.

On our Christian journey to the mountaintop of heavenly rewards, we sometimes fall backward and slide down, but the climb is always still there, waiting for us to resume it.  Thankfully, our brothers and sisters in Christ can help us struggle to our feet, and God Himself is there with an outstretched arm, just waiting for us to take the first step (Ecclesiastes 4:9; Proverbs 24:16; Psalm 136:12; Galatians 6:1).

The hotel where I started my dream journey was called the Blue Hotel, the color perhaps signifying royal garments of the priesthood and furnishings of God’s temple (Exodus 26-28; 35-39; Numbers 4,15; etc.). These may symbolize the heavenly places where we are seated in Christ even while walking this earth (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6).

In common parlance, the phrase “blue skies” refers to smooth sailing and good times without interference from storms. As Christians, our sure hope (Hebrews 6:19) in eternal life in Heaven gives us spiritual blue skies, namely the peace thatpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and joy in His salvation (Psalm 21:1; Isaiah 61:10).

Yet the word “blue” can also mean sad or depressed, for even as Christians we are not immune from sorrow. Even Christ Himself was a man of sorrows, well acquainted by grief, yet by His stripes, or suffering, we are healed (Isaiah 53:3-5). The only other Scripture reference to “blue” is in Proverbs 3:20:

The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.

This verse is a sober reminder that when we stray, our loving Father God will chastise us, sometimes through His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12), but with scourging or physical pain if the spoken Word is ineffective (Hebrews 12:6).

May we set our affection and sights on heavenly things above, and not be brought down by the things of this world! May we be vigilant to hear and do the will of our Father, ever climbing upward until He takes us home, and seeking His strength and guidance when our errors bring us to the pit of the valley!      

© 2019 Laurie Collett



Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Your dream reminds me of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Although I have never read the book, through references made by other authors, I have gotten a gist on what the book is about.
Also a pop song was released in the sixties or seventies, Hey Las Vegas, which has the opening line:
"God has made the world, but the Devil created Las Vegas..."
During my backpacking days, in 1977, I made a very brief stop at Las Vegas (it was a Greyhound Bus service stop with which I took advantage of the break). Although I was impressed with all the bright neon lighting illuminating the city (I arrived after dark) - It would never hold a candle to the glory of the nearby Grand Canyon.
A thought-provoking post. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
That's an excellent point, about Pilgrim's Progress, which I happen to be reading at the moment! Some of the themes may have indeed surfaced in my dream, particularly the dangers of falling backward in the midst of an upward climb. If you have time to read it, I highly recommend it.
You are quite right about the Grand Canyon -- it was the highlight of our trip to Las Vegas, and well worth the several hours of bus travel to get there. God's creation speaks for itself, and what is man-made is but a tawdry imitation.
Thanks as always for your perceptive comment, and God bless,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
yes we have to fix our eyes on what is heavenly as we grow in the Lord, the enemy is cunning and would have us fix our eyes on earthly things. Where you said you were in a hotel which 'appeared' to be a flight themed hotel, but did not take off upward, it reminded me of not rising upward spiritually, which is just the position that the spiritual enemy wants us to remain in - which we refuse to do as we encourage one another in the Spirit with what the Lord has given us. God bless you Laurie as you continue to rise in the Lord.

Donald Fishgrab said...

Great post, Laurie, Sadly, many people get caught up in the glitter and deception, going ever further into the pretense and never seeing the much greater things God provides.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
Yes, the devil can fool us into thinking we are making progress, when really we are stagnating or falling backward. May we be vigilant to follow the Spirit's leading on our ascent toward heavenly places in Him.
Thank you for your insightful comment and God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Donald! The very "best" of the man-made world is no match for even the smallest gift from God. Praise Him for His bountiful provision!
God bless,

Sateigdra knowles said...

Very thought provoking and an encouraging reminder to set our minds on the things above in God's kingdom. Thanks for sharing.