Saturday, February 8, 2020

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

art by The Catholic Guy 2012

I had a dream in which I was an undercover agent assigned to infiltrate and expose a religious cult that was indoctrinating children and others to be terrorists. 

The cult leader was a reasonably well-known figure in theatrical circles. I had met him before and found him to be pompous, but I had never realized he was dangerous, perhaps because I was misled by his charisma, eloquence, and talent. 

But after I had spent some time in the meetings of his cult, I realized how wrong I had been. He used his charm and powers of persuasion to convince vulnerable, emotionally scarred individuals to bend to his will and to worship him as their leader. They eagerly accepted his distorted view of the truth to the point of harming themselves or others just to please him. 

I was pretending to lead a ritual in which all were wearing long white robes and lifting their hands to praise the false prophet, while marching in troughs filled with ice. Suddenly he became suspicious that the police were near and commanded that everyone evacuate the premises. He scooped up a black cat that was supposed to represent a pagan spirit and thrust it into my arms, demanding that I be responsible to carry it safely to our next destination. 

The cat snarled at me, bearing its saber-like teeth in a diabolical grin, and thrashed about in my arms so that it could claw me. I was finally able to subdue it by holding its hind limbs and grabbing its collar so that it had no wiggle room to attack me. But one of the cult members, a simpering, would-be actress, rushed over and cooed delightedly over the cat. 

“Such a sweet, gentle kitty,” she cried. “Don’t hold it so tight – just give it some room.”  

With that the cat meowed plaintively, only to growl and fight harder once I headed for the exit. 

Once outside the compound I ran for shelter to a nearby farmhouse, where the cat seemed to let down his guard once I released him and the couple who lived there offered him some milk. Surprisingly, the cat allowed me to pet him and even purred appreciatively. 

I called my handlers and let them know that the cult was on the move. The couple offered to let me stay with them until the cult leader had been apprehended, but warned me that there was a fugitive on the loose, an escapee from an institution for the criminally insane. He had been described as armed and extremely dangerous. In return for them giving me shelter, I was to guard their front gate and protect them if the fugitive appeared. 

So I stood outside the door, wondering how I had escaped from one dangerous situation, only to find myself in another that was even more fraught with peril. Suddenly my worst fears were realized as a young man wearing a backward baseball cap approached menacingly from the end of the long road leading to the front door. 

Paralyzed in terror, I shivered as he swaggered down the path, his bulky frame casting a giant shadow in the afternoon sun.  As he drew nearer, I saw his face, with features characteristic of a neurodevelopmental disorder, but they were contorted in anger. Worst of all, he clenched a long knife, its blade coldly gleaming in the sun’s rays. 

I was unarmed and knew I could not possibly overcome him in my own strength. From about six feet away, he suddenly charged forward at full tilt, brandishing the knife in his outstretched arm. My heart sank in dread and my knees felt like rubber. But then I was shocked that as he ran toward me, I embraced him in a warm hug! He dropped the knife and hugged me back, sobbing with tears of release, joy and acceptance. 

As I awoke with a great sense of relief, I thought of the Bible verse, “Perfect love casteth out fear” (John 4:18). We live in the end times where wickedness and sin abound (Romans 5:20), and false prophets (Matthew 24:11,24; Mark 13:22; 2 Peter 2:1) are rising up to deceive many, leading them into evil and danger (2 Timothy 3:1-7). The cult leader in the dream came from a theatrical background, which is appropriate for a false leader (Jeremiah 14:14) with the acting skills to transform himself from a demon into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), or from a wolf into a sheep just by a change of costume (Matthew 7:15). 

His followers were marching in troughs of ice, perhaps symbolizing that in the end times, the love of many will grow cold because of the abundance of sin (Matthew 24:12). It also is a striking contrast to the beautiful feet of those who spread the Good News of the Gospel, which we can imagine are burning as they tread the hot, dusty roads (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15). 

Yet once we are saved by trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), we have nothing to fear from false prophets or from anyone, for His Holy Spirit within us gives us the discernment to differentiate God’s Word from distortions from the devil (1 John 4:1; Romans 8:16-17). 

We are then able to speak the truth in love to those who have been fooled or misled (Ephesians 4:14-15), and we have the responsibility to do so, for we are soldiers in God’s army (2 Timothy 2:1-5). The gift of such witness is the greatest act of love we could show God and one another (1 John 4:12, 17), except to lay down our life as Christ Himself did for us (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16). Yet God asks us not to sacrifice our own body, but to make it a living sacrifice to His service, honor and glory (Romans 12:1). 

The cat in the dream appeared to be possessed by an evil spirit with the aim of deceiving others into false worship and of harming me. And yet once removed from its evil environment and treated with kindness, it changed into a harmless and even loving creature. When others attack us in anger, we can choose to retaliate or to diffuse their wrath with loving words (Proverbs 15:1). 

The farmer and his wife displayed hospitality toward me, yet their “love” was conditional in that I was expected to protect them and their property by risking my own life. Praise God that His love is unconditional and infinite, for He is love! (1 John 4:8) 

Even the fugitive, portrayed as a depraved murderer hell-bent on destruction, transformed into an empathic fellow human being once treated with love. It reminded me that we can love one another only because Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19) with perfect agape love, even while we were His enemies (Romans 5:10). 

As the world celebrates Valentine’s Day, it is wonderful to shower our loved ones with gifts, flowers and expressions of affection, as long as we do not lose sight of Christ’s perfect love. There is so much hate in our world today – senseless killings, wars motivated by political ideologies, and cruelty for the sake of convenience and expedience. 

While we need to remain vigilant, for our enemy seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8), we would do well to remember that Christ told us to love our enemies, to do good to them, to bless them and to pray for them (Matthew 5:44). Showing Christ's perfect love to one another can go far toward dissipating fear in ourselves and in others, even our most dreaded adversary!

© 2020 Laurie Collett



Aritha said...

What a dream. Thanks for it

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
What a dramatic dream you had there! Perhaps if Hollywood was to get hold of it, they could make it into a movie.
But as for cult leaders, there was a time when I could have been sucked in. This was in 1972, after being dumped by my girlfriend, and walking aimlessly down a street in London in the rain feeling very low emotionally. It was then when I was stopped by a couple of cultists who showered me with attention.
But I thank God that these cultists paved the way to salvation rather than on a downward path to deception and ruin as depicted in your dream.
Oh by the way, I love cats.
God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

You're very welcome and thanks for your comment! God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Cultists do tend to prey on those who are emotionally at their most vulnerable. Praise God that He worked their evil intentions for good in your life.
By the way, I love cats too! Our son had a beautiful, affectionate rescue cat whom we all loved until she passed two years ago. But the cat in my dream may have hearkened back to an experience I had many years ago, while living in New York City. I attempted to rescue a litter of feral cats that had been born in the alley behind my apartment. They appeared to be the sweetest, most docile creatures live until I attempted to pick them up, at which point they morphed into a snarling, clawing fireballs of fur.
Thanks as always for your comment and for sharing your experience.
God bless,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
yes much was shown to you in your dream, and I particularly liked the bit about the black cat representing the pagan spirit being brought out of the cult false doctrine and being shown the love that we have in Jesus. We must always seek the Lord and the truth of His Word daily so that we will be directed by the truth of His Word and not the lies of the spiritual enemy. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
Amen -- may we keep our eyes, ears and mind fixed on jesus, so that we follow the Truth of His Word and not the devil's lies. Thanks as always for your comment and God bless,