|Photo by Miran Hladnik2012
Saturday, May 5, 2018
Take Out the Trash!
I dreamed that my family and I were vacationing in Tuscany and were staying in an old farmhouse. Our daughter-in-law had collected a basketful of flowers from a neighboring field, which smelled like lavender but resembled miniature roses with delicate, triangular petals in spiral array, rather than tiny buds on a spike as is usual for lavender.
Our son called her to see something he had spotted outside, so she went outdoors and my husband joined them. I assumed they would only be a few minutes, so I began dinner preparations. We were planning to make cioppino, or a stew from local mussels, clams, and other shellfish.
I thought it would be handy to have a place to discard the shells, and I spotted a small, stainless steel trash can in the corner and placed it in the center of the long, wooden trestle table. It looked out of place, so I thought using some of the flowers as a centerpiece would help it look more festive. I found a small silver bowl, tucked a few of the blossoms inside, and nestled some lavender-colored tissue paper around them.
My husband returned, took one look at the table, and exclaimed, “The trash can is in the middle of the table!” He removed it and set it back in its usual corner, but I explained that we needed a container for the shells and put it back in the center of the table.
Still trying to be helpful, my husband began to fiddle with the centerpiece. Much to my dismay, he was plucking out all the bits of tissue paper I had so carefully arranged.
Then my daughter-in-law entered just in time to question, “Why is the garbage can on the table?” and “What happened to the lavender?” She removed the trash can and the centerpiece from the table, replacing them with the straw basket filled with the blooms she had gathered from the field that morning.
I had to admit it looked and smelled lovely, and it was a relief to no longer have the trash can as an eyesore and point of contention in the place of honor. Suddenly I remembered that dinner was in the oven, but when I opened the oven door I was shocked that there was no cioppino, only a reheated leftover piece of fish from last night’s dinner that was unlikely to feed even one of us.
As I awoke and considered the symbolism of the dream, I realized that the family dining table should be not only the center of family fellowship, but also a key gathering place for our fellowship with Christian family and with Christ Himself. As He broke bread and drank wine with His apostles, He asked them to remember Him every time they did this (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24).
Specifically, Jesus asked them, and by extension all of us who are born-again (John 3:3-8), to remember His body, broken for us, and His blood, shed for us, to be the perfect sacrifice to reconcile sinful man with Holy God (Hebrews 7:27; 9:26; 10:12). Later, by rising from the dead on the third day, He proved that He is God, so that all who trust Him can have eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:16).
Each time we gather to break bread, whether as a family, in Christian fellowship, or at the Lord’s Table in the sacrament of communion, we should honor Christ as the center (Colossians 1:18). But how often do we let the garbage in our lives, whether sins, weights (Hebrews 12:1), or works of our own hands that become idols (Psalm 135:15; Isaiah 2:8), take His rightful place?
Family meals are best when they begin with prayer and are accompanied by conversation showing interest in and support for our loved ones, and even by discussion of spiritual matters. Yet the growth of technology has been an effective tool of Satan to disrupt such fellowship and communion, first by radio and television and now by “smart” phones.
I believe the flowers in the dream symbolized Jesus Christ, for the fragrance of lavender is as close as we may get on earth to experiencing His royal perfume (Isaiah 61:3; Exodus 30:37; Song of Solomon 1:3; 3:6), and the shape of the blossoms were like the Rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2:1). The triangular petals were a reference to the Trinity (Matthew 28:19), for in Christ we have the fullness of the Godhead bodily, including the Holy Spirit and God the Father (Colossians 2:9).
He gave Himself freely so that all who seek Him will find Him and be saved (Jeremiah 29:13; Deuteronomy 4:29; Proverbs 8:17; Matthew 7:7-8), just as in the dream my daughter-in-law freely gathered the blossoms from the field and brought them home to share with us and adorn our table. Upon being saved, it should be our delight to share Christ with everyone, just as it was for the Samaritan woman at the well, and to make Him the focus of our fellowship and lives (John 4:28-29).
But I had instead allowed trash to occupy that place of honor. Refuse can look attractive in worldly terms, as the apostle Paul explained when he said that all his former achievements, education, and religious zeal were no better than dung in comparison with what he had gained through His relationship with Christ (Philippians 3:4-14).
My attempts to “improve” the natural beauty of the lavender by putting the blossoms in a silver bowl and arranging scraps of tissue around them may represent mankind’s vain attempts to be saved by the works of his hands, whether exclusively, as in the case of Cain who offered God his best crops rather than the blood sacrifice that God commanded (Genesis 4:2-7), or added to Christ’s finished work on the cross (John 19:30).
An example of the latter is the Mormon doctrine of “We do our best, and Jesus does the rest.” Any attempt to add to Jesus’ perfect, completed sacrifice is an insult to God and His Son. It would be like receiving a freely given gift of a Rolls-Royce and then insisting that we pay one penny toward the purchase price.
We are saved by grace through faith, not by works (Ephesians 3:8-9). Jesus Christ is beautiful and perfect in His righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30), and we should not attempt to gild the Lily of the valleys (Song of Solomon 2:1).
The trash can in the dream would not have been needed at all had I not planned to serve shellfish. When the apostle Peter had a vision commanding Him to eat unclean animals (Acts 10:9-17), was God really recommending that he abandon the dietary laws given by God to Moses? Many believe that to be true, and certainly we do not keep such laws in order to be saved, but rather it is a matter of individual conscience within our Christian liberty (1 Corinthians 10:25-33).
Peter interpreted the vision as God telling him to no longer consider the Gentiles unclean, but to freely share the Gospel with them (Acts 10:28; 34-35). Therefore he may have continued to keep Mosaic dietary law, and certainly he would not have been wrong to do so. God in His infinite wisdom gave His chosen people these dietary and hygiene laws to preserve their health, and we can today confirm from modern science the benefits of His prescribed practices.
I personally avoid shellfish and pork because of the health benefits of God’s dietary laws, so my serving shellfish in the dream may have symbolized rebellion against God’s will for my life. When we stray from God’s perfect plan, there will be consequences. In the dream, my attempt to serve others with a dish that was not God’s best was thwarted, and I was embarrassed as I pulled a skimpy leftover piece of fish from the oven.
But a small morsel of food served with love and enjoyed in fellowship is better than a banquet eaten in the midst of strife and discontent (Proverbs 15:17; 17:1). Jesus Himself enjoyed a piece of fish in His resurrected body (Luke 24:42), and the miracles of the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:14-21; 15:32-38) during His earthly ministry reminds me that when we honor Him, He will take our meager offerings and multiply them to nourish all who gather in His Name!
© 2018 Laurie Collett