|Photo in Central Park by Steveen Manon 2012|
In this dream, I am expecting a visit that evening from someone I’ve never met before, but whom I know is very important to my life. At last I will meet face to face with the formerly anonymous patron of my college education, and I want to make a good impression on him so that he’ll continue to support me in achieving my life goals.
On a gray wintry day in New York City, I’m preparing for this visit that could determine my destiny. I want my benefactor to know that I am physically fit, but then I realize that actually I’ve let myself go and I’m no longer in very good shape. So I begin jogging around Manhattan and even stop at the gym, but I’m too exhausted to complete this last-minute workout.
Knowing that my physical fitness is less than exemplary, I wonder if I can find the perfect outfit that would at least help me look my best. I spot a gorgeous, turquoise lace pageant gown in a boutique window. But it costs $460 and I haven’t saved up any money or even established any credit, so I leave the store empty-handed.
I enter another upscale store, but no one is there. I spot a package of crackers on top of a cabinet and suddenly realize I’m ravenously hungry. After toying with the idea of leaving some money to pay for my “purchase,” I just take the crackers and leave, reasoning that they won’t be missed. Filling my stomach reminds me that I should be hospitable and prepare a meal for my guest. So I decide to rush home to see if I have any provisions in my cupboard and to buy whatever else is needed.
I find myself in Central Park, where the trees are ablaze in fall colors, brightening the dreary sky and momentarily lifting my spirits. My apartment is on the East River, so it shouldn’t take me too long to get there. But then I realize too late that I’m on the wrong side of the park, and that I’m headed west instead of east.
I want to hail a taxi, but the streets are strangely deserted. In a panic, I realize that night is falling, the appointed hour for the visit has come and gone, and that I missed him because I was unprepared and preoccupied with unimportant things.
As I awoke, my thoughts turned to the Visit I am most eagerly awaiting – the Rapture when Christ shall return to meet His children in the air (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). Jesus Christ alone is my Benefactor Who has not only blessed me so richly in my life to date (John 10:10; James 1:17), but Who has secured my eternal destiny in Heaven through His death on the cross, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Based on Bible prophecy and current events (Matthew 24), it seems like the remaining time before this meeting in the clouds is very short, although no man knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36). How we spend this time can alter our eternal future. Those who do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior will be left behind to face the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). If they accept the mark of the beast, who is the Antichrist, they will be irreversibly doomed to eternal hell (Revelation 14:9-11).
Even many who are now in churches, yet not born again (John 3:5-8), will be left behind and no longer able to make the crucial transition from having an intellectual understanding of Who Jesus Christ is to having an intimate heart relationship with Him (Romans 10:9). Sadly, they will be deluded and believe the lie that the Antichrist is God, accepting his mark and then being doomed to eternal punishment in hell (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
These “Christians” in name only will be like the foolish virgins who are unprepared for the wedding feast, representing unsaved people who think they will go to Heaven because they are church members or come from a Christian home. Unlike the wise virgins, representing born-again believers, the foolish virgins lack oil in their lamps, which symbolizes the indwelling Holy Spirit. When the Bridegroom returns unannounced, the foolish virgins are locked out from the feast and from His presence because they had left to buy the oil they should have already received (Matthew 25:1-13).
For those of us who are saved, how we spend these last moments before His return could determine whether we have crowns to lay at His feet (Revelation 4 9-11) and eternal rewards to enjoy in Heaven, or whether we will suffer loss when we face Him at the judgment seat (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). The fields are ready for harvest, and yet the laborers who are bringing souls to Him are few (John 4:35-36; Luke 10:2). Are we doing all we can to spread the Good News of salvation through our faith in His grace? (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Each day we face choices, and our decisions can glorify Him or be a meaningless detour set up by Satan to distract us from God’s will for our life. Physical fitness is good because it helps to preserve our body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And yet if we neglect our spiritual fitness, we cannot possibly fulfill God’s perfect plan for us (1 Timothy 4:8).
In the dream, it was futile for me to engage in a last-ditch effort to get physically fit. In reality, we cannot achieve physical or spiritual development in a single, short-lived burst, as both require daily discipline over the long haul.
Many churchgoers spend excessive hours and dollars in selecting a flattering outfit and stylish accessories for church, and even having their hair and nails done. Yet I know that Christ loves and accepts me unconditionally, whether I’m dressed to the nines in a pageant gown or just wearing my old pajamas. There is nothing wrong with wearing our best to God’s house if we do so out of respect and love for Him and it does not hinder our service, make others uncomfortable, or deplete our money better spent on offerings.
I have seen young women in church wearing stiletto heels that were so high that they could not climb the few steps to the choir loft without help, often from elderly singers who could have used assistance themselves. I have heard of women who were struggling financially hesitate to come to church for fear of looking shabby next to their well-heeled sisters. Sometimes our priorities are sadly misplaced.
As we dress and get ready for church, do we spend enough time and prayer in preparing our hearts (1 Chronicles 29:18; Job 11:13) to receive God’s blessing and to bless others with His light (Matthew 5:14) and love shining through us? Our obedience can be a testimony to His mercy and grace, or we can lose the power of our testimony by sins that Satan convinces us are harmless, even something as seemingly insignificant as taking a package of crackers that belongs to someone else.
The Christian race set before us (Hebrews 12:1; 1 Corinthians 9:24) is a marathon, not a sprint, and last-minute efforts are likely to be too little and too late to be of lasting value. Yet if we have gone off course (Hosea 11:7; Jeremiah 3:14), as I did in my dream, neglected the daily discipline needed for a meaningful walk with Christ (1 Corinthians 9:27), or never entered the arena, now is the appointed time (2 Corinthians 6:2) to get on track!
We don’t know when Jesus will come again (Matthew 24:42-44), so may we be ready for His all-important Visit! Come quickly, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)
© 2014 Laurie Collett