No man is an island. Or some crap like that. (I must have been reading “That Chick Over There” to be writing like that!)
A very dear friend phoned me up the other night. It was one of those times where a guy just needed someone to talk to, someone who would just listen and not try to solve the problem. Just Listen. We were on the phone for about an hour and a half, and he told me lots of things in confidence, so I won’t go into any details (sorry, but I don’t do gossip). The questions he kept asking over and over were, “Why am I here?” “What is God’s plan for me?” “What am I supposed to be doing?” “Why has God abandoned me?” “Why do I feel so alone?”
He already knew the answer to each question and I knew that, so I stayed silent and just listened. He didn’t need someone to tell him anything really insightful, quote scripture to him, say something spiritual or clever. He just needed a friend. God certainly does work in mysterious ways. The most recurring questions, “Why has God abandoned me?” “Why do I feel so alone?” made me think of a dream I once had. For some reason, this dream has been coming to mind quite a bit these last couple of weeks. Maybe this is why.
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you can remember everything in vivid detail? One of those dreams that really speaks to you and you remember it for years to come? Yeah, I had one of those dreams. I shared it with my friend before we hung up, and I’d like to share it with you. I experienced this dream during a very trying period in my life where I too, felt alone and abandoned by God. I had just about lost all hope.
It was dark. I mean really dark. There was no sky, no landscape, no ground, nothing. I was standing there in the middle of complete “nothingness”. As I was standing there, I saw some images beginning to form and move towards me. As they came into view, I observed the most horrible looking pointy-eared creatures I’ve ever seen, before or since. These beings were quite large and had black leathery skin, all sinewy and greasy and slimy. Their eyes were shaped like that of a snake and were bright yellow with dark pupils. Their nostrils were round and snorted puffs of yellowish sulfur-like smoke. Their teeth were long and pointed and their brows were furrowed, showing just how angry and menacing these creatures were and are. They had bat-like wings, partially unfurled as they steadily moved towards me. Their hands and feet were claw-like and their fingers were long with long, pointed nails making those hands and feet appear more like talons you may find on a vulture. These things were demons from the pits of hell and they were coming after me.
I was standing in the middle of nothing. I wanted to run but had no direction in which to turn. All I could think of to do was to pray. I asked God what I should do. Just then I realized I was holding my wooden practice sword, called a boken. A boken is a Japanese practice sword. It is made from hard wood and is the same size, shape and weight of an actual samurai sword. Standing there, holding that boken, I heard a voice. This wasn’t that booming, thunderous voice of God you read about in the Bible. It was a reassuring sounding male voice, full of compassion and love, yet at the same time, it spoke with authority.
“You have all that you need.”
Now, I have had extensive martial arts training and even a wooden practice sword in the hands of someone like me can prove quite deadly. But about this time I noticed those demons draw their own swords. Shhhhinnnggggg! The mere sound of those swords being pulled from their belts was frightening! Their swords looked like blackened steel and appeared to be on fire! As they drew closer, they seemed to grow in number. I can’t begin to say how many there were. They seemed to be everywhere! Snorting yellow sulfurous smoke and spewing venomous foul language at me and cursing the name of my Savior. These guys were really angry, to say the least!
“Uh, excuse me, God? Those guys have real steel swords and I’m standing here…
....all alone..........................….with a stick!”
“My Son conquered Death and the Grave…..with a stick.”
I muttered “okay” under my breath and I raised my sword as I took my most defensive stance. As the demons approached my “stick” became alive with a brilliant light like you’d see from a white hot fire. As the enemy attacked, I defended myself. I blocked, parried, twirled my sword, jabbed, spun, sliced……the fight was on. Sparks flew as our swords collided. Each time my sword struck one of those demons, that ugly creature vanished in a “poof” of smoke. It didn’t take long before I realized – I was holding my own for now, but I was overwhelmingly outnumbered. I used every ounce of strength, training and skill I had. The battle was spectacular. But how long could I hold out? There were so many of them!
I cried out, “God, please help me!”
Soon, I noticed that the number of demons was dwindling. There just wasn’t as many as there had been before. I looked around me and I was absolutely amazed at what I saw. I was surrounded by the biggest, most beautiful heavenly warriors you could imagine. These guys were GQ handsome with large muscles, bronzed skin, golden hair, fiery eyes and were wearing white robes with gold sashes around their waists. Their strong sturdy hands held swords that shone as bright as the sun. They had joined in the fight and the demons were clearly no match for the angel’s strength and skill and power. As the battle neared it’s end, the voice spoke to me again.
“You are Never Alone. I Am with you…….always.”
The battle has already been won.
All we have left to do is call on the name of Jesus.
You are Never Alone.
Walk in Love.
(That “stick” is leaning against the wall next to my bed. Just in case)