Saturday, June 15, 2013
In this dream I need new clothes, and I have an appointment at an exclusive house of couture. The designer himself, a distinguished, kindly gentleman with impeccable manners and wearing a finely tailored white suit, greets me at the door.
He escorts me into the showroom, where the vaulted glass ceiling offers a clear view of blue skies and snowy clouds. But my eyes are immediately drawn to the four dresses. Each is on a dress form in its own mirrored alcove.
The first gown is of slinky red chiffon, its many pieces practically dripping off the form to be revealing and seductive. What would people think of me if I wore it? Despite its obvious appeal, it is garish and even shameful, and would call too much attention to my shortcomings.
The second gown appears to hail from the Civil War era and could have stepped from the pages of Godey’s Ladies’ Book. The green-and-white pin-striped crinoline is beautifully fashioned into a fitted bodice with puffy sleeves, and a full hoop skirt with just a hint of starched petticoat modestly peeking from the hem. Like a refreshing spring breeze, the lilting skirt and joyful colors lift my spirits. Yet I wonder if the corset under that fitted bodice would be too confining for comfort.
Evoking a completely different mood, the third dress hangs stiffly like a mourning garment. It covers the whole body in black crepe, from its high neck to its long skirt hiding even the shoes. The jacket has long fitted sleeves and an endless row of tiny buttons down the front, and there is a black bonnet and veil shrouding the face. Although I appreciate the painstaking workmanship underlying this garment, I shy away from its stern, somber look.
But the fourth dress immediately restores my spirits, giving me a sense of hope and peace. Fit for a Grecian goddess, the flowing white silk charmeuse drapes gracefully over the body, allowing freedom and movement while preserving modesty and nobility.
“Have you reached a decision?” the designer asks.
“They’re all beautiful in their own way, and exquisitely made,” I reply. “I especially like the second gown, and the fourth gown is clearly my favorite. But I’m afraid I won’t be able to afford any of them.”
He shook his head sadly. “Oh, no, my dear, you don’t understand. The collection is not for sale and cannot be broken. It is a gift, but if you accept it, you must wear all four dresses, in order.”
I awoke with a sense of regret at a missed opportunity and began to ponder the symbolism of the dream. The Designer’s last words to me seemed to refer to the freely given gift of salvation, which we cannot buy with money or with good works (Romans 11:6; 2 Timothy 1:9). Only through faith in God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8), in His gift of His only begotten Son (John 3:16);Who paid the price in full through His shed blood, can we receive forgiveness of our sins and eternal life with Him (Romans 3:25; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Revelation 1:5) .
But sometimes we forget the process of our Christian walk during our earthly life. It begins at the moment we repent of our sins and place our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only Way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6), and it ends when we see Him in glory, either at our physical death or at the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15 51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-17).
The first gown, suitable for a high-class working girl, represents the need to realize and renounce our own sinfulness. Until we admit that we are sinners, we cannot be saved, because Jesus did not come to save the self-righteous (Luke 5:32; 19:10; Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17). If we place our faith in our worldly appeal and trappings of success, we may get recognition from the world, although it will be of the wrong kind and will never satisfy us. Only when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9) can He wash us clean in His shed blood (1 John 1:7), symbolized in the dream by the dripping red cloth.
The second gown represents the joyful, uplifting experience of being born again (John 3:3-8). Green is the color of new life, and white of His righteousness, both imparted to us as we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Romans 4:22-25; 2 Corinthians 1:22). But with this joy comes a “civil war” in our soul, as the old sin nature battles the new creation (Romans 7:14-25; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). The tightly fitted bodice is like the breastplate of faith, love and righteousness (Ephesians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:8) with which we must guard our heart against the desires of the flesh.
As Paul writes, we must “die daily” to our sin nature if we are to live in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:31; Romans 7:1-13). The mourning attire represents our daily death to our own desires, our separation from the world (1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 John 2:15-16), and our willingness to take up the cross of Christ and follow Him alone (Mark 8:34;10:21; Luke 9:23).
Finally, when He takes us home, we will wear the robe of His righteousness (Job 29:14; Isaiah 61:10), as pristine and beautiful as a wedding garment, symbolized by the fourth gown. One day the church, or the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:9), will forever be united with Him and in His presence eternally. Until then, we must repent of our sins and be washed in His blood; rejoice in our salvation; and die to all that would keep us from the fullness of life as His betrothed. May we put on Christ and be adorned with His meek and quiet Spirit! (Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:4)